Twitter and Instagram Fall Out

ImageInstagram has pulled photosharing from Twitter, the microblogging service confirmed on their blog on Sunday.

It’s the latest example of a pair of social networks ceasing official ties and preventing their users from cross-posting or integrating their content; Linkedin dropped integration withTwitter in the summer much to users’ dismay.

These moves demonstrate the coming of age as businesses of many of our favourite social networking services – to survive, no matter how big you are, you need to be ruthless and that means, it would seem, upsetting users in the short term.

Twitter are rolling out photo filters in a move to try and establish the service as an image-sharing platform in its own right.

Instagram, although owned by Facebook, is developing its web-based offering, moving out of the app space, somewhat, to a bonafide more widely accessible social network.

Ultimately it means that we will need to evolve the way we use our favourite platforms. New tools such as IFTTT aim to bring the loose ties of the Internet together in one seamless experience; it would seem that there is an opportunity here for them to deliver a real benefit for end users.

Business Insider makes the point:

Imagine if the New York Times were to allow Twitter to scrape its entire articles and republish them in Twitter apps.

That’d be nuts!

The only way the Times would do it is if Twitter were paying it.

That’s how cable works, after all.

They are, of course, right.

What is shows us is that we have moved into the next stage of the evolution of ‘social media’ as we know it.

The utopia of cross-service content agnosticism is at an end; money is now more important to social networks than the experience of the people that use them.

Community Management Must Never Be Fully Automated

Image by jologon, FlickrCommunity management is one of the primary skills that you need to hone if you’re working in social media.

To help, there a range of platforms that have been created to schedule content, publish messages and alert you when a community member interacts with your community, be it on Facebook, a group of blogs, or on Linkedin.

These tools are incredibly useful and can save time, especially if you are in an agency, managing several communities at once.

However, it is incredibly easy to become reliant on the tools to do your job for you and it can lead to you becoming distanced from the group of people you are looking to get engaging with your brand.

Whether you’re managing a global community of ten million, or a local community of a hundred or so, understanding the dynamic of a group of people who are using a digital service to connect with a brand does not come naturally and is picked up over time.

It can be taught, but it is better to be in the community, understanding their needs and wants, to be able to judge how they will react to your content.

I believe that if you are to best serve any community, you must immerse yourself within it – by learning what the individuals within the collective want from you or your brand, you can hone your content and tone of voice to better connect with them.

The danger of using automated tools is that you lose the need to check in regularly to see what your community is saying, how are they are saying it and what makes them tick.

It is very easy to pull some graphs, talk about interesting ‘insights’ from data and find some nice and friendly verbatims to demonstrate just how much your community are discussing your brand.

What this does not reveal of course is the subtleties – what content has worked, what language has had most resonance and how big the core group of ‘superfans’ you have is.

I’m an advocate of checking in to your community every hour or so where possible of your own accord, not just when you receive a handy email notification. It helps you work what why there’s so much dead time in your community – is it just content you’re publishing that’s driving interactions, or are there genuine and structured conversations taking place without a catalyst?

As always in social media, technology and people combined is the best approach to take, not just leaving it to the machines to do the work.

Zerply Review

Zerply is a professional social network designed to make connecting with other like-minded individuals quick and easy.

It’s currently in beta, but I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on an invite to have a play.

The initial information gathering process is simple enough, you enter your name, desired username, location and password.

Next, you enter a few tags to let everybody know your expertise, social media and writing for me then.

You then have the ability to upload your experience from LinkedIn or create new content manually, naturally importing the data from LinkedIn is easiest and saves you a heck of a lot of time.

Finally you get to choose your avatar and choose one of three themes to give your new profile a polished finish.

Zerply - Matt Churchill

The interface is clean and intuitive and the new search function makes it easy to find people you’d like to connect with.

The tough thing for Zerply is that professional social networking is dominated by LinkedIn – but the approach Zerply are taking is an interesting solution to the challenge.

It’s a stripped down, minimalist take on a topic that is easy to saturate with numbers, names and gushing self-praise.

Zerply is almost like an online business card and could be very useful indeed.

You can visit my profile here.

They also have a blog and are, naturally, represented on Twitter.

Conducting Social Media Suicide

Web2.0 Suicide Machine is the facilitator of your online death.

It will remove you from the various social networks you’re on at click of a button. Gone, in one swoop, will be your friends, tweets and PMs, as the machine weaves its magic throughout the online landscape.

Currently, Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn and Facebook are supported and the team are looking to expand their reach to the likes of Flickr and Plaxo.

We are increasingly finding ourselves across a myriad of different platforms and taking on personas that are suited to each community we are interacting with and engaging within. If, as 751 people so far, you are finding the 2.0 social media world all a bit too much, you could end it all in spectacular fashion.

I’m not sure however, that users of the service are going to be within the ‘social media demographic’ and are likely not to miss the opportunites that social media can provide – be they work or play.

It’s a humourous way to start the year, but not one that I will be following…

Who wants to be a social media guru?

I just received this through LinkedIn:

Subject: Social Media Guru

Hi,

Due to rapid growth, I am looking for social media gurus for fascinating social media consultancy projects with high impact individuals, brands, businesses, public sector and third sector organisations. Projects range from one off dashboard analysis and training right through to strategic consultancy secondment to client offices. These are all creme de la creme clients demonstrating a real commitment to social media.

The work I do is on the very cutting edge of social media strategy and implementation so I am seeking individuals currently at the top of their game, with demonstrable superior intellectual horsepower, ingenuity in thinking and a pragmatic approach to delivery.

If you are a social media analyst with extensive experience of deriving actionable insight from social media monitoring dashboards, I would be especially interested to hear from you.

To be considered, please submit a CV or credentials document to me via email. Please include case studies of past projects you have worked on directly and an outline of your fees structure in your application.

No recruitment agencies please.

Kind Regards

[name omitted]

I don’t mind people getting in touch a job opportunities, it is of course, very flattering (I’m quite happy where I am thanks for asking) and shows that someone has added your name to a database somewhere for some reason.

However, if you’re going to invite me to be considered to be a part of your organisation I’d recommend a couple of things:

1) Include my name in the e-mail
2) Don’t say “If you are a social media analyst” – the whole reason you’re getting in touch is because I am a social media analyst
3) Don’t add “No recruitment agencies please” at the end
4) Make your e-mail look as less spammy as possible

Anyway, if the above opportunity sounds exactly like the sort of thing you’re looking for, you’re bound to be disappointed with this blog post.

If it’s the sort of opportunity that makes you react how I did, check out The Social Media Guru.

UPDATE:Looks like Rachel Clarke had exactly the same message, nice non-use of social media to recruit for social media then…

Weekly Round Up 21.06.09

This week’s news round up has been put together by Elliot Pearson, music business grad with a passion for music and digital and new media advancements. His main focus is emerging online opportunities and social media, and how these can be used by new artists. We will be regularly swapping news round ups as we aim to build, share and combine both our online communities and we believe that one way to do this is to introduce the readers of our blogs to each other ands allow them to interact across both platforms.

You can follow Elliot on Twitter and read what he has to say on his blog.

When reading an interview with David Lyman and Mark Schmulen of NutshellMail, I couldn’t help but be amused by the underlying irony. While the idea behind their service is a valid one – a digest of a users social network updates delivered via a consolidated email – they must surely appreciate the potential hypocrisy behind what they are trying to launch. In their own words:
“With Facebook, it’s easy to get annoyed of email notifications and most of them remain unread. By consolidating activity on Facebook – and even Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn – we deliver email digests to users when and how often they want them.”
By replacing the ‘annoying’ emails with regularly-scheduled updates, surely there is a strong chance that the NutshellMail emails will become the new annoyance, which is where the platform’s powerful scheduling tools come in. Users will be able to specify times when the are most likely to be receptive to the update, but does this mean that, particularly with fast-moving platforms such as Twitter, that even hourly updates will not allow users to stay up-to-date.

With constant developments in options for monetisation through online channels, whether they be app or in-game microtransactions, or ad-funded models, services that offer seamless transaction handling and CRM management are constantly looking for new opportunities to attract consumers to their platforms. Companies such as fatfoogoo are positioning themselves well to make a wide range of monetisation options available for all platforms. Their latest announcement, an avatar store for social profile site mEgo, helps to highlight just how many options are available. While it remains to be seen what kind of revenue can be generated through something that has little substantial value for the consumer (for example simple online graphics for the avatars), the upside for developers and programmers is that no matter what their app or platform is used for, there is a strong chance further revenue can be received from it.

After Facebook released the opportunity for users to pick their own vanity URLs, it faces a period of dispute-settling for individuals and organisations that find themselves subject to ‘cyber-squatting’ on their names. But how important a feature is this for the general public? Remembering friend’s usernames (especially with it being unlikely that it corresponds exactly to their real name) is a far more long-winded process than a site-based search, or bookmarking a page doesn’t require the use of a vanity URL. Surely making the URLs available to fan pages for personalities or organisations would have saved further problems from disputes?

Is your company ready for Twitter?

There has been alot of talk recently about companies and brands using Twitter to connect with their audience. Jeremiah Owyang has written a brilliant piece reflecting on the stages a brand should go through before getting themselves onto Twitter. There’s been alot of talk about whether brands should in fact be on Twitter at all.

According to research by Emergence Marketing, around 60% of companies are not ready to engage with social media, letalone Twitter. The article estimates that somewhere between 60-75% of companies are spying on their employee’s use of the internet whilst at work, and makes the point:

If you cannot trust your employees to do the right surfing, then how can you trust them to engage in social media on your behalf?

Simply, you can’t. And this is one of the hurdles businesses need to overcome if they are looking to enter the realms of social media. You must trust your employees to know how your business needs to position itself, the tone of voice that suits and how you want people that you’re approaching to perceive you.

Much of this perception can be derived from the brand’s name, be it in your local high street, or globally. You tend to want to stick with it on business cards, shop fronts and websites because it says alot about you. So you want to extend this out to Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Xing. What though, if you can’t and you become the victim of Twittersquatting (this is someone taking your comany’s name purely because you haven’t already)?

Erik Heels points out in a blog post, that 93 of the top 100 companies in the world, don’t own thier Twitter names. It might be advisable to check that yours hasn’t already been taken – go on, do it now, i’ll put a brew on.

So was it taken? No? Good, sign up and have a think. Do you really need to use Twitter? Remember, this isn’t a case of getting your Twitter name and using it for the sake of it.

Dave Fleet makes a compelling case that sometimes, social media just isn’t for you or your brand and asks us to question several things:

If you’re not ready to engage yet, my advice would likely be (all other things being equal) to listen and learn from what your customers are saying:

* Who is talking about you?
* Where are they talking about you?
* What do they like?
* What do they hate?

And Dave makes it clear that:

Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to your problems. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it is.

And he’s right.

But just because you’re not ready to step into the social media pond right now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your brand from being harmed by those who are. It’s the same as if someone started trading under a name similar to yours. If you are Joe Bloggs Ltd, but your competitor registers as Jo Blogs Ltd and starts doing a bad job, it can give your company, purely as an accidental consequence, a bad name. This is why many big companies buy up all of the website domains that are closely linked to their name, so that if somebody wanted to, they couldn’t buy BBC.com and use it to be nasty to BBC.co.uk.

Protection of a brand should be a main priority for any company, and that goes across Google to an ad in the local Post Office window. Social media is just one of the many tools that are at our disposal to do this, and used correctly, there are many benefits. Have a read of the articles cited above and (now you’ve got Twitter covered) you can make the first tentative steps to keeping your brand safe online.