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Twitter’s Grand Design

So Twitter has been quite active recently. It’s what’s to be expected from a network of Twitter’s calibre; as a recently listed company they have quietly introduced a new profile pagedesign to a limited amount of users (a complement to an earlier redesign). As one of the top ten biggest social networks, it was only a matter of time before the little blue bird would make it into the stock exchange, thus constant updates are to be considered a necessity.
 
The new design has however been far too familiar for some users, as it’s quite similar to updates as seen on Facebook and/or Google+. Changes include:

        A larger profile photo and a wider header photo;
        Tweets are no longer arranged vertically, but scattered in a way resembling a news feed;
        A design focusing a lot more on images and video in general;

One might wonder where this is heading. Becoming more image-oriented is one way of taking on competitors like Instagram (and owner Facebook) head on, while changes to the timeline could be a way of making it more compatible with sponsored tweets. Ultimately; these recent updates has made Twitter a significantly competitive communication platform for marketing.

At the time of writing, it’s not sure whether or not all changes will be applicable, but it gets you thinking about the future of social media (in terms of this becoming generic interface) and its impact on the user experience. Competing social networks are moving towards similar end results – they want to connect people, they want users to share quality content, they want ad revenue and they want to be the social network user’s preference over their competitors. Piece of cake?
There are similar problems solved with similar solutions. Twitter started out allowing # and @ in posts, Facebook then followed suit as it’s a great way of connecting users with one another (consumer and brands). If an image oriented interface gives Twitter the opportunity to compete with Instagram, then that might be just what they needed to enhance the network’s functionality. If a profile page design works more effectively than others, then why change a winning concept?
Video is currently receiving a double golden thumbs up award for being the best communication medium, predicted to make out 50% of the total online consumption in 2014 and 69% in 2017 (according to a Cisco study cited by The Guardian). This would have us expect social networks to adapt accordingly. Will this result in a number of social media platforms looking pretty much the same? And how will they evolve from there? Either they fall back on their respective niches, or they merge into some kind of super network. We can make great things happen if we collaborate, or is that being overly optimistic?
What we see is the evolution of social media – the survival of the fittest. In China, social network RenRen took a swing at competitor Kaixin by buying the kaixin.com URL and use it in quite an unethical way. You’d like to think that this is an exception, but in the future we could be watching the ultimate showdown of the social media networks – a dirty fight to the death. Because at the end of the day, users don’t really care about the company providing the service or product. They want solutions to THEIR problems, and the one who provides these solutions will be the last one standing.
Twitter’s updates may have it looking more like its bigger competitors, but this is all part of evolution. In the end, it’s not about who has the sharpest teeth, it’s about who produces the best ideas – the best results.
 
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How Personal can Digital Get?

When was the last time you received a letter? It’s an old-school form of communication, true, but we dare you not to feel sappy should you ever get one in the mail. A letter demonstrates the personal effort someone has gone to actually sit down, pick up one of those “pens” they still sell in Kikki K, and place their feelings and thoughts on paper.
You may have heard of Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus late 2013. The letter was a reaction to Cyrus’ statement that her controversial video “Wrecking Ball” was inspired by the Irish singer-songwriter’s “Nothing compares 2 U”. O’Connor decided that as the older and more experienced of the two (she’s 47, Cyrus 21) she was in a position to warn the pop-star, all “in the spirit of motherliness and with love”, about the dangers of “prostituting” herself.
It backfired, as Miley Cyrus didn’t appear to like being considered a practitioner of the world’s oldest profession or a puppet to the music industry. She released some of O’Connor’s old tweets from when she was in a bad mental state – claiming her to still be unstable. O’Connor replied with another letter, minus the motherliness and the love, and then another, and another…
What (probably) started out as a well-intended warning from one artist to another, ended up in a large scale feud including the rest of the world. Why send a letter, one might ask? As mentioned before, it’s personal. Ok, then why send an open letter? You can still be personal, but you’ll also get an audience. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can vent their opinions on Twitter for everyone to see, that’s the general idea of social media, but the form of the classical letter makes the message seem more sincere while being something out of the ordinary nowadays.
Open letters have been published in droves, that secret was discovered long ago, but as a form of communication it still catches people’s attention. Open letters may be addressed to a specific person, but as a third party, we get to listen in – and there’s something exciting about eavesdropping.
So the personal aspect of the open letter is a lie. It’s just another blog post in silver wrapping. The O’Connor/Cyrus correspondence wasn’t just a clash of values; it was a clash of generations. O’Connor tried her best to reach out to a woman of the social media age with a (for her generation) valued form of communication. In the end, she was mocked, mainly because of the content, but also for her choice of medium in a time when speed is king – busy pop-stars don’t write, they tweet (and twerk in this particular case).
So how personal can digital get? Not very, one would say. You can send a private message through most social media platforms, or simply send an email, but part of the emotional trace gets lost in translation from handwritten to digital. Maybe the main reason we get sentimental when receiving a handwritten letter is the fact that someone actually took the time to make something – just for you.
What do you think? Can digital get us as personally connected to others as a letter can?
 
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Image courtesy: lettertohumanityproject.blogspot.com, familius.com

The One that got Away – Flappy Bird

Have you heard of Flappy Bird? If you know or follow someone who’s even remotely into smartphone games, then you most likely have. It’s one of those simple but addictive games; press the screen to propel the bird upwards, avoid obstacles (pipes of the same design as those appearing in Nintendos “Super Mario Bros” titles, more on that later) and get a high-score. “Sounds easy enough, I think I’ll download it”. Problem is you can’t, as it has been removed from both Google Play and the App Store.
The creator, a Vietnamese gentleman by the name of Dong Nguyen, is as successful as he is enigmatic. He recently decided to pull the plug on Flappy Bird, a game that supposedly made him about $50.000 in ad revenue, per day. The reason apparently is that he couldn’t take the fame and infamy from Flappy Bird’s success. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to realize that turning down $50.000 a day just to receive peace of mind is something quite out of the ordinary and bound to attract attention. And what attention!
After announcing the withdrawal, downloads went to the roof. The game has received more than 50,000 reviews – that’s more than Evernote and Gmail – and Mr Nguyen himself has amassed more than 160,000 followers on Twitter. There is of course a downside to this kind of media attention. The creator has received a hailstorm of murder and suicide threats from angry Flappy Bird fans. Considering the major media attention (and invaluable incentive that come with it), it’s easy to think of the announcement as a bold marketing stunt.
But it happened. You won’t find Flappy Bird in the app store anymore. Some people are disappointed and others couldn’t care less. Does this mean that Dong Nguyen actually got sick of it all? It could be, but you need to know this;

        Ads will still roll for those who have already downloaded the game, resulting in continuous ad revenue;
        Dong Nguyen has other games in the app store now getting some of that dreaded attention; will they run the risk of getting removed as well?

A marketing genius or game developer looking for a simple life? No one really knows – maybe it’s a way to avoid lawsuits from Nintendo for copying their design, maybe those threats on Twitter got the better of him. Maybe it’s a way to create artificial scarcity in order to increase revenue.
Regardless, this is a unique case that those interested in marketing should add to memory. If this wasn’t just a marketing stunt, then it will be interesting to see how others use information gained from the abrupt end to Flappy Bird.

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Image courtesy: Popmatters.com, Digitaltrends.com

The Art of Tweeting #2

Or, 4 Very Good Reasons Why No-One is Following You

Hello! You’re here again. You took our advice and started a Twitter account? Well bravo. But you’re having a problem? Okay, well let’s take a look at your problem. Hmm, so you can’t seem to get any sort of followers on Twitter? That’s troubling since on a social media website like Twitter, having a profile which thrives on the love of followers is a necessity. Although we do recommend turning it off and on again, let’s take a deeper look at what may be the cause of the problem.
Not Focusing on Appearance
Twitter allows you to completely change the background and the display picture of your profile. That’s why make sure to take the time to place your logo or  Company colours on the profile. This allows viewers to connect your profile with the business more easily. It won’t help if you’re keeping a profile picture of Pikachu when you’re a web content business. There is no connection between Pikachu and web content at all.
Trying to be ‘Too Cutesy’
Yes, that’s something which can annoy people on a generic basis but often  you might be trying to be funny or hilarious but it just backfired on you. One of the most common ways that this happens is in the profile section. While it might be funny for comedians to call themselves a cabbage or a meat sack of bones, it’s not that hilarious when you’re using it for a business. Keep the text crisp, to the point, precise and something which defines your business completely.
Sharing Irrelevant Information
On Twitter, people expect you to be you. No, not you as a person running your business’s account but they expect you to be true in representing your business on Twitter. For example: If you’re posting as a business that focuses on shoes, you can post images of tons of shoes of celebrities, of the ones in your inventory, even horse shoes will count as shoes. What you shouldn’t do is post a picture or tweet about the totally awesome burger you ate for lunch and the free fries you got with it. It can be a bit of a turn off and you might end up losing a few current followers too.
You Always Promise to Follow Back
You can’t entice people to follow you since you always follow back. Twitter isn’t about having a large group of followers and gathering more. It’s about choosing, curbing and creating a stream of your own kind of content by following people that you want to. If you’re promising follow backs to gain followers, you’re not attracting people who are interested in your business or your products. Just like you, they’re too busy scrounging for more followers and they’ll probably never look at your page again. You’re just a number they collected and they’ll keep you like that.
Your Following Ratio is Disproportionate
Now don’t go crazy and start focusing on following people only. If you’re following a thousand people but you’ve only got around 10 followers for yourself then it might look like your account is a spam account. While it’s reasonable that you won’t have too many followers, try to maintain a neutral ratio in order to prevent your profile from looking suspicious.
Happy Tweeting!
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The Art of Tweeting #1

 
Well marketers, gather around, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the way Twitter works. Most  people are familiar with Twitter. Well, let’s be honest. Anyone in the 21st Century knows about Twitter but few people have learnt the science behind it.
 
Twitter is a unique social platform in that it allows you to express your thoughts in only 140 characters. What happens if you exceed 140?  And how do you showcase your company’s bio as smartly as possible in just 140 characters?

 
Despite its restriction on the number of words you can use, this social media platform is amongst the extremely popular ones. Therefore, it is amongst the social media platforms that many businesses decided to infiltrate as well.
However, while it serves the purpose of being a social media platform for the ordinary man, not everyone is convinced that Twitter is the right platform for their business. But if you pay attention, you might learn something.
Brand or Personal?
When starting a Twitter account for your business, it’s always best to make it a brand page. Now that you’re setting it up, here are a few tips to follow:
•    Set your username to be that of your business name. Make sure to pick something which is an easier version of your business name. For example: AaKittens – AdoptaKitten. With next to no punctuation in it, mobile users can find you easily as well.
•    Upload your logo into the profile picture spot and include a background image that reflects your business.
•    When you come to the “about” section, make sure you use one word descriptions rather than whole sentences. For example: @AaKittens – Kittens, Cats, Rescued animals, adoption center. Drop by someday. Location. Website.
Add Your Information
Like most social media sites, you should immediately add the appropriate information in the information page and link it to your business website. By doing so, you’re giving people an alternative place to go while your new Twitter account gains a following and takes off.  This also allows you to retain your consumers since you didn’t have to turn them away; you’ve just redirected them to your website for a little while.
Start Following People
Twitter can sometimes turn into a petty game of “following” and being “followed”.  If you are really interested in using that to your benefit then you can also improve your business’s visibility by following the right kind of people. In short, try to follow people who are:
•    Your contractors, suppliers, vendors and business partners.
•    Your peers or competitors
•    Professional organisations or trade organisations for your industry.
•    Neighborhood businesses.
•    People from your professional network.
However try to do your “following” in a relaxed manner and keep your foot off the throttle here. Twitter has rules which it strictly adheres to in order to make sure that there is no aggressive following happening.
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Social Media Tips for the CEO

Companies today cannot afford to have their top leaders on the sidelines when it comes to their social media campaigns. Most CEOs still believe they don’t need to participate; however, studies show that CEOs who do take part in their company’s digital marketing campaigns become better leaders.
 
Information sharing is definitely one of the benefits. Improving company reputation, continuous innovation and increase in business results are just a few of the many things that come when CEOs are active in social media. Their participation in these campaigns helps humanise the company – delivering better, and in turn, higher profits.
So, how does a CEO who’s a newbie in social media marketing become good at it? Where do they begin to retool themselves when it comes to new media as a communication platform?
Here are some tips that some of the world’s social media experts have identified as being important to every CEO.
•    Social media has redefined the role CEOs are expected to play in the content that their companies provide. They should be the chief content provider of their companies; thus they must be aware of the needs, wants and demands of their clientele to target them holistically, leaving no room for their competitors. Social media as a platform is an efficient and engaging way to relay information and its process also encourages CEOs to become better leaders.
•    CEOs who are active social media users can advance their communications not only with their employees but with target business partners too. From working with their own intranet and company website, and developing their own social media pages, including videos and images, the use of these social media tools can take CEOs beyond simple message dropping via Facebook or Twitter. The strategic use of social media can drive company content to different places across all channels.

•    CEOs should keep a blog. They have become CEOs for a reason and that usually means they are good at what they do. Perhaps they can even be considered experts in their field. Ordinary people often wonder what these CEOs think of certain issues that concern their industry thus keeping a blog and writing about various topics would definitely hook up a lot of target clients. A blog can be utilised not only as a content marketing campaign but as a reflection of perspective in context, meaning and even depth.
•    Using the company website as leverage means using the website as the digital keeper of all valuable information about the company. Yet it does not limit the company’s potential to influence people through various social media platforms. Content delivered through multiple formats can change the lives of a lot of people.
The self-authorship of CEOs allows them to use the power of content to spread the word about the company. They can be spontaneous yet not informal, just enough to keep their stakeholders engaged. CEOs that see the value of sociability in digital marketing will soon be able to reach out to more clients than they first expected.
 
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Twitter Fever, Who is the Most Followed?

Twitter is undeniably one of the most popular social media sites today. While Facebook has been in the business much longer and may have more users than its rival, the fact is that the Twitter age has already begun and neither you nor Facebook can do anything about it.
 
Aside from being able to tap the demographic of immortals—that is celebrities, politicians and geniuses (Bill Gates?)—Twitter has also proven to be helping a brand grow faster than any other social media site. In a study made by Optimal, an analytics and social media marketing agency, big brands on social networking sites gain more growth on Twitter than its rival site—around 55% more. This alone shows you why you and your brand should join the Twitter fever.
Also, the social networking site has been a go to source of the latest in almost everything—latest news, latest trends and even latest rumors. With all these being said, Twitter seems to be a great inclusion into any brand’s digital marketing strategy. As a matter of fact, simply following these people could do wonders for your brand.
Barack Obama (@BarackObama)
The President of the United States of America is worthy to be followed, not only for his authority but for updates on what he’s been up to. With over 34.9 million followers, Mr. Obama is the fourth most followed account on Twitter.
Aside from using it for his election campaigns, the account has also been a site for the president to promote legislation, policies or to just hand around. And while most of the tweets posted on the account are from his staff, Obama also sends out a few personal ones. “Tweets from the President are signed –bo,” the account’s bio noted.
Twitter (@Twitter)
While we’re at it, you may want to follow Twitter’s account. The account keeps followers in-step with the newest updates and changes on the site, as well as news outside the Twitter realm. It even gives you tips on how to optimise the use of the site.
Twitter has over 22 million followers on its site and is the 11th most followed account.
Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah)
Remember those days when Oprah was the best show on TV? When Oprah was the source of entertainment, information and free stuff? Well, The Oprah Winfrey Show may have ended (after 25 seasons!) but it doesn’t mean she has stopped letting us know what the best of the best in everything is. Aside from the O Magazine, Oprah’s Twitter account has been an online platform for her to inspire, challenge, inform and explore with her more than 20 million followers, the 16th most on Twitter.
CNN Breaking News (@CNNbrk)
CNN has always been the most reliable source of news and information, now it brings its updates to Twitter. Aside from a number of other handles that tackle specific sections, like @CNN, @CrossfireCNN, @AC360 and @CNNSitRoom, CNN Breaking News sends out updates on headlining news straight from the CNN.com homepage. Be among its 12.6 million (35th most) followers and be in-the-know on the latest in news around the world.
 
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#Facebook Incorporates Twitter Features

 
It’s amazing how social media has become such a big part of our world. Even the simplest of things are now related to our online lives.
 
You’d be lying if you said you had never told someone to leave you a message on Facebook, or to tweet you rather than to text you, or to post a certain image on Instagram. Sad but true: today’s society relies heavily on different online platforms to communicate with one another, rather than doing it face-to-face. And while this may sound like a growing society of the internet dependent, this also means that social media marketing is the way to go. If you’re rich, or a hell-of-a-genius, you can go for the ultimate: create your own social networking site.
Remember the film “The Social Network”? Remember how the (uncertified) father of social networking Mark Zuckerberg started his little experiment? Yes, it started in his dorm room with a tiny computer and a magnitude of intelligence. Well, that’s how the movie showed it anyway. But look at Zuck now, he’s the bee’s knees! He’s got millions of friends and followers, at least on Facebook, and has billions of dollars in his pocket.
Interestingly however, Mr Facebook himself has also been in the business of copying ideas. Again, remember how he took the idea of the Winklevoss twins and made it his own? Well, Zuck didn’t end the copying there. In an effort to keep the $$ coming his way, he also copied ideas from other sites. His most recent and obvious replication: Twitter’s “Hashtag” feature.
What is a Hashtag?
For the easiest of definitions, a hashtag is a word or a phrase that is affixed with the pound sign “#”. It was first used in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) but has since grown in popularity after being used on Twitter.
Initially used as a form of metadata tag, much like SEO terms, it has now been used to tag and easily search for tweets on the same topic. Try searching for “#Google” on Twitter and you’ll find all tweets related to the subject with the same hashtag. You can also click on the hashtags and it will automatically redirect to a list of tweets that use the same tag.
However, since it grew in popularity, people have started using hashtags for almost everything. From tagging to becoming the word-form of emoticons (e.g. #FeelingHungry, #ForTheWin, #ImDead), to starting a movement or a revolution (e.g. #WeWantJustinBieberinBrazil, #LetsGoMiami). Actually, you can use hashtags for #AlmostEverything!
Facebook has now adapted the hashtag. In an effort to stir user engagement, the site announced to the world that these tags are now clickable on the site.
According to Facebook Project Manager, Greg Lindley “Starting today, hashtags will be clickable on Facebook…when you click on a hashtag in Facebook, you’ll see a feed of what other people and pages are saying about that event or topic.”
Mashable has also revealed that Facebook is working on the concept of Trending Topics, another unique Twitter feature. The networking site also incorporated the “@” mention system to its site, as well as verifying accounts which are all Twitter features.
Who knows what the site will be adapting next.
 
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Facebook Removed from TweetDeck

If you relied on TweetDeck to keep up with your Facebook newsfeed you might be disappointed to learn that TweetDeck has dropped its support for the popular social media site. That’s if you haven’t noticed already.
 
Twitter has also pulled the plug on TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone.
TweetDeck’s strategy to focus on Twitter exclusively should not come as a surprise to many users after Twitter bought the company back in 2011. While many saw it coming, others were simply not ready for the assumed chaos.
Why?
Reactions were, as predicted, dramatic.
“TweetDeck soon won’t support Facebook. And I won’t support TweetDeck. Looking for alternative that allows me to cross-post tweets to FB,” said [email protected]
“What? TweetDeck will no longer support Facebook (or vice versa?)? What’s the point of TweetDeck, then?” another user said.
Jenny [email protected] said “Why would I use @TweetDeck anymore if it can’t support @facebook? I need to manage all my accounts in one place, not just Twitter!!”
“Just found out @TweetDeck isn’t going to support Facebook anymore – anyone have a suggestion to replace TweetDeck?” said Drew [email protected]
Alternatives to TweetDeck
Yes, Drew, there are suggestions. Facebook users have lost TweetDeck, so now what? Don’t worry there are a lot of apps out there that function like TweetDeck.
HootSuite – This dashboard app, available in freemium and premium versions, lets users keep in touch with relationships and persons of interest on multiple online platforms at once like LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and MySpace. One of its best features is a scheduling system that allows users to set posts for future sharing, so as long as you’ve programmed it, it gets sent even if you’ve forgotten about it.
Even the freemium version allows users to manage up to five different social media accounts and talk with others on the HootSuite platform. This app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users.
TweetCaster – This app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices also lets users manage multiple social media accounts.
One of its more interesting features is that it can let you add filter, effects and captions to photo attachments. They also have “Zip it” which allows you the option to hide the tweets of troublesome followers without unfollowing them. It also has Long Tweets that lets users send over 140 characters.
Ubersocial – With Ubersocial online platform you can create a favorite users list and make sure you never miss tweets from them, no more combing through the mess just to find the ones that matter most. You can also manage several accounts.
You can also set the theme for your menu, it does not matter if you want loud colours, nature pics, motives or celebrities. UberSocial also supports images and videos from twitpic, mypict.me, yfrog, pic.gd, tweetphoto.com, lockerz, Flickr, mobypicture, twitvid, twitgoo, twitsnap, imgur and Instagram.
Yoono – This sidebar browser is only compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, it also comes as a Mozilla Firefox add-on. While it is still available for download, its developers do not seem to be adding any more features to the app. It has also been discontinued for the iPhone and never made available for Android.
 
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Twitter for Business Re-Launched

Twitter has re-launched its business site, Twitter for Business, with a new look and some new content.
 
The social media’s business site, originally launched in 2011, is meant to help business owners build a successful online presence by learning how they can integrate Twitter into their operations and marketing efforts.
The site provides users with tutorials on practically everything they need to know including the basics like opening a Twitter account to building a community, to the more advanced ones like how to use Twitter Ads self service function.
For those who are still having second thoughts on working with Twitter, the site also has a wide variety of business success stories made possible by Twitter, arranged by the type of industry and the size of the business.
Much of the content of the new site is similar to the original Twitter for Business webpage launched by the online platform in December 2011, although the new site is now more organized and easier to browse through.
How Twitter can Help Your Business
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should have at least probably heard of Twitter. This micro-blogging site and online social network lets users send real-time messages of up to 140 characters which are now known as Tweets. Like many social networks out there it was originally intended for communication between friends and acquaintances, but businesses were quick to realize its potential as a business tool.
Because you can see what others are tweeting, this becomes a good way to monitor or keep track of when your business is mentioned. You can also read the conversations where your business was mentioned to know what is being said about your business. This provides an excellent (and legal) way to gather data that can be useful for formulating strategies for customer acquisition and customer retention.

And with 200 million people all over the world exchanging around 400 million Tweets per day, gathering the information you want should not be that hard. 

But this is just one aspect, you can also advertise with Twitter.  The social media site touts to be able to send your ads to the people you think will be more interested in it. A targeted  concentration of content marketing to the right people based on your chosen demographics, rather than a spread ad campaign to a wide group of individuals, so to speak.
Twitter Hoping to Overtake Facebook
Despite having over 200 million people a day use their service, Twitter is still behind the undisputed social networking leader, Facebook, when it comes to business adoption. A study suggested that business owners were more likely to choose Facebook over Twitter, a fact that Twitter wants so badly to reverse.
This site re-launch is the latest in a series of recent innovations by Twitter to make it more attractive to small business owners. Just last January Twitter added its new Vine App, an application that lets you capture short movies (6 seconds or less) and share them with others. It has also launched an analytics tool for Vine so you can tell who is watching your videos and a new application programming interface so advertisers can easily manage their ad campaigns with Twitter.
A new tool that generates business leads is also reported to be in the works.
 

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