I’m not saying Track was the best thing that Twitter ever released, but it was probably the best thing Twitter ever encouraged early on with its open API (before the Dark Times when Twitter decided to pivot to an advertising company).
Say goodbye to Fleets, the row of fullscreen tweets at the top of the Twitter timeline that expire after 24 hours. The ephemeral tweet format is shutting down due to low usage after launching widely just eight months ago.
But Nextdoor has gradually evolved into something bigger and more consequential than just a digital bulletin board: In many communities, the platform has begun to step into roles once filled by America’s local newspapers. “Anecdotally, Nextdoor has gone from being kind of sub-Facebook to actually being the main platform you hear people discussing as a vector for local news and events and discussions,” says Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
This is a really fascinating development. First Microsoft and now Facebook are suspending PAC (Political Action Committee) spending in Washington. They’re joining financiers Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup, along with Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield (caveat — our insurance co), Boston Scientific, and Commerce Bank. Bank of America (caveat — one of the banks we do business with), Ford, and AT&T, CVS, Exxon Mobil, and Wells Fargo are considering pulling their political monies.
This hits politicians where it really hurts.
For years, many of us in the “tech world” have decried these PACs and looked at them as a unnecessary evil that needed to be banned or done away with for a number of reasons.
Here are my personal convictions:
The PAC system reinforces the existing system of graft and corruption that so many Americans claim to abhor.
PACs favor the privileged both socio-economically and relationally. It’s a blight on a Democratic Republic and shouldn’t be seen as a “necessary evil” to doing business in the United States. Whatever your sector.
Tech boomed in the late 90’s and then again in the early ’00s because it was seen as a disruptor. From Google to Tesla to Uber (well, maybe they aren’t a great example but they did usher in a transportation paradigm shift) to even Twitter, the tech sector excited us with the promise of something different and more democratic to challenge the status quo. However, as the going got weird, the weird turned pro and put on suits. I want a return to the weird disruption tech that spurred creativity and a hope for a better representation to the powers that be. We’re not so far gone that it can’t happen in light of #metoo, BLM, LBGTQ+, trans rights, accessibility emphasis, and recognition of differently abled persons. Real revolutionary tech that can change the world… I still believe. PACS stand in the way of that.
So as we continue to process and deal with the terrorist insurrection on our Capitol last week, let’s take a second to recognize what these companies are doing by restricting or redirecting their PAC monies and how we can all do our part to not just “unify and move forward” but to cause real change.
Hearing from Spectrum never brings joy. We have been Time Warner Cable (which became Sprctrum) customers of their high speed internet offerings since moving to our new home in 2013. We regularly receive mailers and calls from them asking us to consider their phone plans or cable tv packages. Remarketing is a powerful tactic, but has to be deployed wisely. There’s also been the occasional past due notification (comes in a pink envelope and all) when we’ve changed debit card numbers and forgot to update the auto-payment on their app (which is a whole other blog post).
We never hear anything good from Spectrum.
This morning I’ve been receiving text message notifications about their service outage here in our area. That’s definitely not good news on an otherwise busy Monday morning working from home during my “busy season” with a few Zoom calls planned, some website audits that need to be done, and lots of charts to be made for clients. Not to mention, my partner runs her business and ministry from home, and our children have become digital natives during the pandemic (although they are much more resilient than we are when the web goes down).
I remember about 12 or so years ago, a Comcast customer service rep began the @comcastcares account on Twitter. These were the fun days of the Twitter platform and we users were so anticipating how the service would transform everything from customer service to entertainment to politics. Cory Booker was the Mayor of Newark at the time, and his revolutionary use of Twitter as a way for his community to reach out for help with downed trees or kittens stuck in trees was fascinating to watch. It brought joy. Little did we know how future politicians would use the service in the coming years… but I digress.
The @comcastcares account went viral and sparked a number of other services to open their own accounts for people like me who were valued customers but preferred a Twitter DM to submitting a support ticket on a terrible website, or (God Forbid) picking up the phone. It was a marketing play, but it brought joy from an otherwise joyless interaction when people are at their most frustrated. It’s also why every company uses carefully researched “hold music” and why some are better than others like Verizon’s terrible repeating 4/3 beat monstrosity.
During the pandemic, I’ve become fascinated by restaurant marketing. I’ve only worked with a handful of restaurants and restaurant groups as clients and the sector is admittedly not in my marketing wheelhouse.
However, watching local and national restaurants and chains adapt to new types of marketing technology and techniques during the pandemic has become a learning experience for me. I’ve downloaded dozen of restaurant and chain apps and had a few chats with various marketing teams.
A couple of large scale standouts have been McDonalds innovative use of their app to bring joy to an otherwise mundane human experience with promotions like a free item each day during the Holidays. Wendy’s has also been using marketing technology in a daring manner to build experience and interaction. For instance, their edgy Twitter account isn’t for everyone, but even snark can bring joy during a pandemic. Wendy’s is also using platforms such as Twitch to stream their team playing live games of Animal Crossing while giving away promo codes in the flowing chat. Again, it’s not for everyone and that’s the point.
Just like Comcast reached out to users with marketing technology that wasn’t “mainstream” or seemed silly in 2008 to do both outreach and perform a service, it’s important to bring joy and not just interruption.
So while our family scrambles to hook up internet hotspots and figure out how to work in new ways (yet again) this morning while our Spectrum service sorts out, think of ways that your organization can bring joy with marketing technology.
Don’t just send emails offering new services, asking for more donations, or updates about a new award you’ve won to your intended audience. Don’t dismiss Instagram Reels or TikTok or Twitch or Clubhouse or Reddit or even Twitter because you don’t think your audience is there or you don’t have the time to experiment. Stagnation is death. Stagnation doesn’t bring joy.
Joy will be a prime marketing technique in 2021. Embrace that and think outside the interruption.
Since I was in college (maybe before), I found the concept of pillows strange. So, I started sleeping without one. I’ve always primarily been a “stomach sleeper” (which is a benefit if I ever do contract Covid, I guess). My normal sleeping posture involves my head resting on my left arm face down with my right arm curled up so that my right hand is curled just below my chin.
I’m not sure why I have such an aversion to pillows. I’m not alone, evidently. King Henry VIII banned the use of soft pillows for anyone except pregnant women.
Maybe it’s that independent streak I have and my assurance that I shouldn’t have to rely on things like external pillows for comfort and sleeping posture if I can do it all on my own. Which seems to be a good metaphor for this time in our lives where we are all forced to reconsider what is important and what we rely on to make it through our days and nights. Whether that’s the camaraderie of a busy office space with our co-workers, or meals with friends, or opening night of a major movie in a crowded theater… our brains are undergoing cognitive loads that many of us aren’t realizing but definitely feeling the effects in our day-to-day walk through life.
But in times of change and disruption, the creative spark is made more available as our brains try to make sense of a new reality. Perhaps that what’s the pillow was supposed to prepare us for over the last 10,000 years or so that we’ve actively been using them as human beings. Learning to find comfort in the dark and mysterious time of night with all of its dragons and witches and spells while we give our brains time to defrag from a long day of processing being human.
Most of us aren’t spending our days gathering barley, millet, and emmer or stalking a herd of antelope hoping for a successful hunt to feed our families and appease our gods… but 2020 is weird. Give your brain time to rest and process at night whether you use a pillow or not. Dream up new avenues for your own creativity whether you’re looking for a business angle, a sermon message, or just a new hobby to replace Netflix binging.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company would no longer make policy exceptions for Mr. Trump after he leaves office in January. During Mr. Trump’s time as a world leader, Twitter allowed him to post content that violated its rules, though it began adding labels to some of the tweets starting in May to indicate that the posts were disputed or glorified violence.
“If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Mr. Dorsey said.
This thing works like an iPad. That’s the best way I can describe it succinctly. One illustration I have been using to describe what this will feel like to a user of current MacBooks is that of chronic pain. If you’ve ever dealt with ongoing pain from a condition or injury, and then had it be alleviated by medication, therapy or surgery, you know how the sudden relief feels. You’ve been carrying the load so long you didn’t know how heavy it was. That’s what moving to this M1 MacBook feels like after using other Macs.
Instagram users’ ability to search is getting an upgrade. Today, the company announced that English-speaking users in six countries, including the UK, US, Ireland, and Canada, will be able to search the platform using keywords. Before today, they could only search for hashtags or accounts. So, for example, if you previously wanted to find “healthy recipes,” you’d only be able to search for posts that tagged #healthyrecipes or accounts with variations on “healthy recipes” in their name or bio. Now, however, Instagram will let people search the keywords themselves, meaning posts that feature healthy recipes should surface, even if the specific tag is missing.
This is super helpful for content creators in specific niches and should help elevate quality posts that otherwise get buried in heavily trafficked hashtags.
I made the decision last week to attempt what I previously thought was relatively undoable for my business and/or personal life and pull out of the Twitter stream and Facebook world, and Instagram performance art gallery. Some of that was due to this liturgical season of Lent and some of that was my constant need to try on new “thought technologies” that helps me explore more of this life.
After a week, I can say a few things that have struck me as personal revelations.
First, I am more focused and “get things done” work-wise in a more deliberate and intentional way. It’s not that I was skipping over things a year or a month ago, but the silence that comes from not having a constant TweetDeck tab open in my browser window (or on the large screen that was dedicated just to TweetDeck) has made a marked difference in my workflow as evidenced by my time sheets and my client ticketing system.
Second, I find myself reaching for my phone fewer times during the morning, day, and night. I would constantly be scanning Instagram or Twitter when I had a few spare moments or minutes during the course of a day. Now that I don’t have those time sinks, I find myself scanning Feedly for news or longer form articles or just doodling on paper for 30 seconds.
Third, I’m blogging here more. I feel more “creative” in general to be honest. Being away from the constant stream of short takes on the latest political scandal or presidential tweet or funny meme has made me recognize how much I’ve pushed down my own voice inside of my head (as much as it is an unreliable narrator sometimes!). But I feel like we’re picking back up the conversation after a long 12 years on Twitter and as a heavy user of all things social. I feel more creative and less anxious in general.
Most importantly, I have space to be more mindful about my place here. I already feel a change in my outlook on issues and things I need to give or pay attention to. I’ve found myself turning off notifications on my phone from Slack and Email (heaven forbid!) and even our ticket support system. Could I make do with a flip phone? Who knows. But that mindfulness and a better sense of presence doesfeel different than it has the last few years.
Coincidence is not causation, so we’ll see how this happens as I keep up with this thought technology of being mindfully and spiritually situated in specific places and times rather than floating through the matrix of performative attention.
Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication. There are a number of reasons for this. Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely.
Not saying I called it, but I called it. Look to WeChat for how we’ll be doing “social networking” here in the US within the next 5 years.
Twitter completely flopped and missed the ball by not shipping a DM app.
Twitter, and social media in general, is a harsh lover. I’ve heard similar laments from other Twitter personalities and I think we’re reaching a tipping point…
“Translating the essence of who you are into a digestible product is a strange way to live, especially when you’re a young adult and your sense of self is in flux. It was never my main intention to peddle my personality for a living, but in the era of social media, the personal brand reigns supreme.”
Nice work by Twitter to have live video of local press conferences and local news up top of the feed (as we wait out the slow arrival of Hurricane Florence here in Columbia). I’ve always used Twitter for live news and updates in text form, so it’s interesting to see them move more into the mobile video side of things…
Within the advertising industry, the debate about whether advertising works on Facebook is not new. A survey last year showed over 60 percent of small business owners felt advertising on Facebook was ineffective. The lawsuit takes it a step further, saying Facebook is misleading advertisers.
Like anything else, you do need some expertise to make Facebook or Instagram or Snap or Google or Pinterest ads work. We are finishing a period where these advertising companies have held that “ANYONE CAN DO IT! IT’S SO EASY! JUST SIGN UP AND TELL US WHO YOU WANT TO TARGET!” with regards to their ads and effectiveness.
But that’s simply not true. I could probably re-roof our home. But I’m not going to spend the time, effort, and money trying to do that job myself. I’m going to hire someone who knows what they are doing.
Same with social media advertising and marketing. That’s how I pay our mortgage (and for our new roof) every month!
Who would have thought the annoying little service that lit up my text messages in 2006 with updates from other text nerds posting to 40404 would go on to become the political and media juggernaut it is today…
President Donald Trump on Saturday took to Twitter to allege social media companies are discriminating against prominent conservatives, saying “we won’t let that happen.”
“Or maybe it’s time to admit the open forum for everything that Twitter – and social media, really – has promised is failing? Maybe it’s time to close the apps – third-party and otherwise. Maybe it’s time to go dark. Get off the feeds. Take a break. Move on.”
I still firmly believe we’ll see a reckoning of sorts for social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter (and even Instagram and its lovely filters) where the network effect takes a backseat to quality interactions and we move away from hegemonic one-size-fits-all walled gardens towards decentralized and specified communities based on our preferences. Reddit is already pointing the way on this (partly):
The internet of old — composed largely of thousands of scattered communities populated by people who shared interests, identities, causes or hatreds — has been mostly paved over by the social-media giants. In this new landscape, basic intelligible concepts of community become alien: The member becomes the user; the peer becomes the follower; and the ban becomes not exile, but death. It is not surprising that the angriest spirits of the old web occasionally manifest in the new one. But what’s striking is how effectively they can haunt it, and how ill-equipped it is to deal with them.
I’ve been using RSS as my primary way to read news, blogs, thoughts, and ideas since 2005 or so (I currently use a mix of Feedly and NewsBlur as my RSS readers, and both are excellent in their own ways).
There’s a growing rumbling going on in the tech-thinkers space I follow (mostly through my RSS readers). Twitter is great for quick fleeting thoughts that you write on the back of a leaf and watch float away down the river. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and updates with those who you are close with in real life. RSS and feed readers serve a much different purpose and I have no doubt they’ll be back in the mainstream soon enough given the current tensions around walled gardens, security, and advertising…
Now fight against the machine and go start your blog. You’ll be glad you did.
The tension between walled gardens (or lock-in, or whatever you want to call it) and a decentralized web will likely never end. But, it feels like we are in for another significant turn of the crank on how all of this works, and that means lots of innovation is coming.
Interesting numbers From the Knight Foundation and Gallup that, if enacted, would have huge ramifications for the advertising and marketing industries (especially for nonprofits)…
A new survey says yes — almost eight in 10 Americans agree that these companies should be subject to the same rules and regulations as newspapers and television networks that are responsible for the content they publish. The survey is part of a series of reports released by Knight Foundation and Gallup over the course of the year exploring American perceptions of trust, media and democracy.
I use Twitter heavily for work and personal reasons. It’s been a service I turn to for news, socializing, brainstorming, and promoting services (including mine). That all will change on Thursday.
One of the changes being pushed through is the removal of the “streaming API.” Most Twitter users don’t use 3rd party apps and stick to the default apps. One of the greatest features of 3rd party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific is streaming timeline.
It’s been in place for years and allowed Tweetbot etc to cater to “power users” like me who use something like an iPad to watch Twitter stream by in real time. There is no streaming in the default app, so you have to constantly refresh your timeline. That’s fine if you’re just dipping in or looking for something specific (or the Moments feature that Twitter is always pushing on me), but I think of Twitter as a river that is constantly flowing.
I enjoy seeing the nonstop flow over on the side of the screen on my iPad and it’s something I’ve done for years. As I’ve said before, Twitter has paid our mortgage a number of times over the years because I caught a tweet out of the corner of my eye and made a quick action on it. Don’t @ me about being a distracted ADHD-riddled Gen Xer. I know. But it works for me.
There is still Tweetdeck that will offer streaming tweets (for now) but that doesn’t work on iPads or iPhones or Android devices. Before I became so iPad centric, I used Tweetdeck for years on its own monitor. Yes, I’m that guy. But again, it worked for me.
I’ve been following the developer discussions closely over the last few months, and I’m incredibly sad that it’s come to this point and not quite sure why Twitter continues to tighten the noose around developers and its most devoted users that it could easily tap into if it cared about things like, oh… say, monetizing beyond advertising.
So starting on Thursday I guess I’ll be using the default Twitter app on my iPad a great deal more. That means I’ll definitely be using the service less. Thanks, Twitter.
Core functionality like access to your timeline and the ability to post tweets will remain, but several basic features will be limited or removed. Alerts for mentions and direct messages in third-party apps are expected to be delayed, and timeline streaming which populates your timeline with new tweets in real time is expected to go away.