My Interview With Alex Bogusky @ His Twitter Experience

Alex Bogusky 2Alex Bogusky may be the last last name in the advertising agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, but he's certainly very well-known within [and increasingly beyond] the advertising world.  

For those who don't know, CP+B is the celebrated [and occasionally maligned, and more often than not, polarizing] agency behind the Whopper Freakout, the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld's Microsoft Ads [which I happen to love] and so many more creative [and at times, controversial] efforts.  Read Creativity's 2008 Agency of the Year article for a good overview.

So it's no surprise that the Twitter universe [I just can't bring myself to using words like "Twitterverse"] was abuzz when Bogusky, aka @Bogusky, first appeared in mid-December and quickly amassed a large and active following. 

It was perhaps with the same amount of buzz that he abruptly announced a few days ago:

Alex Bogusky 1

Why would he walk away from Twitter?  Was he just being provocative? 

Rather than speculate I asked Bogusky [we've never met, but did exchange a few tweets] if he would answer five email questions about his Twitter experience.  He graciously obliged. 

In the true spirit of online community, I quasi-crowdsourced two of the five questions [as noted below] from folks I respect in the social media space.  Here we go ...

Question 1:  When you first joined Twitter there was an amusing amount of chatter questioning the identity of @Bogusky.  In fact, there is a @BogusBogusky.  Why would someone want to pretend to be you, and more importantly what does the community's initial suspicion about your identity say about the state of things in social media?

Alex Bogusky: Yeah, I’m pretty sure @BogusBogusky works here too. I don’t know who it is but you can tell they’re on the inside. The suspicion comes from the fact that there is no requirement to be who you are online. I think this is something that might change going forward. There will be communities that are more diligent about ID and it will be a good thing. People are much more positive and responsible when they have to represent themselves and are unable to hide behind anonymity.

There’s a place for both kinds of community but I look forward to people representing themselves. Twitter actually has more of this than many communities. And I liked that. I had decided I would only follow people who had posted a picture or even an illustration of themselves. You don’t really know if it’s them I guess but it seemed a good indicator of sincerity.

Question 2: What's the significance, if any, that you are doing this interview with me - rather than say, AdWeek?  Does it say anything about the future of journalism and the role of "traditional" media?  If so, what?

AB: The significance is you asked me. And you didn’t seem to be looking to stir up controversy. I saw a headline somewhere that I had “…broken up with Twitter.” I don’t think that’s an accurate way to put it. Breakup is a very emotionally charged word and it’s a lot more exciting than the truth. I was getting to know it. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Brought some clients into it and was learning a ton. But in the end it wasn’t something I was going to weave into my everyday so rather than just not posting I thought my last posts should instruct anybody that came to the page that I wasn’t there. I don’t want people replying and sending questions or thoughts into a black hole. The web and social media is like ice cream. It’s all so fucking good. But we all find our favorite flavors. So it’s not that I don’t love butter pecan, it’s that I love mint chocolate chip even more so when it comes time to get ice cream I get that.

Question 3:  My guess is that CP+B has plenty of social-media savvy folks amongst the ranks who have been advising clients on how to explore communities like Twitter.  But as CP+B's head honcho, what is it about your own Twitter experience that you will you bring back to your teams, and your clients?

AB: That’s exactly right. The goal is to use and understand a lot of what is out there. I hope what I bring back is ideas. The ideas come from the medium meeting the marketing problem. So we’re just beginning to put those together.

Question 4: Len Kendall (@LenKendall) of Critical Mass wants to know: Did Twitter not inspire any creative thinking for you? Thoughts layered on other intelligent thoughts?  If Twitter did inspire creative thinking, can you give an example?

AB: I couldn’t say it inspired creative thinking for me. In general it was difficult not to get overloaded with links and articles. I’ve always been more of a blank page, white walls sort of person. For me twitter would probably hamper my creativity. I prefer the learning that comes from doing. It’s more dynamic and usually pushes you beyond the discussion.

Question 5: Ian Schafer (@ischafer), CEO of Deep Focus asks: Was there a singular moment that caused you to say 'this isn't for me'?

AB: No. And I will drop in from time to time. I of course reserve the right to reverse course. Wishy washy is how I like to roll.  I do think there needs to be some way to lock a retweet. I would see my tweets retweeted but changed slightly. I think that should be fixed. If it has RT in it, it should lock somehow.

Bonus Question:  @TheMime would like you to comment on the following:  . . .
AB:  : 0

That's all for now.  If you have additional questions, leave them as a comment.  Maybe Alex [or a fake version of him] will answer them.

QTip v Questlove on Twitter [Celebrity Tweet-Off Round 2]

In a recent post I compared the Twitter habits of Shaquille O'Neal and Lance Armstrong.  Both received high marks for their transparency and embracing of new technology.  In the end I gave a slight edge to Shaq because he's less polished, relatively engaged with other Twitter users and is pretty amusing.

Round two is a hip-hop battle for the social media age.  Q-Tip, the leader of A Tribe Called Quest versus Questlove (according to Wikipedia, also known as BROther, ?uestion, Brother Question and ?uestlove), drummer and producer extraordinaire from The Roots.  Using the same criteria as Shaq v Lance ...

  • Q-Tip has 7,568 followers and follows 3,127 [a ratio of 2.5:1]
  • Questlove has 9,594 followers and follows 289 [a ratio of 33:1]
  • In the week of Jan 18-25, Q-Tip Tweeted 51 times; Questlove ... well I stopped counting at 200 [the man is prolific and was clearly inspired by the inauguration]
  • 32 of Questlove's last 60 Tweets have been @replies; versus 18/60 for Q-Tip.

Looking at the stats I have to give the edge to Questlove, mainly for his frequency and relatively high @reply ratio.  Unlike my previous post I'm not going to get into the subjective stuff ... I'll leave that for you to decide. 

But I must say that more often than not I breeze through Q-Tip's Tweets while I try to actually read most of Questlove's.  Below are a few favorites that show a funny, conflicted, self-deprecating man ... not unlike many of us.  As I said in my previous post, I really give both these guys credit for opening themselves up like this ... I suspect their fans truly appreciate it - I certainly do.

Questlove Twitter  
So who do you think wins this one?  Any other celebs doing it well?

Shaquille O'Neal v Lance Armstrong ... On Twitter

Comparing Lance and Shaq in terms of their professional abilities is difficult since they play such different sports [can you say with any confidence that Lance is a better cyclist than Shaq is baller?]. But Twitter is even ground for these giants, and I think it's time to compare celebrity Tweeter @lancearmstrong v @the_real_shaq.

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Where Do You Find the Time?

When talking to people about myparticipation in online social media, the question I’m most frequently asked is, “how do you have time to do all this?”  And while they might deny it, the questioner asks it with a tone that implies You are either a total social misfit or a slacker in other parts of your life

My initial reaction is usually defensive, as if have to prove I actually do real work and spend quality time with my family.

I then spend the next 20 minutes stewing over the question - regretting I didn't have a prepared answer.  So I never have to go through that process again, here is my response from now on.  Would love to hear your builds, and of course any other thoughts you would like to add.

  • I have an 18 month old son.  I’ve become a time management ninja.  While the kid takes up a lot of time and energy, my new found discipline has given me more hours in the day.

  • I get up at 5am on weekdays, 6am on weekends.  While I don't get up and start Tweeting at 5am, I do use that time to deal with administrative issues at home (bills, etc.) which gives me more free time in the evening.

  • I don't watch a lot of TV.  When I do, it's almost always on DVR thus saving me around an hour a week on commercials.  When I watch sports (the only TV I don't DVR) I am usually multi-tasking.

  • I enjoy it.  Just like you enjoy birdwatching or reading WWII novels.

  • I use my mobile phone to participate in social media during otherwise wasted time.  I Tweet, upload photos to my Facebook page and text message friends during my morning and afternoon commutes - time that might otherwise be spent staring out the train window.

  • Besides on airplanes, I never read the newspaper.  HOWEVER, I am better informed than I've ever been, with much less of a daily time commitment.  I must tell people this five times a week - if you're not using an RSS reader to get your news feeds, you are not consuming information in the most efficient and effective way available.  Sign up for a Google Reader account and spend the 30 minutes to figure out how it works.  It will change the way you think about news consumption.

  • I view social media participation as a professional survival tool.  It keeps me current, connected and informed.

The net-net is that I make the time.  Just as a marathon runner makes the time to run; a celebrity junkie makes the time to read Us Weekly; an amateur photographer makes the time to take photos.  It's no different.  There I go again sounding defensive – I must break that habit!