Welcome to what might be called the Twitterverse of Frank Eliason, who, under the name comcastcares, has "tweeted" everything above, jumping onto Twitter like a virtual knight in shining armor. Maybe you've read about him over the last few weeks. He's the guy now appointed by Comcast to communicate with those who complain about their Comcast service on Twitter, and a day in his life is one filled with tweets issued by BlackBerries, RSS feeds that alert him to the latest Internet outage in Palo Alto, and sometimes being the canary in the Comcast coal mine.
In all the hubbub over Radiohead's decision late last year to let fans decide how much -- or if -- they wanted to pay for the CD "In Rainbows," the band's other innovative move earlier this month somewhat got lost in the social media shuffle. But anyone looking at how they might engage their consumer base using social media -- especially those who haven't followed every permutation of the music business in the age of the download -- should study this effort.
"Sorry about being the apparent cause of you sleeping with a pig," wrote CondeNet's Jane Grenier to me a few weeks ago on Facebook. It's a strange communication between two people who've never actually met each other, but Jane, along with a number of other pigs -- guinea pigs, that is -- joined me in creating alter egos for Burn, a Coke energy drink available in Europe that launched a Facebook app late last month offering us an alternative life. While I, and probably Jane, sat at our keyboards, our alter egos were sent out on a pub crawl together …
You probably at least saw the shorthand about MySpace Music last week, which goes as follows: three-major-record-companies-and-News-Corp.-get-together-to-kill-Steve-Jobs. But, per usual, that's a bit simplistic. This isn't about an e-commerce war circa 'bout 1999, when Amazon set out to beat barnesandnoble.com in what was thought to be the latter's business. It's about viewing the revenue engine of the music business not just as a bunch of people buying songs, but as an overarching online concept that excretes money to artists and labels in a variety of forms -- and all within one mammoth site that's about not just products, but passions.
Seems logical that we should spend a lot of time in this column talking about, critiquing and participating in social marketing efforts, and figuring out what's good, bad, or ugly. So, for this week's homework assignment, I'm asking anyone who wants to play along to go to the Burn Alter Ego application on Facebook and get their avatar party started. Then you can report back after you've played with it for awhile and tell me what you think, and, yes, I'll write about our community's reaction.