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Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Twitter-owned Tweetdeck, arguably the most popular platform for social media users to manage the Twitter conversations, has released a set of column filters for both the Tweetdeck web and Chrome apps.

Twitter recently released content filters for search columns as well – part of its efforts to bring features and functionality of its AIR app to the Web.

Users will be able to show (match) or exclude specific words and phrases from an individual TweetDeck columns as well as choose to view only those Tweets (or retweets) that contain media (images or video). It’s not difficult to see how improved filtering will make it easier to scan and find specific tweets or content within them.

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Does Follower Score Matter?

posted by Allison Howen @ 2:00 PM
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One of the best ways to gain digital popularity is by marketing your brand on social networks like Twitter. 

Professionals and brands alike can leverage social sites to reach a large audience, foster relationships and gain free word-of-mouth advertising. Of course, obtaining an impressive Twitter following is easier said than done. The most common strategy is to follow people or companies in hopes they will return the favor. But how often do the Twitter elite actually use this tactic?

In order to find out, Website Magazine looked at the follower-to-following ratio of 20 popular Twitter handles –10 individual accounts with more than 10,000 followers each and 10 verified brand accounts. This ratio has been labeled as the Follower Score, and it shows whether or not some of Twitter’s most successful handles lean on the people they follow in order to boost their own following. 

Check out the results of the Follower Score audit below:


Individuals – Average Follower Score: 33%

1. Lisa Taron @ThePetBookLady – Follower Score: 49%

2. Kacey @sparkliebarbie – Follower Score: 2%

3. Dora Woodrum @dorawoodrum – Follower Score: 42%

4. Justin Maudlin @friscofoodie – Follower Score: 29%

5. Lilach Bullock @lilachbullock – Follower Score: 42%

6. Tara Stiles @tarastiles – Follower Score: 3%

7. Lauren Berlingeri @lazaberlingeri – Follower Score: .7%

8. Harley Pasternak @harleypasternak – Follower Score: .2%

9. Kim Garst @kimgarst – Follower Score: 94%

10. Trisha Haas @MomDot following – Follower Score: 64%


Brands – Average Follower Score: 14%

1. Olive Garden @olivegarden – Follower Score: 2%

2. MailChimp @MailChimp – Follower Score: 18%

3. Tillamook Cheese @TillamookCheese – Follower Score: 47%

4. Sephora @Sephora – Follower Score: 33%

5. Urban Outfitters @UrbanOutfitters – Follower Score: .2%

6. Dominos @dominos – Follower Score: 7%

7. E! Online @eonline – Follower Score: 2%

8. Huffington Post @HuffingtonPost – Follower Score: .2%

9. Whole Foods Market @WholeFoods – Follower Score: 17%

10. DeVry University @DeVryUniv – Follower Score: 10%


Takeaways

While the results of the Follower Score audit varied greatly, the calculations do show that individuals who market themselves on Twitter typically follow a larger percentage of people than brands that are doing the same thing. This is most likely because these people don’t already have a customer base and therefore need to depend on networking with others in order to increase their following.

That being said, there are many additional strategies one can use to obtain a larger audience on Twitter, including using trending topic hashtags on a regular basis, promoting a Twitter account on other digital properties, interacting with followers and, most importantly, posting a variety of intriguing content. After all, obtaining followers is only half the battle, because once that is achieved, you need to find a way to keep them engaged.

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Twitter Gamification with Bunchball Nitro Connectors

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 9:05 AM
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gamification is a digital trend that captured my attention since it first began to emerge. Why? Well, I think people need motivation – but motivation doesn’t always have to come in the form of money. Sometimes it’s enough to be about our ego alone.

Bunchball is one of those gamification providers that seems to have everything figured out – as if you couldn’t tell from our coverage (seen below). But the gamification technology provider apparently has no plan to stop bringing gamification to the digital business masses in every way possible.

The company has announced plans to release a connector to Twitter for its Nitro gamification engine and its Integrated Nitro solutions.

Bunchball’s Nitro Connectors enable enterprises to connect gamification programs to enterprise applications and social networking tools. With Nitro Connector for Twitter, Bunchball customers will have at their disposal a rather powerful way to motivate site vistiors, consumers and employees to post tweets that support brands and campaigns. Companies can define and track phrases and hashtags that relate to their products, services or indstures and detect when users include them in tweets – rewarding users for their activity.

"Bunchball's Nitro Connector for Twitter is a great example of the value that our Nitro Connectors bring to customers. You can easily and quickly extend your gamification initiatives to include tweets containing the hashtags or phrases you care about most, at the moment that you care about them. With Nitro Connector for Twitter, we're helping customers drive the behaviors that drive their business."


More from Website Magazine on Bunchball: 

- Making Gamification a Reality

- Bunchball Gamification Bounces into Salesforce

 

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Twitter Allows AmEx Customers to Buy Products by Tweeting

posted by Michael Garrity @ 11:35 AM
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Will that be cash, check or…tweet?

Yesterday, Twitter announced the kind of shocking news that users will now be able to pay for products by simply tweeting thanks to a new integrated payment system from American Express.

This feature is known as Amex Sync, and as the name suggests, it allows Twitter users to sync their American Express cards with their accounts on the social network (which means, of course, that this ability is currently limited to American Express customers only). Once the two accounts have been merged, users can buy selected items by including special hashtags in their tweets.

Once users have tweeted this hashtag, they’ll receive a response from the @AmexSync Twitter account; after that, all they have to do is tweet the confirmation hashtag within 15 minutes and the transaction is completed. All products will be delivered to the billing address that the user has on file.

Amex Sync was actually originally launched last year, but at the time it just let customers receive special offers, discounts or deals by tweeting specific hashtags; this new ability to purchase items was apparently the next logical step in the partnership between the two brands. It is particularly advantageous for Twitter, as the partnership provides a new source of revenue for a website that has long been reliant almost solely on advertising dollars.

At present, American Express has said that users can purchase “American Express Gift Cards and products from Amazon, Sony, Urban Zen and Xbox 360” using the Amex Sync payment system.

I guess all that’s left to do now is sit back and see if social commerce on Twitter takes off and finds greater success than it has so far on Facebook, where the results have (for the most part) been disappointing, at best.

 

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Content Marketing Without a Blog

posted by admin @ 2:00 PM
Friday, February 8, 2013

It’s no secret that content marketing has a phenomenal ROI (the statistics only seem to get better with each passing year). In fact, Kapost and Eloqua recently produced an eBook on the ROI of content marketing in which they stated that per dollar content marketing produces three times the number of leads as compared to traditional marketing.

Unfortunately, many businesses have shied away from content marketing, mistaking the term for a synonym of “blogging,” which is not the end-all-be-all of content marketing. In fact, I can think of seven ways you can do content marketing without a blog…

Vlog

Not much for writing, but love talking? Share your experience and knowledge through a vlog series on YouTube, and promote it through your Twitter and Facebook page. Trust me, this works. If you need any evidence, allow me to point you to the wildly successful "Will It Blend?" campaign by Blendetc.

Podcast

You aren’t much for appearing on camera either. That’s fine – go the route of the podcast. Interview experts in your industry, or just take 10 minutes to address your customers’ frequently asked questions. The podcast is still a viable form of content marketing. Plus, it’s the only non-visual form on this list.

Facebook & Twitter

It almost goes without saying that Facebook and Twitter are great ways to drive a content marketing strategy, but don’t take my word for it. 76 percent of businesses are using social networking for business objectives.

Infographics

Are you in an industry that loves statistics and facts? (Hint – the answer is a resolute ‘yes’.) Put the right amount of creativity and effort into it, and you can have an infographic that goes viral. Seriously, any business can leverage an infographic to their advantage. As an example, take Brilliance, a jeweler whose “Kardashian Wedding vs. Average Wedding” infographic went viral in 2011. The infographic brought in thousands of visitors to the company’s website because it was well done and interesting. 

Whitepapers

So, I said I have seven strategies that avoid blogging, but not writing. If you’re a B2B company, then a white paper could be just the thing you need to widen your reach and generate hundreds of new leads. If there’s no one in your company capable of writing a rock-solid white paper, then it’s worth budgeting some cash to pay a professional to do the job. A half-baked white paper receives the same critical acclaim that a half-baked research paper earned you in high school. Back then, it was a C+. Today, it’s money down the drain.

Knowledge Bank

You can approach the Knowledge Bank strategy in one of these two ways (or both): your bank could be an organized index to all of the resources on your website, and/or it could serve as a roundup of the web’s “Best of the Best.” Either way, the point is to make valuable information organized and easy to find. 

Pinterest & Instagram

At the end of Aug. 2012, the Los Angeles Times described Pinterest and Instagram’s growth as “meteoric,” citing a 2,183 percent growth over the course of one year for Pinterest. Instagram has performed remarkably well, too. From July 2011 to July 2012, monthly traffic increased from 56,360 to 12 million. On Thanksgiving Day 2012, Instagram users shared a jaw-dropping 10 million photos. If your product or service has a visual draw, then sign up with these sites today.

The Bonus

There are many benefits of doing content marketing with a blog. According to the 2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey, blogging is the second-most utilized form of Web content (75 percent), right behind social media (90 percent). Also, the best results come from social media content, e-newsletters and blogs. 

Though we’re still waiting on the 2013 Survey, I’d be surprised if the blog isn’t holding steady.

About the Author

Amie Marse, is the founder and managing partner of Content Equals Money, a content writing service for agencies and Web-based clients. 

 

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4+ Ways to Engage with Twitter’s Vine Videos

posted by Allison Howen @ 12:45 PM
Friday, January 25, 2013

Social networks can sometimes feel like a jungle, so Twitter decided to add a vine to the mix (not literally, of course).

Vine is Twitter’s new mobile service that allows users to capture and share short, six seconds or less, looping videos. According to a blog post from the social network, the briefness of Vine videos is meant to inspire creativity, just like Tweets. Moreover, the videos capture sound in addition to motion. Currently Vine is available for free in iTunes for both the iPhone and iPod Touch, but it is important to note that Twitter is working to make it available on other platforms soon.

The best part about Vine is that it opens up a completely new way for brands to connect with their customers on Twitter. In fact, some companies have already started using the application to engage with followers, including Urban Outfitters, NBC News and Red Vines. In a smart move, Red Vines even turned its Vine media post into a promoted post, so that a larger audience will have a chance to engage with the content. However, creating a six-second video that engages audiences can be more difficult than it seems, which is why Website Magazine has put together a list of strategies brands can implement when leveraging Vine to interact with their followers. Check out the examples below:

(Tip: Click on the video to pause/start it)


Preview Content

One of the most practical uses of the new Vine app is to provide a (very) brief preview of a longer piece of video content that you want users to watch, much like the Birmingham City Football Club does below. Of course, you’ll also want to include a link to the full video if one is available.

 


Take Users Behind-the-Scenes

Many brands, including BuzzFeed and NBC News, have been using Vine to take their followers behind the scenes of their businesses and offices. This helps consumers feel more connected with your brand, but can also be entertaining.

 


Branding

Social media is one of the most powerful branding tools available to marketers, and companies like Red Vines, as aforementioned, have already found interesting ways to push their brand using Twitter's new app.

 


Good Clean Fun

You can increase engagement and score a few extra retweets by simply posting fun – or funny – videos that will capture the attention of Twitter users. Just look at these entertaining videos that Urban Outfitters and The Daily Beast have posted.

 


And More

The Vine application is still hot-off-the-presses, so all of the innovative ways that it can be used as a Twitter marketing tools haven’t even been thought of yet, let alone explored. But as of right now, its usefulness only seems limited by a marketer’s imagination. For instance, Vine can help companies show off new products, improve customer support by answering questions or providing tutorials and can even be used to share (retweet) consumer-generated content about a product or business. And that’s just the beginning!

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Profile Inspirations for the Big 4 Social Networks

posted by Allison Howen @ 12:55 PM
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In today’s digital age, it is important for every business to broaden its audience reach by maintaining a presence on four of the ’Net’s most popular social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

However, posting engaging content and interacting with fans is just one part of the equation when it comes to maintaining a successful social presence, with the other part of the equation being design. In fact, often times, brands focus solely on posting a variety of content to social networks and forget about optimizing the real estate on their profile altogether.

Luckily, Website Magazine has found some of the best examples of social profiles on the Web to help provide some inspiration for future profile-redesign projects. Check them out below:


Facebook

There is a large amount of space to work with on Facebook Pages, most notably, the 851 x 315 px cover photo that is featured at the top of every profile. Although most brands have a Facebook presence, few utilize the social network’s design aspects quite like the brands below. 

Kit Kat
This sweet company takes fan engagement to a whole new level by prominently featuring fans on its cover photo.

 

Priceline
This travel company has streamlined its marketing initiatives by using its Facebook cover photo to promote its ongoing “Priceline Negotiator” campaign. Moreover, the image features a specific hashtag so that fans can take their conversations from Facebook to Twitter without missing a beat.

 

Method
Method maintains a clean design by featuring and identifying its line of products on a white background in the company’s cover photo.


Twitter

Designing a Twitter profile can be tricky, because this micro-blogging social network displays profile pictures directly in the middle of the 520 x 260 px header images. As if creating a design that works with two images wasn’t hard enough, Twitter profiles also leave room for background images, which can appear differently on computer screens depending on resolution. However, the trick is to make all these elements come together into one large design.

Beggin’ Strips
Purina’s Twitter account for the delectable doggie treat, Beggin’ Strips, uses strategic placement to make its profile picture and header image appear as one design.

 

IKEA USA
While IKEA USA’s Twitter header and background image flow together nicely, the company keeps its branding initiatives strong by featuring the company’s icon as its profile picture.

 

CoreCommerce
CoreCommerce does a really good job at maintaining a simple profile design on Twitter that still attracts attention with the use of bright colors. Additionally, the company uses its background design to let prospective clients know exactly what type of services they can expect from the CoreCommerce platform.


Google+

Although Google+ hasn’t taken off in the way that social sites like Facebook and Twitter did, it is still vital for companies to maintain a profile on this network – to boost their SEO initiatives, if for nothing else. The main design elements to focus on when optimizing a Google+ profile include the large 250 x 250 px profile picture and the even larger cover photo, which measures 890 x 180 px.

San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo has an unfair advantage when it comes to design, because its entire business is built on animals, and who doesn’t like looking at pictures of animals? That being said, the zoo still took some time to create a cover photo and profile image that feature a variety of the zoo’s inhabitants – mammals, birds and amphibians.

 

Instagram
For proof that simple is sometimes better, look no further than Instagram’s Google+ profile design.

 

Silverpop
This cover photo has been leveraged to visually feature the types of services that Silverpop offers.


LinkedIn

Brands attract a whole different type of audience on LinkedIn, which is a good thing. However, optimizing the design on LinkedIn Company Pages can be a bit of challenge because brands want to attract attention yet stay professional at the same time, all with a limited amount of customizable space. That being said, the focus for these pages should be the 646 x 220 px main cover photo, because this is the first thing people see when arriving at a Company Page.

Nokia
Nokia uses its cover photo for featuring a variety of its products on a simple background.

 

General Motors
This automobile company optimized its cover photo specifically for LinkedIn by keeping the focus on people.

 

HootSuite
Just like Nokia, HootSuite does a solid job of featuring the type of services it offers without being too flashy or over-promotional.


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Social Media for Home-Based Businesses

posted by admin @ 6:15 AM
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When running a home-based business, the pressure of completing vital daily actions, in addition to time constraints, means social media strategy may not be your highest priority. But to outreach to an extensive customer base, build your online authority and gain a valuable platform for real-time customer service, it should be.

All social networks are not created equal, however. Brand social media is not a tool exclusive to large organizations, and for home businesses especially, can be crucially beneficial and should play an active role in daily business. Choosing a social channel for business depends on a number of variables, so before selecting one (or jumping straight into all networks) consider:

What the home business is

Who the target market is and which channel they are most likely to be active and responsive on

The nature of the products and services sold

Considering what you want your social strategy to achieve can also help with your decision. For example, if you want to build yourself up as an industry leader, network, or promote your company and yourself through industry based discussion, then LinkedIn may be the most suitable network. But if you're likely to post numerous, frequent news, product and offer updates, and want to target and interact with potential clients more directly, using Facebook or Twitter may be a better route to take.

Of course there's nothing to stop you from using both! If you can meet the time requirements to maintain a dedicated and active presence across numerous social media channels, you'll be presenting a more varied, accessible and authoritative business profile. Just note that you don't have to join all networks at once, and be wary of the dangers and damaging effects which incomplete and sloppy social profiling can have.

Key social networks you may consider choosing include:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn acts as a virtual CV, networking and job-hunting tool, and for that reason works well as a B2B social network. Giving you the social status to network as a business figurehead, creating a LinkedIn company page can inform LinkedIn users of your home business, as well as your personal attributes and will showcase your services and company updates. Networking to contact key industry individuals and participation in regular discussion groups can establish your authority as a thought leader within your industry or area of business. It can also allow you as a business owner to advance, network, and raise your professional profile.

Depending upon your business or service offering (this may work well for freelance services for example), LinkedIn can also be an excellent way to source clients.

Twitter

For most organizations, Twitter is the go-to network. With users expectant and tolerant of much more frequent posting (some more brand active profiles post upward of 10 tweets a day), news, links relevant to your industry, retweets and other shared content can boost your profile. Plus, by taking advantage of Twitter features, such as hashtags, your tweets can be easily found in searches and your presence raised. Allowing you to present an accessible front, promote new product and converse with your client base, Twitter lets you directly access a much wider potential customer base, and can be a great way to gather feedback. Have an active follow and interaction strategy to boost and interact with followers and spread the name of your business.

Regarding the time restraints of being commercially active on Twitter, tweets can be scheduled, searched for and ordered using management applications, such as HootSuite or TweetDeck - meaning all daily social activity can be done at once.

Pinterest & Instagram

For businesses that offer a visually appealing product, having a Pinterest or Instagram account can be incredibly beneficial. Whilst Instagram works well in conjunction with Twitter (owing to its use of hashtags allowing users to locate images) and can be a way to encourage customers to create social content/ their own images related to your brand product, Pinterest works more as a virtual pinboard. Allowing users to 'repin' images of your product (once you have a developed profile), if your product can be aesthetically endorsed, both networks could work very well to an advantage.

Facebook

This is an excellent tool for home businesses with small audiences who wish to get to know their audience and fans. You can use your page insights to see what sort of content garners the best responses. Facebook is ideal for sharing and is more directly personal than Twitter, so knowing what content (images, links, competitions, etc.) your Facebook followers respond best to, can work to a business advantage in that you can encourage those followers to share your brand content to their own friends and followers as well. As a great place to share news, offers and promotions, Facebook works well for businesses with a wider consumer base, such as fashion or food, and offers a simple approach to customer service (comments and interaction).

Google +

Though less popular than the other networks, a Google + presence can be just as important. More relaxed when it comes to self-promotion, Google + allows for status and content sharing as with Facebook and LinkedIn, but importantly, as a Google owned service, means it is linked with all of Google's other products. An active account can provide additional SEO benefit: especially useful for smaller, location-dependent businesses.

Once you've decided which network to use:

Any social network can encourage customers to move from your social profile to your business site, and once you've decided which network(s) to be active on, you should consider some form of basic strategy to build a following - this can be as basic as deciding to use HootSuite to schedule in a certain number of tweets a day and replying to any customer feedback (good or bad), to forming a more comprehensive approach such as following targeted users and ensuring you mix your content between status updates, links, images etc.

The approach you take toward social media will vary depending on the time you have to invest in it, but making this investment can really help launch the profile of a whole business, especially if targeting a local market. You should make it easy for people to access your social networks, connect, share and promote you.

About the Author: Alastair Kane is a freelance writer working for 2touch, a leading provider of fulfillment services helping businesses keep their customers happy.

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Life in the Fast Lane – Social Predictions for 2013

posted by admin @ 9:30 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

By Richard Pasewark, CEO, Visible Technologies

This past year the social media and marketing world saw many evolutionary changes including the IPO of Facebook, market consolidation and increased adoption of social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. As we move forward into 2013, companies of all sizes will realize the necessity of utilizing social media data and analytics to better serve, engage and help their customers. Simply participating in social media is no longer enough. Companies need a well thought-out social media strategy to stay ahead of the competition. Below is a snapshot of what the industry can expect to see this year and which areas companies should focus on when developing their marketing plans.

“If you build it, they will come”

As more and more of the large enterprise technology companies acquire social marketing tools and stitch together social media “suites”, clients are increasingly assessing if these toolkits meet their needs. 2013 will be the year that marketing leaders determine what type of software and solutions they can count on – whether it’s delivered from an independent vendor or the result of acquisitions. Many marketers need clear and clean solutions that meet immediate needs – as social media analytics and engagement continuously play a prominent role in their actions and effectiveness, they will need agile vendors to address their dynamic needs. 

English isn’t the only language spoken in the world

The growth of social media in English speaking channels is enormous; yet we need to acknowledge the same rapid ascension of the social global movement, driven by mobile in many parts of the world. In 2013 it will be imperative for global brands to establish a multi-region, multi-language footprint in social channels to reach customers in all markets. Even though Facebook has been banned in countries like China, there is still a major adoption of social media use on homegrown sites such as Sino Wiebo. According to eMarketer, 54 percent of Internet users in China would make a purchase because a friend “liked” or follows the brand on a social network. That’s too big of a figure for companies to ignore. In order to be successful it will be important for companies to monitor their activity on international social channels as well as in non-English speaking channels in order to penetrate new markets. In turn, software companies will need to focus their efforts on developing solutions that can accurately understand and measure the sentiment expressed in languages beyond English. With nearly 20 percent of the world’s population speaking Mandarin or Arabic, both character-based languages, companies will also need to focus on identifying and reading these characters as well.

The rise of Pinterest will foster new technology that tracks the sharing of images (vs. text only)

The rise of visual social media like Pinterest will create a need for businesses to track the sharing of images versus just text. With the proliferation of images, videos and infographics going viral over the last few years, enterprises will begin to demand software to track these mainstream marketing and advertising methods. A fun example is the smiley face ;-), which is one of the most tweeted terms, making it imperative for companies to shift their technologies in this direction. With this will come new abilities added to search engines allowing users to copy and paste images to find a match versus relying on text-only options. This will open the gates of opportunity for other search engines to flourish if Google and Bing don’t evolve with these changes. It will also open new avenues for analytics as data sharing and influence will have new dimensions of insight. 

Social media analytics will become the de facto source of customer input

Social media has already begun to pave the way of transformation in the customer service sector. As more and more customers voice their opinions online, companies have been forced to engage with consumers on their medium of choice. In 2013 we can expect this to continue and establish itself as the primary means of gaining customer feedback to improve customer experience. Data analyzed from social media sources will become a de facto way for companies to measure customer sentiment and satisfaction and be an essential channel to identify problem areas. Companies will no longer rely on surveys to gauge the success of their products and service, and will increasingly use social media analysis and community engagement to solicit and respond to customer input. 

Product development will begin to lean on social channels

Much as customer service teams began addressing customer issues via social channels this year, product development teams will begin to look to social media to determine their next move. In order to meet consumer needs in a constantly changing marketplace, product development teams will begin sourcing ideas and preferences from social chatter when determining which capabilities or enhancements to focus on. This in turn will give the customer more power, allowing them to have a say in what innovations they see next.

 

About Richard Pasewark

As Chief Executive Officer of Visible Technologies, Rich provides strategic leadership to bring value to clients and partners. Prior to this role, Rich was President of Cymfony, where he scaled the organization to meet the growing demand for insights delivered from Cymfony’s technology and analyst services. Rich brings more than two decades of experience as a business leader, strategist, and software visionary for industry leaders such as Quark, Adobe and EDS. Rich values the opportunity to create new solutions in the emerging and continually evolving social media analytics market.

 

 

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A Lack of Social Media Cohesion

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 12:50 PM
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New research from eCommerce and digital marketing company Acquity Group reveals that more than 75 percent of brands lacked a cohesive social media presence across the major platforms.

Results from the agency’s 2012 Brand eCommerce Audit, which evaluated Interbrand’s 2012 Best Retail Brands on customer engagement across major digital channels, indicated that while every brand on the list (except one) had a Facebook page, and 45 out of 50 are on Twitter, only 12 of the brands had a cohesive presence across all five of the major social networks that were analyzed ( Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

Twitter had the largest gap between usage and interaction according to the study. Less than 27 percent of brands analyzed actively participated in Twitter conversations with consumers, even though 90 percent of those brands had a presence.

Other highlights from the Acquity study include:

- 80 percent of the brands analyzed leveraged YouTube with an impressive 85 percent engagement rate.
- 56 percent of brands do not yet utilize Instagram, but there is a high level of interaction at 79 percent.
- 60 percent of the brands had adopted Pinterest and interaction rates on the social pin-board were 70 percent.

Acquity Group also profiled 10 brands that scored best overall in social interaction including Target, Home Depot, RadioShack, Bath and Body Works, Nordstrom, Gap, eBay, Coach, American Eagle Outfitters and Banana Republic (in the order of their ranking).

"Although most brands are signed up for the major social networks, many struggle to understand how they fit into their overarching business strategy. As a result, our audit revealed several critical areas of improvement when it comes to actually connecting with consumers across social channels," said Jay Dettling, Executive Vice President at Acquity Group.

"The important take away for brands is to avoid haphazard or sporadic use of social media. When a new social media channel is introduced, brands need to take the time to analyze the potential impact and return, and develop a solid strategy from there."

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Find Shareable Sentences to Tweet Better

posted by Michael Garrity @ 11:20 AM
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One of the hardest things about sharing your content with the Internet via social media is trying to find the perfect way to distill all of your content into a single, sharable phrase.

This problem is especially pronounced on Twitter, where users are confined to a 140-character limit, making it even more difficult to capture the essence of a long-form piece of content into something enticing and engaging for other users.

However, that may become an issue that is SO 2012 thanks to SavePublishing, a new free bookmarklet tool that will find “tweetable sentences” on any Web page. Content publishers can then use this to fine the most share-worthy pearls of wisdom in their content, and then select one of those to include in a tweet, along with a link to the page.

To use SavePublishing, simply drag the code into your bookmarks bar (you can find that here), and click on the “link” whenever you’re page of content is ready to be shared. Shareable sentences will appear in red, and for users already logged into Twitter on the browser, clicking on them will bring up a box with a pre-composed tweet. Then they just have to click the “Tweet” button and it’s sent!



SavePublishing works in Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers, and exists as an open source project on GitHub. The tool does not use cookies, and while it may track usage, it doesn’t take any personal information from its users.

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The Stipple Effect and the Growth of Image Tagging

posted by Michael Garrity @ 11:45 AM
Friday, December 14, 2012

Image tagging services make it possible for content publishers to monetize their pictures by making them more interactive, and as social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook make it increasingly easier to share images across the Web, marketers are growing more interested in finding ways to advertise or even sell products from inside their photos.

Stipple is the industry leader in image tagging, boasting a roster of major clients that includes Zappos, Nike, Nordstrom and L’Oreal. It’s also the only service that has been able to accurately tag images at the enterprise scale without relying on gimmicks. Currently, the company estimates that it will have tagged and made “monetize-able” over 100 million images with 100 percent accuracy by the end of 2012.

This extreme growth hasn’t gone unnoticed, and just yesterday it was announced that Stipple had received an additional $3 million in funding from Sands Capital in order to “accelerate its growth and product innovation.”

Just last month, Stipple was responsible for tagging an impressive 12 million images, but that would quickly be overshadowed, as now the company is on pace to tag over 80 million photos by the end of December. When asked about what has helped propel this surge in image tags over the last year, CEO Rey Flemings said the company’s success was all about providing its clients with the ability to scale to tag a lot of photos accurately so that those tags follow the images as they get shared across the Web. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that Stipple is the only image tagging service to have attempted (and succeeded at) such a feat.

“At the end of the day, the challenge isn’t in helping people tag photos,” says Flemings. “It’s all about distribution.”

As part of the company’s push for greater distribution, it recently integrated with Twitter to bring its interactive images to the social network’s content stream, which could be one of the first steps towards unlocking in-stream commerce on Twitter.

Much of Stipple’s success can, and has, been attributed to its ability to scale to meet the image tagging needs of all of its clients. When the company launched, it wanted to help “solve the image problem,” and now it has done that for some of the largest brands in the world. Some of its clients have thousands, if not millions, of images that need to be tagged, and Stipple is able to help them do that not just with a streamlined, automatic process, but also with 100 percent accuracy across distribution channels, which his of utmost importance considering how often images are shared on the Web.

 “[Stipple] builds a bridge between our product images on others’ websites and our own, with no human interaction, unprecedented accuracy and at scale,” says Greg Colando, President of FLOR.

Now with a significantly fatter wallet, Stipple is looking ahead to 2013 and hoping to build upon, and increase, its impressive numbers from 2012. That means growing its current database of images and expanding its client base to include even more enterprise-level brands. It also means hiring more staff members, particularly engineers and sales representatives. That is on top of the two big hires the company just announced: Darr Gerscovich (formerly of LinkedIn and Yahoo!), who will run Stipple’s marketing organization, and Stephanie Palmer, who will be in charge of working directly with the company’s growing network of publishers.

It seems safe to say that affiliates and advertisers may want to keep an eye on Stipple in 2013, particularly if they’re looking for a way to turn their images into money. And who wouldn’t like to do that, right?

 

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Hashtags, Twitter Trends and Social SEO

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 11:45 AM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The role that social media now plays in successful search engine optimization campaigns is immense.

The more pronounced a social media profile, the greater the likelihood that a brand will make its way onto search results pages. The challenge of course is how to amplify awareness, while maintaining some semblance of readability, accessibility and well, fun, with social updates. One of the best ways right now is to use hashtags.

Back in October of this year, Dan Wilkerson of LunaMetrics published a study about the impact of hashtag use on reach and the results were mind blowing to say the least. According to the report, using two hashtags per tweet resulted in 87 percent more retweets and 255 percent more mentions. That alone should get you to include as many hashtags as possible (without looking spammy of course) in your next tweet.

But what hashtags work best? Well, that depends on your vertical obviously, but what’s more important is understanding which specific hashtags are trending and when. For that’s it is essential to turn to one of the many resources available for the explicit purpose of researching hashtags data and any emerging trends on Twitter. Some of my favorites include:

Twitter.com: If you’re quick to post a status update or tweet, the only resource you really need is Twitter itself. The platform provides its top ten most trending hashtags but a quick search on Twitter can also yield some interesting insights.

Hashtags.org: While accessing just 1 percent of total tweets, Hashtag.org does provide some interesting historical data. Check out both the popular hashtags (those that you may want to include on every post) as well as the trending hashtags which are updated frequently.

WhattheTrend.com: The real-time Web presents an excellent opportunity to discover what’s trending and when. WhattheTrend updates its list constantly and it can be filtered to show verified definitions of individual hashtags and undefined so you know what you’ll be tweeting. The service even provides a “trends by location” feature which shows what hashtags are trending around the world.

Another fun way to research hashtags by location is TrendsMap.

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Political Campaigns & Digital Marketing: Did They Miss the Mark?

posted by admin @ 10:30 AM
Monday, November 5, 2012

We all know how online marketing and social media can be a goldmine of potential consumers.

Brands like Whole Foods Market and Samsung have succeeded on Twitter with as many as 3 million followers each. Coke triumphs over Pepsi on YouTube with about 108 million views and 83,700 subscribers. Among media brands, Disney dominates with nearly 38,700,000 Facebook fans. In 2011, Netflix’s display advertising received 36.9 billion ad impressions and was cited as one of the top 10 display advertisers in the United States. 

But when you look at political spending, campaigns are still spending more on traditional media platforms than online. Consumer brands are learning how to harness online and social media, but political marketers can take a lesson from those finding success with digital marketing. Online and social media is an advantageous investment if political campaigns wisely use online channels, especially their analytics tools. 

But if online and social media are so powerful then why are the presidential candidates and Super PACs not investing more into online advertising? Why are campaigns and Super PACs less interested in social media than offline? 

Traditional media is still the force in political spending. True, online spending is six times higher for this year’s election than it was in 2008, but for political advertising, TV is the main medium—approximately $7.3 billion dollars for broadcast TV, cable and radio versus $159 million for online, according to Borrell Associates.  

Historically, political campaigners had two rivals in the final stretch on an election: a Democrat versus Republican, and those two camps spent money on their campaigns. Now, Super PACs have flooded the ad market, driving up the competition and the inventory price within paid search advertising. For instance, if there are only two people bidding on keywords, there’s a limited competition with keyword bidding. However, if you have 10 people bidding on the same keywords, it drives up the price of inventory and increases the cost-per-click.  

Obama advisor, David Axelrod, may have put it best when he said that local TV is “still the nuclear weapon” within an election. This doesn’t mean, however, that political marketers are not concerned about the digital battleground. One of the biggest wins is the investment by the Obama campaign in its social and online media. By numbers alone, Obama leads in many fronts on the digital battleground—from Twitter, online display ads and paid search marketing. But you need more than mere numbers to be successful. Candidates, like consumer brands, can better leverage online and social media to keep and win supporters.

First, test, track and analyze your political messaging in the digital space. For instance, let’s say you have a rally in the battleground state of Ohio and want to ensure high voter turnout. Social and online marketing are useful to engage and motivate your base, as well as communicating with your base quickly and in real-time. As you gather your online following, you can test and track which messages resonate with those people before creating a costly TV ad or making a speech. That’s a competitive strategy that marketers can use before going to market.

Second, marketers should invest marketing dollars into online display ads to target undecided voters. Marketing is not solely about the size of your budget but who’s going to spend their budget more intelligently. Display advertising or banner ads can be the tipping point because of its granular level of targeting. Within this channel, you can find such information like demographics, geography, and user behavior, making display ads far superior than TV and allowing marketers to gain more precise and targeted reach.

Third, think like your competitor both online and offline. Some people believe that “big data” can solve many marketing problems but that’s a misconception. Like any amount of information, you need to gather, organize and properly analyze it. You need the attention to detail and objectivity to find any missed opportunities or big wins – for you and your competitor. By investing more resources into data analytics tools (Google Analytics and Adobe SiteCatalyst), you have greater insight into the effectiveness of your online advertising than with other medium, such as how many donations are you receiving from a banner ad versus a paid search campaign. 

To sum it up, it might not be that political campaigns are less interested in digital marketing. They also need to consider if they are investing their ad dollars where it counts—through quality analytics.

About the Author: Jon Morris is the founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency in Chicago, specializing in digital media and web analytics.

 

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Trend Spotting (and Funding) with Dataminr

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 7:30 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

As if you needed it, here's a little more evidence that social media remains of great interest to the venture capital crowd these days (as it should be with the Web technology worker, too): social media analytics company Dataminr has secured $13 million to grow its client roster and drive further technology innovation in the Twitter-powered "sensor" network. 

Dataminr provides an "earling warning" system of sorts that has been used primarily in the financial (big banks, hedge funds, wall street, et al) and government sectors to identify market-relevant information, noteworthy events, and emerging trends. Being able to mashup their own data set with raw data from Twitter proves incredibly valuble to these companies as their own viability is so closely connected to market demand and interest. 

Dataminr is one of only a few social media analytics providers today that has full "firehose" access to Twitter, which affords the company the ability to analyze upwards of 400 million tweets per day in order to identify any activity hotspots. As Twitter tightens its control over its developer API, expect the likes of Dataminr and others to take center stage. 

 

 

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Twitter Header Images… Meh.

posted by Pete Prestipino @ 11:57 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Twitter certainly made some waves this week with the announcement that its users could now create custom header images for their profiles. Amazing, right? Not exactly.

In a page virtually torn almost directly from the likes of Facebook and Google+ (yes, it's still hanging around, even without a write API), the new capability does little to inspire this user beyond shrug his shoulders. Fortunately, the process for adding a header image to Twitter is incredibly simple.

In the hopes of keeping up with the digital Jones', below you'll find a step-by-step guide to getting started with Twitter header images. The total time for this project should take 60 seconds if you've got the image you'd like to use ready.

If you've created a new Twitter header image today, show it and share it with the Website Magazine community by commenting below. You might even earn yourself a retweet as we'll feature the five best redesigned Twitter profiles in an upcoming post, so share your handle now!

Step One: Navigate to the Profile Page (twitter.com/username)

 
Step Two: Select "Me" from the navigation bar at the top

 
Step Three; Select Account Setting

 
Step Four: Select "Design" from the available menu

 
Step Five: Select "Change Header"

 
Step Six: Upload Header Image
(recommended size is 1200x600 although it can be scaled to fit).

 
Step Seven: Take a look and share with the world!

   

 

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Twitter Ups Relevancy of Targeted Ads

posted by Michael Garrity @ 6:20 AM
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

After a significant amount of time spent testing and tweaking, Twitter has finally rolled out a new feature to all of its advertisers that may dramatically improve the relevance of targeted ads on the microblogging social network.

See, before, Promoted Tweets or Trending Topics were displayed without taking into account how relevant or useful the ads were to a given individual user. This was largely because the site, by its nature, isn’t able to cull the kind of personal information about its users as Facebook can, since they don’t specify their interests on their profiles.

Twitter is now developing a way to glean this information from what users are actually saying on the site, as well as who they follow and some of their other activities. Unfortunately, that’s about all of the information the company has given up so far.

These changes will also allow advertisers to specify the specific @handles of users, but rather than only target those individuals, Twitter will show ads to all of their followers who share interests with them. So, for instance, if you wanted to target people who like a certain type of food, a marketer can use this feature to target people who follow a restaurant that serves a similar menu.

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Topple into Social Analytics with Topsy

posted by Allison Howen @ 9:30 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Get ready to dive into a deluge of tweets – thanks to real-time social analytics provider Topsy.

The company just launched Topsy Pro Analytics, which is an analytics solution that provides users access to hundreds of billions of public tweets, as well as enables real-time and multi-year access to posts and pages gathered from millions of socially active websites across the ’Net.

By leveraging Topsy Pro Analytics, users can make better business decisions by analyzing exact measurements of terms, topics, hashtags, links, images, videos and trends. The platform offers users instant results for searched topics, and also enables them to highlight important content in order to down-score spam.

Topsy also added additional data to each of the more than 400 million Tweets and other social posts that the company indexes daily – including geographic location, social sentiment, language and influence. With this data, marketers can find their top influencers, determine how positive (or negative) a conversation regarding specific terms or topics is, discover which geographic location is home to the most social activity and analyze the exposure and impact of particular topics.

Although Topsy Pro Analytics will be especially helpful to marketers who will be able to monitor their competitors' social campaigns and websites, it should also prove beneficial to journalists who can leverage the platform to analyze, detect and follow breaking news and trending topics.

"Organizations want to tap into the public social web to identify, quantify and understand what people are saying and Topsy Pro Analytics puts the world's largest social media dataset at their fingertips," says Duncan Greatwood, CEO of Topsy"The analytics technologies we've created are scaling to power what has become the world's largest index of the public social web. Companies including sparks & honey and The Washington Post are already tapping into our realtime social analytics to fulfill their needs."

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Twitter Cards & SMO

posted by Peter A. Prestipino @ 2:30 PM
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Social media optimization (SMO) is still very much an emerging practice. It’s “emerging” because despite all the claims made by social gurus, no one (and I mean no one) really knows the secret of success when it comes to the social media channel.

Fortunately, as the intersection of search and social nears, techniques and tactics are emerging which carry some serious power when it comes to ramping up awareness and distribution of brand messages.

Twitter for example recently released “Twitter Cards” – a means for social media users to attach “media experiences” to Tweets that link to content - see image below. Just add a few lines of HTML to a webpage and any users who tweets the link to the content will have a “card” added to their Tweet which is visible to their followers. Sounds pretty sweet right? Keep reading – it gets better.

These Twitter Cards (which come in three varieties – summary, photo and player) ultimately give greater control to the publisher over how their content appears. As a result of featuring better looking content, those using the Twitter Card feature will be positioned to drive more traffic to their sites and acquire more new followers.

Whether to support Twitter cards should be a no-brainer for the truly social enterprise. There’s a bit of coding involved (not too much) and publishers must apply to participate but that’s a small price to pay for a more robust Twitter profile.

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Targeted Tweets Reach a Relevant Audience

posted by Michael Garrity @ 7:45 AM
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the realm of social media advertising, Twitter has procured a specific role, primarily for businesses to build brand awareness, but also allowing them to advertise, offer special promotions, provide customer support, answer questions, and more, all in 140-character bursts.

However, one thing that has been missing from the platform is the ability to show highly targeted tweets to users based on unique characteristics, such as location. When it comes to advertising, this ability can be incredibly advantageous, as it allows companies to get specific information to the most relevant of their followers without bombarding others, which improves the overall effectiveness of their tweets.

Late last week, Twitter announced that it was going to start offering targeted Promoted Tweets, which give brands the opportunity to reach out to specific audiences on the social network without sending a tweet to all of its followers. Advertisers will be able to compose targeted tweets with the new Tweet Box on Twitter Ads, and (as is the case with all Promoted Tweets) they’ll only have to pay when users actually engage with them. Twitter ensures that those tweets that receive the most engagement are likely to appear more often.

Brands can use this new feature in a multitude of ways. For example, when a global company releases a product on different dates in a variety of countries, they can send tailored tweets to only those followers in a specific region on the launch date.

Twitter has been testing these new tailored Promoted Tweets for a few weeks now with British Airways, Coca-Cola, the Washington Post, and Wendy’s, but the feature is now available to all advertisers on the site.

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8 Ways to Improve Your Site Over the Weekend

posted by Michael Garrity @ 7:00 AM
Friday, July 20, 2012

Everybody may be working for the weekend, but if you run a website, you already know that you’re almost always working on the weekend, as well.

In fact, most of the work of the everyday Web professional has to do with tweaking, analyzing, and generally optimizing the performance of their site(s), which can take up a lot of time.

So, if you don't want to spend your whole weekend working, here are eight quick ways to refine your website in two days, and still have time to go see the new Batman movie.

Offer social proof on your website.

While peer pressure is typically seen as negative, that is not the case in the marketing world. Web workers can display customer testimonials or case studies on their website to increase engagement and conversions. By doing this, your audience will be able to relate to other customers, and therefore learn how effective your services or products are from a trusted opinion. So, find some of the nicest things that consumers out there have said about you (and don't forget, you can encourage them) and share it with the world.

Test email subject lines.

Email marketing campaigns won’t be successful if emails aren’t delivered or opened, which is why it is always important to use best practices, such as testing, when creating email subject lines. One way that marketers can quickly test email subject lines is with subjectline.com. This free subject line scoring tool evaluates subject lines and provides users with scores, as well as deliverability and marketing tips and advice. Take some time - 15 minutes or so - to sit down and brainstorm great subject lines.

Generate a Fivesecondtest for your site to assess its usability/readability.

When you don’t have the time to conduct user tests, this handy Web-based tool lets Web workers upload a screenshot of their Web page and then creates two different five-second user tests, one for memory and one for descriptive feedback. And, you know, it only takes five seconds.

Insert dynamic meta descriptions into your HTML.

One of the easiest ways to improve your search marketing efforts is to include useful, compelling meta descriptions on your Web pages. Just be sure that they are relevant to the page’s content and are captivating enough inspire a user to click on the search result.

Monitor keywords on Twitter.

It is important to keep an eye on discussions that are relevant to your brand, because it can help social media managers better connect with their audience, as well as help publishers discover possible content ideas. While there are many tools that can be leveraged for monitoring social media mentions, two free Twitter-specific tools worth checking out are Monitter and Twitterfall. Take a few minutes every hour or so to see who is using your keywords in the Twitterverse.

Assess your forms.

Does your email subscription form ask for unnecessary information? If the answer is "yes," you may be scaring off potential subscribers. This is why removing unnecessary or less important information from your forms can prove to be beneficial in the long run. In fact, it is important to note that the only information really needed on a newsletter subscription form is a name and email address, especially because more targeted information can always be obtained at a later time. Should you have some time to spare, why not give one (or all?) of your forms a review to make sure they're not asking superfluous questions.

Fix up and customize your 404 page.

Obviously you never want your visitors to land on one of these, but it happens, and in those situations, it’s good to have a custom 404 page that will not only provide them with information, but also offers additional useful content and encourages them to continue exploring your awesome website. If your 404 page is uninformative and boring, why not take a few hours to create one that will be a little more meaningful to your site's visitors?

Adjust white space to improve readability.

Finding the right balance between too much and too little space around text is one of the essential aspects of a readable website. Remember that your chunks of text content need room to breathe so that your visitors can view them more easily, and they shouldn’t be adhered to other elements, particularly images. Spend a few minutes during your morning coffee looking over your website to make sure it's optimized for readability, and if you see any problems, try increasing your padding and margins.

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Unfollow Inactive Twitterati: The Golden Feather Ratio

posted by admin @ 11:30 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smart social media users should know that when it comes to Twitter, the ratio between the number of those you are following and the number (and quality) of those who follow you back matters greatly.

Matter to what exactly? To the authenticity of your account in the virtual eye of the Twitter bird but more importantly to the perception of prospective followers.

Admit it, you're much more likely to follow an account/profile that follows a low number of profiles in comparison to the high number of those that are following them back. It's human nature; we want to be around the in-crowd. For example, a profile with 10 followers that follows 10,000 should cause you to question following them. On the other hand, an account with 10,000 followers that only follows 10 is someone likely we should be interested in following. 

What social media workers should ultimately be after is to have a profile that has more followers and is following fewer - let's call it the "golden feather ratio." That is just common sense, right? While social media pundits debate what the actual "golden feather ratio" actually is, the ideal is to have at least two to three times more followers than profiles you are following. Sounds simple enough. One of the easiest way to adjust your ratio is to stop following inactive accounts.

Now is the time to Unfollow
Once a social media worker follows a profile it is not necessary to follow them forever. Often we follow an account just so that we can establish a neccessary line of communication. But since social media accounts have a tendency to go dormant - particularly those on Twitter - routinely pruning your followers puts a positive spin on this important ratio.

So what options do you have for unfollowing inactive Twitter users? While it's possible to perform this function manually, many web services exist which automate most of the unfollow process - leaving nothing more than the click of a button to leave a dormant profile behind. Here are three of our favorites - all of which were tested out this morning.

JustUnFollow | ManageFlitter | Tweepi

There are many tools like JustUnFollow, ManageFlitter and Tweepi so share with WM and its readers how you go through the unfollow process for your Twitter account. 

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Obsessed with Klout?

posted by Peter A. Prestipino @ 11:00 AM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Over the past few weeks, I have been obsessed with Klout. No, not clout, but Klout — the Web-based measurement service that gauges just how influential a person really is in the social sphere of the ’Net.

My interest in Klout, by all accounts, had been mild up until now. But my score has gone through the virtual roof in recent weeks, fueling this obsession. That rise was not caused by my incredibly witty tweets, nor was it due to my numerous and strangely compelling Facebook updates. Neither was it because I’ve quickly managed to build an inordinate number of new connections through LinkedIn, Tumblr or Google+.

No, the real reason that my Klout has increased is a simple one. I actually — finally — connected my social accounts to the system. For several months or longer, I had lingered around a wildly depressing and uninspired Klout score of 12. Okay, it was actually 11 — but who’s counting?

Knowing in my virtual heart of hearts that I was, in fact, more influential than that forced me to submit myself fully and completely to the Klout system, throwing my digital hat in the ring to see how I truly measured up. As you might imagine, connecting all your accounts — revealing all of your connections to the world — can do wonders in terms of boosting your credibility with Klout.

My number jumped to a far more respectable score of 56. And there was another benefit — a far more important one.


Editor's note: you can follow Website Magazine Editor-in-Chief Pete Prestipino on Twitter, Facebook and even Google+.


In the few weeks since my raging Klout obsession began, I have posted more frequently to Facebook (doing so at both peak and off times — hint, hint) and now I engage with the status updates of others more often, liking and, more importantly, commenting on what is shared by my friends and followers. Even though some of them, by the way, have ridiculously low Klout scores.

I have reintroduced myself to Twitter (although, I must admit, my hectic schedule is not always tweetfriendly), and now I make a genuine effort to retweet what I believe my own followers would find interesting or entertaining. I try to balance that with a few interesting highlights from my own life — both personal and professional, of course — along with my newfound commitment to using the platform as a way to complain or congratulate other people and companies for a job well done.

But that’s not all. Google+, the social network I once thought was good only for shoring up search results positions, has also seen an influx of activity from me — as have both my LinkedIn and Tumblr profiles. I have to admit, I’ve gained more from these networks than I ever thought possible in the form of new friendships as well as exposure to ideas and information.

Needless to say, my increased participation has been well worth the investment of time. But I’m not done yet — not by a long shot.

As I have become more focused on engaging in activities that I likely should have been doing all along, my Klout score has slowly — very slowly, actually — inched upward. Who would have thought that by committing to more and deeper social connections you can develop and increase your Klout (and clout)?

Make no mistake; I know that true “reach” and “influence” is nearly impossible to measure. I have seen firsthand where those with incredibly high Klout scores in the 70- and 80-point range couldn’t influence me to drink a glass of lemonade on a hot day. But for me, my Klout score is less about others and more about me — what I can become, what I want to become, what I will become.

I check my Klout score every morning — sometimes even before I get out of bed. It is now a constant reminder for me that what we are is not what we will become.

It requires a commitment to increase your Klout score as much as it does to improve you life. But in the end, the commitment is worth it.

If only for the perks.

 

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#TwitterCensored tweets on Twitter

Twitter faced a growing backlash on Friday, less than a day after it announced that it can now block specific tweets from being published in specific countries that legally require such censorship.

On Friday, a day after the country-specific plan was announced, #TwitterBlackout and #TwitterCensored were trending topics on the hugely popular social network.

In the case of #TwitterBlackout, thousands of users from around the world threatened to boycott using the service on Jan. 28, with the hactivist group Anonymous among those calling on tweeters to skip the site for a day. The group Reporters Without Borders issued a letter on its website to Twitter's executive chairman, Jack Dorsey, asking him to "reverse a policy that violates freedom of expression."

The trending topic #TwitterCensorship was filled mostly with tweets from users complaining that Twitter shouldn't be censoring any of its users. Fear over increased censorship also was widely expressed, as was some frustration as some believe Twitter's new policy may result in less censorship,  not more.

Munk_One

In the past, Twitter only withdrew a user's tweet globally — meaning the entire world wouldn't be able to see a tweet if the site censored it. But now, the San Francisco company has built a tool that allows them to censor tweets just in the country that calls for the censorship, but others outside of that nation will be able to view the message share on the service.

Twitter said Thursday in a blog post that it doesn't want to censor anyone's tweets but legally has to do so in certain cases, such as France's and Germany's ban on "pro-Nazi content."

The company also said it has teamed with the free-speech and online-rights website ChillingEffects.org — an online partnership between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, University of Maine, George Washington School of Law and Santa Clara University School of Law clinics — to document who is asking for a tweet to be censored and why. Such notices will be published at chillingeffects.org/twitter.

Jillian C. York, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's director of international freedom of expression, argued in a blog post defending the company that the move doesn't "represent a sea change in Twitter's policies."

"It's been difficult to comment on the move given the extreme reaction by Twitter's own community," York said. "Lots of 'I told you so' from the conspiracy theorists who think that this is because of Saudi Prince Alwaleed's stake in the company, compounded by the #occupy crowd continuing to claim their hashtag was censored in Twitter's trending topics made me want to avoid the subject entirely."

But, of course, York doesn't avoid the subject.

"Let's be clear: This is censorship," she said. "There's no way around that. But alas, Twitter is not above the law. Just about every company hosting user-generated content has, at one point or another, gotten an order or government request to take down content. Google lays out its orders in its Transparency Report. Other companies are less forthright. In any case, Twitter has two options in the event of a request: Fail to comply, and risk being blocked by the government in question, or comply (read: censor).  And if they have 'boots on the ground', so to speak, in the country in question?  No choice."

Nonetheless, York said she understands why people are angry.

"Twitter has previously taken down content — for DMCA requests, at least — and will no doubt continue to face requests in the future," she said, referencing Twitter blocking tweets in the past to follow DMCA copyright laws. "I believe that the company is doing its best in a tough situation…and I'll be the first to raise hell if they screw up."

[Updated 3:03 p.m.: Twitter updated it's blog post on the censorship changes in response to the user backlash seen over the last day.

The company said that it believes "new, more granular approach to withheld content is a good thing for freedom of expression, transparency, accountability -- and for our users. Besides allowing us to keep Tweets available in more places, it also allows users to see whether we are living up to our freedom of expression ideal."

Twitter also answered threee questions it says it has been asked since Thursday. The questions and answers from Twitter:

Q: Do you filter out certain Tweets before they appear on Twitter?
A: No. Our users now send a billion Tweets every four days -- filtering is neither desirable nor realistic. With this new feature, we are going to be reactive only: that is, we will withhold specific content only when required to do so in response to what we believe to be a valid and applicable legal request.

As we do today, we will evaluate each request before taking any action. Any content we do withhold in response to such a request is clearly identified to users in that country as being withheld. And we are now able to make that content available to users in the rest of the world.

Q: What will people see if content is withheld?
A: If people are located in a country where a Tweet or account has been withheld and they try to view it, they will see a alert box that says "Tweet withheld" or "@Username withheld" in place of the affected Tweet or account.

Q: Why did you take this approach, and why now?
A: There's no magic to the timing of this feature. We've been working to reduce the scope of withholding, while increasing transparency, for a while. We have users all over the world and wanted to find a way to deal with requests in the least restrictive way.]

ALSO:

'Don't Be Evil' tool alters new Google search results

Twitter can now censor tweets nationally, rather than globally

Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ in Google's revamped search results

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Images: Screen shots of Twitter users complaining about Twitter's new nation-specific censorship policy. Credit: Twitter

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Twitter can now censor tweets nationally, rather than globally

posted by Technology @ 6:07 PM
Thursday, January 26, 2012
What a withheld tweet will look like
What a withheld username will look likeThe wings of some Twitter users may be clipped a bit less going forward.

The San Francisco-based company said Thursday that it will now be able to censor tweets in specific countries that ask it to do so for legal reasons, rather than having to block tweets globally as before.

"As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression," the company said in a blog post. "Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content."

Up until this point, Twitter was only able to censor tweets worldwide, which means nobody would get to see a blocked tweet, the company said.

"Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world," Twitter said. "We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why."

When a tweet is blocked in a country, a message will appear stating that the tweet has been withheld in that nation alongside a link that explains the reason as to why the tweet was blocked.

"We haven't yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld," Twitter said. "As part of that transparency, we've expanded our partnership with Chilling Effects to share this new page, http://chillingeffects.org/twitter, which makes it easier to find notices related to Twitter."

Twitter says in its help center that the ability to block a tweet in a specific nation will allow it to "respect our user's expression, while also taking into consideration applicable local laws."

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Summify flocks to Twitter to help users discover, filter content

Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ in Google's revamped search results

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Images: Screen shots of what blocked content will look like. Credit: Twitter

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‘Don’t Be Evil’ tool alters new Google search results

posted by Technology @ 4:44 PM
Monday, January 23, 2012
FocusOnTheUser.org

When Google changed the rankings of its search results this month, items from its Google+ social network — such as photos, videos, comments and links — got a boost at the expense of other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter wasn't happy about the changes, which Google called Search Plus Your World, and made its dissatisfaction known. Privacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the changes.

But merely complaining about the new search results wasn't enough for a few engineers from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. On Monday, the backlash against Search Plus Your World hit another level with the release of their Don't Be Evil bookmarklet, available on the new website Focus on the User.

The bookmarklet, which is a browser plug-in of code that alters Google search results to make them more like they were before Search Plus Your World, was built over the weekend by a small team that included Facebook's director of product, Blake Ross, and Facebook software engineers Tom Occhino and Marshall Roch.

The bookmarklet's Don't Be Evil name is a nod to Google's company mantra.

A statement posted on Focus on the User says:

When you search for "cooking" today, Google decides that renowned chef Jamie Oliver is a relevant social result. That makes sense," reads a statement on Focus on the User. "But rather than linking to Jamie's Twitter profile, which is updated daily, Google links to his Google+ profile, which was last updated nearly two months ago. Is Google's relevance algorithm simply misguided?

No. If you search Google for Jamie Oliver directly, his Twitter profile is the first social result that appears. His abandoned Google+ profile doesn't even appear on the first page of results. When Google's engineers are allowed to focus purely on relevancy, they get it right.

So that's what our "bookmarklet" does. It looks at the three places where Google only shows Google+ results and then automatically googles Google to see if Google finds a result more relevant than Google+.

Google officials were unavailable for comment on the bookmarklet Monday afternoon.

Facebook's Ross, who is also one of the three co-founders of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser and was spreading the word about the bookmarklet on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, has had a run-in with Google+ before: In August, Ross' Google+ profile page was temporarily suspended. Google never commented on why that happened, but Ross has said it was because Google didn't think the page really belonged to him.

Along with the launch of the bookmarklet and the Focus on the User site, a video (which can be seen below) explaining how the bookmarklet works, narrated by Ross, was posted to YouTube.

The bookmarklet isn't an official product of Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, but nobody seems to be shying away from the connection to those companies.

Where will this beef go from here? That's up to the involved engineers and anyone else around the Web who wants to dig in and write some code.

"This proof of concept was built by some engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, in consultation with several other social networking companies," Focus on the User says. "We are open-sourcing the code so that anyone may use it or make it even better."

RELATED:

Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ content in search results 

Google likely to face FTC complaint over 'Search Plus Your World'

Facebook Product Director Blake Ross temporarily kicked off Google+

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of FocusOnTheUser.org.

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White House joins Google+ ahead of State of the Union speech

posted by Technology @ 5:34 PM
Sunday, January 22, 2012
The White House on Google+

The White House is now on Google+ and no, it's not technically a move to help President Obama get reelected — there is a separate Obama 2012 page for that.

So why is the Obama administration now on Google's social network? The State of the Union speech on Tuesday is at least one reason to join Google+.

The annual speech will be broadcast across major TV networks and an enhanced version will be streamed online to the White House's mobile apps and at whitehouse.gov/sotu, with "charts, stats and data that helped inform President Obama's policy decisions as he delivers his speech to the nation," the White House said.

After the speech, which starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time, White House officials will field questions throughout the week regarding the speech, the president's policies, and the direction in which the country and economy is headed. Those questions will be taken from Twitter, Facebook and (as of this week) Google+.

Down the road, the White House may use Google+ Hangouts, the social network's group video-chatting feature, to reach constituents.

"The President and First Lady often call the White House 'The People’s House.' Well, this is another way we're opening our doors (virtually) to citizens around the country," said Kori Schulman, the deputy director of outreach at the White House Office of Digital Strategy, in a blog post. "On our Google+ page, we'll host regular 'White House Hangouts' with administration officials on a range of issues and topics.

"Some Google+ users will be invited to join the Hangout with the White House and have a conversation with policy experts. But the best part is that even if you're not 'in' the Hangout, you can watch the whole thing live on WhiteHouse.gov, on our Google+ page or on the White House YouTube channel."

The White House currently has no Google+ Hangouts planned.

Although the White House's Google+ page isn't an official campaign tool, there is no doubt that the Obama administration and his reelection campaign staff are looking to use every tool possible to reach voters this year.

After all, the president's use of social media in his winning of the 2008 election is often cited as one of the reasons he was able to build up support among voters. The Technology blog even described Obama as "the first social media president."

One other reason the White House might want to be on Google+ — Republican rivals looking to knock Obama out of office are there too.

RELATED:

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Obama 2012 campaign joins Instagram on eve of Iowa caucuses

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the White House page on Google+. Credit: Google

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Dorsey
How to sum up Twitter's latest acquisition? Discover, discover, discover.

Twitter snapped up Canadian startup Summify on Thursday. It's little bit of genius: Summify found the stuff that mattered to you (it generated a daily email with links to the most shared content in your social networks).

And that's the one thing that Jack Dorsey wants Twitter to do much, much better: Filter through millions of updates and massive amounts of information overload that flood users' streams to uncover the hidden gems. And he's been pecking away at how best to do that.

Last month while unveiling Twitter's latest design, Dorsey said one of his primary objectives is to "bubble up" the most relevant tweets, messages of up to 140 characters in length that users broadcast.

So Twitter is shutting down Summify (to the great chagrin of its users) and its team is zipping down to Twitter to focus on Twitter's "Discover" tab, which suggests content to users to encourage them to stick around longer and do more on Twitter.

The yawning need for more and better curation on the Web is, of course, not unique to Twitter (yes, we're talking about you, Facebook). Twitter does have a secret weapon: Flipboard's Mike McCue, who sits on Twitter's board and who is probably an excellent source of advice and wisdom on the subject for Dorsey.

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Photo: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Credit: Dave Getzschman

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Wikipedia: SOPA protest led 8 million to look up reps in Congress

posted by Technology @ 11:42 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wikipedia_blackout_page
On Wednesday, some of the Internet's largest entities blacked out their websites — or their logos or some of their content — in a protest against the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills making their way through Congress.

If you're wondering whether all of this had an effect, the answer is yes. Big time.

Wikipedia, the largest Web player to block access to its pages for a full 24 hours, reports that a whopping 162 million people experienced the blackout on the online encyclopedia's landing page. In addition, 8 million U.S. readers took Wikipedia's suggestion and looked up their congressional reps from the site.

Google reported Wednesday that as of 1:30 PM PST, 4.5 million people had signed its petition asking lawmakers to reject the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect Intellectual Property Act in the Senate.

Twitter said 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets were sent in the first 16 hours of the day Wednesday. The top five terms were SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA, Tell Congress, #factswithoutwikipedia.

WordPress reports that at least 25,000 WordPress blogs had joined the SOPA and PIPA protest by blacking out their blogs entirely, and an additional 12,500 had posted a "Stop Censorship" ribbon.

“The Wikipedia blackout is over and the public has spoken,” Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement. “162 million of you saw our blackout page asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down the congressional switchboards, and you melted their servers. Your voice was loud and strong.”

RELATED:

Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout

SOPA blackout: Bills lose three co-sponsors amid protests

SOPA blackout: Who’s gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills? [Updated]

– Deborah Netburn

Photo: A laptop in London shows Wikipedia's protest page on Wednesday. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

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Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout

posted by Technology @ 2:44 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout

Watching from China, where Web censorship is practically a national hallmark, some can't help but smirk and crack jokes about the controversy raging over Internet freedom in the U.S.

"Now the U.S. government is copying us and starting to build their own firewall," wrote one micro-blogger, relating China's chief censorship tool to the U.S. plan to block sites that trade in pirated material.

The Relevant Organs, an anonymous Twitter account (presumably) pretending to be the voice of the Chinese communist leadership, quipped: "Don't understand the hoopla over Wikipedia blackout in the U.S. today. We blacked it out here years ago. Where are OUR hugs?"

PHOTO: Sites gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills

Humor aside, the brouhaha has generated some strong opinions in the country that  Google fled, not the least because opponents of the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills are conjuring Chinese Web censorship to promote their case.

The consensus here, however, appears to be this: Americans should try a minute in our shoes before invoking online Armageddon.

If anything, Chinese bloggers say, the debate underscores how privileged U.S. Web users and Internet companies are, even in times of duress.

"Only an American company could protest the way Wikipedia or Google has to the government," said Zhao Jing, a closely followed blogger in Beijing who uses the pen name Michael Anti. "A Chinese company would never get away with that."

Indeed, China's Internet sector has no choice but to submit to government pressure -– be it by censoring its own users or implementing whatever happens to be the state initiative of the moment (the latest may require the real-ID registration of 250 million micro-blog accounts despite threats to privacy and the cost burden on Web firms).

Another distinction Chinese activists note is that the proposed legislation in Washington is being debated openly in public and ultimately has to adhere to U.S. law. Chinese censorship, on the other hand, operates in an opaque space where no one really knows what's banned, what isn't and who is calling the shots.

"It's hard for people in the U.S. to understand Internet censorship in China," said Wen Yunchao, a prominent blogger and outspoken government critic who left mainland China recently for Hong Kong. "In China, all the government decisions are done in a dark box. No one knows what's going on. There's never any legal reason cited. If these laws are passed in the U.S., every step of the way it will be more transparent. People can challenge it. There's no comparison when it comes to censorship in China and in the U.S."

Still, Wen supports U.S. activists challenging the bills, saying it's a slippery slope to lesser Web access. He said China's so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to many foreign sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, was first billed as a strategy to stop piracy and pornography.

"Now it's being abused and extended to thousands of websites," he said.

Ironically, China's 513 million Web users have relatively free access when it comes to the very sites targeted by the proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act and Stop Online Piracy Act. Those include BitTorrent sites such as Extratorrent and sellers of counterfeit goods such as Taobao.

"The Chinese Great Firewall is not targeting pirated material," said Beijing-based Jason Ng, another popular blogger who has 29,000 Twitter followers. "Look at the Chinese Internet space and it's all about pirated movies, TV and porn. Everyone just wants to enjoy and be entertained. If the government cut all that off, they'd have a serious problem on their hands."

RELATED:

Number of Web users in China hits 513 million

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Google says 4.5 million people signed anti-SOPA petition today

– David Pierson
twitter.com/dhpierson

Photo: A Google search page awaits input from a user at an Internet cafe in Beijing. Credit: Alexander F. Yuan / Associated Press

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Privacy watchdog urges investigation of Google search feature

posted by Technology @ 8:01 PM
Thursday, January 12, 2012

Google office in Brussels

An influential Washington privacy group is urging government regulators to probe a new search feature from Google, saying it invades the privacy of users and shuts out competitors.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed  a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday over the new feature called Search plus Your World. The feature started getting attention this week as it rolled out to users who began to see personal photos and updates from the Google+ social network show up in their search results.

Twitter, a competitor to Google+, complained that its content was being pushed down in search rankings.

EPIC’s executive director, Marc Rotenberg, says Google is using its dominance in Internet search to promote its own products at the expense of its rivals. He also said the new feature violates the privacy settlement that Google reached last year with the FTC over its defunct social network Buzz.

"We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Rotenberg told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the FTC declined to comment.

Google says it’s trying to make its search engine more useful by highlighting personal information from its social network. Google rolled out Google+ six months ago as Facebook and Twitter increased in popularity.

"For years we’ve been working on social search features to help you find the most relevant information from your social connections no matter what site it's on," a Google spokesman said. "Search plus Your World doesn't change who has access to content, it simply helps people rediscover information they already have access to. We've taken special care with our new features to provide robust security protections, transparency and control for our users."

The new feature mostly affects the up to 1 in 4 people who are logged in to Google or Google+ while searching the Web. Those users now have the option of seeing search results that are customized to their interests and connections. If they search for a vacation spot such as Mexico or Hawaii, they may see photos from previous trips or posts from friends.

Google has been working a long time to create a search engine that delivers results tailored to its users. It's also trying to catch up to social networking giant Facebook, which, with more than 800 million users, knows its users far better than Google does.

Google was already facing broad scrutiny of its search and advertising businesses in Washington and Brussels. Critics allege that Google exploits its dominant position in search to promote its own services.

The Federal Trade Commission, attorneys general in six states and the European Commission are looking into complaints. Google handles about two-thirds of Web searches in the U.S. and more than 80% in much of Europe.

Google also faces rising scrutiny on privacy matters. In April, it agreed to submit to 20 years of privacy audits as part of the privacy settlement with the FTC.

In an interview this week, Google Fellow Amit Singhal said Google has taken significant steps to make its new feature private and secure. He also said Google was open to including information from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

"However," he said, "it has to be done in a way that the user experience doesn't deteriorate over time and that users are in control over what they see from whom and not some third party."

But Google is facing uncomfortable questions about whether it's looking out for its users or itself, said Danny Sullivan, editor of the website Search Engine Land, who has been tracking Google since the 1990s.

Facebook, which generated billions of dollars in revenue last year and is weeks away from filing plans for a $100-billion initial public offering, poses the biggest threat to Google's online advertising business.

Facebook formed an alliance with Microsoft's Bing, a rival to Google, which has been showing information mined from Facebook in its search engine’s results since May.

Facebook declined to comment.

Washington antitrust lawyer David Balto said Google has little to worry about because EPIC does not have a case.

"You would need a super-powered microscope to be able to find any significant competition or privacy concerns from Google's conduct," Balto said.

Users are split on whether they want their search engine to deliver results customized to them.

Dave Mora, 31, an analyst for a Los Angeles entertainment company, said he now gets more relevant search results and consequently is using more Google services.

"Your experience is even that much richer," he said. "How many times have you asked a friend that knows about computers a tech question, you car enthusiasts friend a car question, or even that doctor friend a medical question? It is the same idea, just presented differently.”

But Melissa Cleaver, a 35-year-old blogger from Houston, said that she would turn off the feature and that she's getting increasingly wary of how powerful Google has become on the Web.

"It just seems to me that Google is pulling out all the stops to force you to use Google+," said Cleaver, who has 40% of her investment portfolio in Google stock. "I don't think Facebook or Twitter have anything to worry about. Just another reason that Mark Zuckerberg can sleep soundly tonight."

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Google likely to face FTC complaint over 'Search Plus Your World'

New Google feature adds a personal touch to search results

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– Jessica Guynn

 Photo: Google office in Brussels. Credit: Virginia Mayo / Associated Press

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Google
A privacy watchdog group probably will complain to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that a new Google search feature raises privacy and antitrust concerns.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said his group is considering filing a letter with the FTC. 

EPIC made the complaint that resulted in Google's settlement with the FTC that requires the Internet search giant to submit to external audits of their privacy practices every other year.

"We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at," Rotenberg said.

Google calls the new feature rolling out to users of its English-language search engine "Search Plus Your World." It blends information such as photos, comments and news posted on its Google+ social network into users' search results.

It mostly affects the one in four people who log into Google or Google+ while searching the Web. Those users will have the option of seeing search results that are customized to their interests and connections, say, a photo of the family dog or a friend's recommendation for a restaurant.

Google has been working for years to create a personal search engine that knows its users so well it delivers results tailored to them. It's also trying to catch up to social networking giant Facebook, which, with more than 800 million users, knows its users far better than Google does.

But critics contend Google, a laggard in social networking, is using its dominance in Internet search to favor its own products and take on its chief competitor. 

"Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector," Rotenberg said. "I think that should trouble people."

Critics also say the move raises alarm bells for consumer privacy.

"Although data from a user’s Google+ contacts is not displayed publicly, Google's changes make the personal data of users more accessible," EPIC said in a note on his website. 

The effect of Google's latest search feature may be fairly limited — at least for now. The 6-month-old Google+ has 40 million users.

Google is not the first search engine to do this. Microsoft's Bing, which has an alliance with Facebook, has been tapping some information shared on Facebook since May. But Google is attracting more attention because of its dominance in search. It handles as many as two-thirds of all search queries in the U.S.

Twitter has also complained about the new Google search feature. So far Facebook has stayed out of the fray, declining to comment.

When a user is logged into Google or Google+, Google will now tap information from Google+ and photos from its photo-sharing service Picasa, to deliver personalized search results. In the future it will also incorporate other Google services.

Seeing how much information Google gathers could make some people uneasy, said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com. Google has tried to assuage privacy concerns by switching to technology that encrypts all of its search results.

Rotenberg says the FTC needs to go further to protect consumer privacy on the Web.

"This is a problem the FTC needs to look at closely," he said.

In an interview this week, Google Fellow Amit Singhal said Google has taken significant steps to make its new feature private and secure. He also said Google was open to including information from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

"However," he said. "It has to be done in a way that the user experience doesn't deteriorate over time and that users are in control over what they see from whom and not some third party."

RELATED:

New Google feature adds a personal touch to search results

Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ content in search results 

Google gets personal, searches your world, not just the Web

– Jessica Guynn

 Photo: Google's new search feature has raised concerns. Credit: Virginia Mayo / Associated Press

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Twitter blasts prominence of Google+ content in search results

posted by Technology @ 4:09 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Google search results emphasizing Google+ content

Twitter came out swinging after Google said Tuesday it would display content from Google+ more prominently in search results than content from rival social networks.

"As we've seen time and time again, news breaks first on Twitter; as a result, Twitter accounts and Tweets are often the most relevant results," Twitter spokesman Matt Graves said in a statement. "We're concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that's bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users."

Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray, who used to work at Google, on — where else? — Twitter called the launch of the new search feature a "bad day for the Internet." He commented that search was "being warped."

Google responded on Google+: "We are a bit surprised by Twitter's comments about Search plus Your World, because they chose not to renew their agreement with us last summer, and since then we have observed their rel=nofollow instructions."

Google's new feature enables users to search for "personal results" that include posts, comments and photos from Google+ and photos from Picasa. But it will not promote results from rivals Facebook or Twitter.

Facebook declined to comment.

Google, which handles about two out of three Web searches in the U.S., is already under antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission. And lawmakers have questioned whether Google uses its dominant position in search to promote its own services at the expense of competitors and consumers.

Google and Twitter have history. Twitter gets traffic from Google, and Google used to pay Twitter for access to its "firehose" of tweets. It no longer does (although Microsoft's Bing still does). Google can still show tweets in search results because most of the 250 million of them a day are public.

Google has also tangled with Facebook, which does not let Google crawl its site. Facebook poses the biggest threat to Google in the battle for eyeballs and ad dollars. It's on the verge of a $100-billion initial public offering more highly anticipated than any tech offering since Google in 2004.

John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, took to Twitter to express his dismay.

“We are becoming helpless collateral casualties in the war between Google and Facebook,” Barlow wrote.

RELATED:

Heads are turning to Internet's golden child

Google making another attempt at social networking

Google gets personal, searches your world, not just the Web

– Jessica Guynn

Image: Screenshot of Google's new personalized search results. Credit: Google

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Bratty tweets about Christmas gifts disturb parents

posted by Technology @ 7:01 PM
Wednesday, December 28, 2011


 

It's not easy being a kid today. Everywhere you turn it seems like adults are out to make you look like a spoiled, entitled brat.

The most recent example is comedian Jon Hendren's list of real tweets from kids who were angry that they didn't get an iPhone, or iPad, or a car for Christmas. Hendren assembled the tweets on Christmas Day and published them on his own Twitter feed.

Here is a G-rated sampling:

"No Iphone. I hate my dad."

"Just cried for like 2 hrs straight cause i didn't get a car." 

"Seems like I'm the only one who didn't get an Iphone for christmas."

"If you got an iphone i hate you."

Yikes!

Hendren's list of bratty re-tweets quickly made its way around the Internet, showing up in blogs and other Twitter feeds where adults expressed dismay at the entitlement of the youth today.

"This guy @fart  is retweeting all the spoiled brats that didn't get what they wanted. The entitled dregs of society. Nice work, parents." Jason Clarke tweeted.

"Twitter reveals the worst Christmas gift getters ever," Leslie Horn of PC Mag wrote.

The list even became the inspiration for a song by the singer Jonathan Mann. A YouTube video of the song featuring profanity-filled tweets went up Tuesday and got more than 117,000 views in less than 24 hours.

We agree that the tweets are super obnoxious, but we can't help but wonder whether kids today actually feel more entitled than ever before, or is it that thanks to sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, adults are just aware of how entitled kids have always been, and more likely to exploit that entitlement, which could just be called "childhood" and "adolescence."

Consider the popular YouTube challenges that late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel occasionally issues to parents to essentially prank their kids and record their reactions.

Kimmel's Christmas challenge – in which he asked parents to give their kids terrible Christmas presents and then keep the camera rolling while the kids cry or patiently explain that they didn't want an onion for a present — has had 14.25 million views on YouTube.

Kimmel's Halloween challenge, in which he asked parents to pretend to have eaten all their kid's Halloween candy, has been viewed a whopping 25.8 million times.

Yeah, it's funny ha-ha, but it's also kind of mean.

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– Deborah Netburn

 Video: Jimmy Kimmel's YouTube challenge: I gave my kid a terrible present. Credit: YouTube.

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Are You Ignoring Facebook Posts?

posted by Michael Garrity @ 1:30 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Marketing agency Mr Youth recently conducted a fairly comprehensive study about the role social media played in holiday gift purchasing decisions this year, and what they found wasn't all merry.

For the three weeks leading up to and including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Mr Youth gathered data on social media interactions to see how they affected holiday purchasing decisions. On the upside, they concluded that about 65 percent of user recommendations made or received on social networking sites led to a purchase, and these recommendations were twice as likely to lead to gift purchses. However, it seems that many brands are apparently just not responding to consumers on these same social media sites; only 55 percent of brands regularly respond to users on Facebook, meaning nearly half of all consumer comments are ignored.

The numbers are a little better on Twitter (this study was obviously conducted before it rolled out brand pages), where brands respond about 61 percent of the time, largely because it allows for both private DMs and @ replies. Also, Facebook has recently been toying around with the idea of introducing private messages for pages to help alleviate this problem, but it still speaks to some potentially damaging missed opportunities by these supposedly social-savvy companies.

Perhaps that explains why the study also found that just 36 percent of social media users find brands with a social presence more trustworthy than brands who aren't on social networks. And online trust seems to be important, as 52 percent of users would be willing to pay more for brands they trust, while just 29 percent of people who aren't on social media will pay more for a brand they trust.

If that's not enough, 80 percent of users who got a response from a brand on a social networking site would go on to make a purchase based on the interaction. This speaks volumes about the crucial role that social media plays into today's marketing environment, as consumers are ever-increasingly expecting brands to interact with them on a wholly personal level, and the responses they get could be the deciding factor for turning a potential customer into a real live paying customer.

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Saudi prince invests $300 million in Twitter

posted by Technology @ 11:59 AM
Monday, December 19, 2011

Dorsey
Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has scooped up a substantial stake in Twitter.

The multibillionaire has made a $300-million investment in the popular social media site that activists used during the Arab Spring uprisings. That's roughly a 3% stake in the San Francisco company.

Twitter confirmed the investment,  which was announced in a press release from Kingdom Holding Co. that touted Alwaleed's desire to invest in "promising, high-growth businesses with global impact."

A nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, Alwaleed owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in Apple, Citigroup and General Motors. He is one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of nearly $20 billion, according to Forbes magazine. For more on him, check out this Charlie Rose interview from last year.

Fortune is reporting that he bought his stake in Twitter from insiders, not the company. Twitter spokesman Matt Graves declined to provide any further details. The prince's investment in Twitter has been rumored since October.

The San Francisco company's worth was pegged at $8.4 billion in a funding round led by Digital Sky Technologies in October.

Twitter says it has 100 million active users who send 250 million tweets per day. 

One of an elite group of privately held social media companies sporting multibillion valuations, Twitter is taking its time before going public. Facebook, which has more than 800 million users, is planning a $10-billion initial public offering. Twitter is also seen as a major player in social media because of its popularity. The company is still working on its fledgling advertising business.

Twitter's advertising business is expected to generate about $140 million this year, up from $45 million last year, according to EMarketer. Twitter may generate $260 million in ad revenue in 2012, the research firm said. Twitter now has more than 700 employees.

 “We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend,” Ahmed Reda Halawani, Kingdom Holdings executive director of private equity and international investments, said in a statement.

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Twitter tries to turn 140 characters into money

– Jessica Guynn

Photo: Square and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in June at D9. Credit: Asa Mathat / All Things Digital

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HiveFire Makes Content Curation Social

posted by Michael Garrity @ 11:00 AM
Sunday, December 18, 2011

Content marketing technology company HiveFire is helping online marketers be more social by introducing two new features into the Curata marketing content curation solution. 

The upgrades will help extend its ability to find, organize and share content with current and potential customers using social elements.

The first upgrade will help B2B marketers find relevant content from Twitter to share through online news sites, social media channels, email newsletters and RSS feeds. This will supplement existing sources with timely, relevant content in another format that can quickly capture trending topics, industry influencers and popular material.

Another upgrade allows audiences to comment on a marketer’s content by leveraging the Disqus platform. This addition aims to help engage audiences as simply as possible by allowing users to access their existing profiles on Facebook, Twitter or Yahoo! to comment, doing away with the need for cumbersome registration forms.

 

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Charlie Sheen accidentally tweets his phone number publicly

posted by Technology @ 4:15 PM
Monday, December 12, 2011

Charlie sheen allen j schaben lat

That wasn't a winning move.

Charlie Sheen was apparently trying to send Justin Bieber a direct message with his phone number over Twitter, but accidentally sent the message — "310-954-7277 Call me bro. C" — to more than 5.5 million followers.

The actor's phone reportedly began ringing off the hook while he was at dinner in Las Vegas, and he humored some callers by answering with "Ray's Pizza" and "Winning!" according to the New York Post

By Monday afternoon, callers hoping to reach Sheen received an automated message: "The number you dialed is not a working number. Please check the number and dial again."

Still no word on why the former "Two and a Half Men" star wanted to get in touch with Bieber.

RELATED:

Brooke Mueller, Charlie Sheen's ex-wife, arrested for assault

Sheen, Warner close to settling

Charlie Sheen roast: Blood and a lot of vicious jokes

– Andrea Chang

twitter.com/byandreachang

Photo: Actor Charlie Sheen during his Comedy Central roast in September. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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Twitter has redesigned its service to make it simpler, faster and more personalized in an effort to broaden its appeal.

The new version of Twitter, which will roll out to users by the end of the year, is geared toward getting people to use the service more frequently and for longer, and giving advertisers more reasons to spend their dollars there.

Jack Dorsey, a Twitter founder and chairman of the board, summed it up as: “Less places to click, less stuff to learn.”

He added the upgrades to the service were just the beginning of a new push at Twitter — and some of the first signs of things to come now that Dorsey has taken on such a major role at the company.

"These are just the first steps," said Dorsey as he demonstrated the new Twitter for the media, including the home icon (a birdhouse) and a quill icon to compose messages.

In a gesture to the foundation the company says it is laying with its product redesign, Twitter unveiled the redesign in its new headquarters still under construction in a historic Art Deco building on a blighted stretch of Market Street in San Francisco.

"We are setting the foundation so we can move quickly and most importantly innovate quickly," said Dorsey who divides his time between Twitter and mobile payments company Square.

Dorsey said Twitter is simplifying and personalizing its service to address one of its biggest challenges:  Even though many people know what Twitter is, they still don't know how or even why they should use it.

When people first alight on the site or sign up to use the service, Twitter will help them discover information most likely to interest them by registering signals such as their location. In the coming year, Dorsey said to expect an increased emphasis on that kind of "discovery" to "bubble up" the most relevant Tweets, messages of up to 140 characters in length that users broadcast.

The new look of Twitter tries to capture some of Apple's minimalist magic by stripping away unnecessary features and making the service simpler and more intuitive to use.

"We are going to offer simplicity in a world of complexity," Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo said.

The idea is to cut through the jargon such as hashtags (#) and @ handles to help casual users get the hang of the service as easily as its power users.

"Twitter should be usable by those who know the shortcuts and those who don't," Dorsey said.

The new Twitter design extends to iOS and Android apps. More than half of Twitter's members reach the site through mobile devices, Costolo said in September.

The jury's still out on whether the design changes will lure new users, said Greg Sterling, founder of the consulting firm Sterling Market Intelligence.

"A lot of people still won't see the need," Sterling said.

Twitter significantly overhauled its website a year ago in a redesign it called #NewTwitter. Costolo fired off a tweet to his team Thursday, praising them for their work on #NewNewTwitter. Twitter's nickname for the redesign: #LetsFly.

Twitter says more than 100 million people actively use the service, with the majority of those accounts overseas.

Twitter is vying to become an online advertising powerhouse to rival Google and Facebook. Dorsey said on average, 3% to 5% of people engage with ads on Twitter, a higher percentage than other forms of online advertising. But Twitter must compete for advertising dollars with Google, which dominates search advertising and increasingly display advertising, and social networking giant Facebook, which has more than 850 million users.

Costolo said the company is rolling out its widely anticipated "self-serve" system that lets anyone buy ads on Twitter. It's also letting brands such as American Express and organizations such as the American Red Cross to customize their own Twitter pages.

Twitter's advertising business is expected to generate about $140 million this year, up from $45 million last year, according to EMarketer. Twitter may generate $260 million in ad revenue in 2012, the research firm said.

In August, its worth was pegged at more than $8 billion in its latest funding round. It now has more than 700 employees who will move into the new headquarters in mid-2012. The office space has room for thousands.

RELATED:

High-tech boom brings a sense of deja vu to San Francisco

Twitter tries to turn 140 characters into money

Jack Dorsey emulates Steve Jobs, 'his mentor from afar'

– Jessica Guynn

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In a conference room at The Times last week, Mike McCue, the chief executive of Flipboard, got an email on his iPhone. It was Apple, telling him that his company's new Flipboard app for the iPhone had been officially approved. 

"OK!" he said. "This is good news."

That email meant Flipboard was on schedule for its next big launch. The company's social magazine app for the iPad has been one of the device's most popular apps, winning Apple's iPad app of the year award in 2010 and attracting about 4 million users, close to 1 in 4 iPad owners. Over the last year, McCue's Palo Alto company has doubled in size, to about 50 employees, and has locked down more than $60 million in funding.

In that time, the company has been slowly and deliberately focusing on the newly designed iPhone app.  The iPhone version of Flipboard is smaller and leaner — not a shrunken version of the iPad app but a phone-sized social media digest, meant to be literally thumbed through while on the go. Its "Cover Stories" feature distills a custom selection of elegantly laid out social and real-world news that readers can get in screen-sized bites. 

We sat down with McCue to try out the newly released app (see above video), and to hear about the company's ambitious plans to move beyond its roots as a magazine app for the iPad and iPhone. Building on Flipboard's deep links to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, McCue wants to harness the huge amount of data being generated by users of these major services to build a kind of social media nerve center — a digital brain that listens to all your social networks and picks the most important and interesting stories, presenting them to you in a simple and organized way.

Question: That sounds ambitious. Can you say what it is you'd be trying to do?

Answer: Well, the Web as we've known it for a long time has been pages linking and pointing to other pages. But there's a new Web that's being created — some people are calling it the social Web.

People are posting a huge amount of data, and there are more social networks being created all the time — Path, Google+, 500 Pixels and many others. 

And the raw amount of Web you see on this social Web is crazy. There are billions and billions of posts everyday just on Facebook, and the growth is phenomenal. Twitter is at probably 180 million tweets a day — three years ago it was 10 million or less. Because of all this, the social Web has far more intricate and subtle links between the nodes than the more primitive Web we grew up with in the mid-1990s.

So you can think of it as a river — imagine all this information rushing past you as a user, with more friends coming on, sharing more stuff more easily, and on more social networks. The river is getting faster and deeper and wider, and it never ends. 

If a friend of yours from college gets engaged, he might post about it, and it's going to go right down the river. If you're looking at the moment, you'll see it, otherwise it could go right by. So what we're trying to do is keep an eye on that river for you — try to pick some important things as they go by and hold them for you.

Question: How do you do that?

Answer: Well, last year we bought a company called Ellerdale. It was run by Arthur Van Hoff, the co-creator of Java and a very smart guy. What he'd been doing was looking at the Twitter firehose [that's a feed of every single tweet that everyone on Twitter generates], and analyzing and figuring out what mattered to the individual user. [When Flipboard bought Ellerdale, it had already "indexed" 6 billion messages from around the social Web.]

It's really advanced technology that goes out and looks at effectively every social network. Kind of like Google crawls the Web, we crawl the social networks. Where Google analyzes links and Web pages, we look at the same thing with people. So we can tell, for example, who you interact with more frequently. Or if it's not frequency, maybe it's consistency. For instance, my mom. She doesn't post that often, but every time she does I'm going to see it because the software knows I'm interested. So we're trying to discern: What is the small group of people that you find most interesting, regardless of the network they're on.

Question: So news in the Flipboard world is both traditional media news and social news?

Answer: It's a mix of what's going on in the world and what's going on in your world, fused together. And it might seem weird that I'm looking at a picture of my daughters, and then the next flip I'm reading a story about Iran. But to me as a reader, when I'm standing in line waiting to get my coffee, those things are what I care about.

Question: But how often do our personal lives generate something that would be considered socially newsworthy?

Answer: It happens pretty frequently. Let's say you go to a friend's wedding, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween. It'd be great the next day to see what went on with your friends' Thanksgiving weekend, or all the costumes they wore on Halloween, and be able to look back and see what they wore the year before, and the year before that.

There are a lot of things that happen in your life that are front-page-worthy, especially when you pull them together with outside events or with other people, it adds even more gravitas to those events. It might even be something as simple as that you care about what's going on on "American Idol," or that you got a new dog. And everything in between. These are the kinds of things people share about on social networks every day, but the problem is that those signals are very weak, and treated equally, and not grouped with other people who are experiencing the same things. You're left to figure it all out yourself.

Question: You've got a lot of magazines and websites you work with now — the New Yorker, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Flickr and a bunch more. Is Flipboard starting to make money for these publications?

Answer: We have about 60 publishing partners, and we just started working with them to sell ads. In particular, Condé Nast. We've only been selling ads for about three months, so it's too early to give you any insightful observation there. But readers love the full-page ads way more than banner ads. They're selling for 10 to 15 times the price of the banner ads because they're full screen. From a reader point of view, it just feels like you're flipping through a magazine.

Because we're still only on the iPad, we're only a tiny fraction of most publications' readership, much smaller than the Web. But as we start to scale to other platforms, we should become a broader part of their readership.

Question: When you say other platforms, do you mean other tablets? Like the Kindle Fire?

Answer: We think they're interesting, but we're concerned about not scaling to other devices too fast and watering ourselves down. 

The Kindle Fire is the first tablet I think has a shot at gaining critical mass beyond the iPad. And of course there are many other great Android smartphones out there too, as well as the Web itself — so there's a lot for us to think through. 

Question: You're on Twitter's board of directors — what can you say about the experience?

Answer: It's super interesting. As an entrepreneur, in many ways it's like looking into the crystal ball for what my company will hopefully go through as it starts to think about bigger challenges — scaling internationally, getting ready to go public and all those different things. Not that Twitter is getting ready to go public.  But it's a company that I think is going to be quite valuable, and very meaningful in the world, and it's exciting to be part of that.

RELATED:

Flipboard gets $50 million and Oprah in one day

Flipboard's Mike McCue: Web format has 'contaminated' online journalism

Rolling Stone publisher no fan of digital magazine subscriptions for iPad, tablets

– David Sarno / @dsarno

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Theaters set aside tweet seats for Twitter users

posted by Technology @ 8:15 AM
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tweet seats, seats in theaters that are set aside for people who want to tweet a performance, appear to be a growing trend

Perhaps the most unexpected thing about "tweet seats" is that they exist. Perhaps the second-most-unexpected thing about them is that they appear to be a growing trend.

A tweet seat is a seat in a theater that has been approved by the theater for use by someone who would like to tweet a performance. Whip out your cellphone and start tweeting at a rock show and nobody will notice — the rest of audience is probably shooting cellphone pictures anyway. But try that at the opera and you'll be glared at, unless you are in a tweet seat.

Tweet seats first started surfacing at the end of the '00s. In 2009, the Lyric Opera in Kansas reserved 100 tweet seats for its final performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore." In those seats (and only those seats) audience members could use their phones to look at tweeted content sent by the theater's artistic director about the production, the scenery and whatever was happening on stage. Audience members were also encouraged to tweet questions in real time.

According to a recent article about tweet seats in USA Today, twitter-friendly seats have since been adopted by others, including the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, N.C., the Dayton Opera in Dayton, Ohio, and the historical Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn.

And soon tweet seats may be coming to Broadway. Jennifer Tepper, the director of promotions for "Godspell" on Broadway, told USA Today that the production definitely intends to use them.

"While we haven't done tweet seats, they are certainly in our plan for the future at 'Godspell,'" she said.

If you find the idea of tweet seats hard to swallow, don't despair. The next time you go to the symphony, the orchestra will almost certainly not be accompanied by your neighbor desperately tapping at her phone.

Tweet seats are generally reserved on one side of an auditorium to keep the cellphone glare from interfering with non-tweeting audience members' enjoyment of a performance. At the Dayton Opera, tweet seats are only available on certain nights of a show's run.

ALSO:

Tech company wants to end "email pollution" by 2013

Apple loses bid to block U.S. sales of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Facebook picks up team behind location-sharing service Gowalla

– Deborah Netburn

Image: Empty seats at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. But are they tweet seats? Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

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SaaS-eCommerce Sites: Twitter Case Provides Critical Lessons in Administrative Security

In June, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled charges that Twitter’s micro-blogging site had engaged in lax security practices that amounted to “unfair and deceptive trade practices”.

While previous cases brought by the FTC for lax security procedures focused on lax electronic controls, the Twitter case focused on lax administrative controls. Webmasters of SaaS and ecommerce sites who fail to learn and apply the critical lessons of the Twitter case do so at their peril.

- Twitter Case Facts – Two Hacks

The FTC’s complaint against Twitter alleged that lax administrative controls for data security permitted at least two hackers to acquire administrative control of Twitter resulting in access to private personal information of users, private tweets, and most surprising – the ability to send out phony tweets.

Here’s how the hackers got access to Twitter. According to the FTC, hacker no. 1 was able to hack in by using an automated password guessing tool that sent thousands of guesses to Twitter’s login form. The hacker found an administrative password that was a weak, lowercase, common dictionary word, and with it the hacker was able to reset several user passwords which the hacker posted on a website that others could access and use to send phony tweets.

Hacker no. 2 compromised the personal email account of a Twitter employee and learned of the employee’s passwords that were stored in plain text. With these passwords, the hacker was then able to guess the similar Twitter administrative passwords of the same employee. Once into Twitter, the hacker reset a user’s password and was able to access the user information and tweets for any Twitter user.

- Twitter Settlement Lessons

The FTC noted that Twitter’s website privacy policy promised: “We employ administrative, physical, and electronic measures designed to protect your information from unauthorized access.”

Focusing on Twitter’s administrative controls (more accurately on the lack thereof), the FTC alleged that Twitter failed to take reasonable steps to:

* Require employees to use hard-to-guess administrative passwords that they did not use for other programs, websites, or networks; * prohibit employees from storing administrative passwords in plain text within their personal e-mail accounts;

* Suspend or disable administrative passwords after a reasonable number of unsuccessful login attempts;

* Provide an administrative login webpage that is made known only to authorized persons and is separate from the login page for users;

* Enforce periodic changes of administrative passwords, for example, by setting them to expire every 90 days;

* Restrict access to administrative controls to employees whose jobs required it; and impose other reasonable restrictions on administrative access, such as by restricting access to specified IP addresses.

* The FTC settlement included (among other things) the requirement that Twitter set up and manage a comprehensive data security policy that will be reviewed by an independent auditor periodically for ten years.

- Conclusion

The FTC represents consumer interests to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices. Privacy and data security have been high-priority issues for the FTC, as evidenced by the 30 cases brought over the last few years for lax data security practices.

In its investigations of data security cases, the FTC looks at 2 standards:

* What the FTC considers as “standard, reasonable” security procedures, and

* What a website’s privacy policy promises to consumers regarding data security.

If the website’s actual data security practices do not measure up to either of these standards (a worst-case scenario would be the failure to measure up to both), the FTC concludes that the website has engaged in lax security practices that amount to “unfair and deceptive trade practices”. A complaint and costly lawsuit may follow.

The reason that the FTC publishes the results of its settlements is to provide lessons to others regarding what the FTC regards as an “unfair and deceptive trade practice”.

Do you know if your site measures up to the two standards?

How To Get Loads Of Twitter Traffic To Your Website

posted by Web_University @ 8:00 AM
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How To Get Loads Of Twitter Traffic To Your Website

Twitter is a brilliant way to drive targeted visitors to your Web site. You should not forget about other traffic sources but using Twitter is totally free and will definitely acquire a few more targeted visitors to your site. You got me right, I said free targeted visitors in the last sentence.

Nothing is better than a never endless stream of visitors. There are lots of ways for you getting free traffic to your Web site. But there is a huge difference between free traffic and targeted traffic. You could have heard about traffic generating websites sending out tons of people to your homepage. These offers are good to give your traffic stats a push but you will not actually generate a sale or find a prospect for your product. Visitors delivered to you by free traffic Websites will usually leave your Internet site within a few moments.

Targeted visitors instead are interested in the items or information you are offering on your Web site, prepared to break out their credit card! With my Twitter strategy I show you how to get targeted visitors ready to take action. It takes very little while and is simple to do.

What you will need in first place is a twitter account, naturally. I recommend avoid using your own twitter account. If you are having different niche sites create a single twitter account for each niche Web site you have. Please don’t leave the default twitter background and avatar, choose an avatar and background image that fits your product or info best, as it will show your followers that you care about your account.

The next step to do is to deliver content – business relevant good content. The majority of the content you will provide is created by others and will never include references to your own stuff. This may sound strange to you, but here I explain why we will do it.

Make sure to provide best content to your followers and unless you write loads of crappy content or outsource your article writing you just don’t have the cash and time to write all that quality content yourself in a short period of time. When you tweet your own stuff only on every occasion you will seem to be a spammer. Individuals will stop following you when you behave like a spammer. Incidentally, tweets are the short communications called that you send out with your Twitter account.

Second thing of the process is to build a landing page or helpful blog post about your business. This part will be the most significant and you really must ensure to supply good articles. But where will you find all the business relevant content ? Go and google for RSS feeds for your business content, copy the link of the feed and paste the link of the RSS feed to your landing page or blog post. Ensure to pick out high quality RSS feed content. That will make your followers trust you. When they trust whatever you tell them it will encourage them to click your links sooner or later. The links you place in your landing page or blog post is the origin to monetize the traffic you are receiving from Twitter. The Most Important idea behind is that you place links to your products or service you would like to share or sell. The writing in the displayed link should contain a strong anchor text that will call to action and make them click the link that will lead them to your cash site. Here you offer your product or information you want to sell or share.

So, the most important thing is to place a link to your money site at the end of your landing page or blog post. Ensure the link incorporates a strong call to action. The final section of this action will be to build up an email address from your visitors or to get in touch through a contact form or to even make the sale. Because now you are having a targeted visitor on your Web site seeking information. To catch their email address offer a free of charge business relevant ebook or report through an optin form. Once you have your visitors email address you can add it to your email list and feed them with any information or products of your choosing any time you like. Only imagination will make you stop. To automate your information or product emails simply employ an autoresponder of your choosing. Your email list will be growing and growing.

Every tweet you are posting will be of very high quality and will make your followers to believe in you. When people trust you enough they will make your tweets go viral and at this moment in time magic happens.

So, the most significant thing is to place a link to your income site at the end of your landing page or web log post. Make certain the link contains a powerful call to action.

That just about is it. The great thing about this is you will not have to spend tons of dollars to get rolling. As soon as you come to terms with the process this shouldn’t take more than about 20 minutes per day. Give it a try, it’s a superb way to drive targeted traffic to your Website.

Promote your Business with Twitter Hashtags

posted by Web_University @ 8:00 AM
Friday, September 3, 2010

Promote your Business with Twitter Hashtags

If only there was a way that you could watch your marketing message instantly hit number one in the search results. You didn’t even have to worry about how competitive your key phrase was. All you had to do is submit it and then instantly see that you hold the top place. Well you absolutely can do this!

Alright so maybe I lied a little. I didn’t say WHAT search engine or for how long right? Twitter has a handy feature called a “hashtag” that lets you do just this. Utilizing this to promote your new product, web page or blog post can get you that coveted #1 spot (at least until someone else tweets using the same hashtag).

What is a Hashtag?

A hashtag is a short concatenated word or phrase prefixed with the hash symbol. These hashtags when used in a tweet and clicked by a user will force a twitter search for the term. The resulting search result page will be a list of all tweets that contain the hashtag listed from most recent to oldest.

A couple things happen as a result of using this hashtag:

-Anyone who reads this tweet and clicks on the now hyper linked hash tag will be re-directed to a search result page for it.

-Your tweet will be at the very top of this search result page until someone else tweets with the same hashtag.

Twitter users add hashtags to their tweets as a way to be added to a search result page that people check to see what’s new on that particular topic. Most Twitter users have a list of saved searches they use to check in on topics that interest them. People can hold open forum style conversations in this way without having to follow or be followed by the users in the conversation.

How can I use Hashtags to Market my Website Content?

This is where the real power of Twitter as a business marketing tool comes into play. Let’s say you wrote a new blog post on Widgets. You could take the following steps to make sure that your tweet promoting this new post reaches the most number of readers as well as the most relevant:

-Go to Twitter and use its handy search function to find tweets on Widgets.

-Look for authorities in the field of Widget production in the search results. Follow their tweets back to their profile and see what hashtags they commonly use.

-Click on their hashtags to see if there is an active conversation that relates to your blog post about Widgets. Do the people using that particular hashtag seem like the ideal audience for your blog post?

-If so add the hashtag to your tweet promoting your post.

When Twitter users look at the search results page it will be your tweet at number one!

This system is a perfect way to place your tweets, links and message in front of the exact type of user you would deem ideal for your content. You can also use as many hashtags as 140 characters will permit.You may find that there are a few popular tags people use when talking about your Widgets. Its possible they use #widgets to talk about Widgets in general and #acmewidgets to talk about Widgets made by the ACME corporation. Go ahead and use both if it makes sense.

Using hashtags can expand the reach of your tweets far beyond the wall of those who follow you. It is also a great way to increase the number of followers you have as it will be exposing your words to people interested in the topics that you love to write about.

Building Brand Identity – Marketing With Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Building Brand Identity – Marketing With Twitter

Twitter, the net’s networking success story, is intriguing and
intimidating because of its message limitations: they can be 140
characters, and no more.

This is to say; each message sent on Twitter can be no larger
than the previous sentence. Not an additional letter, space,
period or dash can be added. These limitations have proven to be
the greatest asset and the greatest challenge for people trying
to use Twitter for any number of purposes.

On the advantageous side, the short messages have created an
entire culture of Twitter-fluent writers. The brevity of the
message stretches creative muscles, making people use every trick
to get the most information into the fewest characters. On the
other hand it creates a severe headache for the marketing minded,
as it doesn’t leave much room to present a case. Thus the vast
majority of Tweets are short little social comments or updates,
and most marketing revolves around calling attention to
particular links.

Of course, there are always ways around limitations, and Twitter
is something that every seriously market-minded organization
needs to embrace in order to see continued success on the web. In
the case of short message services like Twitter, the key lies as
much in the peripheral data that builds up around the message as
in the content itself.

Be SEO Minded

Twitter profiles are now ranked by search engines, Google in
particular. Every SEO technique you’ve learned now has a new,
exciting purpose.

For example, consider the biography you’re able to construct
using Twitter. This is a ripe opportunity to develop some brand
recognition right away. Put the title of the brand you’re
marketing in the bio, and consider including the most relevant
keywords in your profile. As ever, do so in a way that respects
the user’s intelligence, and gives them something worth reading.
Simply stringing together a chain of keywords is not the way to
go.

Include keywords in your Tweets as well, taking care not to be
terribly obvious about it. The first 20-30 characters are the
best place, as later words are of decreased importance in a
Google ranking search.

Identify Your Audience

Each brand rises and falls on the whim of the audience, known in
this case as tweeple.

There are a number of applications available to help you with the
process of identifying the tweeple that you want to cultivate
into an audience. Twitterholic (http://twitaholic.com/) can help
you identify the movers and shakers based on their Twitter
traffic and their location. If you know your field or brand
well, you can use this to locate groups with similar interests
and woo them to your feed. Tweepz (http://www.tweepz.com/) is a
similar tool, focusing on location, and Twitter itself has a
‘near this location’ feature that can be used to identify
tweeple nearby your center of business.

Let’s Give Them Something to Tweet About

Yes, Twitter is an effective way to quickly distribute
information. But its real power is in its ability to create
conversations about something interesting.

In theory you could simply gather up a large user list of tweeple
and start spamming them with links promoting your latest gig.
This is a surefire way to get flagged for abuse or ignored
entirely, and thus is rather counterproductive to good marketing
goals.

Instead, consider using alternative methods to drum up those
conversations that travel like wildfire.

For example, there is the technique of Alternate Reality Gaming.
This is a phenomenon based on the idea of taking ‘real’ events
and building a game out of them. Last Call Poker was an ARG that
intended to drum up sales for an upcoming video game, GUN.

LCP spread out information about gatherings, online incentives,
and other attractions to get people excited about the western
theme of the game. Tokens such as poker chips and other goodies
were given out at these events, and GUN went on to have a very
successful launch. People were invited into the world of the
western, and the chatter eventually included 8 million
participants.

This kind of rogue advertising is tailor-made to work with
Twitter. Locations and dates can easily fall within the 140
character limitation, as can short explanations. Consider
creating an ARG with a short story designed to work within 140
characters, locate an audience with the assorted Twitter tools at
your disposal, and plan some exciting events to promote your
brand. The chance to get involved always gets people talking, and
the more esoteric games can span entire continents.

There are other methods, some more appropriate to each individual
brand. Perhaps a modest bicycling business isn’t suited to
promote a large ARG experience. They could, however, organize a
bicycling flash mob by hopping onto the local bike hobbyist
twitter feed and posting a date and time. The trick is less which
technique you use, and more that you do your best to make it
relevant. As always, strong content and clear presentation will
win out over gimmicks and sales speak.

Also, consider one last thought. The introductory statements of
each section in this article are Twitter compatible, and so is
this one. Good luck and happy Tweeting.

Top 10 Tips for Using Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Using Twitter

When it comes to social media, no one “gets it” as well
as Twitter. According to Econsultancy, as of Jan 2010,
Twitter has 75 million user accounts, with about 15
million of that total being active users. See
http://tinyurl.com/yetgcru . That’s a lot of people
sending a lot of Tweets. This micro-blogging service
makes it easy for small businesses and entrepreneurs
to stay in touch with those who choose to follow them,
and stay updated on new products, services, special
offers, industry news and more. It’s a win-win for
both the Tweeter, and their followers.

When it comes to using Twitter, there’s a right way and
a wrong way to use it. Your messages must be kept short,
under 140 characters, and they need to be helpful or
informative. Don’t carry on about what you ate for
breakfast, or the fact that you just brushed your teeth.
People will unfollow you faster than they can hit
the button, even if you do have good oral habits.

I’ve been using Twitter for a long time now and here’s
what I’ve found works best when participating in this
close knit community of few words.

1) Regular Postings: Now I’m not saying you need to post
every day, although that would be nice. You do need to
make an appearance on a regular basis. It’s like school -
you need to show up to pass. Be a contributor that your
followers get to really know and look forward to your
Tweets. If you’re the type of person who needs to plan
ahead, you can always use a service that allows you to
schedule tweets in advance, such as

http://www.socialoomph.com/

2) Retweet: If you see Tweets posted by other users that
you think your followers would like, then retweet them. It
only takes one click, and you’ll also be creating goodwill
with other Twitter users at the same time. If you’d like,
you can add a personal thought or comment before sending
it. Also, make it easy for others to retweet your posts
by adding RT buttons to your website or blog. It’s easy
with http://tweetmeme.com/about/retweet_button

3) Be Helpful: Keep in mind Twitter is a form of social
Media, so social interaction is key. It’s not all about
you. Whenever an opportunity arises to answer a question,
participate in a survey, or help solve a problem, do so.
In this way you’re participating in the community. This
also will help your brand and image when others know
they can count on you for support or feedback.

4) Don’t Be A Follow CopyCat: Don’t follow everyone who
follows you. This is probably my biggest pet peeve when
it comes to Twitter. So many people turn this feature on
to auto follow those who follow them. Why would you
want to do this? I’d prefer that those I follow are
people and topics I’ve hand-selected that interest me,
and not a mish-mash of followers who may be ranting
about things I have no interest in. Be selective in
who you follow or your Twitter stream could quickly
fill up with junk or spam. For quality people to
follow, see – http://followontwitterlists.com/

5) What to Tweet: Make sure that the tweets you post
are helpful and/or informative. Late breaking news
pertaining to your industry, as well as any specials or sales
you may have going on are always good topics. If you
find something you think your followers would like,
especially if it’s free or a bargain, share the love.
Plus, if your tweets are good, it will encourage others
to retweet them. For ideas see -

http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/07/what-to-tweet.html

6) Comment: Particpate in the community by commenting
on other people’s tweets. If you can answer a question,
do so. It never hurts and people really will appreciate
it when you take the time to comment on what they  have
to say. It lets them know that others are actually
listening to what they have to say in the “Twitterverse”.

7) Say Thank You: When someone takes the time to retweet
one of your tweets, make sure to reply to them with a
“thank you”. Manners rule online as well as off, and
they’ll like the fact that you noticed the retweet
and took the time to show some gratitude. It may even
inspire them to retweet more of your tweets in the
future.

8) Be Personal: Again, I don’t need to know what you
ate for dinner, but every now and then you should show
your human side with a creative thought, quote, or
other statement. Let people know you’re “real” and
not just a lean mean business machine. You want to
tread lightly in this area. Too personal is overkill,
but a little can help in establishing a connection with
your followers.

9) Post Pictures/Video: Remember, Twitter is not just
for text. It’s easy to post short videos, and pictures
too. It’s nice to mix it up a little and share content
in other formats as well. Here are some resources

http://freenuts.com/video-sharing-websites-for-twitter/

10) Talk About More Than Yourself: It’s not all about
you, so please don’t make all your tweets one big marketing
message, such as only tweeting about your latest press
release, blog posting, or article that was published. No one
will want to follow you if you’re one big commercial. Yes,
some of this is fine in moderation, but you need to walk
a fine line and mix it up with other helpful, interesting
topics.

Now it’s time to start putting these tips into action.
Social media is all about participating and listening
to what others have to say. It’s all about creating and
sharing information and becoming part of the community.
If you approach Twitter in this fashion, you’ll not
only have a lot more fun, but your followers will like
and respect you – and if that doesn’t strengthen your
brand, nothing will.

Twitter: Followers, Niches, and Myths

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Sunday, August 8, 2010

Twitter: Followers, Niches, and Myths

Twitter has certainly emerged as one of the most popular
social networking/blogging platforms of the past few years.
There are various reasons why Twitter has become so wildly
popular. It is a simple concept where brief messages can be
sent to loyal followers. This is why Twitter is so helpful
to small businesses. It can aid in promoting a business in
the most cost effective manner. Really, this is one of the
very best systems for promoting updates, info, and deals to
the followers of the Twitter account.

The one problem here is that most entrepreneurs look towards
quantity as opposed to quality in their followers. This can
prove to be a huge mistake since you never want to sacrifice
quality when looking to amass Twitter followers.

How do people make such a mistake? Well, they look at
volume as being the secret to their success. The problem
here is that the process is not going to be a very
successful one. Rather, it can prove to be disastrous more
than anything else because your business ends up promoting
itself to those that are really not interested in the
products or services you are offering.

Yes, some people will sign on to be followers of your
Twitter account with no real interest in being customers.
That is why you need to develop a strong niche following
as opposed to a large following.

The bottom line here is you do NOT want a large list of
followers. You want an EFFECTIVE list of followers.

Some may consider this notion to go against the grain in
which a Twitter account should be approached. After all,
Twitter is wildly popular so why not follow the trends? The
average Twitter account has changed dramatically since
July. The number of followers the average account maintains
has jumped from 70 to 300. This has led many accounts to
increase their number of postings. In July, the number was
in the range of 119. Today, it has jumped significantly to
420.

But, is there a great deal of benefit from such increases?
In all honesty, if the followers are not going to purchase,
the numbers do not really mean much. That means all those
increases in updates have less value as well. Again, you
want your efforts to be effective. Promoting volume in your
approach is not the way to achieve any true level of
success.

One problem with a large number of followers is that your
tweets need to be adjusted to handle larger volumes. That
means your tweets need to be clearly understood by all. As
such, you need to promote a generalized approach to the
tweets. This is not always the best method because you are
not providing detailed and specific information in the
tweets. This means those that are serious potential
customers may lose interest in the tweets or cease taking
them seriously. This is not a good thing if you are
seriously trying to sell a product or service.

It becomes a full time job to sort and respond to the real
people who are interested in you. Twittering without
engagement of your audience defeats the entire process of
marketing. I believe many people are using twitter as
“lets throw it out there and see what sticks”. I can tell
you from testing that this approach does not work. No
wonder people are leaving twitter in droves.

This leads to a more potentially serious side effect. If
more members of Twitter venture towards promoting generic,
uninteresting, and uninspiring tweets so as to boost the
volume of people reading, the health of the social network
site will not stay strong for long.

Basically, why would anyone would want to follow Twitter
when the tweets decline in value? This would certainly not
be a positive in terms of the ability for a small business
to procure new customers that are vital to the health of
the business.

Again, exploring options for expanding a business’ success
should center on niche marketing. This approach needs to be
taken with Twitter or else the value of Twitter will
decline. Based on what we are seeing, the decline will be
difficult to avoid in the future based on current actions.

Does this mean that Twitter is decidedly lacking in value
for those seeking to utilize what it has to offer? No, no
one is making such a statement as it would be a decidedly
inaccurate one.

Twitter, in fact, has taken steps to promote niche
marketing. This is evident in the ability to devise
“Twitter lists.” Twitter lists allow you to take certain
members of your massive group of followers and put them in
a particular category. You can then promote your tweets to
individual members of these various lists. So, you can
present wide, generic tweets as well as individualized
tweets to those that may be considered more serious
potential customers.

For example, you can create a group of people that have
already made purchases in the past. Then, you would be free
to issue tweets directly to such individuals as you wish.
This would be an effective form of niche marketing that
would be far more beneficial than putting forth perpetually
generalized tweets. One of the other problems with having
1,000′s of non-niched followers is seeing through the noise
of twitter.

As such, it is best to look towards growing these
individual lists in order to expand the potential to niche
market. Yet, many will seek to put forth the exact opposite
goal. They will look towards greatly expanding their number
of followers into the thousands while never stopping to
examine whether or not such a massive list truly boosts
their success potential. Such a strategy is a flawed one
that will not lead to the empirical success that is sought.

And, if you are not looking to succeed with your business,
then why even bother being in business? Twitter has
tremendous value and it delivers great benefit to those
looking to expand their small business’ promotional
strategies in a cost effective manner.

In conclusion, try not to become hung up on the notion
of greatly expanding your followers’ list. Seek to promote
effective niche marketing strategies instead.

Size Really Does Matter When it Comes to Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back in the days when newsletters first hit the Internet, they were usually published in text format because many email clients did not support HTML email just yet. One of the problems many publishers faced was long URL’s being split in half and not being clickable to the reader. To solve this problem, shortening services started to spring up that would take a long URL and cut it down to a reasonable size.

With the popularity of Twitter and the confines of 140 characters, URL (link) shortening services are in high demand once again. When you have such a small amount of space to work with, no one wants a long URL cutting into that precious real estate.

There are a variety of shortening services to choose from, each having their own specific features and benefits. Most of them do work hand in hand with Twitter, allowing you to Tweet the link once it’s been shortened. If you’re an avid Twitter user this is a useful feature to have.

Some only provide a basic shortening service, but many allow you to view stats and metrics on your newly shortened links if you register. If you’re doing any form of social media marketing, it’s nice to be able to see if anyone’s actually clicking on all the links you’re sending out to the “Twitosphere”, or posting on Facebook and other sites. Tracking will give you an indication that you’re being heard and that people are actually paying attention to what you have to say.

Another important thing to look for is whether or not the shortening service uses 301 redirects. This is the most search engine friendly, and forces the search engine to look at the destination URL, not the domain of the shortening service itself. A 301 stands for a permanent move, not temporary. What this means is, you want the links you’re sending out to be given acknowledgment by the search engines, not the shortening service itself. Make sense?

Many allow custom URL’s, which allows you to use your name or company name in the links you create. This is great for branding purposes. Think of it as a vanity license plate. Instead of being just a regular URL it’s your special creation.

Let’s review a few options:

1) http://TweetBurner.com – A bare bones tracking service which allows you to shorten any link and then share it instantly with your Twitter followers or Friendfeed. Basic stat tracking is available so you can see how many people clicked on your link.

2) http://Cli.gs – A shortening service which includes full analytics. You can create links that include your brand in them. Free to use. It’s easy to send your links to Twitter with one click.

3) http://Bit.ly – This is Twitter’s default shortening service and used by Tweetdeck.com. It allows you to track performance of your links in real time. Easy to share generated links on Twitter, Facebook, even Gmail. It also offers many extra tools and plug-ins such as a browser bookmarklet and browser sidebar.

4) http://MyTwitterToolbar.com – Free to download and comes complete with a massive list of URL shorteners as well as over 50 Twitter tools. Also includes 100 Twitter tips.

5) http://www.TwitClicks.com – A fairly simple service that allows you to shorten a URL immediately and tweet it. Can also see complete stats. Detailed stats show percentage of browsers used and locations of those who clicked. Check out a short video on how to use it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1ScPeCd6X4.

6) http://www.ExpandMyUrl.com – This service takes a shortened link and gives you the true URL that it points to. Perfect for the paranoid individual who wants to know where the shortened link will send them.

7) http://www.TwitPwr.com – A short URL service which also includes analytics and stats. Their home page shows the top 25 users with the most TwitPwr and also a “hot URL” list of those URL’s that get the most clicks. Free to use.

8) http://1link.in – A multiple link shortening service. Simply type in a list of links and get one link back for all. If you click on the newly shortened link it goes to a page showing details of what sites that link points to, and asks if you want to open them all. If you answer yes, multiple windows will open for each site.

9) http://Go2.me – A different type of link shortening and discussion service which creates shorter links which also contain a chat window to exchange comments with your readers. It’s also easy to share on Twitter, Facebook or email with one click.

10) http://Tw.itter.me – You can customize the shortened link with your name or company name. From what I saw no stats are available.

11) http://budurl.com – Another popular service which shows you a real time view of your inbound clicks. This free service allows you to track up to 250 Budurl’s. They provide 3 pay levels of service from $4.00 a month to $49.00 a month. There is a 21 day free tríal on any paid service. You can start out free and upgrade your account at any time.

12) http://Tr.Im – Trim those long URL’s and instantly share them on Twitter. If you want stats, you’ll need to register. Offers many different tools and extensions to make for easier sharing, such as a Firefox extension that allows you to view your tr.im stats and tweet your new links quickly.

13) http://short.ie – Keeps all your shortened links in one place. Tracks clicks and allows you to instantly share your list with friends. It can also be connected to your Twitter account for more features. Customization of URL’s also available.

14) http://hootsuite.com – Not really a URL shortening service, but has the ability built-in. Hootsuite is a “Twitter Toolbox” loaded with features which are all free. They use ow.ly as their built in link shortener.

If you haven’t tried a url shortening service, you’ll want to find one that fits your needs and start to really utilize it in your marketing activities. Finding out who’s clicking on your links, time of day, where they’re from and other information will be very valuable in your ongoing efforts as an Internet Marketer.

Remember, when it comes to social media marketing T.M.I (too much information) is a good thing, unlike when your Aunt Ethel wants you to sit with her and go over every detail of her latest vacatíon [grin]. One is helpful, the other just downright painful.

12 Ways to Use Twitter for Social Media Marketing

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Twitter is a wildly popular microblogging service. It involves writing Tweets, which are short updates of a maximum of 140 characters that tell your followers what you are up to. Although your Tweets are technically supposed to answer the question, “What are you doing?” Twitter has moved far beyond that. Tweets are used to share stories, link to photos, promote content, break news, and a whole lot more. Twitter has also become an incredibly important tool for social media marketing professionals. Here are 12 ways in which Twitter can be used in your social media marketing campaign.

1. Sharing Links to Items of Interest

As soon as you read something online that you think is interesting, it is easy to share it on Twitter with all of your followers. Twitter is highly effective in this manner because it is such a quick way to be able to reach a large group of people. You can also get a lot of great ideas for blog posts from Twitter since many new ideas and stories are floating around that haven’t even made it to the blogosphere and definitely not to mainstream media.

2. Building Your Network

Using Twitter is a great way to build your network because it allows you to find and follow people with similar interests. You can use Steeple to find people who live in your geographical area. You can also use other tools that help you find new people to follow based upon who your Twitter friends follow.

3. Build Relationships within Your Current Network

People in different networks often use Twitter to connect with their contacts instantly rather than using instant messaging for that purpose. Furthermore, many people use Twitter to connect with their network during events like conferences.

4. Re-Distributing Content from Your Blog or Website

Twitter can be used to redistribute content from your blog or website. However, you should take care to do this thoughtfully since many of your Twitter followers may already read your blog. For that reason, you may want to avoid using a blog plug-in that automatically Tweets your posts. Your best bet is to Tweet your content manually and customize each Tweet so it doesn’t get old.

5. Get Involved in Live Tweeting Events

Twitter launched at SXSW last year, catapulting microblogging conferences to fame. Live Tweeting events are great because they are a form of citizen journalism that allow you to connect with several new people in your niche while making active and valuable contributions to current discussions in your community.

6. Pitching Stories to Journalists on Twitter

You can send a direct message to a journalist who is following you on Twitter to pitch a story idea.

7. Communicating with Your Team

You can use Twitter as a company intranet that connects all of your employees. Twitter can be particularly useful in this regard if you have a virtual business with employees in different geographical locations. You can set your updates to private for security reasons. Anytime you are working on group projects, you can stay in touch with your team members using Twitter.

8. Brand Monitoring

Stay up to date with any mentions of your business on Twitter. If there is anything negative, you will be able to counter it quickly. You can also use Twitter as a way to receive feedback from your customers and improve your business. Just ask your followers to give their opinion on something. For example, if you designed a new website, ask your followers what they think about it and get their constructive criticisms so you can make your site design even better.

9. Acquire More Votes on Social Media Websites

If you have submitted a story to Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or any other social voting website, tweet a link to that submission to try to score more votes from your followers. If your followers like what they see, they are sure to vote for your content.

10. Hiring People

Looking for a programmer, designer, or writer? Whatever type of professional you seek, try finding them on Twitter. Simply send your followers a tweet telling them you are looking for someone for a job. They can either recommend someone to you or offer themselves for the job. Using Twitter in this way is ideal for finding qualified freelancers. It is much more convenient than putting out a classified ad.

11. Build Your Personal Brand

When you use Twitter to talk about things as mundane as what you ate for breakfast or how you are going to sleep early tonight, you make your followers feel like you are casual and approachable. Even those running a company that has a cold, corporate brand image could create more appeal and build a unique personal brand using Twitter.

12. Streamline Electronic Communications

When you use Twitter, you’re likely to find yourself using IM, email, and other electronic communication methods less. Twitter not only provides public chatting through Tweets, it also allows you to send direct messages. Twitter will help you streamline your electronic communications, allowing you to scale back online.

Top Ten Ways to Use Twitter for Marketing

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:00 AM
Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that asks you a basic question, “What are you doing?” It allows anyone with an account to write up to 140 characters in a text field as a means to update, comment, promote or communicate to others who are “following” you. When people follow you, they see what you’ve recently contributed when they login. They see your “tweets”, which are the messages you leave.

And of course you can follow others who tweet about the things that interest you. As an Internet marketer you may want to follow other Internet marketers, for example.

Like anything, and this is especially true of working with social media, the more you give, the more you get. In other words, the more often you tweet the more activity you’ll generate. Some suggest that you tweet a few times a day, every day. Not every tweet needs to be profound. But they should all be useful.

It’s important that you don’t abuse Twitter for marketing and promoting your products, services or affiliate links. Most of your tweets ought to be about offering your followers useful and valuable information. Only once in a while should you try to use Twitter to promote something. Otherwise you’ll be perceived as a spammer, and no one wants that tag.

Imagine if you had a large number of people following your tweets? Some people have tens of thousands following them. If you had something to promote and you had a large following, you could quickly and efficiently alert a lot of people of your promo. It acts sort of like a mass emailíng blast to your house email list, but it’s a heck of a lot easier and faster. This is the power of Twitter.

One thing that I’ve noticed with Twitter is that it can seem overwhelming at times. The sheer information on Twitter, the ‘how-to’s', tutorials and all the other ubiquitous advice on how to use and take advantage of it can seem hard to understand and implement. So here’s an easy-to-understand list of the top ten ways in which you can use Twitter to market yourself, your business and your website.

The Top 10 Ways To Use Twitter for Marketing:

1. Use it to promote new pieces of content you or your company create to drive traffic to your site. From online articles to blog posts or from videos to webinars, each time you add something to the Web that is of value, tweet about it and include a link. (Most people on Twitter use www.TinyURL.com to take a long URL and make it short.)

2. Use it for learning new marketing ideas, strategies and techniques. If you follow the right people, and you have to be picky about who you follow, you’ll get pointed to a good amount of useful tutorials, videos, e-zines and other things that teach you about marketing.

3. Use it to get new customers. Use Twitter’s search to find people who may be interested in your product or service. There are many ingenious ways to search for people on Twitter. For example, if you sell red widgets you could go to http://search.twitter.com and find people who have tweeted specifically looking for red widgets. To do this, type the following into the search box: red widgets?

• You’ll notice a lot of the results will be of others selling red widgets. These ones will all obviously have links in them to direct people to the site they’re selling red widgets on. To weed these people/tweets out, use the negative sign like this: -http red widgets?

• Since every link has ‘http’ in it, using the negative sign in front of it will cause your search results to not include any tweets with links in them.

4. Use it to build your email list. Use Twitter’s search to find people who may be interested in the monthly newsletter you send out to your house email list. Invite these people to join.

5. Utilize Twitter plugins or add-ons such as TweetMyBlog or The Twitter Updater, which both automatically make tweets of every new blog post you publish. Also check out TwitThis. When visitors to your website click on the TwitThis button or link, it takes the URL of the Web page and creates a shorter URL using TinyURL. Then visitors can send this shortened URL and a description of the web page to all of their followers on Twitter. Finally, look at TweetLater, a service that allows you to write lots of tweets at once and then schedule them to go out over time.

6. Use it to build buzz about an upcoming product or website launch.

7. Use it to better brand yourself or your business. Remember, when someone wants to learn more about you or your company, they are increasingly using sites like Twitter for research. You could easily use Twitter to establish yourself as an authority in your field.

8. Use it to update followers on breaking news regarding your company. If your company is mentioned in a new article, tweet about it and include a link to the article. Or if you’re at a conference or trade show, you could tweet what you’re doing and invite people to visit you in person.

9. Use it for business networking, master-mind groups (see Napoleon Hill), and getting yourself seen by high-profile people in your industry.

10. Use it as an instant messaging system to keep you and your team on the same page during projects. This is especially useful for those who work with teams spread out in different cities or countries.

You should note that this top 10 list is not in order of importance or in any particular order. I suggest that you give Twitter a try if you haven’t already. See if you can apply a few of these techniques and tactics to help you take advantage of Twitter as a marketing tool.

And one more important thing to remember is that there is no silver bullet in marketing. You should always be trying and implementing numerous tactics when marketing your business. Don’t only rely on Twitter or any other one thing. Instead, use Twitter (or any other Web 2.0 site) as simply one more tool in your entire social media and marketing toolbox.

Twenty-One Top Twitter Tips

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:03 AM
Monday, February 8, 2010

Twenty-One Top Twitter Tips

You’ve heard about Twitter–that curious, strangely addictive social-networking technology that facilitates torrents of truncated messages among millions of users. You might even know your hashtags from your re-tweets. But how can you make money with it?

Forbes canvassed scads of businesses and pricey social-networking gurus looking for honest answers. Admittedly, we were skeptical. After all, how much can you accomplish in 140 characters or less?

Turns out there are myriad ways Twitter can have an impact, and not just as a marginal marketing tool. Indeed, we found 21 clever ways to use Twitter–for everything from boosting sales and scouting talent, to conducting market research and raising capital. Chances are, there will be many more.

“I believe Twitter is a communication platform,” says Nathan Egan, founder of Freesource Agency, a social-networking consultancy in Philadelphia. “In a year or two, everyone will be on it, using it in totally new ways.” Better yet, getting results “doesn’t take a year or six months, but a matter of weeks,” adds Mark Schaefer, head of Schaefer Marketing Solutions in Knoxville, Tenn.

Some strategies take more time, or are more industry-specific, than others. Taken together, though, this collection of techniques and real-world examples constitutes a powerful online arsenal for companies large and small. Herewith, some highlights:
Coupon Campaigns

Congratulations for getting to the end of this sentence. “As an online culture, people are not reading; they’re scanning,” says Dell Computer’s Stefanie Nelson, voice of @DellOutlet. “The shorter and more direct your message is, the more successful you’re going to be.” Dell tweets links to coupons at Dell Outlet’s Facebook page, which shoppers use during checkout at Dell.com.

This strategy works for small companies, too: The abbreviated offers are easy to produce–you don’t need an ad agency to write 140 characters. California Tortilla, a chain of 39 causal Mexican restaurants based in Rockville, Md., spread coupon “passwords”–through its Twitter feed @caltort–that must be spoken at checkout to be redeemed.
Viral Marketing

In July, in honor of its 10th birthday, London-based do-it-yourself Web site builder Moonfruit gave away 11 Macbook Pro computers and 10 iPod Touches. Contestants had to tweet using the hashtag #moonfruit. (Hashtags collate Twitter responses.) Nearly a month after the contest ended, traffic to Moonfruit’s Web site is up 300%. Sales are up 20% this month, more than paying off the $15,000 investment. And the Moonfruit Web site has climbed onto the first Google page for “free website builder” (it used to be on the fourth).

Word to the wise, says Moonfruit founder Wendy White: Such campaigns must be courteous and fit with a company’s brand, lest you draw the ire of the Twitter-sphere: “There’s a fine line between annoying people and getting the thumbs up.”
Artful Customer Service

Frank Eliason, director of digital care at Comcast, uses Twitter to help 200 to 300 subscribers a day with issues ranging from sporadic Internet service to errant e-mails. Frank and his team receive direct questions at the @comcastcares account and search for complaints. Twitter has a built-in search, but it’s more efficient to set up a permanent search on one of the free, third-party Twitter applications, such as TweetDeck.

Eliason’s key to success: maintaining friendly relationships, not foisting unwanted advice. “If they want assistance, they’ll let me know,” he says. Eliason has a 10-person help desk at his disposal, but small businesses can use Twitter to provide better customer service, too. Even a little help goes a long way.
Focus Groups

Back in the old days (last year), companies actually paid customers to solicit their opinions. There were 3.37 million mentions of Starbucks on Twitter through early May 2009, and all of that information is available for less than the cost of a frappucino. “There is a major element of Twitter that’s about listening and learning,” says Brad Nelson, the man behind @Starbucks. “Twitter is a leading indicator.” Collecting the information is as simple as searching for references to your company.

Morgan Johnston, manager of Corporate Communications at Jet Blue, abolished a $50 fee for carry-on bikes after hearing complaints via Twitter. “Think of Twitter as the canary in the coal mine,” says Johnston. “We watch for customers’ discussions about amenities we have, and what they’d like to see made better.” For a more formal approach, lob a simple post asking for feedback and provide a hashtag to collect the responses.
Poaching Customers

“Twitter is not just a kid story,” says Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs. Brogan should know: He is one of several Twitter experts advising companies on how to spy on their competition and to swoop in with a better service or discount.

Freesource’s Egan describes how to do it: Using TweetDeck, set up a permanent search for all permutations of your competitor’s name, as well as words that convey dissatisfaction (“sucks” or “hate”). Public replies to those new prospects are dangerous, as your competition may see them, so the best bet is to follow them and get followed back, allowing you to send direct messages.
Customer Expectation Management

Bad things happen–it’s how you condition customers to deal with it that counts. Jet Blue tweets flight delays. In April, when a Stanley Cup broadcast was interrupted, cable provider Comcast used Twitter to immediately inform its subscribers that the culprit was a lightning storm, and that transmission would soon be restored.

Small companies–like United Linen, a linens and uniform company in Bartlesville, Okla.–can manage expectations this way, too. When a major snowstorm hit the area, Marketing Director Scott Townsend used Twitter to let customers know deliveries would be delayed. “It was a great way to send information to everyone,” he says. “They understood we wouldn’t be there, but they wanted to know what our status was and updates as the situation changed.”
Corralling Eyeballs

During last year’s NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, Turner Broadcasting managed to weave social-media feeds into its home page. Fans accessed the conversation by logging onto Twitter through TNT.com, and the tweets were also posted on Twitter with links back to TNT.com. Those forums mean more Web traffic–and thus more advertising revenue. “It’s exciting to sell this to an advertiser,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of marketing for Gigya Socialize, the brains behind the integration technology.
Vendor Selection

Twitter can snag customers, but how about suppliers? Crowdspring, an online marketplace that marries businesses with graphic designers (see “The Creativity Of Crowds “), used Twitter to build up its stable of contributors–now 12,000 strong globally.

Business travelers can apply this same logic: Tweeting that you’re about to visit a city can scare up discount offers from hotels, bus companies and other travel-services providers.
Conflict Resolution

Wiggly Wigglers, a Herfordshire, U.K.-based marketer of gardening and farming supplies, was recently overcharged $10,500 by British Telecom. Five months passed without restitution.

Finally, Wiggly owner Heather Gorringe hit the Twitter-sphere, asking if anyone else had had problems with BT. @BTCare sent Gorringe a message within 30 minutes promising help; two days later, the bill was amended. “When I phone them up, I’m an isolated call to deal with, so I’m less important,” says Gorringe. “But if I tweet, and 1,193 people re-tweet, 100,000 people see it within 30 seconds.”
Employee Recruitment

Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company, trains its recruiters on Twitter and other social media. An automated program sends prospects a direct message whenever a position opens up, and the messages are opened 30% of the time.

The trick, says Arie Ball, vice president of talent acquisition at Sodexo, is to be as personal and engaging as possible: “People get an insider’s view, a sense if this is a company they want to work for.” The company says that using Twitter as a recruitment tool has helped cut its investment in online job boards by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Raising Capital

As in the physical world, no one likes to be solicited for contributions online. A better Twitter tack: Don’t ask, just inform.

Last Thanksgiving, Epic Change, a nonprofit that encourages people to tell their stories to transform communities, launched the Tweetsgiving Web site, with the help of theKbuzz, a word-of-mouth marketing firm. Tweetsgiving asked people to tweet what they were grateful for, and compiled the responses at #tweetsgiving, with a link back to the Tweetsgiving site, where users had the option of contributing money to build classrooms in Tanzania.

Over the 48-hour campaign, 15,000 people came to the Tweetsgiving site; 360 donated, for a total of $11,000. “We never asked people to give,” says Stacey Monk, founder of Epic Change. “We got people invested in their own, personalized way.”

How Google Rates Links From Facebook And Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:52 AM
Monday, January 18, 2010

The first Matt Cutts Answers Questions About Google video of the year has been posted, and in it Matt addresses links from Twitter and Facebook, after talking about his shaved head again. Specifically, the submitted question he answers is:

Links from relevant and important sites have always been a great way to get traffic & acceptance for a website. How do you rate links from new platforms like Twitter, FB to a website?

Essentially, Matt says Google treats links the same whether they are from Facebook or Twitter, as they would if they were from any other site. It’s just an extension of the pagerank formula, where its not the amount of links, but how reputable those links are (the company uses a similar strategy for ranking Tweets themselves in real-time search).

While Facebook and Twitter links may be treated like any other links, they do still come with things to keep in mind. For one, with Facebook, you have to keep in mind that a lot of profiles are not public. When a profile is not public, Google can’t crawl it, and it can’t assign pagerank on the outgoing links if it can’t fetch the page to see what the outgoing links are. If the page is public, it might be able to flow pagerank, Matt says. With Twitter, most links are nofollowed anyway.

“At least in our web search (our organic rankings), we treat links the same from Twitter or Facebook or, you know, pick your favorite platform or website, just like we’d treat links from WordPress or .edus or.govs or anything like that,” says Cutts. “It’s not like a link from an .edu automatically carries more weight or a link from a .gov automatically carries more weight. But, the specific platforms might have issues, whether it’s not being crawled or it might be nofollow. It would keep those particular links from flowing pagerank.”

There you have it. Matt’s response probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you, but it’s always nice to hear information like this straight from Google.

Simple Twitter Tips that Attract Clients and Partners

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 10:35 AM
Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Twitter Tips that Attract Clients and Partners

 

According to Mashable.com, a leading authority on social media, there are currently over 12 million users on Twitter. Another resource called istrategylabs.com reports that 46% of Twitter users are college grads, and another 17% have post graduate degrees. Furthermore, 47% are between age 18 and 34, and another 31% are between 35 and 49. Males and females are evenly ranked, with women accounting for 53% of users and men 47%. If your target market falls within these demographics, actively participating on Twitter is probably worth your while.

 

Twitter is simply a micro blogging service. What does that mean? It means that you write short updates (140 characters maximum) called “tweets” and send them out to your followers. And it is a marketer’s dream come true – it’s an easy way to stay in front of your target market and showcase your authority at no charge!

 

The myth around Twitter is that Twitter users (called tweeple or tweeps) tweet about useless information such as what kind of coffee they had with breakfast. Yes, some of that exists and it is actually important as you’ll see below, but once you understand the power of connecting on Twitter, you may become a Twitter convert, just like me.

 

So, if you’re on Twitter or considering starting, the question becomes, “what do I tweet about that will make this a useful tool for me?” Here are some categories you can consider for your tweets. There are others but these will get you started:

 

Industry Tips

 

This is a big one. You are on Twitter to showcase your expertise, so industry tips act as your credibility builders. Here’s how to do it: Create a list of high value tips (remember – no more than 140 characters long) and send one or two out every day. If you don’t want to have to manually do this yourself every day, consider a free tool called TweetLater.com to set up your tweets in advance. If your tweets are really good, others will send them out to their lists as well. This is called a “re-tweet,” and it’s a super way to quickly build your list of targeted followers.

 

Here is one of my recent tweets that had a great response:

 

Connect Others: Be willing to connect others even if it has nothing to do with your business. What goes around, comes around.

 

About Your Business

 

Use this category sparingly. In other words, if you use Twitter as a place to advertise your products and services too much, people will stop following you. This is not what Twitter is about. It is really about raising awareness of you and your business and impacting others. Use the 80/20 rule here. For every eight tweets about things other than your business, you can post two things about your business.

 

Here is an example:

 

Hey Columbus: I’ll be on Fox tomorrow at 7:45 where you can see me interviewed about my new book, Flourish!

 

Re-Tweets

 

When someone re-tweets you, they are giving you the highest compliment you can get on Twitter! It means that the person who re-tweeted you thinks that what you said is worth sharing with their own list of followers. This is like having someone ask you to a meeting so they can introduce you their entire list of contacts. When you get a re-tweet, send them a short tweet thanking them! Re-tweet others who are tweeting things that you agree with or want your

followers to read.

 

If you are not familiar with Twitter, the example below probably won’t make a lot of sense because of all of the abbreviations, but they are necessary given that you only have 140 characters. Abbreviations are outside the scope of this article, but just know that it’s really not as scary as it looks!

 

RT @getgreatcopy: New blog post: The Sixth Habit of Highly Effective Communicators http://bit.ly/ 175XGS Gr8 stuff Jan, as usual.

 

Quotes

 

Tweeps seem to love quotes. If you are also a fan of quotes, compile a list and send one or two out every day. Again, you can use tweetlater.com to set these up in advance so you don’t have to manually enter them every day. Simply set up these tweets for a month and then watch your re-tweets happen!

 

Here’s an example of one that I recently posted:

 

“The pursuit of pleasure must be the goal of every rational person.” Voltaire

 

Invitations

 

Invite tweeps to your free events. No-cost events like teleseminars are great to tweet about because people love to share high-value, low-cost information with their lists. When you offer something without a cost – a workshop, teleseminar or report, your tweets about it are likely to get re-tweeted, which provides you with greater exposure to your target market.

 

Here’s an example of one of my recent posts:

 

How 2 write your book in a weekend – free telesemimar w/ @donnakozik. http://bit.ly/ 127GtU

 

Personal

 

Include some personal things that are going on with your life. What you choose to include is entirely up to you; however, be sure to be relatable. You don’t have to share your deepest inner thoughts or too much detail about your family, but sharing something about what you did over the weekend makes you more relatatable. Remember, Twitter is about connecting with people. Other people on Twitter want to connect with people – not stale businesses. People often connect on a personal level over food, pets or hobbies. This is why these seemingly unimportant tweets are actually very fruitful. These are pretty safe personal topics.

General things about kids are another hot topic under this category. Just be aware that anything you say is out there for the world to read.

 

Here’s an example I tweeted recently:

 

Interesting pop culture moment: Told a story to my sister, who lives in Vietnam & realized she doesn’t know who Sara Jessica Parker is!

 

As you can see, Twitter is simply an online forum for connecting with others in 140 characters or less. Big and small brands are using Twitter to connect and impact their target markets and locate joint ventures. Can you, too?

12 Ways to Use Twitter for Social Media Marketing

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:58 AM
Monday, September 14, 2009

12 Ways to Use Twitter for Social Media Marketing

 

Twitter is a wildly popular microblogging service. It involves  writing Tweets, which are short updates of a maximum of 140 characters that tell your followers what you are up to. Although your Tweets are technically supposed to answer the question, “What are you doing?” Twitter has moved far beyond that. Tweets are used to share stories, link to photos, promote content, break news, and a whole lot more. Twitter has also become an incredibly important tool for social media marketing professionals. Here are 12 ways in which Twitter can be used in your social media marketing campaign.

 

1. Sharing Links to Items of Interest

 

As soon as you read something online that you think is interesting, it is easy to share it on Twitter with all of your followers. Twitter is highly effective in this manner because it is such a quick way to be able to reach a large group of people. You can also get a lot of great ideas for blog posts from Twitter since many new ideas and stories are floating around that havent even made it to the blogosphere and definitely not to mainstream media.

 

2. Building Your Network

 

Using Twitter is a great way to build your network because it allows you to find and follow people with similar interests. You can use Steeple to find people who live in your geographical area. You can also use other tools that help you find new people to follow based upon who your Twitter friends follow.

 

3. Build Relationships within Your Current Network

 

People in different networks often use Twitter to connect with their contacts instantly rather than using instant messaging for that purpose. Furthermore, many people use Twitter to connect with their network during events like conferences.

 

4. Re-Distributing Content from Your Blog or Website

 

Twitter can be used to redistribute content from your blog or website. However, you should take care to do this thoughtfully since many of your Twitter followers may already read your blog. For that reason, you may want to avoid using a blog plug-in that automatically Tweets your posts. Your best bet is to Tweet your content manually and customize each Tweet so it doesn’t get old.

 

5. Get Involved in Live Tweeting Events

 

Twitter launched at SXSW last year, catapulting microblogging conferences to fame. Live Tweeting events are great because they are a form of citizen journalism that allow you to connect with several new people in your niche while making active and valuable contributions to current discussions in your community.

 

6. Pitching Stories to Journalists on Twitter

 

You can send a direct message to a journalist who is following you on Twitter to pitch a story idea.

 

7. Communicating with Your Team

 

You can use Twitter as a company intranet that connects all of your employees. Twitter can be particularly useful in this regard if you have a virtual business with employees in different geographical locations. You can set your updates to private for security reasons. Anytime you are working on group projects, you can stay in touch with your team members using Twitter.

 

8. Brand Monitoring

 

Stay up to date with any mentions of your business on Twitter. If there is anything negative, you will be able to counter it quickly. You can also use Twitter as a way to receive feedback from your customers and improve your business. Just ask your followers to give their opinion on something. For example, if you designed a new website, ask your followers what they think about it and get their constructive criticisms so you can make your site design even better.

 

9. Acquire More Votes on Social Media Websites

 

If you have submitted a story to Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or any other social voting website, tweet a link to that submission to try to score more votes from your followers. If your followers like what they see, they are sure to vote for your content.

 

10. Hiring People

 

Looking for a programmer, designer, or writer? Whatever type of professional you seek, try finding them on Twitter. Simply send your followers a tweet telling them you are looking for someone for a job. They can either recommend someone to you or offer themselves for the job. Using Twitter in this way is ideal for finding qualified freelancers. It is much more convenient than putting out a classified ad.

 

11. Build Your Personal Brand

 

When you use Twitter to talk about things as mundane as what you ate for breakfast or how you are going to sleep early tonight, you make your followers feel like you are casual and approachable. Even those running a company that has a cold, corporate brand image could create more appeal and build a unique personal brand using Twitter.

 

12. Streamline Electronic Communications

 

When you use Twitter, youre likely to find yourself using IM, email, and other electronic communication methods less. Twitter not only provides public chatting through Tweets, it also allows you to send direct messages. Twitter will help you streamline your electronic communications, allowing you to scale back online.

Twitter Alert: Be Careful With Your Email

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:04 AM
Sunday, May 17, 2009

By Chris Crum

Spammers May Have Another Trick in Twitter

Spammers have found a new way to use Twitter. This one lets them harvest email addresses easily,  and use these addresses to do their dirty business. The good news is that you can avoid this practice by simply not tweeting your email address. Have other tips to avoid being spammed? Share them with WebProNews readers.

Twitter Demystified for Business Users

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 12:32 PM
Saturday, May 9, 2009

By Nancy McCord

Social networkingTwitter is the current top “hot property” on the Web, but its popularity and how to use it has mystified many business owners. Many people think that they want to, or should be using Twitter, but simply do not understand the platform, its use, or its place in building web exposure. This article will demystify Twitter and help you to learn how to use it in the workplace and to promote your business.

First, I have to say that I had been confused on how to use Twitter to benefit my own business until I downloaded TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a desktop

Fastest Rising and Falling Consumer Searches

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 11:49 AM
Saturday, May 2, 2009

Compete.com has released a study of the Web’s fastest rising and falling searches, revealing Twitter as the term Web consumers searched most in March. It marked a 130% growth from February 2009. The top 10 fastest rising terms were:

Twitter’s Follower Limit – Good or Bad?

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:52 AM
Monday, April 27, 2009

By Chris Crum

Is There a Need to Follow Over 1,000 People in a Day?

Twitter has had a limit on how many people a user can follow in a day (1,000) in place for some time, and on Monday the company said this limit was not being consistently applied to all accounts, but that it would be from here on out.

In a post on the Twitter Status Blog, the company says there are technical

By Chris Crum

Gannett Restricting Employees from Social Network Use?

Update: The original title of this article was “USA Today Publisher Restricting Employees from Using Social Networks?” USA Today called WebProNews requesting a change because it made it look like USA Today itself was discouraging social media use, which is apparently not the case.

Ashton Reaches A Million Followers

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 8:29 AM
Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Jason Lee Miller

About 2 a.m. East Coast time, Ashton Kutcher declared victory in attracting one million followers on Twitter. For what it’s worth—is it worth something?—CNN piggyback publicity team conceded victory, but would reach a million itself sometime in the wee morning hours.

Roll Your Own Twitter Clone

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 12:28 PM
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

by Raena Jackson Armitage

Everyone’s talking Twitter, right? And there’s Plurk, Jaiku, and Identica — in fact, there’s dozens of new microblogging services popping up every week.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already wondered how easy it would be to make your own — perhaps you’d like to set up a microblog for you and your colleagues to share links and have discussions. Or, perhaps you have a cool idea for a new social network surrounding your favorite topic.

Using Twitter For Link Building

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 11:06 AM
Saturday, April 11, 2009

By Jason Lee Miller

Eric Ward illustrates

Links on Twitter are already nofollowed and most are shortened anyway by a shortener. What use can Twiitter be for link building? Link building Eric Ward says the site is perfect for finding niche experts.

It’s not about huge amounts of followers or traffic spikes. You can get that kind of traffic from Digg. But the advantage of Twitter, says Ward, is that

Google’s Still Not Buying Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 10:33 AM
Sunday, April 5, 2009

By Jason Lee Miller

At least not right now…

Likely, Boomtown’s Kara Swisher gets tired of being the TechCrunch Google-rumor-debunker. Maybe not. She seemed to enjoy reminding readers about the Michael Arrington grapevines sprouting out tales of Google buying Digg and Bebo, neither of which ever happened. This time it’s Twitter.

Getting Started With Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 9:46 AM
Thursday, March 5, 2009

By Wesley Craig Green (c) 2009

There’s a new web application on the block that has everyone talking and it goes by the name of Twitter. Twitter is fast becoming one of the more popular methods for communicating online and has a large number of loyal followers who stick with it despite the growing pains and competitors. While this article won’t cover everything possible with Twitter, it will give you a good starting point on how to start using it and how you can use it for your business.

What Is This Twitter You Speak Of?

So what is Twitter and how can it be of benefit to you or your business? Twitter is a free online micro-blogging application which gives you the ability to send out short messages (up to 140 characters) called “tweets” to

Improve Every Aspect of Your Business With Twitter!

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 2:26 PM
Monday, February 2, 2009

You’ve seen countless articles and e-books written about it, but do you know how to market online with Twitter? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Most marketers are still boggled when it comes to using Twitter in their promotíon efforts. The main reason is because marketers don’t realize the sheer ingenuity of our favorite microblog’s 140-character limit communication. The reality is that the internet is information overload for most people. The genius of Twitter is that communication is forced into small chunks of information which most people can willingly digest.

Why Celebrities Twitter

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 2:00 PM
Saturday, January 31, 2009

While training in Hawaii last January, Lance Armstrong received a massage every afternoon at 3 p.m. Shaquille O’Neal often can’t sleep after embarrassing losses–he suffers from what he calls “Shaqsomnia.” On Nov. 10, Britney Spear’s son Jayden was hospitalized for food poisoning.

These celebrity tidbits shared in 140-character blurbs on Twitter were once the paydirt of paparazzi who make their careers selling evidence of the

More Google Killers on the Horizon

posted by Luigi_M_Scollo @ 1:23 PM
Thursday, January 29, 2009

In the past few weeks speculation has run rampant on the future of search and whether Google might be supplanted by Twitter real-time social search  or by Wolfram Alpha, the still to be launched search engine that is billed as a true computational knowledge engine.

Wolfram Alpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com/) is scheduled to launch in May and could very well be a major advance in search technology. In brief,

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