Using Twitter – Who needs to know what you had for breakfast?

Tweet from plane

Something happened recently which really brought home to me the power of Twitter. On a flight from New York back home to Ireland, the behaviour of another passenger as they boarded struck me as strange. Instead of mentioning this to a stranger sitting beside me, I shared this thought to my ‘Diary’ — by which I mean I posted it on Twitter…

I proceeded to do the usual transatlantic flight stuff, grazing on food, movies and music, while trying to sleep sitting up. Towards to end of the flight, this passenger appeared to be actively engaging her vocal chords in a ‘discussion’ with some other passengers. On landing this escalated into her displaying behaviour which belied being her as being somewhat ‘tired and emotional’. Some minutes after touchdown, two policemen boarded and it seemed that was the end of that.

I proceeded to deplane, head home and catch some welcome sleep, in the preferred horizontal position. On waking, my phone and Twitter stream were full of messages from journalists, looking for the ‘scoop’ on the ‘Rock-star Air-Rage’ story.
My tweet was quoted on numerous newspapers, online articles and over Irish national radio waves. I refrained from making a bad situation worse for Ms O’Riordan, so chose to pass on ‘dishing the dirt’ to the press folks about the incident. We all make mistakes, but those in the public eye, do so, in a very public manner. It later transpired that her marriage had just broken up and I wish her well in getting her life back on an even keel.

I’ve never done the ‘Dear Diary,’ thing, but over the past 4 years or so, I have recorded over 30,000 diary entries, in the form of Twitter posts. Committing thoughts to twitter is a bit like writing in a diary, except that all your “followers” may see them. On Twitter, I often forget that others are listening. I still feel a little embarrassed when I meet someone I don’t know, who says, ‘I follow you on Twitter’, my mental response to this is, “why would anyone want to do that?”

So why tweet, then?
Well, for me, it acts as a way of crystallising a thought or observation. The brevity imposed by twitter’s 140 character limit ensures that the essence of the idea is distilled, with little room for waffle. The other main social channels all have their pros and cons, but twitter is my social channel of choice. Facebook is useful for keeping in touch with family and friends, whereas Twitter enables us to discover things we weren’t previously aware of. I love its serendipity.
The format just feels right. There are multiple reasons for this. A key differentiator is the #hashtag’s ability to on-board us into a timeline with others, “around a virtual campfire”. This may be a topic, event or the live TV/Twitter combo, a particular favourite of mine
Twitter recently announced that it had hit 284 million active users and predicts total revenue of $1.3bn for 2014 — up from no revenue at all four years ago.
Twitter was however, far from an overnight-success, but rather evolved through many “wrong turns” and iterations before the Twitter bird landed “on the right perch”. , To get the full lowdown on the various founders’ multiple failures that culminated in Twitter’s eventual success, check out, “Hatching Twitter” -the eBook by@nickbilton . One ‘tipping point’, where Twitter really began to gain traction, was at the annual SXSW event in Austin, Texas in 2007, the year after it was first ‘hatched’. In the seven years since then, it has continued to flourish and though its subscriber numbers are still far from approaching those of Facebook, I believe it to be a far more exciting and dynamic platform.

Also, it’s no longer viewed as being a place where, “people just talk about what they had for breakfast”.
I never did figure out which Superhero mask Dolores was wearing …??

My Top 10 Tips for Effective Networking

When it comes to creating strong connections, networking is most effective when online and offline activity are combined. Social postings can help build our personas, but it can also be difficult to be ‘heard above the noise’ of the millions of daily online posts.

I helped build and grow an online community on Irish Social Network, shutterstock_Networking RendezVous353. We attracted more than 10,000 Irish people globally. To achieve this we used Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I discovered when physically launching the network in London and New York, however, that ‘on the ground’ networking was as important as the online activity.

Each of us has a combination of strong and weak connections within our networks. We all need to work at improving our networking skills. Here are some tips to help nurture your own business network.

1. Harry, Meet Sally
As appropriate, make introductions between your connections. Ideally you should seek the permission of both parties. We all remember those people who made introductions for us which proved beneficial to our businesses.

2. Pay It Forward
Reach out to share information that may help your contacts. It’s good to ‘pay it forward’ and not to be always looking for something for ourselves in return. This attitude has been a key component in the success of Silicon Valley’s start-up ethos.

3. Give  Due Credit
Engage with connections directly by congratulating them on new jobs. This also gives you a chance to update them on your current situation and explore possible synergies that may exist between your product or service and theirs.

4. Ask To Get
The old adage is true: if you don’t ask you don’t get. Use the knowledge and influence of your network, by asking for help when you need it. Most people are glad to help, if they can. It is equally good to engage and offer your help to others.  After all, what’s the point in building networks if we don’t help each other?

5. Personalised Contact
Send links to articles, blogs or other postings you think may be relevant to your connections. As with all things digital, these should be timely and relevant and be sure to personalise.

6. Cut Back To Grow
Another useful task to perform periodically is to ‘prune’ connections you have who, on reflection, may not be relevant. It’s easy on LinkedIn, for example, to ‘Remove a Connection’. You won’t cause offence, as they won’t be aware that you have done this. Quality matters more than quantity when it comes to connections. Isn’t it better to have fewer, but stronger, links?

7. Nurture Connections
After the above ‘pruning’ process, outlined above, it may be useful to re-introduce yourself to contacts you value but may not have engaged with for some time.

8. Are You Engaged?
Making connections without engaging with them is like joining a gym and never using it – a wasted opportunity. When it comes to social networking, building connections or followers isn’t enough in itself to help raise your online profile. You need to engage. On Twitter this can be achieved by retweeting, replying or favouriting. On LinkedIn or Facebook commenting on posts or group discussions or ‘liking’ are effective ways to engage.

9. Checking In 
If you don’t have a specific reason to contact a connection, it’s often worth checking-in with them anyway. Give them a brief update on your business and enquire about theirs. You never know when you might ‘jog their memory’ about the service you offer and perhaps prompt a business opportunity.

10. Face Up
Try, when possible, to meet with your connections face to face. Social networking is all well and good, but you can’t beat good old-fashioned meetings. People appreciate you taking the trouble to meet them. Often the conversations we engage in at these meetings produce serendipitous opportunities, which may not have happened online.

by Pat Carroll                                                                                                                                   Founder of digital marketing and networking consultancy : Touch Communications

DMX Digital Marketing Conference, (OBAMA, OLYMPICS, a NUDGE and ……??)



DMX Digital Marketing Conference was the first year that  The Marketing Institute (Ireland) have held this conference. Their aims were to condense the best of digital marketing and connect marketers with new thinking and practises.  In the quality of the speakers and breath of subjects covered, they certainly succeeded in holding an excellent event. ( If I were to offer one piece of constructive criticism, I would  say that while the Aviva is undoubtedly one of the world’s top rugby stadiums, as a conference venue, it leaves a lot to be desired)

These are a few random observations on the day’s highlights, for this attendee.. 



‘Lessons from the Obama Campaign’

-Teddy Goff, Digital Director for Obama Election campaign 2012

Email Marketing for POTUS!

He led the mass email team, writing and editing fundraising, recruitment and messaging emails and developing communication and segmentation plans. Teddy related how one email campaign alone, rose over $2m. This was achieved by split testing their emails into 18 different segments in order to achieve the optimum results.

Key takeaways:

  • Teddy stressed that email was a key component of the overall digital campaign.
  • He emphasised the importance of testing subject lines ( A useful tool for testing your own subject lines is Free Spamchecker Tool by )
  • Teddy’s campaign raised $690 million and registered more than 1m people online.
  • His team built followings of 45m and 33m people, respectively, on Facebook and Twitter and generated over 133m video views

Teddy 20110420-rob-lowe-10-300x205

 As I watched Teddy relating his experiences of working with President Obama, I was seeing Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) from The West Wing TV series!



‘Doing it right – how the Olympic and Paralympic Games became digital by default’

– Alex Balfour, Head of Digital for London 2012 Olympics

When this campaigns started in 2006, there were still more dial-up than broadband connections in the UK. Facebook was 18 months old and Twitter was yet to be born. This illustrates the short timeframe in which social media has come to permeate our lives. As the whole marketing landscape evolved over the subsequent 6 years, this campaign became digital by default.

Key takeaways:

  • Over the 6 year span of the London 2012 Olympic campaign, Alex’s  team delivered 80 websites, mobile apps, such as 1.86m Facebook Likes  and 1.9 m Twitter followers for 48 Accounts.
  • Google Doodles produced massive website traffic


Alex related some awesome statistics. For a detailed breakdown check out this Slideshare



‘The Mighty Nudge: The Future of SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing’

By  Rand Fiskin ,CEO & co-founder of SEOmoz

The Nudge

Rand spoke a lot of sense about the effectiveness of the nudge rather than the beg, borrow or steal approach to influencing consumers with tricks and interruption marketing

This method resonated with me as being very much in line with Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing approach.



Fewer choices … more actions (Don’t make me think !)

Towel1            OR              towel2


Book ‘Nudge’ by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler


Just a few of the many other great presentations:

‘’Inbound Marketing: The Art of Not Sucking’

-Kieran Flanagan, Marketing Director (EMEA) at Hubspot

Kieran spoke about how Hubspot ‘create marketing that people love’.

Kieran Hubspot

Their CEO and co-founder, Brian Halligan, did, after all, coin the phrase ‘Inbound Marketing’

Other platforms that are ‘inbound’ in their approach are Marketo, SEOmoz, and ExactTarget).

Click to view Kieran’s entertaining  Presentation

(Also, see my previous blog :  ‘Dublin – Digital Hubspot of Europe?’ )


‘Get the culture right and the tweets will look after themselves’

-Martin Thomas, Author of ‘Crowdsurfing’

Key takeaways:

  • Martin stressed that the challenges facing organisations seeking to embrace social media are not technological but cultural
  • Social merely dramatises the weakness that impede most modern organisations, which include excessive bureaucracy and lack of trust in employees
  • Sorting these things out will mean that social media will look after itself.


Slideshare Link to Martin’s presentation


‘Generating ROI from Social Marketing’

– Rebecca Quin – Wildfire

Rebecca spoke of the rise of the social consumer and how effective social media marketing delivers on concrete business objectives. She gave a number of real life examples of how several organisations are succeeding in social.  Her presentation was based on Wildfire’s downloadable strategy report: The Road to ROI – Building a Strategy for Social Marketing Success


Key takeaways:

  • 80% of consumers try products based on peer suggestions, while 74% encourage friends to try new products.
  • ‘Google + is Google’s fastest growing product ever ‘

As this company was recently acquired by Google, and due to the generous peppering of references to Google products, I tweeted and received the following reply 



So that was Obama, Olympics, a Nudge….and look what I spotted on the hallowed grounds of the Aviva :