It's a Good Thing: Live from TWTRCON: Martha Stewart on Twitter

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jun 14, 2010
More Articles by Janet

The keynote address for the TWTRCON conference in New York was none other than Martha Stewart of Martha Stewart Omnimedia. Martha was interviewed by NYT’s  David Pogue.

David started off by asking Martha the top question sent in: How to fix the oil spill? Her answer: She has some ideas and is going to see the devastation and see what she can do to help.

Now what about Twitter? Martha said that she really is @MarthaStewart on Twitter and writes all of her tweets. She emphasized that authenticity is key to a platform like Twitter. If she’s in a place she can’t, she dictates a tweet by phone to a Eliad, an assistant. She mentioned how Britney Spears has many tweets — she can’t imagine that as busy as Britney is that she actually authors all of her tweets.

Martha also mentioned that she believes that the iPad is a game changer. She finds it easier to tweet and type on the iPad.

Giving an example of how she personally uses Twitter, Martha recounted how she was recently was in Montreal and took suggestions from followers on what to do. She got many answers, including to try Poutine. While she ended up not really liking the Poutine dish, she appreciated the instant feedback to her question. One thing she felt would be a helpful addition, however, is for Twitter to show the number of  total responses to a tweet.

Martha said wishes she understood more about the aspects of Twitter. She finds it useful for certain reasons, such as a communications tool. While she wishes she could read every response, but she does try to skim every response. The barriers seem to come at just above 1 million followers. She’s now auto-following more people, but she’s not able to read them all. She has a rule that she only tweets for five minutes per day because Twitter can be so addictive. She also updates a photo blog every day. Her sister is the editor and Eliad helps post.

She mentioned that she uses Twitter for quick polls too. Recently at a store in Pittsburgh, she showed the store how she could find out if people wanted the store to carry Martha’s products. In minutes, hundreds of positive responses flowed in. She talked about how the customer “is the most important thing in [their] company”, and mentioned a sign she likes: “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: In the event the customer is wrong, see rule #1.” Crowdsourcing helps her meet customers’ expectations, and she stressed authenticity is a big part of that.

Martha also discussed other celebrities and their Twitter personalities and how they use Twitter, even starting a rumor (or is it?) that Ashton Kutcher is an investor in Twitter. “Have you followed Puff [Diddy]?” asked Martha. “It’s really fun. It’s all about being up 24 hours a day.”

Martha primarily uses Twitter for research, asking questions, finding out information (like on trips), and to take quick surveys (such as: “why are you using Twitter?”). One thing that fascinates her about Twitter is that it removes all time from news – it’s “instantaneous relay” and removes layers, such as between celebrities and their followers. She also indicated that she believes it helps as a sales tool for the magazine, for instance, mentioning stories that are in the upcoming issue.

David asked Martha how she measures social media, or Twitter, success? She said hasn’t tried yet and isn’t sure how she’d go about measuring it. She feels, however, it is really worth trying everything, especially for business. She’s also going to be trying FourSquare soon. She has readers for the magazine, her books, viewers for the show, and listeners for the radio show. There are many different types of audiences she has out there, so she believes there are multiple ways to reach them. “Use the media,” she said.

In her emails and on Twitter, she admitted that she wants to type fast so she doesn’t use punctuation. She doesn’t use acronyms like” LOL” either. But she says she can do recipes in 140 characters and that she can fit about any recipe in 140 characters. She often goes over 140 characters initially and goes back and edits the tweet down to fit the 140 character limit.

And about pictures on Twitter? True quote: “I do think TwitPicing is a ‘good thing’.”

David asked her when she felt the end of the capacity for us to consume information would be. She said that there’s no yellow pages that has ever had 5M of anything, but FB has 5M users worldwide. It allows you to communicate easily. However she fears productivity may be suffering because of social networks, but they don’t currently block social networks at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. The company uses a lot of social media. Even her dogs have a blog (The Daily Wag), and she has over eight blogs.

Martha gave a great example of how blogging and Twitter can create new business. Purina saw her dogs’ blog, and now they do webisodes of the dogs together. She’s even just developed pet products with PetSmart (leashes, beds, etc.) coming out in the fall. All of this came from the dogs’ blog!

One point she stressed is that she does feel it’s important to educate young people about the dangers of being online — not everyone is truthful as they should be.

Everyone always talks about Twitter’s demise, and it can happen — look at what happened to MySpace. David asked her if she’s successful (like Apple) because it’s one person driving the company. She felt that the most interesting people she heard at a recent conference were those with a singular vision. She feels this is very good for American business.

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