140C: Picturing Twitter, a Kodak Moment

Twitter.gifRecently, I attended the Los Angeles version of the 140 Characters Conference, which focused on ways disparate groups of people are using the microblogging service called Twitter.

(Yeah, that also means yours truly.)

That included some familiar TV faces, such as Billy Bush of "Access Hollywood," who has used Twitter to put out breaking news (and correct Perez Hilton, or so he says) and "Heroes" executive producer Tim Kring, who's really into something called "transmedia storytelling."

Speaking of 'Heroes," I sat down at the conference for an impromptu chat with the Puppetmaster himself, David H. Lawrence XVII (that's 17 for the Roman-numeral-challenged, like me).

More on that later, but first, some business -- as in big business.

Before my chance 140C_Jeffrey_Hayzlett_1.jpgencounter with Lawrence -- who's become a bit of a Twitter-lebrity -- I sat down with Kodak CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Jeffrey Hayzlett, a T witter star in his own right, who was also one of the conference speakers (as you can see from my photo).

The venerable camera company was one of the sponsors of the event, which was held in its own Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, home to the Academy Awards.

Hayzlett has appeared on an earlier edition of NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" -- click here for the behind-the-scenes of it all -- and he'll be back in the new season of the show. He's also acquainted with its executive producer, reality guru Mark Burnett, and a big fan of his "Shark Tank" on ABC (as am I -- click here and here for proof of that).

Here's a sample of our conversation:

On why people are wrong not to think of Kodak when they think of social media like Twitter:

JH: We have changed it. When people say, "What company gets it?", they think of Kodak now, at least those in the Twitterati.

On what a camera company has to do with 140-character tweets:

JH: Seventy percent of our business is digital. I mentioned this to other folks earlier -- we've got our mojo back in that regard. When you think about Twitter, it says, "What am I doing? Where am I at? What am I up to?" Really, Kodak's always been about sharing those moments and sharing life, and to me they're one and the same.

Why Kodak has gone feet first into social media:

JH: Seriously, it's about connecting with people. You can't lose. Nothing's going to happen. You can't lose. The only resistance (in the company was) "What is it?"

On the risks of being transparent on Twitter:

JH: Have we made mistakes? Yeah. I've personally made mistakes, where I Twittered out something 12 hours before it was supposed to happen -- something where we'd worked a year and a half on it. I accidentally hit the button. I was able to regroup and get a couple of people to stop re-tweeting it.

You make those kind of mistakes, but nobody intentionally tries to do anything, and that's the key thing you want to remember. If you do it, you're only going to do it once inside of a big company, because we're going to make the changes.


On why Twitter and other social media does not substitute for traditional advertising and consumer outreach:

JH: You can't get to them all. They're not all on Twitter; they're not all on Facebook; they're not all on Kodak Gallery. It's not how people always want to get their information, so it's only reaching those people who want to get it in that manner. That's not your only source of information.

So there's not an absolute when it comes to social media, nor is there an absolute when it comes to normal media channels. You don't just watch television and not read the newspapers. Quite frankly, a lot of the people in the Twittersphere and online, they think everything else is nonexistent.


I then told Hayzlett that I was headed that afternoon over to the set of NBC's "Community," and it turns out he's a fan.

JH: It's a good show. It's a great show. I love Chevy Chase.

In past seasons of "The Celebrity Apprentice," some celebrities have had trouble with their work ethic. According to Hayzlett, that's not the case this time around.

JH: Actually, they worked pretty hard.

For more on the 140 Characters conference, click here for "The Spark: not just another Twitter conference," the latest film from eGuiders founder Marc Ostrick and fellow filmmaker Michael Sean Wright.

When you're done with that, you can check out "the new dial tone," the first film in the "Spark" series, shot at the recent BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas.

And when you're done with that, you can check out my own video recommendations on eGuiders.