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Does Charlie Sheen qualify as a small business?

Actor Charlie Sheen.

Phil McCarten/Reuters

Does Charlie Sheen qualify as a small business? If so, the Tiger-Blooded Tweeter is hot on the wave of a new trend. (No, not shacking up with two blond women. Sorry, all you Hef wannabes.) A new U.S. report from the market research firms BIA/Kelsey and ConStat found that use of Twitter by small- and medium-sized businesses for promotion more than doubled from the third quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010, rising to 19 per cent from 9 per cent. Want proof of its efficacy? After Mr. Sheen sent out his first paid tweet - on behalf of - in which he said he was looking for a social media intern, he got about 75,000 applications. We're not sure why he needs an intern, though: Social media seems to be the one thing he has under control.

Chrysler, on the other hand, learned a thing or two about the importance of controlling its own social media messages this week. On Wednesday morning, the @ChryslerAutos Twitter feed carried a complaint about bad drivers in Detroit that included a word Melissa Leo found perfectly appropriate for her acceptance speech at this year's Oscars but which Chrysler execs were less enthusiastic about. Alas, the tweet was sent in error: It had come from an employee of the marketing firm New Media Strategies who had the keys to the Chrysler Twitter feed, and didn't realize he was logged on to that account rather than his own personal one. Tweeting while distracted is never a good idea, sure. But is there any other way to tweet?

Clearly, there's a need for better employee training across the industry. This week Ron Tite, the erstwhile creative director of Toronto's Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG agency, posted a blog titled: " This agency sucks! I'm outta' here," in which he outlined a common complaint of ad agency employees who often believe that life is better at other agencies. The post, which attracted some attention in the industry, quoted Arnold Worldwide chief executive officer Andrew Bennett saying, "The average Starbucks barista gets more training than the average communications employee." Apparently, the problem even includes CEOs: last month, Mr. Bennett joined Arnold from Euro RSCG.

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But then, agency folk have notoriously short attention spans.Which is perfect, considering that this week the publisher Bonnier, whose magazines include Popular Science, released a study it had conducted with the ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky that found readers of its iPad editions seem less focused on actually reading than do readers of the print version. Megan Miller, Bonnier's research and development program director, told AdAge that if readers, "see a snowboard in a snowboarding magazine, they'll bounce over to Amazon to check the prices on it." This is great news for marketers, sure: it reinforces the fact that ads really pop on the iPad. But what happens if readers don't get past the first page?

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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