Tag Archives: Twitter

Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

The original WhatsApp conversation with Ben Innes' "selfie"
The original WhatsApp conversation with Ben Innes’ “selfie”

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a fast paced, easy-to-read book that highlights the power of group behaviour on social media.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is the latest book from Jon Ronson, the journalist from the Guardian. Jon Ronson is the English equivalent of America’s Malcolm Gladwell, combined with Louis Theroux’s modus operandi. Jon Ronson’s books cover those sections of society that are either taboo or push us slightly outside of our comfort zone, and it’s here that Ronson often defends those people the most.

The book is about the public shaming that some people have been subjected to on social media. He provides some case studies of people whose lives have been significantly changed by a single post on Facebook or Twitter. These individuals aren’t always celebrities – some had just a couple of hundred followers. These case studies set the context of the post right up to modern day consequences for the user. Continue reading Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

2016 digital predictions

This is the sixth year of my digital predictions for the forthcoming twelve months (see here for 2015).

Many more industry commentators and research analysts are now releasing their predictions, but they don’t mark their work at the end of the year (last year I scored a woeful D) and their ‘predictions’ are actually trends.

So here goes for what lies ahead in 2016:

1. The eyewear war

An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass
An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass

In 2016 we’ll see a new three companies go eye to eye on their product offerings: Microsoft’s Hololens versus Facebook’s Oculus Rift versus Google’s Glass and Cardboard products.

In 2016 the new version of Google Glass will be released, specifically focussed on enterprises. Microsoft will be releasing Hololens to developers from Q1 2016. And Facebook will also be releasing Oculus Rift in Q1 2016.

The ultimate winner of these multi-billion dollar investments will be customers. Devices will still be well into four figures, and we’ll see some incredible implementations from gaming to enterprise. Continue reading 2016 digital predictions

11 lessons about innovation from the New York Times

The BBC Newsroom. Currently peaceful. And sometimes less peaceful.

Whilst doing some research at work on innovation within the Publishing industry, a colleague of mine found a leaked report from the New York Times from March this year (the full article is at the end of this page).

At 94 pages, it’s a must-read for anyone within Publishing. I took 11 key points from the document:

  1. (page 16) Hallmarks of disruptors… number 4: “Initially inferior to existing products.” This is so true. Almost every time we work on a new innovative project, there will always be someone criticising that product A does things better, or product B is more comprehensive. The answer is twofold – firstly, you can have something more superior, but it will take a lot longer and cost a lost more money; and secondly, it’s part and parcel of developing something new. Remember Twitter’s outages? Remember how basic Facebook looked?
  2. Only a third of NYT readers visit the homepage. Just think of the effort in designing the homepage! Google is great at providing users links directly into articles, and users share articles not homepages. This is the proof. Continue reading 11 lessons about innovation from the New York Times

The Sponsored/ Promoted placement business model

Who to follow on Twitter: spot the sponsored account
Who to follow on Twitter: spot the promoted account

Sponsored placements or sponsored posts or promoted content are one of the latest forms of monetisation I’ll be discussing in this series.

Imagine you were the CEO of Twitter before it made any money. You have several million users all posting content all day long, and several more million users consuming this content without posting.

You have a few options at this stage – you can make the website look the same as all other websites and sprinkle some ad placements over the page, but this won’t work on mobile and it may devalue your proposition of keeping a vertical conversational timeline simple.

Continue reading The Sponsored/ Promoted placement business model

The Advertising business model

In today’s Western digital businesses, advertising is the main source of revenue for websites, mobile sites, mobile apps and anything in between:

In the first quarter of 2013, Google advertising revenue was $11.9 bn. Advertising revenue was 92% of Google’s revenues for the quarter.

For the fourth quarter 2012, Facebook’s revenue from advertising was $1.33 billion, representing 84% of total revenue.

Personally, I believe the advertising industry is in a bubble which is ready to burst. It is a semi-self-fulfilling industry that has been growing at a rate out of proportion to the businesses revenue which support it.

Organic revenue growth of the big four advertising companies, 2010-2012
Organic revenue growth of the big four advertising companies, 2010-2012. From Statista

Continue reading The Advertising business model

How Your Website can Handle Emergency Announcements

School Flooding Announcement on Website - what happens if the website crashes?
Flooding Announcement on a School Website – what happens if the website crashes?

Major General Patrick Sanders, assistant chief of the UK defence staff, who is currently coordinating the armed forces’ response to the UK floods has described the damage as an “almost unparalleled natural disaster”.

I listened to the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning (a treat that I rarely enjoy now that I cycle to work – and only heard it today because I took my brother-in-law to the airport), and the presenters were speaking to various spokesmen from train companies and utilities around the country.

I’ve recently been speaking to a number of not-for-profit organisations about their digital platforms. Digital is key to these organisations because it provides a direct-to-consumer communication channel (although they each have different terms for consumers) which is far cheaper than previous methods. The commercial sector which recognised this advantage a few years ago.

One specific question which keeps being raised it how to deal with emergencies announcements.

Commercials organisations can often afford robust platforms and fault tolerance because the increased digital traffic from mobile apps and websites usually translates into extra revenue or improved customer service.

However, if you are a school and want to let parents know whether the school is open today or not because of flooding, snow or other natural problems, it’s unlikely the school will be compensated for the added digital traffic. Many UK schools offer a text messaging service to parents to let them know if the school is open or not, but still they receive huge web traffic from concerned parents.

Additional web traffic can often cause website issues. There are a number of methods to ease this high web traffic, most of which are free to use. Continue reading How Your Website can Handle Emergency Announcements

The FIFA 14 “Free Coins” scam

Today is European Data Protection day 2014, or ‘Privacy Day’ if you live outside of Europe. Happy EDP or PD depending on where you live.

One of these accounts asked for my email username and password to get free FIFA coins
One of these accounts asked for my email username and password to get free FIFA coins

To celebrate EDP/ PD, I thought I’d share the latest scam going around on EA Sports FIFA 14 and Twitter, mainly targeting children.

FIFA 14 has one of the best monetisation strategies of all computer games which leaves Candy Crush and Farmville well behind.

Firstly, the game costs around £40 to buy, and to play it online on the Xbox, you need to buy a subscription to Xbox Live, which is a further £40 per year. And that’s only the beginning of the journey because many online gamers have quality football ‘players’ in their squads.

There are two ways of getting decent players into your own team – either to trade players in a marketplace or buy ‘packs’ of players (a pack contains a random selection of players which are undisclosed until purchase).

The currency for these transactions are FIFA points. You can buy FIFA points with real cash or through trading players. A brief survey of my kids’ friends revealed that the average amount of money spent on FIFA coins is around £10 per month. Playing FIFA is a £200 per year hobby.

The trading option provides the perfect environment for scammers – it’s the combination of naïve children who constantly want more FIFA Coins.

There are dozens of websites and Twitter accounts setup offering ‘free’ or cheaper coins. Remember that we’re dealing with children who want more coins quickly. So these websites ask for personal details in return for the coins. These personal details appear logical to a child.

I saw a Twitter scam as follows:

  1. The ‘Free coins’ account asks the gamer to follow them in return for coins. The reason for asking a gamer to follow the account is because following a Twitter account enables both parties to Direct Message (DM) each other. This means that further communication can’t be publicly viewed.
  2. The ‘Free coins’ account now DMs the gamer, dangles the carrot of ‘Thanks for following, do you want 100K or 500K coins?’
  3. The gamer responds
  4. The ‘Free coins’ account now asks for the FIFA team name and the Xbox Live account name. Both appear reasonable and are easily justified as “I need to know who to send the coins to.”
  5. The gamer replies.
  6. Now the clever part… the free coins account claims the transaction didn’t work correctly. They will ask the gamer to re-confirm their details. It builds the frustration and emotion for the gamer.
  7. The free coins account now explains there must be some sort of technical problem and asks for the gamer’s email account and password.

At this point, the DM conversation may have taken under 5 minutes from the gamer following the account. Once any hacker has control of a person’s email account, they have an open door to many other services because they can visit other sites and press ‘Forgotten password’, and keep resetting these services. And of course, the hacker’s first job is to change the email password and backup email account/ phone number.

Remember that we’re mainly dealing with children who undervalue security.

There are two steps to prevent this scam:

  1. Explain to your child the importance of never giving away their email password to anyone, no matter what the ‘offer’ is. It’s the online equivalent of giving a stranger your house keys.
  2. Explain no one on the Internet is likely to give you something for nothing, especially just for following them on Twitter. Back to the first analogy, it’s like someone on the street offering to buy you some chocolate for free, but they need your house keys to leave the chocolate in the fridge.

Parents of children who have fallen for this scam are rightly upset. The psychological impact is that a stranger has managed to break into the family home and steal from the children, all without parents noticing.

With more apps and games offering freemium options and monetised gamification, these scams will become more common.

Have a happy European Data Protection day.

Getting the first 500 Twitter followers is the hardest

Labour Party Twitter Banter
Even political parties can have some banter on Twitter

I’ve dabbled with Twitter for a while. I opened my account over five years ago on the 16 January 2008.

In those five years I’ve described Twitter as pretty much everything from “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to the third best free social media website. The point is, if you are looking for web traffic, Twitter is an excellent tool that borders on the obligatory.

The problem I found is that your engagement with Twitter keeps plateauing. You get a number of followers, you find a number of people to follow, and it remains stagnant for a while.

I’ve been to presentations from Twitter users, such as Bill Boorman, who have large followings, but that didn’t work either. I had 200 followers when I went to the presentation in October 2011 and the advice didn’t seem to work for me.

I read The Tao of Twitter which is a great book and I recommend you read it with a highlighter pen. I read it twice in a few days, and started following the book’s advice. I quickly built up a bigger following. I then discovered other tricks to accelerate this further.

One golden rule before you start – whatever you do, don’t buy Twitter followers.

And here are the tips for getting quality Twitter followers relatively quickly:

  1. Tweet at least 3 times a day. Make sure it’s relevant content – so include some consistent keywords. Personal stuff works occasionally – see #4. Tips 6 & 7 will help you with content suggestions.
  2. Retweet other interesting or funny tweets. Use a blogger outreach platform to source content, such as Triberr. These websites are a win-win for the authors who are trying to promote their content and Twitter users looking for good content.
  3. Friendly banter with friends is good. Don’t make your feed too dry. Banter displays personality. Even if you’re a political party.
  4. Follow back new followers, except obvious spammers.
  5. When reading an article on say, a news website, express your opinion in a tweet. Always include a link to the article too. It’s difficult to condense an opinion into less than 140 characters, but try. In fact, you should try to use only 135 characters so that others can retweet your content prefixed with an “RT: “.
  6. When reading an article on your news or sports sites, if you see a snippet or “sound bite”, tweet it with a link back to the article.
  7. Find relevant industry/ topic tweet chats, and join in. I’ve usually accumulated an extra 25-50 followers (that’s a 5-10% growth) shortly after twitter chats.
  8. Use #ff (it stands for ‘Follow Friday’) on Fridays, especially to new followers from the week. Group similar users together in one #ff and another hash tag to describe their commonality. The chances are, they’ll retweet this to their followers.

Finally, please let me know if this article helps you and I may produce other similar guides.