Last week, I conducted a Social Media Experiment that I hashtagged #Cruise24. As far as I know, I was the first person to tweet for 24 straight hours. I tweeted for 24 hours from @CruiseSource, without sleeping or communicating any other way. I wanted to focus on Twitter for an extended amount of time to get a better grasp of the state of conversation on Twitter. Luckily, I work for CruiseDeals.com and they have been supportive of all my crazy social media ideas. I’ve included all the stats from the experiment at the bottom of the blog post:
Why? Due to my personal busyness, others busyness, and the increase in bot/spam accounts I’d been feeling like the conversation had drastically decreased from where it was a couple of years ago. I have Twitter up all day at work, but I only passively monitor the conversation outside of a few times each week where I may fully commit to the conversation. Due to this passive monitoring, I’ve been anxious that I am missing out some potential opportunities to book cruises via Twitter.
I also used the experiment to raise money & awareness for the Cruise4Haiti by getting donations of $24 from as many people as possible. I learned a lot from continuously searching Twitter, attempting to have cruise related conversations, and trying to raise money over a 24 hour period. Here are my 10 top observations about the current state of conversation on Twitter:
#1. The conversation is still on Twitter. There are lots of people having conversations on twitter @replying each other. I think the fact that you can’t see all of your friends @replies make it appear that there is a lot less conversation on Twitter. But there is still very little conversation about cruising outside of between travel agents and other travel industry professionals.
#2. Commit to the Conversation. If you truly want to be part of the conversation, then you need to be focused solely on Twitter for a set amount of time. You are not able to have meaningful conversations by casually monitoring Twitter throughout the day. Conversations are a two-way street and both members need to be committed the conversation
- I think it’s gotten too easy for us to monitor Twitter throughout the day, looking for search terms and responding to @replies. Thanks to Hootsuite and TweetDeck apps for Iphone and Droid it is easy to monitor Twitter all day long with multiple accounts. This is a very passive approach and I think this is why I was feeling that the conversation had slacked on Twitter.
- To more effectively and efficiently use Twitter, I’ll be making major changes to how use Twitter thanks to the experiment. I will share details in the next blog post!
#3 The sense of community on Twitter is still strong. We raised about $1400 for Cruise4Haiti’s non-profit partner Airline Ambassadors. Most of the $24 donations came from friends who I have met on Twitter and have spent time with face to face playing basketball, cruising the Caribbean on Social Fresh Cruise, at Tweetups, etc. By utilizing twitter as a catalyst to meet as many people as possible in person, it enabled me to raise money for a great cause. Without putting in the time to build real relationships, I wouldn’t have raised more than a couple of hundred dollars.
#4 Twitter is a social bank account. You have to make deposits by supporting your friend’s projects and businesses. By actively supporting and being involved with #TAMxc, #SilentClark, #SoFresh, #TPTpoker, #SCLThoops, #REBCCLT, and many other twitter hashtags in the past, I received support back from those friends for #Cruise24.
#5 It’s all about relationships. By primarily only getting donations from Twitter friends who I have met in person or share common passion, I learned that Twitter is still all about relationships. People are not regularly clicking on links from Twitter and making purchases, but they are making purchases from their Twitter friends. Building these relationships take time and effort. Luckily for those of us who are serious about growing our business via Twitter, most people are not willing to put in the work to build those relationships.
#6 There’s ton of junk on Twitter. When searching for people discussing cruise, I found so much spam and junk accounts. It’s tough to weed through all the junk to find real people to tweet with. I can see why some new people to Twitter get turned off. Hopefully Twitter will do a better job of weeding out spam/feed accounts that lower the value of the Twitter stream.
#7 Too many messages coming from outside apps. Facebook, Ping.fm, Posterous, and many other apps are feeding tweets. These are just more messages to weed through if you are looking to have a real 140 character conversation, because the people who sent them are not actually on Twitter and will not see the @reply. So you respond to one of these tweets, and do not get a response because the person is actually on Facebook, Posterous, FourSquare etc. Sometimes this leads to non-real time conversations which seem to be a growing percentage of the conversation on Twitter.
#8 Don’t Butt in. 2 Friends having a conversation about the potential of booking a cruise do not respond well with a cruise account like @CruiseSource butting into their conversation. So even when you find someone discussing the potential of booking a cruise, it is tough to get a reply when you butt into their conversation.
#9 If you want the word to get out, get on the radar of a key influencer. 1 Tweet from @ChrisBrogan equals about 200 tweets from @CruiseSource for generating traffic, retweets, excitement, and awareness. Social Media leaders with strong legit followings like @ChrisBrogan & others are so busy and overwhelmed it’s tough to get on their radars, but if you can, it will make a huge a difference.
#10. GO BIG. View social media and Twitter as a playground. We’re all experimenting. Use this to your advantage and don’t be scared to push the envelope of what is possible. Being different and trying things that have never been done will set you apart from the noise, even if it is only for 24 hours.
How do you feel about the current state of conversation on Twitter?
Thank you to all my friends who supported #Cruise24 and to all the new friends I made during the experiment. Stats from #Cruise24: 24hrs. of Tweeting, 658 Tweets, 37 Donors, 50 net new followers, 19 non-responses from @replies (@Redbull did not respond to 5 @replies), 55 Cruise Related Conversations with mostly non-industry Twitter accounts.