Tag Archives: twitter

Collaborative storytelling


What kind of stories can you tell with the help of 1.8 million Twitter followers? That’s what author Neil Gaiman is finding out through a new partnership with Blackberry. Gaiman, who tweets @neilhimself, is tapping into his community of readers on Twitter to create stories and art for charity.

The result will be A Calendar of Tales, a print (and possibly digital) calendar with stories by Gaiman that were inspired by tweets in response to questions. For example, when Gaiman asked, “What is the most unusual thing you have ever seen in July?” this is the tweet he selected to prompt his writing:

Gaiman then spent a few days writing all 12 stories, which are now available for download (PDF).

The project is now in stage two and people are invited to submit artwork inspired by the stories:

Whether it’s a sketch, photo or doodle, using paint, ink or collage, upload your artwork for a chance to feature in the digital showcase and the printed, limited edition of A Calendar of Tales.

This is a very creative way to demonstrate the power of collaborative writing and art. The many tweets generated by Gaiman’s questions are moving, funny, clever — and great writing prompts. I encourage you to browse through the #KeepMoving and month-specific hashtags if you need some writing inspiration, and head over to the project’s site to read the stories, share your art, and get involved in this creative collaboration.

The preservation of Twitter

twitter-archiveIt doesn’t matter if you’re a person talking about drinking coffee, a celebrity promoting new work, or a politician announcing a historical victory—your tweets are now permanently saved. Today the Library of Congress announced, via Twitter, that it will archive all public tweets. Twitter soon followed with its own announcement:

Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created. Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world—from historic elections to devastating disasters.

It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history.

Now, not only am I an avid Twitter user, but I am also married to a history buff who has repeatedly denounced Twitter as a “waste of time” because the data wasn’t being stored for research purposes. But Twitter’s API has limits on how many of your tweets you can personally archive using applications such as Tweetbook. The fact that now all future and past data from the social networking tool will be publicly archived is a huge step forward in terms of scholarly research.

But that’s not all—Google also announced Google Replay today.

Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted. We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful. Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter.

While Google Replay currently only searches tweets from the past few months, it will soon allow real-time search of the entire Twitter archive. As for the Library’s archive, Twitter says, “Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.”

It’s still unclear as to why the Library of Congress has to wait and Google doesn’t, but that’s just one of many questions raised by Twitter’s digital preservation—like what my husband’s excuse for not tweeting will be now.

Sweet Tweets

With Valentine’s Day less than a month away, it’s not surprising to see companies are already stepping up marketing campaigns to cash in on what is often referred to as a “Hallmark holiday“.

sweet-tweetsBut I was surprised when USA Today announced a new angle that couples tradition with social media. Sweethearts, the 145-year-old brand of candy conversation hearts, will add “Tweet Me” to its repertoire. In the new relationship, Twitter is the talkative one with its 140 characters.

“We’ve always been short and sweet,” says Jackie Hague, vice president of marketing at New England Confectionery, maker of the Sweethearts brand. “In this case, the technology merged with the ritual.”

The partnership doesn’t end there — the confectioner also created an iPhone app that links with your Twitter account so you can customize your candy messages. The virtual candy grams can then be sent privately to the recipient or posted in your Twitter stream. And for those without iPhones, there’s MySweethearts.com.


From a marketing standpoint, the Sweethearts and Twitter match makes sense — both have limited space for characters, and there’s no denying the multitude of catchphrases possible (Tweethearts, anyone?).

But as much as I love both the candy and the social network, I wonder about the audience for the online survey done by Sweethearts last summer. Where were Facebook’s 350+ million users voting for “Friend Me”? The common phrase didn’t even make the top 10.

Beer With Branson: Making it happen with social media

The new year is a time for dreaming big, making resolutions, and then diving in headfirst. Or at least it is if you are Justin “Bugsy” Sailor.

Bugsy kicked off 2010 with an ambitious goal: to have a beer with Richard Branson by the end of the year. But if you know Bugsy (and if you don’t, you should), then you know that it’s not just talk. He is a guy of action with a history of making his bright ideas happen, from networking with the Lansing Breakfast Club to promoting the Upper Peninsula with Yooper Steez to visiting all 50 states in his Hometown Invasion Tour. Bugsy’s New Year’s resolution is fueled by that same entrepreneurial spirit, and he launched the Beer With Branson website on January 1.

Beer with Richard Branson

The site, illustrated by the talented Angela Duncan, encourages supporters to submit questions Bugsy should ask Branson when they meet, give suggestions of where the duo should share their beer, and vote on what kind of beer they should drink.

But that’s not all. Bugsy is also using Twitter, Facebook, and fellow bloggers to spread the word. The social media push has already proven powerful — it took only five hours for him to connect with a Virgin employee in London.

There’s a lot to be learned from Beer With Branson about the power of community and networking to bring about real results. Social media has helped lessen the gap between the everyman and the celebrity, and many famous people are using sites like Twitter to connect with their fans and customers — including Richard Branson:

With more than 200 Virgin companies worldwide, my days and nights are filled with exciting service launches, product announcements, parties, events, and consumer opportunities. I’m regularly asked what a day in the life of Richard Branson looks like, and Twitter helps me answer that. It also enables communication no matter where I am. Source: Business Week

If Branson hasn’t heard about Bugsy yet, I’m sure it won’t be long before he does. You can lend a hand at beerwithbranson.com and help Bugsy make it happen, one connection at a time.

Lansing Breakfast Club on WLNS

It has been 11 weeks since the Lansing Breakfast Club first sat down at a table together, and the group continues to attract new faces. Now the group started by coworkers Justin Sailor (@bugsyrocker) and Julie Becker (@designdreams) has gotten some media attention for “putting the social in social media”. Check out the news clip from WLNS below.

To find out more about the group’s weekly breakfasts, join the conversation on Twitter or find them on Facebook.

Social media marketing

I’m in the beginning stages of planning a social media marketing campaign at my day job. I want to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate to college students about events happening where they live. I want to create a sense of community in an online space and hope that it helps them connect with the people they live around who they may not have  met face-to-face.

I’m trying to be careful and thoughtful about this plan, but I seem to be outpaced by the students themselves. Groups for their residence halls and hall governments are springing up left and right. So, I ask myself whether I need to reinvent the wheel and create new groups or if I should befriend these kids online and try to sculpt their already existing message.

Clearly their enthusiasm to create the Facebook groups themselves shows that there is a need for such connections and communication via social media. And because this new tactic doesn’t fit so well into my carefully thought out social media marketing plan, I’m feeling a bit like a rogue agent. I suppose it’s better to roll with the punches than to try to bend nature backwards. Isn’t listening to your audience and customers part of Marketing 101?

Here are a few good sources for social media marketing that I’ve been reading lately:

Putting Meaning Back in Social Media

Facebook Marketing?

AMC Mad Men Twitter Take Down

Comments and suggestions from your own experiences are appreciated.