Category archives: social

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Of Walls and Gardens

20120909-111922.jpgI spent the last year building on the Twitter platform. Dashter was my vision to bring blogging and “tweeting” together – and the result is a fun blend between the two platforms. When our team got together, we had grand visions for what each platform could mean: We dreamt of a symbiotic platform experience that blended the depth of blogging with the expediency of tweeting. The data security and independence of self-owned self-hosted long-form content with the network effects of twenty-million twitter users.

We knew that the crux of our project was really rooted in the fact that we were dependent on Twitter to provide consistent API calls – and to keep the platform open and unrestricted.

So when I saw this tweet from Jeff, I knew what he was trying to bring to my attention:

The article Jeff shared (perhaps ironically, on Twitter) is not going to be the last we hear about the Twitter of the future. It tells the story of a Twitter developer who was subject to the demands of corporate clients who require understanding how apps are going to affect their bottom line – and who foot the bill for a project with the expectation that the work will live beyond tomorrow.

Continue reading →

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Social Media ROI with Custom Campaigns and Google Analytics

Social Media ROI (Return on Investment) is the elusive 3rd-rail of social networking. It’s elusive in the sense that there is no absolutely agreed-upon industry-wide calculation to use. It’s the 3rd rail because that’s where all the power is. Social media managers don’t want to be judged by a set of metrics that might not reflect the true “value” of the social media channel(s). Social media brand managers are focused on building communities and building attention rather than focused on delivering to the bottom line.

Unfortunately, this leaves many executives with an uneasy feeling that all this tweeting, “liking”, and pinning is just an act of futility without anchoring anything to a real bottom line.

It’s clear that there is and ROI in there somewhere – but how can it be measured?

Building a Set of Success Metrics

I’ve chatted with many customers & friends (often from the SMMOC crowd) about the SMROI issue, and the first thing that becomes obvious is that for some reason basic marketing practices get tossed out the window. I don’t know why it is – but SM is merely an extension of the existing branding / PR / Sales / Advertising / Promotion channels that have existed in all businesses.

Advertising using Google Adwords is perhaps the antithesis of Social. Social is about building relationships, attending to customers on a one-on-one level, and fostering a sense of community within the social-sphere. Adwords is the opposite. It’s about reaching a customer at the crux of their decision-making process: At the point they’re searching. The website is responsible for the rest.

So, the challenge becomes building a set of metrics (quantifiable) that operate within a personalized space (qualifiable responses). Continue reading →

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The Shifting Social Landscape

Building a digital “home” in the social landscape is much like building a physical home – on quicksand. If you don’t believe me – let’s look at some of the trends that have happened over the summer…

Facebook’s IPO Woes

Let’s face it – Facebook insiders played the market like a well-tuned guitar. All the insiders got in on the action pre-IPO, and the retail investors were buying their exits during the IPO (and as insider shares become “unlocked” like Peter Thiel’s). But more concerning is the underlying challenge to value a social media company.

Remember – and this is important – in the social media space, the “users” are not the “customers“. Continue reading →

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Meet TwitShowdown

This post was generated by Dashter

Over the past few weeks, I’ve really been trying to pay attention to the pro’s and con’s of Twitter. Part of that’s due to the fact that I shut down my Facebook account, in an attempt to see what the non-Facebook Internet still felt like.

Kelly and I had an interesting back-and-forth based partly around the idea that we follow people at odd intervals. Sure, it’s easy to add the first 20-100 people you follow on Twitter because you know them in real life. But then you start following people you’ve never met. And even the people who we know (or know of) don’t always tweet how we expect them to.

So this idea started forming – the notion of giving a way to easily swoop in to your account for the express purpose of unfollowing people. It wasn’t a “Dashter” feature – this was a unique little activity that needed a unique place to go.

Lose the Losers is right! Continue reading →

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Social Scheduling

Social Tools Should Be Useful

Name any social or online content platform, and you’ll likely hear a great debate raging about scheduling. The problem with the always-on 24/7 digital lifestyle is that all too often, you end up with tools that aren’t focused on delivering results… They’re just delivering special effects.

This is a great point – social scheduling is helpful under certain circumstances, but in general you will want to also maintain an active and robust dialogue online. It’s one of the reasons we designed Dashter with the Auto-Post hold feature. Certain automatically-generated tweets can now be postponed until after you’ve posted a “human” message on Twitter. That prevents the automated part of Dashter from overwhelming your human followers.

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Why Schedule Tweets?

Over the last couple weeks I’ve had the chance to have several good conversations about social scheduling. One of the areas of discussion (specifically related to Dashter) is – why schedule tweets?

It’s a good question – and requires having a little familiarity with Twitter, but here’s my short answers…

Etiquette: When someone logs on to Twitter, they’re going to see a stream of the latest tweets in their “home” display. This is true for most clients like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck as well. Generally, there’s an implicit assumption that when you log in you’ll see a stream of the latest tweets from around your social circle. But, if someone you’re following logs in and posts all their tweets all at once, that tweet stream fills up with just them. It’s not particularly courteous.

You’re Missing the Spread: One of the best advantages to spreading your tweets out throughout the day is that you can cover the whole audience. Remember – 7am on the East Coast is 4am on the West Coast – and that’s just in the US. If you’re trying to reach / appeal to a global audience, the clock never stops – and twitter adoption continues to rise globally. Remember, Twitter is attempting to position itself as the “universal” social network thanks to the low adoption threshold (140 text characters can be managed by just about any cell phone on the planet) – so global audience & reach is essential. Assume that your audience logs in to Twitter once or twice per day and scans 20-30 tweets, and that’s it. Wouldn’t you like to increase the odds that they’ll see your tweet?

Tweets Don’t Last Very Long: There’s a couple schools of thought in terms of “how long” a tweet lasts on the network. That’s because of the signal vs. noise challenge. In general, I’ve heard that Tweets have a “lifespan” of anywhere from 5-15 minutes; all the way up to 2 hours. After that, it really has run its course. By and large, people don’t interact with Tweets older than a few minutes.

Maintain Multiple Conversations: If you get involved in a couple simultaneous conversations on Twitter, suddenly you will be posting multiple replies over a span of a very short period of time. By scheduling tweets, you can spread out the likelihood of holding one conversation at a time – allowing you to carry on better one-on-one conversations than if you have to have many at the same time.

The Signal vs Noise Challenge: There is a lot of noise on Twitter. Even the best selected group of people to follow will result in a wealth of conversations and “starters” that really don’t matter to you. The same will be true of the people who follow you… Some people will be deeply engaged, but generally few will be interested in your individual messages. That’s the advantage of the short lifespan of a Tweet. But how do you overcome the noise? By seeding your tweets throughout the day via scheduling, you’ll have more chances to have your message reach its audience and provide true signal than if you posted all your messages simultaneously.

Heavy Active User Paradox: It would make sense that your messages will be more effective if the people you engage with, follow, and follow-back were all heavy active users on Twitter. They’d be ready to spread your message, right? But the paradox is that active users on Twitter tend to interact and engage with heavily active users on Twitter. So the signal processing gets overrun again…

Here’s what I mean: If you are followed by someone who follows 10 people (and each person posts 1 message per day) you have a 1/10 (10%) chance of being “read.”

But if the person who follows you follows 100 people, and each person posts 10 times per day, any single message now has a “read” chance of 1/(100*10): 0.1%.

That’s the challenge with Twitter – as people find more interesting people to follow they end up hitting a wall of signal. So how do you improve the likelihood that your message will at a minimum get viewed (and hopefully RT’d, quoted, replied-to, or curated)? You schedule your tweets to spread them across the potential audience-online timeframe.

Remember – if someone logs in to Twitter and browses through their last few messages, they’re only 1-click away from your profile to view all your latest tweets, so your tweets should always be interesting and a reflection of you. You want your messages to be quality and consequential, but you ultimately want them to be read and ideally engaged with. By using scheduling, you can reach a broader audience, have better engagement with the people who follow you, and improve your objective outcomes on Twitter.

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How Many +1′s Does It Take To Screw In a Social Network?

Alright, let’s start off with where this article came from:

Jeremy BlantonJeremy Blanton – @jb140
RT @respres: “a social network isn’t a product; it’s a place” http://t.co/QVZlUdrA

I caught Jeremy’s RT of Jeff’s post a couple days ago, but I was out in Vegas for PubCon so my attention span was running a little short. But I read the linked article, and I knew I had to dish out a response. First off – I want to make it totally clear that I’m not a Google+ apologist. I’m not sitting around on Google+ waiting for new comments or likes. But to the same vein I’ve almost entirely stopped participating on Facebook too. I’m working on Dashter – I’m living in Twitter – things are good. Conversations abound (especially when you’ve got the right tools).

But this article (written by Farhad Manjoo @fmanjoo) just seemed so far off base I had to whip up a rebuttal – or at least a pragmatic alternative to the doomsday prediction he provided in his article.

What initially caught my attention to the line that Jeff quoted in his tweet was a strong disagreement that his premise is correct. Social Networks are places in as much as any website is a place. But social networking isn’t a place – it’s a process. It’s a verb. And because of that – the place is less important than the process provided.

Is Google+ A Dead Man Walking? Continue reading →

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Make an Intro with your Twitter Follow

This post was generated by Dashter

Heaven is a CupcakeHeaven is a Cupcake – @heavensacupcake
It annoys me when someone follows you, so you follow back and then they unfollow! Not good twitter etiquette. :p

So “Heaven”‘s tweet here caught my eye, and I wanted to just share my thoughts on some Twitter etiquette that might go a long way towards building better relationships in your Twitter account. Obviously – playing counting games (like is described in the tweet above) is just silly. Un-following someone should really just be a product of their bad etiquette – not some sort of accumulation scheme.

Ahmad HammoudAhmad Hammoud – @Hammoud_
Twitter Etiquette 101: Never ask anyone to follow you.

On the other end of the etiquette spectrum are opinions like what Ahmad’s shared here, that you shouldn’t be asking for follows. I’m not sure I’d go with “never” when it comes to this sort of thinking – but I think it’s definitely true that you don’t want to harass people with suggestions that they follow you. Continue reading →

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Beware Social Phishing

This post was generated by Dashter

Oscar GonzalezOscar Gonzalez – @notagrouch
@RossTeasley http://t.co/9ZXwoT9I – Please take a look at this guys. Pay attention to the URLs you click on.

The link provided goes to an image posted by Ross – with a very common phishing attack designed to snag login info from your Twitter account.

So why does it matter? It’s not like you’ve got personal information on your Twitter account, right?

The dangerous part about a site like Twitter is two-fold: Network effects, Twitter app access and short URL’s.

Network effects can be powerful: Your single account can be hijacked and distribute links to your followers (and random people interacting with your Twitter account) extremely quickly. Continue reading →

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Welcome to iTwitter, Don’t Forget Your “Thank You’s”

I just got my first chance to play around with the new Twitter functionality in iOS 5 (aka iTwitter), and right off the bat – I’m thrilled! They updated the keyboard by adding an “@” and a “#” button, and the appearance / feel of sending images is good. It’s not texting or instant messaging, but it’s not emailing either. Sending a tweet is sorta like saying “Hey, here’s a thing!” and there’s even a cute “tweet” sound that chirps once you hit send.

As someone involved in the Twitter eco-system, I couldn’t be more thrilled with how easy they’ve integrated the little blue bird in to the iPhone. From a development perspective, we’re thrilled here at Dashter that the new iOS 5 integration uses the new Twitter “media” entity – because now these tweet’d pics are easily referenced from within the API. It’s very clean – and we can’t wait to show off how we’re taking advantage of this technology on our end.

But one other thing does come to mind with this level of integration: It’s one-way. Part of the beauty of Twitter is that you can post “blindly” to your followers – the expectation of reciprocation is low, compared to paired networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. But that also comes with the potential for people to forget that Twitter is a wonderful conversation medium. I liken Twitter more to a public text messaging service than a private social network. But with the ease of connectivity that is included in iOS 5, I think the potential is there for people to forget to participate on Twitter.
Continue reading →