The only New Year’s resolution a digital marketer needs to make

First off, how many of us are actually able to keep our New Year’s Resolutions? Not many, and my hunch is because we either make too many of them or the ones we do make are really tough to accomplish. Never really went for a jog in 2008 but your resolution in 2009 is to run a half-marathon? Right, good luck, bucko.

So for all of you digital marketers, I have the one New Year’s Resolution that a) you absolutely have to do and b) actually CAN accomplish. Imagine that.

If you consider yourself to work in any form of digital marketing, you probably are like most of us and have a hard time keeping up with all the new technology that pops up almost daily. How you keep up (email newsletters, RSS feeds, reading blogs, trade publications, etc.) can be overwhelming and it can be tough figuring out how to wade through all the chatter to find the information you seek.

And once you find that information, that new technology that seems to be gaining traction, you then have the dubious task of deciding if its worth it to you and your company to explore it further. Is Second Life something we should be looking into? What about this Facebook thing? Should we have an RSS feed? What’s a tweet and is it contagious?

It is my contention that the only way to get a decent baring on whether or not there are merits to any new technology is to dive into it and get your hands dirty. Too many marketers have the bad habit of reading or hearing about something new, giving it five minutes of thought and then pronouncing that it’s not worth their time or money. This is a HUGE mistake.

So your New Year’s Resolution this year is to pick one new technology each quarter and dive in. That’s four times a year.

I have to say, however, that even though I have been declaring this as a “must do” for people in my profession, I fell victim to it a while back. See, I heard about this Twitter thing and thought, who the heck needs that? For those of you not aware, the Wikipedia definition of Twitter is: Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. So about three months ago I decided to try it, even though I was skeptical about who could need such a service.

Boy was I wrong.

Here are some things I have learned about Twitter since:

1. It’s not email. At all. And it’s not the same as Instant Messaging, or texting. It really is something altogether new. However, you CAN use it for direct messaging.

2. It’s a one-to-one / mass communication. I know that sounds odd, but you’ll understand what I mean by that if you dive in and try it out.

3. It’s different than Facebook. It’s not your status, it’s a question or statement out to your network. Your status in Facebook is to tell everyone your mood or what you’re up to at that point in time. I used to think Twitter had no future because it was the same as Facebook status’ing. Not true.

4. I was missing an amazing communication vehicle…and missing the conversation. Twitter has become my first source of industry news, barnone. Google Reader is a distant second.

5. Twitter is real time. Blogs aren’t, takes too long to write up a blog post. If you want to know what is happening right now, Twitter is just about the only way to experience that.

6. It’s another way to communicate directly with your customers. Granted, only a small percentage of your customers are on Twitter – today – but there are still customers there. Just ask Dell ($1MM in sales from Twitter) and Zappos.

Peronally, I’m still learning about Twitter. It’s one new technology that I actually plan to continue using. Follow me and try it for yourself.

I’m now diving into FriendFeed, because again I don’t quite get what the big deal is with it but several people I respect are all over it (like Robert Scoble), so I’m going to give it a try. At least for Q1 – see how easy this is ;)

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