Archive for March, 2016

Twitter is now 10 years old, but where’s the innovation?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

twitter birdTwitter celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday this week but it left many experts asking, “Where’s the innovation?” A decade ago Twitter exploded onto the social media scene. Since then seemingly everyone from millennials to journalists, entrepreneurs, celebrities and even world leaders like President Barack Obama, have been tweeting their thoughts non-stop, all within 140 characters or less.

However, in recent years, Twitter has struggled to grow. The fledgling San Francisco-based company has seen its stock plummet, a chief executive leave and its staff slashed. This year Twitter’s stock prices hit an all-time low—nearly half of its price after going public in 2013. What’s even more troubling is that even as its revenue grows, the company is still racking up losses.

So, how could a company that has more than 320 million users be doing so poorly? First, that number of users has been stagnate since the end of 2015. Second, the company can’t seem to keep up with its fast-changing, ever evolving rivals, like Facebook.

Facebook is consistently updating, changing and improving, which has kept it relevant and exciting for the past decade. I had a Facebook account when that company was still a baby, roughly nine years ago. Back then Facebook was primarily just for college students. The layout of the site was entirely different. It was bland and lacked all of those colorful emojis. Also, instead of typing in whatever status you felt like, there was a drop down menu where you would select which emotion you felt at the time. For example, if I was feeling tired I would select “feeling tired.” Those words would pop up next to my name. I could also choose from a pretty limited selection of “bored,” “sad,” “happy” and “hungry,” among others. Back then Facebook was, well, uninspiring. However, it was the best social media tool available at the time.

If Facebook had stayed that way and never changed, it might never have surpassed the one billion user mark. Facebook’s evolution throughout the years has kept the brand in the forefront of everyone’s daily lives.

If Twitter wants to get its mojo back, it needs to change; it needs to improve and find a way to stay relevant. On the other hand, it’s clear that with all the users and celebrities on Twitter, some people do love the social media tool. Twitter is a great tool for business people to share their thoughts during tradeshows. Politicians use it to tweet their campaign strategies or to announce upcoming events and celebrities use it to give their loyal followers a peak into their personal lives.

However, for a growing number of people, it appears Twitter isn’t the top choice. Flight VC partner Lou Kerner noted recently that Twitter has been showing signs that “people have tired of it.”

Although, according to Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, Twitter isn’t dead yet. “Watching all the metrics, you see they are not getting a lot worse but they don’t seem to be getting better either.”

Based on the numbers and what people have been saying, it’s obvious that Twitter needs to do something to not only grow, but to also stay in business.

What do you think Twitter needs to change to stay relevant?

What is the brand impact of a CEO Statesman?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

In a recent article titled “On the Stump,” the Economist positions CEOs from tech companies as the new CEO Statesman. “He is an evangelist, out to persuade theStriped_apple_logo world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.” The genesis of the article came from news about Apple CEO Tim Cook who is garnering headlines about privacy and government regulations with regard to unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone. While media-savvy executives and CEOs who seek the spotlight have been around in the tech industry for many years— think Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison—I started thinking about the impact their actions can have from a PR perspective.

“The CEO-statesman is not content with just accepting a job in the government; nor does he simply lobby behind the scenes. He is an evangelist, out to persuade the world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.”

Taking a stand on a legal or socially responsible issue, such as child labor laws, partner benefits or equal pay, is seen as a noble effort. Similarly, Mr. Cook’s issue with the government isn’t about the technology behind the iPhone. Rather, it’s about personal privacy vs. governmental need for security. He’s taking a stand on behalf of his company which, to me, is a noble gesture. Are his efforts helping or hindering sales of the iPhone? It’s hard to say. However, what he is doing definitely has an impact on Apple’s brand.

I see Mr. Cook’s efforts in a positive light. He’s doing what he believes is right, regardless of the consequences, and I applaud him for that. But, what if he was leading a charge against a hot political issue like abortion? Would I stop buying products from Apple because I disagree with his political stance?

Starbucks_Coffee_Logo.svgLook back at what Starbucks head honcho Howard Schultz did last year. At his request, baristas were asked to write “Race Together” on paper and plastic cups in an effort to get people talking openly about race relations. While the media backlash was quite negative, I thought it was an interesting move by Mr. Schultz to get people to start having an open dialogue about an important social issue.

From my perspective, the CEO Statesman can have a huge impact on a company’s brand and I applaud those CEOs who take that role seriously regardless of the impact it may have on their company. For instance, outdoor retailer REI gives employees paid days off to get outside or volunteer in the community and this makes me want to purchase their products. Part of building a brand is about what the company stands for and if I know that a CEO is willing to stick his or her neck out, as well as their company’s stock price, I am inclined to support them and their company.

What do you think about having a CEO Statesman for your company?


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