Channels in bloom

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Spring weather has been struggling to break the icy grip of winter in Chicago this year, frustrating the plans of gardeners across the city. But there has been plenty of new growth in communication channels. Take Twitter. In the past few weeks, my e-mail box and Facebook home page have been filling with real-time “tweets” from the microblogging service, which now claims more than 7 million subscribers. (Just last Friday, BtoB sibling publication Ad Age reported that Google has found a way to use Twitter to sell ads and has signed up tax preparation software company Intuit as its first customer. When Google searchers click on Intuit's TurboTax ad, they are taken to TurboTax's Twitter page.) Another paid-media Twitter tie-in,, was announced earlier in the week by Glam Media. The offering lets marketers buy ads around aggregated Twitter posts, which appear on sites in the Glam Publisher Network. How should marketers and media companies use Twitter? That's been a hot topic in every panel, webinar and business conversation I've been part of for a month. Read Rich Karpinski's Page 1 story on Twitter in this issue and let us know what you think (@btobmagazine; @ellisbooker). But our Page 1 also offers a necessary foil to the breathless enthusiasm about Twitter and other social media platforms. (Does anybody else wonder if there's a causal relationship between the ratcheting up of Facebook and Twitter postings lately and the hemorrhaging of full-time journalism jobs?) An Aberdeen Group report published last month finds 21% of best-in-class companies plan to boost their social media marketing budgets by more than 25% this year. As Senior Reporter Kate Maddox's Page 1 story on the value of social media notes, that same report, “The ROI on Social Media Marketing,” also found more than half of the 275 senior marketers who responded to the survey said it was somewhat difficult (39%) or very difficult (20%) “to make a business case for investing in social media marketing initiatives.” But to quote a phrase I heard recently: “Fish where the fish are.” A new study by the Financial Times and b-to-b agency Doremus New York quantifies the shift to online. The study, “Decision Dynamics 2008,” found that while slightly more than half of executives say they now consume most (75%) of their work-related media electronically, 85% of respondents said electronic media will be their majority medium within five years. (Read the full story on page 4.) My visceral sense is that media consumption habits, which have been gravitating toward electronic formats for years, are going through a growth spurt this spring. Whatever the root cause of this—the bad economy or platforms like Twitter and Apple's iPhone hitting critical mass—I don't think you have five years to grow your garden. Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business, and can be reached at, @ellisbooker.
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