Facebook and Twitter could be asked to increase moderation of networks

From the Guardian:

Those attending the panels said Starmer frequently returned to the subject, and he is preparing to draw up guidelines against an almost daily backdrop of arrests, prosecutions and controversy. But there is no immediate consensus on what greater self-regulation for social media would look like.

How long before we have a regulatory body for social media?

October 10, 2012 | Link

How much do Google and Facebook profit from your data?

Great post from ArsTechnica about putting a monetary value to your activity on sites like Facebook and Google:

Privacyfix measures your last 60 days of activity on Google, extrapolates that to a year, and uses a value-per-search estimate. Analysts believed Google was making $14.70 per 1,000 searches in 2010, and possibly less in 2011. Of course, if you spend all your time searching for luxury hotels or mesothelioma lawyers—and then clicking through the advertised links—you’re much more valuable than the average user.

October 10, 2012 | Link

Twitter’s CEO is a comedian. (No, really)

NYT Report on Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter:

Even in Silicon Valley, that Neverland of Mark Zuckerberg and hoodied Lost Boy executives, Mr. Costolo can seem an un-C.E.O. To which he says, essentially, whatever.

“People have Plato’s form in their mind of what a leader is, or what a C.E.O. is, and it is a bunch of elements that I really don’t conform to at all,” Mr. Costolo says. “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I came to the conclusion that I don’t care.”

Very much worth a read. After you’ve read it you won’t be surprised by what Twitter is developing into…

October 10, 2012 | Link

Twitter’s new apps just make me hate Twitter (the company) even more.

Twitter’s ground breaking innovation 1 continues:

New profiles now feature header photos so you can express who you are more meaningfully on Twitter. Upload an image from your mobile device and see the same beautiful profile design on your phone, tablet or computer. Read more about the new profiles.

I gave the new apps a whirl today and instantly missed Tweetbot. Why?

  • I can’t mute annoying hashtags, people or topics. 2
  • Lists are buried. Annoying If you’ve spent any time making Lists to keep track of people.
  • Twitter isn’t a rich media platform. I don’t want a cover photo or photo albums. I want an easy way to share bits of text with my friends.

Also, Twitter just killed Twitpic. The official Twitter photo service is the only way to share images now. What’s next? Turning off integration with other major social networks? Imagine that!

  1. Copying features from Facebook
  2. Ironically, if you think about Twitter’s revenue stream: Ads, I’m not surprised.
September 18, 2012 | Link

A story about service that makes you smile

You know that special smiley, tingly feeling you get when someone does the exact thing you want them to when you weren’t expecting it? Well let me give you a little example.

I own a beautiful pair of headphones, made by Incase. They make the 90 minute commute from the Badlands of Essex bearable. They broke about 4 weeks ago.

Incase are based in California, and they wanted me to pay for posting the broken part out to them, wait for them to test it and then wait even longer for a replacement. I’m an impatient bastard, so I asked if I could just buy a replacement part.

I had no response. This made me rather grumpy, so I Tweeted this:

Now, at this point Incase had no idea who I was, or even if I was a customer.

This made me rather surprised to receive this email:

I know this kind of service is possible, but I’ve never been fortunate enough to receive it. Intrigued, I wanted to know how they’d done it:

As for finding you/your info we use sprout social and it showed that you were on fb which, like your twitter page, also had a link to your site from which we found your last name. Luckily for us, there was only one Oli Watts in our system. We found your RMA and email support tickets and viola, here we are. Your RMA info was missing your zip and state/province but plugging in your address in google maps brought up any missing info.

We had most of the pieces, just needed to put them together.

Incase aren’t a massive corporation. They’re a medium sized business who make really well designed products. They could have chosen to invest more in R&D than customer service, but they didn’t because they get something a lot of people don’t.

The real value of ‘social media’ is to help create a conversation and to build a relationship. I’ve now got a relationship with Incase because not only did they show they cared, they followed through. Doing service like this is really hard, but the benefits can be rather exciting.

September 15, 2012 | Link

How to stop your headphones tangling in your pocket

My marvellous Incase headphones are broken at the moment, so I am relegated to the original Apple earbuds.

For 1.5m of inanimate plastic cable they seem to have a superhuman ability to get tangled in a ball. If this pisses you off as much as it does me, the video below will save your curses:

September 9, 2012 | Link

What happens when your Twitter account is verified

Merlin Mann writes:

Unrequested and completely apropos of nothing, Twitter said they wanted to “verify” me.

His post shares a few screenshots from the ‘on boarding’ process verified accounts go through on Twitter. To my eyes it seems to reinforce the importance of posting bullshit celebrity nonsense on a once-great online community, but that may just be me…

September 3, 2012 | Link

Tumblr and Twitter aren’t friends any more…

From TheNextWeb:

The enormous blogging platform Tumblr appears to have become the next property after Instagram to have its friend-finding privileges revoked. The option to find people that you know using Twitter has been removed from the site after its axing was predicted by Matt Buchanan in an article on Buzzfeed earlier today.

Even more concerning, especially as Tumblr was working with Twitter as a developer for their ‘Cards’ product as reported by Marco Arment here.

August 23, 2012 | Link

Are ad-funded social networks like Facebook and Twitter on their last legs?

Facebook. Twitter. When you ask most people what ‘social media’ is, chances are it won’t be long until they mention one or both of those.

I’ve written before about how both of these are really just advertising businesses, but two things have happened recently that make me think their time might be up.

FacebookFacebook’s stock opened at $38.00. It’s currently trading at $19.00. Why is that important?

I think its important because Facebook is viewed as the Titanic of social networks — unsinkable. It’s where everyone is and therefore where everyone (should) spend their time online.

If the biggest social network can’t convince investors that an advertising-based business model works, what hope for everyone else. Which brings me to my next point.

TwitterTwitter as we know it wasn’t created by Twitter the company. Retweets, @mentions, even the Twitter ‘bird’ were all created by passionate third parties who love the service. I’ve written before about how online communities like Twitter only really survive because of their hardcore of users.

With the most recent announcement for their upcoming API changes Twitter seems hell-bent on ignoring the people who make the service great.

Why?I think this has happened for a number of reasons. Social networks need critical mass to be even vaguely viable, and the easiest way to achieve this is to build something cool and give it away for free.

This works well for a while as numbers build, but free doesn’t pay salaries.

Nobody wins. The company doesn’t win because they have no way of making money, and you don’t win because you’ve only got a guest pass to a tool that has become really important to your every day life.

I don’t know if there’s a real alternative — perhaps not one that looks like Facebook or Twitter, but there are a couple of things that I think could emerge over the next few years.

App.net is a paid-for unification of the best bits of Twitter and Facebook. Bootstrap funded by its users it charges $50 a year for membership. They had a funding goal of $500,000 which they met, just. I signed up myself and it feels a lot like Twitter did when I first joined. The barrier for them will be reaching any form of critical mass 1 when users have to pay.

Maybe the future isn’t in social networks as a destination for people to go and spend time, but in a set of social tools that complement businesses with a real revenue stream — like Amazon (who actually sell things) and Moneysupermarket.com who operate an affiliate model.

The real commercial value in Facebook or Twitter is their social graph 2 Imagine if Facebook made money by licensing out what they know about you. By becoming a social media Dunnhumby 3 for anyone running a business that relies on knowing everything about their customers.

I could see a future where Facebook and Twitter make money by acting as a data provider instead of an advertising business.

  1. By critical mass I mean millions of users
  2. Think: ‘everything they know about you and your friends.
  3. The company who worked with Tesco to develop the first Clubcard
August 21, 2012 | Link

Hey @greateranglia, you’re frustrating me…

I’m a bit frustrated with Greater Anglia, and let me tell you why.

Back in December 2011, I wrote a post asking a few questions of them as a new operator, and in February 2012 I interviewed them via email about how they’ve been using Twitter to better serve their customers. I had high hopes, like lots of people who depend on rail services for work, that we’d see a real change. If not in actual trains, then at least in customer service.

When I wrote in February, I said:

The way that National Express have embraced Twitter as a critical customer service tool from a simple internal experiment couldn’t be a better example of how all you need to do is be brave enough to get started.

My problem is that all they’ve really done is get started – they’ve not moved things forward.

“I’ll pass your feedback on” is a common refrain when I (and others) ask a question or make a comment.

http://twitter.com/greateranglia/status/229227786546606081https://twitter.com/greateranglia/status/229231793281302528The problem is, I’ve no idea if that’s actually the case, which links on to my second issue:

There is no blog. Twitter is great, but it’s not the kind of thing you can use to communicate the often quite complicated problems that cause rail delays. The best we can usually hope for is irregular updates via the website or a poster at Liverpool Street.

Writing and posting updates on a blog means they’d be able to build up a decent load of content that would appear when people search for them, they could make more of the issues that National Rail cause them and help people understand that it’s not all their fault.

A quick post written by a signalman about the latest delay would be a lot better than a thinly worded apology from the PR team.

They don’t share enoughEasily the best thing Greater Anglia have done with Twitter is this:


Describing an overhead line problem is dull, and hard to get people to understand. Showing me a picture of the mangled wires makes it really easy to understand why things are really broken.

So, my dear Greater Anglia, in the absence of new trains and faster services, why not try this:

  1. Set up a blog, get people across the business writing and telling stories.
  2. Don’t just use Twitter for customer service – share the inside track on what’s really happening.
July 29, 2012 | Link