@MinneapolisMN – The City Twitter

Last Thursday, I got a Twitter friend request from @MinneapolisMN. This so-called “City Twitter” was created by Orlando, FL-based Adrenalize, “a domain name registrar, consulting, email/website hosting and a Second Life® training company.” Adrenalize founder and CTO Corey Leong is currently the one twittering as @MinneapolisMN.

The first messages from @MinneapolisMN:

Greetings all! @MinneapolisMN officially launches tomorrow. We’ll be tweeting news, sports, weather, events, traffic tweets and more!

If you have a tweetout, a shout out but on twitter, just direct message @minneapolismn and we’ll tweet asap to other peeps following in MN!

Feel free to dm @minneapolismn anytime. We will be offerring sponsorships for our daily tweets so stayed tweeted. :) corey

I emailed Corey wondering about the evolution of the idea and his intentions for it. Our exchange is below and my thoughts on it follow. (For the impatient, my executive summary is “I hate it.”)

[MB] Where did you get the idea to be the City Twitter for Minneapolis?

[CL] I came up with the idea while chatting with a friend at a restaurant one day. I was trying to figure out how to broadcast his limo company info to local twitter users. Since his limos were local, the twitter page had to be local too so I thought a city twitter page might work. I went home that night and created @OrlandoFL on twitter. The next day I started twittering local content info such as news, traffic, and weather info along with his limo info as a sponsorship plug. Thirty twitter users started to follow the first day and I received positive compliments from local twitterers and even one all the way from Paris, France too. Since the reception was so positive, I also created @NewYorkNY and @MinneapolisMN.

[MB] How did you end up being the one to do the Twittering?

[CL] This past August, I recently attended the Second Life Community Convention 07 in Chicago and thought it would be fun to twitter the event. During the sessions, I used my pocketpc and twittered the speakers’ comments and slide shows. Others at the conference followed and were able to follow along the biz track while attending a different track such as the educational track. So I twittered all weekend long, about 300 tweets in total. So, I guess accidentally volunteered into a new way of broadcasting and micro journalism.

[MB] What sorts of things do you plan on Twittering?

[CL] We plan to create more local city twitter pages. On Oct. 1, we’ll launch @ChicagoIL which within two hours of creating seven days prior, the twitter had 30 followers. On each city twitter, we’ll twitter the local traffic, weather, news, sports, concerts & club happeninings, along with other fun features such as tweetouts, which are like shoutouts on the radio, and an all request lunch tweet hour for twitterers to request their favorite local topics. We’re going to involve and empower the local twitterers as much as possible. That’s where we see the power of city twitters. Give the local twitterers a voice via a community twitter.

[MB] Tell me about your company Adrenalize and how this fits in with your business.

[CL] Adrenalize offers enterprise messaging for conferences, conventions, concerts, festivals, etc. Twittering is just one form of messaging service. We’ve also partnered with a UK messaging company for public and private group messaging at events and conventions. Another service we provide are virtual call centers using our IBM partnership. We use linux and skype technologies along with IBM hardware to provide a virtual call center solutions for event management, customer support help, and other business related services. The other service we provide is virtual world development. We’ve been in Second Life since January of ’07 and are busy helping potential clients and IBM partners create a virtual presence in Second Life. From sim development to virtual business development, we help clients create their virtual world presence in a a whole new world of business.

[MB] Your Twitter bio states that you’re accepting sponsorships for @minneapolismn. How do you see that working?

[CL] Just like tv and radio programming, we tweet sponsors at the beginning, middle, and end of programming. We take an NPR approach by discretely saying who the programming segment is sponsored by and include the company name, brief description, web adddress, and/or phone number, within the 140 characters restriction. We’ve broken down our programming from Monday to Friday. Currently, programming begins at 8am with the traffic tweet and ends at 6pm with the world news tweets.

In addition, we offer classified tweets such as real estate, jobs, and for sale items. These tweets are twittered during chosen programming during the day according to the client.

We are currently researching twittering live events for after hours and on the weekends. We believe twittering sporting events, concerts, and other various after hour events will only enhance the experience for our local twitter followers. We envision using this platform to reach a whole new market and compete for local market share with tv, radio, and newspapers in a more timely and mobile distribution.

After two days of receiving @MinneapolisMN twitters, here are my thoughts.

  1. Relevance
    • A “city twitter” should be about the city, and nothing else. Period.
    • Following those first few introductory Twitters were invitations to follow sister cities @NewYorkNY and @OrlandoFL.
    • I was disappointed to click through a sponsor link and see that it’s an Orlando company. I couldn’t patronize them even if I wanted to.
    • Someone local would know that the fact that there’s an open air Twins stadium on the way is not news as of today.
  2. Focus
    • Quality, not quantity. Because of the volume of Twitters I get, I’m really hoping they’re meaningful. Because the city twitter is not someone I know personally, the standard is even higher.
    • The first full day of city twittering started with 28 traffic Twitters. Twenty-eight. Around lunch time there came 10 Twitters with the next 10 days worth of weather. The weather report I read last night is not accurate today.
    • As of 3:20pm on Day 2, I’ve received 200 twitters from @MinneapolisMN. That’s noise.
  3. Someone local needs to do it. Why would I trust someone from Florida who is looking all this stuff up on the web to provide me good info about my city? Someone who’s already in the know will bring more focused and relevant content, drum up a better following, and thus have much better luck with the crowdsourcing you’re looking for. The Twin Cities is a weird market in that it’s pretty mature as far as internet crowdedness goes, but it’s not big enough to sustain much overlap.
  4. Twitter is not radio or television. First consider this thought on using Twitter: People generally put things out on Twitter in the spirit of sharing that exact moment with others. People can consume things on Twitter just as immediately, even engaging in conversation in what amounts to chatting on IM. Or they can consume things on Twitter whenever they want to. i.e., not in the present.
    • So while a link to an article or an astute comment, or a funny conversation can be enjoyed after the fact, twenty-eight traffic status updates are no longer useful or interesting once that moment has passed.
    • Teasers are ineffective, unnecessary, and unwanted.
    • I feel strongly that you need to build some street cred before you hammer folks with sponsorships. Especially since the barrier to entry on Twitter is so low. If time out of your day is the concern, I’m sure there are folks who’d be happy to volunteer just to get some exposure.
  5. It could work.
    • As Corey said, Twitter is a messaging tool. How people use it will continue to expand and evolve.
    • You could always run the @MinneapolisMN RSS feed through Yahoo! Pipes to filter the information.
    • With enough users, the re-twittering/re-broadcasting idea could be pretty cool. Hell, people could bypass the direct message and twitter to other Minneapolis folks simply by starting every message with “@MinneapolisMN” because then all (and only) the other folks who also follow @MinneapolisMN will get that message.

13 Comments so far

  1. Chuck Olsen (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

    Thanks for doing this interview.

    I agree completely. The idea is good; this implementation is terrible for all the reasons you site. I unfollowed after a couple of hours.


  2. Greg (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

    Lame. This service is LAME. After being friends for less than 12 hours, @minneapolismn sent me 14 updates in 39 minutes. I immediately unfriended them. The best part about Twitter is receiving an occasional update from friends (and those you stalk online), especially that these updates can be sent via txt message. @MinneapolisMN sents a boatload of traffic updates every morning.

    If you were actually on the road and in need of those updates, you would crash your car trying to dig through the 8-15 txts (except me, because I’m such a good driver).

    Anyway, I like the concept, but the noise is intolerable.


  3. Chuck Olsen (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 4:20 pm

    (err, “cite”)


  4. ryanol (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

    People still twit?

    I thought they were all too busy P0wncing!

    -Meh

    Twitter stoped being interesting when they stopped pushing live updates.


  5. Tipper (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

    The amount of lingo in that interview frightened me.


  6. thePRChick (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

    It’s poor implementation like this that gives PR and advertising a bad name. HELLO – Relevance. Like it would have cost them that much to hook up with someone from Minneapolis to coordinate. It’s so impersonal. ugh.

    Kudos Erica for an insightful interview and well executed response.


  7. George (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 6:22 pm

    Excellent work, Erica.


  8. ranty (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

    The sponsor was in Orlando???? Silliness!

    I agree that this could be a cool thing if done in a better way… and by someone local.


  9. Erica M (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

    Twitter stoped being interesting when they stopped pushing live updates. — I really wish they could get whatever they need to fix up to snuff so that I get my messages in a timely fashion (and in order), and that the whole message shows up on my phone.

    I say it’s what you make of it, and you need to choose your friends carefully. There are plenty of cases of people who are otherwise friends but just don’t follow someone on Twitter because their Twitter habits are annoying or unwelcome. But it’s not for everyone and I’m not going to go off (any further) on a “Twitter is awesome” tangent.

    __________

    I have to say, the fact that this came into being as a way to advertise leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I think the fact that he had 30 responses to @ChicagoIL within 2 hours is indicative of how closely some people follow their Twitters. Which says to me that it would be a bad idea to flood them with info. And, as Greg mentioned, getting all that on your phone is even worse.

    Hey, if anyone is inclined to consider taking it over, you should get in touch with Corey. Leave a comment and I’ll pass you along. Or visit the Twitter page.


  10. Aaron (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

    Thanks for enduring all of this so I didn’t have to.


  11. Hannah (unregistered) on September 24th, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

    After getting a friend request the other day as well, I did a quick check of the page. Nothing of interest to me, and too many posts for my taste. I completely agree with your assessment–noise.

    I would be interested in seeing what someone local could do with this. Maybe someone’s already doing it, and I just haven’t noticed yet…?


  12. Erica M (unregistered) on September 25th, 2007 @ 8:16 am

    Heard back from Corey. He said thanks for the feedback, they’re still figuring this all out, and he’ll definitely be looking for someone local to work on this.


  13. Bill K (unregistered) on September 26th, 2007 @ 6:14 pm

    what a waste of time. my local rss folder works just fine thank you.



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