Twitter rolled out a major redesign last week and announced brand pages at the same time. While the brand pages announcement is by far the most exciting part of this, we’ll have to wait to see their full implementation since they’re available only to mega-brands at the moment. You can read all about the redesign here.
You’ll remember that Twitter purchased TweetDeck earlier this year, and at the time there was much hand-wringing over what Twitter would do with its new toy. Theories ranging from a complete shutdown of TweetDeck to a shelving of the popular 3rd-party service were flying around. Then, the redesign happened and we have an answer to the question of what Twitter will do with TweetDeck. The answer? Harness that team’s ingenuity into making the Twitter site and mobile apps a real choice for power users. The designs are strikingly similar; from the “compose” button all the way down to the fonts, the TweetDeck’s teams fingerprints are all over this.
For the longest time, many people (I among them) argued that the worst part about Twitter was its own webpage and its mobile apps. When Twitter purchased TweetDeck in May for the low, low price of just $40 million,functionality was a big reason I thought they were making the move. Twitter’s functionality was a reason many used services like TweetDeck; and many still do. The gap is getting smaller though, and I’ll predict that within the next year, TweetDeck will simply be known as either Twitter Web/Desktop App. It’s all the same company now, so TweetDeck shouldn’t care about what it’s being called and Twitter SHOULD want to have its name all over power-users preferred app.
A few other things I’ve noticed:
- Your Real Name Matters - Rather than your username, Twitter is displaying the name you’ve given them as the prominent identifying text. That’s bad news for spammers, because they just got even MORE obvious. It’s fantastic news for those whose name is their brand; freelancers really benefit here.
- Twitter Is Going After 3rd Party Apps - Seesmic, HootSuite and other popular 3rd party apps have been put on notice by this redesign. What Twitter did isn’t all that different than what the Angels did last week in signing Albert Pujols. Twitter went and got the big free agent name to help them win; and that free agent just smacked a huge home run.
- Twitter Is Morphing Into A News Aggregation Site - I’d love to say I thought of this, but the good folks at Poynter thought it first. I’ll paraphrase a bit of what they have to say, and I’d encourage you to click through and read that article. The new Discover section is huge. It’s a personalized news wire and what you tweet is much more important now as each tweet is embedable. Tweet with care and compose those in a way that encourage people to use them on their blogs and elsewhere.
What about you? What do you think of the redesign? Love it? Like it? Hate it? Think I’m off my rocker? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Going about my daily Twitter rounds, I noticed the Twitter algorithm decided I should be following the FCC’s account. Being the media geek that I am, I happily clicked on the link, curious as to what the Federal Communications Commission would be tweeting about. Surely it is engaging regularly with the companies it is charged with regulating, or better yet the media consumers it is charged with having their best interests in mind in its rulings. Right?
That link goes to who the FCC is following. Care to take a guess? You’d assume that it would be following companies such as Comcast, NBC, CBS, Time Warner, Clear Channel; you know. MEDIA COMPANIES. In case you didn’t want to click on that link earlier, here’s a quick look at who (or what to be more precise) the Federal COMMUNICATIONS Commission is following:
I’ll buy that the FCC needs to follow at least SOME of these accounts. The White House, Senate, House, Open Government Iniative. What I can’t buy is the FCC not interacting with anyone, or paying attention to the industry it is charged with regulating. Did I mention that picture above is the entire list of who the FCC follows?
Obviously, we shouldn’t be surprised that a government entity is a bit out of touch with what it’s supposed to be doing. So, ending my soapbox rant, I’d like to offer the FCC some free advice (which I’m sure will be taken to the highest levels of the organization):
- Follow more relevant accounts. In addition to the above media companies, follow accounts of those covering the media business world. That includes journalists, bloggers, PR people, entrepreneurs; anyone with a stake in the industry. Especially those that are WORKING in the industry. Full disclosure. I used to work at a radio station owned by Cumulus. I was let go on February 6, 2009. Mere days later, Lew Dickey was rewarded with a $500,000 bonus. I am still somewhat bitter over my exit from the radio industry.
- Interact with more people. At the time of this writing, the first @ reply to someone that is outside the organization (disallowing RT’s of other government agencies), happened on March 16th. That’s a long time ago in Twitterville. This is not a broadcast medium. You HAVE to engage with people for Twitter to have any value to your organization. That includes Dan’s Dog Emporium and the FCC. Besides, how can the FCC know what’s best for American citizens if it isn’t TALKING TO THEM?
- Explain. Many of the FCC regulations and rulings are written in legalese. I understand why and have no problem with that being the case. Use Twitter to explain to the rest of us that don’t speak legalese what’s happening so we can form an opinion of some sort and then engage with you about what’s happening.
A few weeks ago, I changed my Twitter avatar from my smiling face, to this:
Scott Hale asked me why I had gone with a QR code as my avatar, and we proceeded to have an interesting conversation, mostly by DM (apologies for the reverse order. Read from the bottom up).
Conversation continued….same rules apply. Again, apologies.
There are, of course, some concerns with QR codes. Specifically, it’s a pretty small demographic of people who know what to do with a QR code if they see one. I get that, and I’m OK with that. This is a new way to put my contact info in a potential client’s phone, which makes me think of it as an online business card. More creative people like Peter Cognoscenti have their’s link to an actionable online page. I’ll not ruin the surprise for you if you haven’t scanned his code yet.
As I said in the conversation with Scott, QR codes are a huge unknown currently. I think there is value in using them, especially as more and more of us use our smartphones to browse the web. For the time being, there is no universal format (think .jpg or .mp3) for a QR code, so different scanning apps have different results. That’s a problem that needs to be rectified before these can really take off.
So what about you? What value do you see in QR codes? What concerns do you have? Let’s hear it in the comments.
CNN allegedly reported via Twitter Thursday afternoon that beloved actor Morgan Freeman had died. This came as a surprise to Mr. Freeman, who was (and is) still very much alive. Apparently, a user, whom I’ll not link to nor name in this space, thought it would be funny to attribute a retweet to CNN saying Freeman had died. Popeater did a great job at explaining what happened here. Rumors quickly spread that CNN had deleted the offending tweet, which CNN had never actually sent out. That has been confirmed by numerous outlets.
The only thing CNN did wrong in this situation was not updating their investigation into the hoax. Updates letting users know what was being uncovered about the hoax, in real time, would have done much to quell the rumors. And frankly, if those rumors were true, I would have stuck with what I tweeted about the situation last night:
So how can you prevent someone from hijacking your brand on Twitter and putting, in this case, false words in your mouth?
What you can do is constantly monitor what people are saying about you. Use a service like TweetDeck to get real time updates about your brand. Use Google Alerts to keep an eye on the conversation happening around the Internet about you and your brand. That might be the biggest mistake many brands make; thinking a conversation isn’t take place already. You or I could be the target of a hoax at any moment. The only thing to do is to continue building your reputation, so you have some capital to spend when that crisis occurs. I’ll give you the same advice “Mad Eye” Moody would give. Constant Vigilance. Once you’ve detected the problem, be proactive about proving it was a hoax.