Sam Harrelson

Improving Twitter in 2018?

Dave Winer:

1. Eliminate the character limit, allow for linking, simple styles, titles and enclosures (for podcasting). The move to 280 chars was so successful, that should be a clue. Remove the barriers to expression and let the whole web in via linking. Handle length the way Facebook does with a see more link. It’s good prior art.

— Read on scripting.com/2018/07/22/155344.html

I remember having a conversation with Tris Hussey over breakfast at some conference or other in early 2007 where we discussed Twitter and its future possibilities. I was convinced at the time that Twitter would go on to see the light and open itself up as a protocol for the internet to facilitate public micro-messaging, similar to what IMAP and POP were for email. I was wrong, of course. Twitter actually reversed course from its early openness with developers and a flexible API and shifted towards the advertising platform model around 2009 as it sought out a way to monetize the service.

I’m still an avid user of Twitter, much more so than Facebook, ten years later. I remember the early talks and discussions about the need for more editing features and the ability to post longer entries and I always thought that was antithetical to what Twitter was. I still think that’s the case (think Old Man Yelling At the Clouds). What makes Twitter such an interesting and valuable platform for news and social interaction to me in 2018 is the brevity of content. Going from 140 characters to 280 characters is less of a paradigm shift and more of a realization that the perception of too much information density has changed in the post-SMS messaging world. Whereas a long text message was seen as rude and inconsiderate in 2007, a long iMessage is considered the norm in 2018.

So, I have to disagree with Dave here on his point that Twitter should eliminate the character limit and promote features such as styles, titles, and even enclosures. What makes Twitter so unique in a world of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, FaceTime, Signal, WeChat etc is the constraint of expression. People use Signal for privacy. We use Snapchat for its ephemeral and whimsical nature. Instagram is how we share visuals. Twitter is how we share quick thoughts.

We have blogs for the other features that Dave mentions here. Open the API’s and get the app developers back on board if we want to Make Twitter Great Again.




R.I.P. Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon was one of those services that I loved to talk about on my blog or during a conference presentation back in the ’00s when describing the glorious democratized future that web2.0 would bring us. Twitter was still a texting service called twttr and Facebook was still at Harvard. You could edit the CSS on your MySpace page and make your profile ugly. We all had blogrolls. Forums still mattered and mods were there to keep the conversation in line. It was a fun and engaging period of time to be on the web. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I thought they would and here we are in the Digital Dark Age of commodified social interactions and proprietary human farms built on the back of unmoderated advertising based on avarice and attention.

I wasn’t a particularly heavy user of Stumbleupon, but it was a fun service that helped me discover quite a few sites and resources over the years. I’m sad to see it go.

But now there’s no more of Stumbleupon’s pure, unadulterated content. All we have is angst-filled social media with a new monster around every corner. Sad stumbling through the interwebs now, everyone. Sad stumbling and watch your step.

Source: Stumbleupon died right when we needed it the most




Bring Back RSS

I’m admittedly from a generation that grew up with a web that didn’t include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Google. I look back fondly on the early 2000’s when we all had our own blogs and shared thoughts and pictures and quotes there.

I was just reminiscing about blogrolls this week with a client as we reminded ourselves about the joy of finding new and interesting people to subscribe to because of a link on a blog that we liked. Of course, there was Blogger and Live Journal and then Flickr and the rise of Google and MySpace and eventually Twitter and Facebook arrived in 2006. But for a while, it was a magical time not ruled over by corporate content silos… in my mind at least.

That’s a major reason why I still blog and share thoughts and links here. I’m not going to convert anyone but maybe I’ll share some of that old time religion. There’s incredible freedom and a sense of adventure to having your “own” site. Try it, rather than just relying on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fun read here:

“For those of you born into the siloed world of the centralised web, RSS is an ancient technology from Web 1.0 (“the naïve Web?”). Like most things back then, it does what it says on the tin: it enables you to easily syndicate the content of your site. People interested in following your posts subscribe to your feed and receive updates using their RSS readers. There is no Twitter or Facebook in the middle to algorithmically censor … ahem … “curate” your posts.”

Via on Aral Balkan’s blog




Churches and Social Media

Some good points in this post regarding churches using social media as outreach, particularly for youth. It’s important to keep in mind the “how’s” and “why’s” and “where’s” of different age groups and social media use as well.

I tell my clients all the time that just like we don’t all listen to music or watch “TV” the same (in the Spotify, Netflix, and Hulu age), we all don’t use social media for the same reason to accomplish the same things. Not to mention the often overlooked variable of geography and place when using social media. Churches really need to think through their approaches and goals with these in mind.

Setting up an Instagram account is easy. Using it in a way that authentically tells your story and engages current members is tough. Figuring out if its targeted towards youth or adults and why that matters is even more difficult. Don’t put all of that responsibility on a youth minister or Associate Pastor in this age of data-driven accountability.

So do the math and don’t believe in “build it and they will come.” That philosophy might have worked for ballparks in the middle of Iowa to attract the ghosts of the past, but it won’t work to attract engagement with very socially alive people in 2018 and beyond.

“I encourage you to count the cost,” Carey said. “It’s going to take time and effort to do this.”

Churches and ministries also must focus on storytelling to foster relationships between viewers and churches.

— Read on baptistnews.com/article/churches-must-count-the-cost-of-pursuing-youth-on-social-media/




Facebook ads prices are too high and companies are shifting to Instagram

The impression-based market on Facebook ads haven’t resulted in a solid and stable pricing model for most direct-to-consumer companies (or nonprofits, churches, community groups etc). The targeting capabilities are exciting, but the pricing costs for ads have to match up with the returns.

So now we’re all flocking to Instagram Stories…

Digiday spoke with 10 direct-to-consumer companies, and all of them report their marketing mix has de-emphasized Facebook for other digital alternatives — including Facebook-owned Instagram — but seven of them also say they are expanding into traditional vehicles. The reason: Prices are getting high for audience segments and the feed has become a very cluttered space.

— Read on digiday.com/marketing/pivot-traditional-direct-consumer-brands-sour-facebook-ads/




Teens Have Officially Moved Beyond Facebook

Wow, these stats are really quite something. Facebook dominates the social media landscape for older Americans, but teens have moved on to YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat over the last 3-4 years.

Astonishing changes in usage percentages and something Facebook, and marketers, should really be concerned about (yes, Instagram is owned by Facebook but the Newsfeed is still the bulk of $$ for Facebook).

It’s hard to earn back users once young people start leaving, as Friendster and MySpace found out.

The social media landscape in which teens reside looks markedly different than it did as recently as three years ago. In the Center’s 2014-2015 survey of teen social media use, 71% of teens reported being Facebook users. No other platform was used by a clear majority of teens at the time: Around half (52%) of teens said they used Instagram, while 41% reported using Snapchat.

In 2018, three online platforms other than Facebook – YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat – are used by sizable majorities of this age group. Meanwhile, 51% of teens now say they use Facebook. The shares of teens who use Twitter and Tumblr are largely comparable to the shares who did so in the 2014-2015 survey.

Source: Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 | Pew Research Center




How Instagram’s algorithm works

My clients often don’t realize that Facebook, Instagram or Twitter place content directly in front of users eyeballs based on when things are posted.

We live in the “attention” era and you have to not only produce worthwhile content to get noticed but also maintain interest and relationship.

Three main factors determine what you see in your Instagram feed:

Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.

Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.

Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

Source: How Instagram’s algorithm works | TechCrunch




Owning your own platform is important, and valuable

I often get the question from clients of why I mostly recommend having your own website on WordPress or a self-hosted platform in the age of Facebook. As companies who built their businesses and traffic flow on the back of Facebook over the years have found out, that can be a very precarious decision. Audience and perceived impact are good, but long-term value is much better. Don’t cheap out and build your house on someone else’s property.

For instance, Medium is an interesting platform for bloggers and writers. We see everyone from politicians to celebrities to tech pundits using it as the place of record for their writings. While there is an audience there, or on Facebook, we’re already seeing Medium making changes to the way it handles its publishers in an attempt to figure out monetization (something which its founder Ev Williams knows about since he also founded Blogger and then went on to co-start Twitter… both of which faced their own monetization issues). This is going to be a constant and something you or your business or your non-profit should take notice of before you let your roots get too deep in a particular platform can change its EULA at any time.

Owen Williams writes the excellent Charged newsletter (you should subscribe) and makes this point about Medium, Facebook, and web presence in general that I highly agree with:

All of this is to say: Medium is great, but be wary! Owning your own platform is important, and valuable, even at this point in the internet’s maturity cycle. It’s a bit more work, but you are no longer at the mercy of the platform, a lesson we can learn from Facebook all too easily.

Source: #167: Medium.com feels like it’s forever. What if it isn’t?




Focus on Engagement and Newsletters Rather than Likes and Shares

In fact, research shows that there isn’t a high correlation between reading time and social sharing.

As you can see from the graph, the high read time doesn’t translate to shares. Just because someone clicked a share button, it doesn’t mean that they were engaged with the content.

Source: How to Effectively Manage Engagement for Stronger Influence




A Spotless Newsfeed?

Not April 1…


Tide-to-Go will partner with Google Chrome to provide a downloadable extension that will allow users to remove negative content from their social media newsfeed – helping to make more than just clothes a little bit brighter.

Source: Tide Digital Advert By S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications: Social Stain Remover | Ads of the World™