December 2, 2009

Tweeting Behind Your Back: What You Can't See Might Hurt You

Every speaker's nightmare is an audience full of hecklers who feel free to shout out comments the way sports fans shout at their TVs ("You call that a triple axel?!?") and bloodthirsty ancient Romans shouted at gladiators ("You call yourself a Thracian?!?) Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening, all too frequently, when cutting edge conferences include a Twitter "backchannel" -- a real-time electronic screen behind the speaker that displays a rolling stream of the audience's tweeted comments.

That particular interactive feature is designed to create an impromptu online "community" around the event and to encourage conversation and interaction. But it can also backfire with results that range from mildly distracting to downright disastrous.

Even the founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is not immune to being heckled via his own invention. When he shared the stage, recently, with a Jungian analyst at New York's Rubin Museum, someone mistakenly tweeted that Dorsey "will answer questions in real-time" instead of "will answer questions about Carl Jung that an analyst is tweeting in real-time." While Dorsey was having an interesting conversation about one of Jung's "mandala paintings" (which reminded him of a street grid with a public commons,) giant tweets were rolling past on the screen behind him with questions like "What do you think about the tweeter who got arrested?" and "You better do something about spam!" The real-time tweets effectively "spammed" the more interesting conversation about what real-time communication reveals about the collective unconscious.

But while that Twitterstream was off-topic and distracting -- the way a television is during dinner -- those pesky tweets were nothing compared to the damage that can be done when Twitter backchannel heckling turns personal.

That's what happened at Web 2.0 Expo, a recent three day conference in New York that brought together some of the best minds in digital media. One of the more interesting speakers, Danah Boyd, was being "tweet-slapped" so mercilessly during her talk, "Streams of Content," that the conference organizers, wisely -- and ironically - decided to pull the plug on the "stream of content" that was being projected behind her as she spoke.

Boyd is a brilliant and complex theoretician - a Microsoft researcher and a Harvard fellow for starters -- and miscalculated by trying to deliver too dense a talk in too short a time without a laptop "teleprompter." As a result, she read quickly from her stack of written notes while audience members who were "live tweeting" about her talk struggled to understand and to keep up.

The first salvo from the Twittersphere was fairly mild: a tweet that admonished her to "take a breath." But when that tweet rolled down the giant screen behind her, a portion of the audience laughed. Boyd - who couldn't see the tweet or the audience -- got rattled by the laughter and started reading even faster. Increasingly snarky tweets followed, then tweets protesting the snark, and soon the audience was paying more attention to the "tweet-off" on the screen than to the stream of Boyd's ideas.

Reflecting on that public pillorying in her own blog, Boyd wrote that, generally, if an audience "doesn't want to be challenged, they tune out or walk out. Yet, with a Twitter stream, they have a third option: they can take over." And that is exactly what some members of the audience did: criticizing her, joking about her, on the big screen behind her back while she soldiered on, unaware that she was being dissed.

While public "conversation" and the creation of online community around a presentation can add value (particularly in a less formal setting where a speaker can take questions from the stream), many people feel that projecting a Twitterstream behind a speaker is distracting and just downright rude.

To their credit, as soon as it was clear that the tone had deteriorated, the Web 2.0 Expo organizers came to Ms. Boyd's defense and turned off the stream (and were heckled, both verbally and via Twitter, for having done so), later replacing the unfiltered stream with a moderated one.

The problem isn't a new one. The old user-group flame wars have simply evolved with the internet into real-time streaming flame wars (and geo-located flame wars could be coming soon). But the digital community evolves organically as well in response to new formats and challenges and a great deal of constructive conversation has centered around what happened to Boyd. Her own no-holds-barred blog post about the incident has attracted 180 comments to date, which nearly unanimously sympathize with what happened to her (at an otherwise excellent conference) and applaud her courage in writing about it so frankly.

So what's the solution?

Moderating the backchannel clearly helps, but the fundamental question is: should any speaker have to share the stage with an audience's tweets, particularly when those tweets turn insulting, trivial or attention-grabbing?

While many digital events don't display the Twitterstream, some recent events have taken an even more radical approach by declaring themselves "Twitter-free zones," asking attendees not to tweet at all, instead to simply listen. Those are the exception, however, and most Twitter users expect - and enjoy - being able to interact freely on the social web, and most of the content tweeted from conferences is informative, interesting and respectful.

One intriguing possibility could be to moderate the backchannel by using Twitter Lists -- a new function that allows users to create a list of Twitter accounts that can be followed as a group. Conference attendees could be automatically included in a list that anyone interested in news from the conference is free to follow. That would prevent spammers from joining the stream, but would prevent virtual participation and would still require moderation to remove hecklers.

Gentry Underwood, who also spoke at Web 2.0 Expo, took another interesting approach: he added his own prerecorded tweets to the tweetstream, so that they functioned as bullet-points for his talkand kept the audience focused on him and his key ideas.

And comedian Baratunde Thurston took the bull by the horns at the beginning of his Web 2.0 Expo keynote, joking, "if there are ugly nasty offensive tweets about me going on behind that I can't see, I will find you with my hashtag army, we will hunt you down and we will destroy you."

"Twitiquette" is an evolving set of conventions, too new to be fully worked out yet, taking shape as a result of events in the real-time stream. Perhaps the simplest solution of all, as we're working out technical ways to handle some of the questions posed by real-time interaction, would be the adoption of Good Manners 2.0 (a free upgrade from Manners 1.0).

Perhaps all conferences should begin with a talk on that.


November 18, 2009

When Ideas Flow Faster than Tweets...

Danah Boyd spoke at Web 2.0 Expo today and her talk -- and the audience’s reaction -- was what my little boy’s teachers refer to as a “Teachable Moment.”

Danah Boyd is a brilliant and complex theoretician in a world where speakers often limit themselves to expressing simple, easily digestible, ideas like “join the conversation,” “be authentic,” and “first listen.” But while simple, all three of those ideas are very good advice. Particularly “first listen.”

If Boyd made any mistakes, it was trying to deliver too much content in not enough time. As a result, she spoke quickly. And her ideas were nuanced and intricate. Not the first time that’s ever happened but with this audience there was an interesting difference. Many of us were planning to "live tweet" about her presentation as she gave it but we found that couldn’t tweet as fast as she spoke.

There is a whole new class of reporters -- live tweeters -- who resemble the court reporters of yore. At times, today, there were literally hundreds of tweets per minute flowing from the conference. I was one of them. I type very quickly.

But Boyd speaks very quickly, and not in slice-able sound bites. So we tweeters were left in the dust.

So what does a tweeter do when a tweeter is frustrated? A tweeter tweets. The first frustrated tweet --which was relatively mild and humorous – admonished Boyd to “take a breath.” And that tweet appeared in the Twitter stream on the giant screen behind her. The audience laughed, and Boyd didn’t know why. And once that tweet fired the first salvo, more snarky tweets started flowing and the audience started paying more attention to the Twitter stream on the screen behind her than to the stream of Boyd’s ideas (which were, ironically about flow and the stream).

So the tweeters were tweeting comments instead of listening to her, and the rest of the audience was smiling and laughing at the comments instead of listening to her.

And yet every one of we tweeters no doubt believes the Social Media mantra: “before you engage in social media, first listen, then engage.”

If there is an interesting conference going on in San Francisco or Chicago, I like to watch the stream because I can’t be there. And when I am at a conference I enjoy tweeting to share the interesting content and add my own thoughts. But the primary value to be had from any conference keynote is in listening to the speaker.

If a speaker speaks to quickly for us to transcribe her thoughts, perhaps we don’t have to do it. Tweeting doesn’t have to be a competitive sport. Perhaps we can let our tweeting fingers rest for a few minutes. Perhaps we all can take a breath and first listen… then engage.

November 5, 2009

New Twitter Lists: Open House or Velvet Rope?

Twitter has been rolling out its new "lists" feature over the past couple of weeks and the buzz of excitement in the Twittersphere has been palpable. The Internets have resounded with cries of "Game changer!" and "We're all curators now!"

Initially, the idea of Twitter Lists seemed like total a win-win. Active tweeters in the Twitter Open House could instantly become 140-character versions of
Arianna Huffington, wielding curatorial power, creating and publishing Twitter Lists called "Fave Fives in Wasilla," and "100 Most Influential Silicon Valley Gardeners," and "500 Most Awesome List Makers." It was a heady feeling.

But then a funny thing happened. Some of that excitement was replaced by a quiet but insistent buzz of anxiety as previously self-confident tweeters suddenly turned into "unlisted" wallflowers, startled and a bit bewildered by the enormity of the unexpected change.

In case you're not already familiar with the feature: you may now create up to 20 lists, each containing up to 500 tweeters. Those lists may be kept private (like "Avatars I Have Secret Crushes On") or, more significantly, made public. Your public
Twitter Lists are visible to everyone, whether or not they follow you, and so are other users lists that include you. So now, instead of just following one master list of Twitter accounts that you've (presumably) carefully researched and created, you can now create sub-lists (something that was already possible with third-party programs like Tweetdeck but not with Twitter itself.) You can also - and this is the real news -- dip into Twitterstreams that other users have created and "bookmark" them by following the entire Twitter List or pick and choose tweeters from them to add to your own lists.

It's a whole new party and that party looks a bit like high school or a private club -- with tweeters already "requesting" to get on lists. (It also bears a slightly unnerving resemblance to Old Media. What is Vanity Fair if not Graydon Carter's list?)

Twitter Lists are clearly a convenient way to organize tweet streams by affinity groups, like location, topic, or expertise. As Twitter founder
Jack Dorsey explained at a recent event

But at the same time, Twitter Lists have allowed an element of exclusivity and in-crowd mentality to suddenly flourish among users who seem only too happy to deploy their velvet ropes. Many of the lists being created are named things like "The Top Thought Leaders in Tech," and "The 100 Most Awesome Tech Tweeters" and "Coolest Tech Twitterers" or most simply, "My Fave Tech Tweeters." And so, where previously the only public choice was "Do I or don't I choose to follow you?" now list makers are very publicly judging the value of other tweeters by which lists they include them in, and which lists they don't.

There is also somewhat of a gold rush effect. Industrious list-makers who got the feature in its beta roll out have already flooded the field with lists of their favorites and uploaded them to a new list-aggregating site called
Listorious, creating an instant list-gap. Though anyone can upload their lists to Listorious, whose mission, according to CEO Greg Galant, is "to make it easy for people to find the good stuff on Twitter," clearly not everyone will. And some tweeters have friends who create more lists than others, while other tweeters have friends who, for whatever reasons (jobs, perhaps?), haven't had the time or inclination to create any lists of their own.

Because "being listed" is being touted as the new economy of influence, all the hard work users have poured into attracting a Twitter following may suddenly have been in vain if those followers don't get cracking and make lists.

So while some dance cards filled up immediately -- 10000+ lists have sprung up to date listing
Ashton Kutcher as a "celeb," 11,000 listing @Mashable, 15,000 listing @BarackObama, and multiple tech lists covering Silicon Valley royalty -- some dance cards remain painfully empty, leading such respected Social Media thought leaders as Chris Brogan to question whether it's a good idea to create something that excludes a significant part of your following.

Thanks to Twitter Lists, there are also several new public metrics that appear on each user's Twitter home page. Before, you only had to worry about how many people you followed and how many followed you back. Now, the stats are much more specific and complex. The new world includes: the number of people who have listed you, the number of people who are following the lists that include you, the lists you yourself have created, the number of lists you are following, and the number of people who are following your lists. It is not only confusing, but also potentially humbling and dispiriting if no one has listed you and no one is following the "awesome" lists you created.

While Twitter Lists will certainly provide useful short cuts, allowing users to benefit from the fruits of other users research and expertise, lists change what was a fundamentally democratic system, creating a "listing class."

The new Twitter economy may very well be the dominance of the list makers with negotiations for quid pro quo, the creation of new Twitter accounts in order to create new lists, or, worse, payment for inclusion in lists.

And perhaps most ominously, you have no control over either what Twitter Lists you are on, or the names of the lists on which you appear. You may consider yourself a serious scholar, for instance, but turn up on a list called "Good for a Laugh." You may be looking for work and turn up on a list called "Slacker Frat Bros." You may end up feeling thoroughly misunderstood. And it's all taking place in public.

Twitter's creators have said that they believe "lists will be a new discovery mechanism" and there is certainly the promise that lists will make the ever-more-crowded Twitter more manageable and bring back some of its serendipity, allowing users to find interesting and valuable new people through recommendations by trusted sources (Trust me -- Ashton Kutcher is a celebrity!) Lists will particularly benefit new users who don't have to spend months digging for gold, looking for other like-minded tweeters, they can simply follow who another user suggests they follow.

Let's hope Twitter Lists don't turn Twitter into a more stratified environment that is dominated by cool kid list-makers, leaving other frustrated and disappointed users standing behind the velvet ropes, on the outside looking in.
exploring Twitter and the collective unconscious, he's always been fascinated by maps, grids, and commons. For Dorsey, the new lists transform Twitter into something a little more systematized, something easier to navigate.

August 7, 2009

The Day My Twitter Boutique Turned into a Spam Bazaar

A few weeks ago I made a one-click mistake that transformed my idyllic Twitterverse from a wonderful gourmet boutique to a deafening street bazaar, replete with shilling merchants, junk that fell apart, and seedy grifters inviting me to "follow them to another site" for some special deals and special "peeks" at their hot pictures. Very special indeed!

My troubles started innocently enough: I was browsing through my followers looking for interesting new people to follow back, using a great little tool called Twitter Karma that allows you to do just that.

I was already following 700 tweeters, each of whom I considered a winner - interesting people, worthy causes, and sources of thought-provoking info. But there were 800 tweeters following me that I wasn't following back so I was sifting through them, seeing who they were.

And then it happened: with one fatal click of the mouse, I accidentally chose "bulk follow," and started following all 800, more than doubling my already well-populated stream.

In they all poured, flooding my feed, jamming my inbox, offering me "irresistible" messages like "**ATTENTION** New to Twitter and want to grow your followers??" and "Market your products and make money with Twitter!!" and "Click here 2 see more of me..." The only thing missing was "Want 2 make your teeth 10 shades whiter overnight?" With that one click, my controlled Twitter ecosystem was suddenly buffeted by a blinding swath of incoming locusts, dust devils, and hail.

I'm not an expert enough Twitter Historian yet (is Stanford hiring?) to know how long the spammers, charlatans, and frauds have been hanging out on the periphery. At first, Twitter was a bit like an all-day concert where the real tickets, the real CDs, and the FDA-approved sirloin burgers were being sold inside the fairgrounds. Alas, it was only a matter of time until scalpers, bootleggers, and mystery-meat stands started massing at the gates, waiting for the fences to give way. And give way they did.

Should we blame it on Ashton Kutcher? Some observers do. Before he challenged CNN to a popularity contest to see who could get the most followers, 800 was considered respectable and 5,000 an incredibly impressive number of followers on Twitter. And that was good, because why would a spammer target 5,000 people when it was so much more lucrative hacking into email accounts? Kutcher, or AplusK as he's known on Twitter to his astounding 3.1 million followers, raised the threshold, garnering not only inflated numbers but incessant media attention, big name converts, and millions of people signing up to see what the fuss was about. But while Mr. AplusK seems like a likable, tech-savvy, do-gooder, not all the folks that he -- and the subsequent media storm -- attracted to Twitter are as benevolent as he. And too many are playing a kind of Twitter quid pro quo: "I'll follow you if you'll follow me back, and if you don't I'll un-follow you and follow someone else who will."

I have "Twitter Friends" who follow and are followed by anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 people. Most of them are respected professionals who have earned those large followings by being helpful, friendly, and informative ("adding value" in Social Media parlance). Social media giant Chris Brogan, for instance, used to follow back everyone who followed him, both out of courtesy and because he's genuinely interested in discovering new people with valuable points of view. But even Chris is rethinking his position now, overwhelmed by spammers and automated direct message bots.

And so I've spent the last few weeks undoing the damage my one keystroke wrought. First I unfollowed all the people who promised "thousands of new followers," then the people who promised "guaranteed ways to make money," then people only tweeting links to their products and services, then people whose tweetstreams were widely divergent from my interests (I'm not into "rad snowboarding," for instance), and of course the stock photos of hot women whose hilarious English-challenged tweets ("I'm kind of girl who like 2 lay back and relax") all end with "want 2 see my pics?"

Things are almost back to normal now. My Twitter stream is tidy, the quality is high again, and, in the end, I discovered at least 300 very interesting new people I am happy to be following. And if I inadvertently unfollowed some interesting new folks, I'm confident I'll find them again. Because, while Twitter is being invaded by the Barbarians at the Gates, it is still a wonderland of fascinating people to discover.

There are lots of ways to use Twitter, almost all of them right, and everyone finds the way that works best for them. I've discovered that I am most comfortable being a Boutique Tweeter and not a supermarket, content with a group of people whose tweets I really enjoy, not aiming to have the most stock or the widest range, but enjoying a play-list of handpicked Tweeters, each of whose tweets adds value and quality to my day whenever I power up Tweetdeck. I still use Twitter Karma, it's still a great tool, but I steer clear now of that little Pandora's Box known as "bulk follow."

July 28, 2009

Two Simple Twitter Friend Search Tools You Shouldn't Overlook

I have been looking for an effective tool that lets me search quickly through Twitter friends and followers but have not yet seen anything that really fits the bill.

True, you can create groups on Tweetdeck and other apps to create smaller, more manageable feeds. But that still doesn't give you the option of a quick search for "that guy from Austin" or a one-click quick way to go straight to a particular Tweeter. And when you're following hundreds or thousands of Tweeters, things can get a little overwhelming.

To tide me over, I've rediscovered the elegant simplicity of two humble web-interface tools that take me right to the people whose tweets I read most frequently, the Twitter equivalent of my "Fave 5."

The first is the often-ignored star, the "Favorites" tool. Most people use it to save favorite tweets but I use it to save the Tweeters I find myself checking in with most frequently. That way I can open my list, scan through the approximately 30 Tweeters I've saved, and go right to the person whose feed I want to read. And updating it is a breeze.

The second simple tool is the bookmark function on my browser. That's right, the bookmark! I've created a Twitter folder on my tool bar, added pages to it, then sorted those pages by name to alphabetize them. That creates a pull-down list that gets me to "Dean", or "the other Dean" or "David" in lightning quick time. And because it's alphabetized, which works for me, I find I can use it to quickly scan through over 50 Tweeters. Old-fashioned, perhaps, but speedy and effective.

Two simple tools, two quick ways to click through the clutter and get quick access to your favorite streams.

May 20, 2009

AT&T Operators Should Answer More Social Media Calls

"Is anyone from AT&T on Twitter?" I tweeted several weeks ago, "I have a horror story."

The silence was deafening, despite the fact that there are at least six Twitter accounts that feature AT&T's blue-striped sphere as their avatar. Granted, with a foreboding Tweet like that, I might not have wanted to respond either, but I'm a customer, so AT&T should have been paying attention.

I have to admit I was perplexed that that the AT&T sphere is not participating more actively in the Twittersphere. They are active on Facebook, for instance, where they forged a strategic alliance with rapper Lil Wayne (who currently has 93,800 followers on one Twitter account).

So why the lack of response on arguably the fastest growing Social Media phenomenon (and real time search engine)? AT&T is a phone company, for heaven's sake, and should be listening when customers reach out, whether it's from an iPhone, Facebook, or two tomato cans and a very sensitive string!

And yet their Twitter line was buzzing and none of their accounts were answering.

My motives for reaching out to them on Twitter were simple: I am an active Twitter user and I saw that AT&T had Twitter accounts too. I didn't need more customer service, which is what often prompts tweeters reach out to @comcastcares, for instance, run by Comcast's engaging and effective Director of Digital Care, Frank Eliason, who handles questions ranging from outages, to hard rebooting, to missing closed captions. My specific problems, which included a startling policy, a mind-boggling procedure, and systemic errors, had already been solved.

I simply wanted to connect with AT&T on a corporate level to give them feedback about what they got right and what went appallingly wrong.

Here's what they did right: three remarkably dedicated phone reps -- all of whom I will call Wendy because one actually was named Wendy -- spent a combined total of six hours of company time, making sure I got exactly what I needed.

On Friday, Wendy #1 spent one hour porting my number from T-Mobile, creating a Family Plan, talking her supervisor into preserving my thousands of rollover minutes, and giving me a free refurbished Blackberry Bold. She was so delightful to work with, I let her talk me into a gel cover I didn't need. When none of the emails she had promised me with the contract and tracking numbers had arrived by Monday morning, however, I called back to discover AT&T had absolutely no record of my order. In spite of the reference number I had gotten from Wendy #1, the transaction had vanished into thin air.

Enter Wendy #2 who spent 3 hours trying to track my order down, actually calling me back with frequent updates. Finally, she discovered that my Harlem zip code had raised a red flag (I'm not kidding..,) because there are "fraud issues associated with it" and that my order had not even been entered into the system yet because AT&T (get ready...) had certain procedures they needed to follow first to verify my address.

I was stunned, not only because I had been "profiled," so to speak because I live in Harlem, but because of what it told me about AT&T's efficiency. AT&T was already my phone company: so if they don't know where I live, who does? And because I was already a customer, all they had to do was 1) call me back, 2) email me, or 3) look me up in the phone book to find out, but apparently AT&T has a "procedure" they have to follow to verify addresses that takes several days.

Wendy #2 truly cared, though, and worked hard to get me what I needed, which I appreciated. She facilitated a little magic and the phone arrived late Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately it arrived with the wrong number written on the Sim card. Not only did my phone company not know where I live, they didn't know my phone number either!

Enter Wendy #3, as gracious and dedicated as the others, and two hours later my phone was up and running with the correct number.

Dedicated customer service reps like the ones who helped me can do a lot to build brand loyalty, but only if the company they are representing cares enough to give excellent service as a company. And so, frustrated by how many hours of my (and their) life this had required, I reached out on Twitter, where I knew AT&T had several corporate accounts, to compliment their customer service reps while pointing out the places where their systems had broken down. But no one tweeted back.

Smart companies monitor the conversation. Craig Newmark, who astonishingly still does customer service for Craigslist, regularly uses Twitter Search to see what people are saying and to volunteer to help solve their problems. More and more government agencies are listening to and connecting with citizens through social media, like the HHS Center for New Media, whose excellent Andrew Wilson has been an important and reassuring source of information about the swine flu outbreak.

As Digital Marketer Matt Snodgrass said at a recent round table I attended: "Customer service is often facilitated with a simple 'I hear you' and that's where Twitter can shine."

But AT&T, whose employees had been such good listeners on the phone, either wasn't listening or wasn't responding on Twitter, so my attempt to give them feedback fell on deaf ears. Given that AT&T has already established a presence on Twitter, it makes a lot of sense to integrate it with other customer service functions; it makes sense to join the conversation and let customers know that the company itself is as caring as they ask their employees to be.

Come on, AT&T, it's time to reach out and touch someone again. And this time you need to do it online.

April 18, 2009

What Susan Boyle & Patrick Doyle of Domino's Have in Common

The Susan Boyle performance that took the world by storm this week has an important lesson to teach us about Social Media Fundamentals, a lesson Domino's also learned this week, the hard way.

It's easy to call Susan Boyle an ugly duckling who blossomed into a swan, but that's where a lot of commentators are getting it wrong. Susan Boyle did not "transform" on stage; it was we -- her audience -- who transformed and, most importantly, engaged.

We all felt we knew something in advance about how talented she would turn out to be. The judges rolled their eyes; the studio audience snickered; and I watched the youtube link, I admit, with trepidation. But Susan Boyle stood there confidently, "cheekily", and held her ground. She represented herself truthfully and had presence.

She engaged us and showed us her strengths. We dabbed our eyes and tipped our hat (or our computer mouse) to her. We let go of preconceptions based on her lack of polish and gave her the credit she deserved. We met her halfway and changed, hopefully for the better.

Expectation>Surprise> Engagement

The two other most talked about videos of the week were the "Disgusting Domino's People" video and the response by the CEO of Domino's, Patrick Doyle.

Our reactions to the "disgusting" video by two malicious employees was based, in part, on a confirmation of our fears about fast food -- that uncaring employees make our food unsafe. The "Ewww... I knew it!" factor.

But our reaction to CEO Patrick Doyle's well-crafted message was surprisingly similar to our reaction to Susan Boyle and followed a similar pattern:

  • We were initially distrustful about what we were about to see: "This is going to be painful."
  • We were wary: "If you're good, why did you wait this long to come forward?"
  • We were begrudgingly tolerant: "Okay, let's see what you've got."
  • Then, surprisingly, we were engaged because Doyle, like Boyle, held his ground unflinchingly, told us what he stood for, defied our expectations, and had presence.

He took charge of the conversation with his audience -- like Susan Boyle did with her unwavering voice -- and transformed the conversation.

Presence > Voice

When judge Simon Cowell asked why she hadn't achieved success yet, Susan Boyle said, "I've never been given the chance before but here's hoping it will change." The internet, Social Media, and reality shows have given us all a chance to have a "voice." We can waste that chance like the Dominos Duo did and end up with arrest warrants (and poor career options!), or we can craft that voice and engage with our audiences.

Now clearly,someone knew Susan Boyle could sing; she had auditioned with the show's producers, who were savvy enough to leave the schmaltzy music swelling. But the audience didn't know and the audience was moved, uplifted, and transformed. And clearly Patrick Doyle has a crack team that helped him word his statement carefully, but he delivered it with heartfelt resolve and class (note to crack team: add CEO to your youtube tags). And while Domino's is using the clunky @dpzinfo on Twitter, at least they now have a presence on Twitter which is an important next step (2nd note to crack team: @P_Doyle is available!) The next step now, for Domino's, is to craft an engaging voice,

Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden got it right when she told Susan Boyle, "I honestly think we were all being very cynical and I think that's the biggest wake-up call ever." Perhaps it's not the biggest wake-up call ever (the stock market crash, anyone?), but it is an important one.

We all have expectations based on preconceptions. Sometimes all it takes to help us evolve as audiences and consumers, though, is someone coming out, center stage, to let us hear their voice.

Presence and voice: brava Susan Boyle and bravo Patrick Doyle.