RT @50cent: "You know if you don't like me something might be wrong with you. I just looked in the mirror and I'm cool man."
Had this self-lauding tweet come from someone other than rapper 50 cent, tweeples everywhere would have rolled their eyes and moved on.
But instead of letting tweets fade into the black hole of the Internet, some companies like Starbucks and Virgin America are beginning to recognize the benefits of using Twitter as a marketing tool; and with that increased level of brand awareness comes the need to measure how well people are getting the message.
The founders of a new startup in Menlo Park, California called Conversely are banking on it.
"We see these marketers on Facebook and Twitter, but they have no feedback on what they're doing," said Ricky Yean, Conversely CEO and co-founder.
"We're focused on measuring their impact and figuring out ways they can become even more effective."
Unlike Google Analytics, which measures traffic sources and other highly specific metrics for web sites, Conversely is Twitter-specific, providing clients with optimization tools for their Twitter account.
There are several how-tos drifting around cyberspace that provide all-purpose suggestions for optimizing one's Twitter account, but Conversely's goal is to target businesses. On Conversely, customers can access "Actionable Analytics" or "FollowBuilder," tools designed to show customers the best people to connect with on Twitter, as well as the best strategies to engage those people.
"We can help you figure out what people are interested in, so you can write better messages that resonate with your followers," said Yean, who actively follows the tweets of Britney Spears, Justin Bieber and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
"Celebrities and politicans, they get it. They have fans and people who support them, and know they have to be an active participant in that community. Businesses need to do that too," he said.
Yean and his fellow co-founders, David Tran and Mark Linsey, incubated the idea of Conversely while still undergrads at Stanford University. The three met in the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES), where they became fascinated with Twitter and its potential. They were excited by the promise of social media marketing and started a company.
Upon graduating in June, the founders decided to go full-time after receiving funding from Y Combinator, a venture firm that funds early stage startups for a share in the company in return. "It's only a little bit," said Yean of the nearly $20,000 investment. But it's enough to turn an idea into a startup.
Yean, Tran and Linsey moved to The Willows neighborhood in Menlo Park, where their office shares a wall with their bedrooms. "We wake up every day and then we see each other's face. And then we start working on the computer," said Yean.
Conversely is set to launch by the end of the month, though several social media and marketing agencies are currently testing it.
"When we launch, there's definitely going to be people who don't understand it and who hate it because they hate Twitter," said Yean.
With 200 million users, Twitter allows celebrities and Fortune 500 companies alike to tweet their current status in a concise 140 characters of text.
The four-year old company just surpassed MySpace in unique visitors, becoming the No. 3 social networking site in the world after Facebook and Microsoft's Windows Live Profile.
"Marketing in the future can't be just advertising, direct mail, or online ads," said Yean. "We want to have every single business use us to do their social media marketing to really transform the industry."