The future of advertising – TweetUp from my perspective

Okay, so what are these two things? Well, the first one is something I mocked up in mid ’09*, and the other is a screenshot of TweetUp which appears in the TechCrunch sidebar, and perhaps many other blogs (actually I’ve never seen it anywhere else). I took the screenshot about 5th months ago when it first came out. I’m not posting this to say that I came up with the idea of TweetUp. This layout has always existed, in fact I used something that used to appear in Mashable’s sidebar as my basic template. (Oh, and I know Nova’s Twitter bio doesn’t actually say that. That’s my bio. I was just using it as filler.)

I thought of mocking this up after reading the following from John Battelle:

What I do know is that Google is testing a Twitter-related ad product through its AdSense network. That one you can take to the bank.  It’s not particularly innovative* – it lets brands run a Twitter feed through their Adsense buy, from what I’ve heard, but at least it shows Google sees Twitter as worthy of grokking.

This made so much sense to me I made this mockup and sent it to my friend Dusty who had just started a site called FeaturedUsers.com. I was so excited about this idea. So excited. There was, and still is, a story around it.

If I was CEO of TweetUp, if I was Bill Gross, I would do a campaign about the future of advertising, the future of interacting with brands. More and more we will Follow and Like the brands we associate with, so long as they continue to know how to speak to us. TweetUp should be saying: This is the future. The future is in connecting directly with brands you like, adding them to your profile. Perhaps being more public about the way the brands and people we follow makeup who we are. Before it was only information known by a few big data mining company, now we voluntarily share. Target me. No problem. Maybe I do want to buy what you are selling. I would position my company as being there to help people find the brands or individuals they associate with. Now on Twitter and later on other services, wherever that might be.

Back to reality. TweetUp still isn’t distinguishing between sponsored and regular results. I wonder why?

Let’s relate the value of TweetUp in another way, pain points: I’m reading content that I’m engaged with, say a blog post about the semantic web. I determine I want to continue my learning, my following of the growth of the semantic web. I realize this after reading an article and at that point want make sure that there will be some info about the semantic web coming my way. In the old day (not really) perhaps I would signup for a newsletter, add a blog to my Google Reader, etc., now I just click follow. Liking is different that Following. Liking adds it to your list, but it doesn’t mean that the brand can now contact you. It’s doesn’t have much depth. At this point. (Btw, I’m not talking about Liking and Following only as they relate to Facebook and Twitter, though they are leading their respective actions/buttons, I’m talking on a conceptual level of what Like or Follow mean when you see them on any social site.)

Now, the product has to be good at two things. 1.) helping to solve this pain point by creating a search engine–a la Google–where the best Twitter accounts (be it brands, blogs, people, whatever) related to what I’m reading show up in an accessible way. So you need a PageRank type system to elevate quality and a way to analyze what the user is reading or looking at so you can feed your PageRank-type system the most accurate information. It seems the PageRank system for Twitter would have to involve verified profiles. Say we apply a high value rank to them, then the people they follow get some of that juice, etc. etc. If you are followed by several verified profiles perhaps your quality could even excede that of a verified user. From there it’s about analyzing their  Tweets to get a sense of what they actually talk about. Also if you know who they actually are, their real names, etc., then you can buy/connect to other sources of information to make things more accurate. Anyhow, ProfileRank and content analysis those would be your goals. Like a recommendation engine, just recommending to follow. But think of the value of that as a brand or as a person. You get to talk to people who genuinely have an interest in you and you get to do it all day long because they are subscribed to you. If people stop following you, then you can look at collective data about them, what commonalities they might share (based on an analysis of their Twitter stream, etc.). Perhaps they were people you wanted to alianate, perhaps they weren’t and you need to look at the story and the culture you are expressing via these channels.

The 2nd to be good at: Connecting. Say for example, there are lots of people who are experts in their field, but maybe they are late to get on to Twitter or only a small faction know about them, etc. Same goes for brands. Well, now you can give them the opportunity to connect with people who are reading, searching, whatever, for what they are an expert in, what they are selling, etc. This is the Google AdSense model that Battelle was talking about.

This is just a little thing, but to me it is a sign of what is to come. Society’s collective mindset, specifically that of the Millennials in the West, and how business reacts to it and shapes to it.

Update: Looks like TweetUp just changed their name to PostUp. Funny that there was a post about TweetUp while I was writing about them. Smart move not to just rely on Twitter. Really I think it should be a product of another larger company that can talk about a larger vision. On other thing I wanted to mention was why I originally thought of this today. I was looking at how many people follow http://ubuyibuy.com (Hong Kong most popular group buying site) on Facebook: over 100,000 thousand. That’s more than TechCrunch. I think it’s a sign of how people will interact with media in the future. That or the guys promoting uBuyiBuy are just really good and mixed with that is the fact that Hong Kong has the most Facebook users per-capita (don’t quote me on that).

*If you are still confused about what this is: It’s a blog plugin or java script that suggests Twitter users to follow based on what you are reading. In my example on the left you’re reading about the semantic web and it’s making recommendations, the people at the top paid the most in an auction to be there, a-la Google AdSense. There is a rev share with blogs who use the plugin.

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