Twinteresting: why can’t we curate tweets?

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Favourite curate tweets

It is no secret that Pinterest is a great way to share discoverable content. The “waterfall stream” format can really help rapid skimming of visual content. Take, for example, the ‘Pinterest for Facebook’,  Friendsheet, or Pinstagram, the Pinterest-style Instagram feed. People are finding ways to curate images from a variety of sources, but what about the ability to do this with items that are primarily textual, or links?

Using favourites as a stopgap

I use Twitter prolifically, but a lot of my usage focuses on finding new information - blog posts and news stories, language resources and videos - and I often ‘favourite’ posts of interest to keep tabs on the links and commentary provided.

A thousand favourites later, and this system is incredibly difficult to manage. I’ve used an interim solution in the form of sending these favourites to Evernote, but it’s not great. I need something that will let me curate these posts - divide them into categories, automatically fill out previews and be presented in an easy way to skim and share. If it can let me keep track of conversations as well, then all the better.

Curating tweets

I suppose what I’m looking for is something that crosses Storify with Pinterest. Let me very quickly ‘pin’ tweets to boards, assign a category and review them later at my leisure.

This is something that Twitter itself needs to do. I know it has a focus on providing simplicity, to ensure that all users have easy access. This doesn’t mean that heavy users should be ignored. We’re talking about improving the favourites system. It’ll be easier for me to a keep a track of others’ Tweets and it should also make it easier for brands to discover content of interest. Twitter lists let me keep a track of other people - why not let me keep track of Tweets? Why can’t I create galleries of interesting thoughts?

Image credit: liveandrock on Flickr

The Chinese take on Pinterest

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New Chinese social media sites have long been inspired by popular sites and trends from the West, such as Facebook’s distant cousin Renren and Twitter’s brother Sina Weibo.  It is no surprise then that they have embraced Pinterest with both arms.

Rather than just creating direct clones of the site, they have been inspired by the image-heavy, ‘waterfall-like’ layout (the Chinese describe the dynamic grid as ‘Pubuliu’, meaning ‘waterfall stream’), creating new sites that use this layout but add different features or use it in different ways to Pinterest. We’ve found over 30 Chinese Pinterest variants (and we reckon the number is growing); here are a selection of the most interesting ones.

Chinese pinterest sites
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General interest sites

Huaban (meaning ‘Petal’) and Pinfun (no translation needed; even the logo looks familiar)

These sites closely emulate Pinterest , with users collecting, pinning and sharing images, video clips (Huaban) and gif files (Pinfun) of interest.  However, the content is mainly related to Chinese culture, such as upcoming Chinese festivity, popular Chinese stars, food and scenery in China.  Pinfun also has a link called ‘Pandora’, linking merchandise images to the online shopping website Taobao.

Food-specific sites

Meishixing (meaning ‘Gourmet Journey’) and LSKong (‘Lingshi’ means ‘Snacks’; ‘Kong’ means ‘Control’)

Meishixing allows users to share pictures of restaurant dishes they’ve eaten and liked, and ones that make them drool.  Click on the images and the restaurant name and its Google Map location are displayed.  Foodies can browse images according to cities in China; so far there are 38, and likely to increase.  LSKong focuses on snacks, finger food, tea, wine and Chinese medicinal drinks.  What makes LSKong different is its focus on each user’s profile page.  Like Facebook’s profile timeline feature, user’s ID page displays pictures and comments on their snacks; this invites other nibblers to comment on your discoveries too.

Fashion-based sites

Faxian

Early in March 2012 Alibaba Group launched their social shopping website Faxian (meaning ‘Discovery’) beta version.  Specifically targeted at female users, the site allows fashionistas to share and comment on items on virtual pin boards.  By clicking on images it also allows users to purchase items on Taobao.

Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’)

Finally, we should look at the growing success of Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’), launched in 2010.  The founder Chen Qi developed the concept of combining online shopping and web forums in 2008 by first experimenting with a cosmetics community website his wife was using.  He discovered that users are often unsure of what to buy and which products are stylish, or suitable to them.   Mogujie was already popular amongst females aged 18 to 25 (hence the site’s cutesy mushroom mascot), but when the site incorporated Pinterest’s visually attractive, image-heavy ‘waterfall’ layout, its number of daily visitors soared.  Since last December there were 400,000 registered fashionistas, and 120,000 daily visitors.

Mogujie has a rigorous user registration process; not only do you have to register your name and date of birth, you can add details of your height, weight, skin condition, shoe size and vital statistics. Like LSKong’s focus on profile pages, popular users become models showing everyone what and how they dress (like the UK site What I Wore Today), and provide fashion guidance to her followers.  There are pages dedicated to fashion brands, such as Topshop, Zara and H&M, and the items all link to the relevant pages on Taobao.

Mogujie is also not only about materialism.  During the Chinese Valentine’s Day (the 7th day in July according to the lunar calendar), the site set up a forum for single ladies spilling out their singleton woes, which became hugely popular and only adds to the site’s financial success.

Chen Qi is quick to point out that apart from the ‘waterfall’ layout, Mogujie is different from Pinterest in content and community management style. It is still early stages to decide which of the few Chinese Pinterest variants are here to stay, but we know that to copy like for like will not be sustainable.

What’s hot in social media: March 2012

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From SXSW to new apps on the scene, this month has seen another big month for social media. Let’s take a look at our what’s hot in social media round-up for March 2012…

Charity and social media

The beginning of March saw a host of charities using International Women’s Day on 8th as an opportunity to do something interesting in social. One of the most striking examples was Bollock’s to Poverty’s Facebook app which turns your timeline into that of an oppressed 1950’s housewife to highlight gender inequality issues.

Another charitable issue which came to light in March was the hotly debated Kony 2012 video from Invisible Children. If you’re one of the last people on earth not to watch it (over 86 million people have watched it on Youtube) the video is about raising public awareness of Joseph Kony, who is head of guerrilla group, the LRA in Uganda. Despite being a complex issue, this campaign has simply mushroomed in a way which other marketers could only dream of for their brands.

Social entertainment

On a lighter note, March saw the explosion of ‘Draw Something’, the app ‘du jour’. With a staggering 35 million downloads and a billion drawings a week, this Pictionary-style app has been making hundreds of thousands of pounds from in-app adverts per day. No surprise then, that social gaming powerhouse Zynga has just bought OMGPOP, the creators behind ‘Draw Something’ for a cool £113 million.

Meanwhile, social TV has been gaining traction in the UK with Social TV app Zeebox seeing a strong increase in user numbers following a TV advertising campaign, supported by BSkyB’s recent investment in the company.

Pinterest

This month the buzz around Pinterest has continued. British airline BMI has launched what could be Pinterest’s first lottery by encouraging fans to re-pin images from popular holiday destinations for the chance to win free flights. Pinterest itself has been suffering the common annoyances that come with popularity – clones and spammers. Take a look at this site for example – look familiar at all?

Finally, this month sees the launch of Facebook’s full screen photo viewer and the changeover for brands from pages to timeline is anticipated tomorrow. Are you ready?

The social media landscape in 2012 - infographic

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2012 social media landscapeLast year I wrote about the social media landscape infographic, highlighting the placement of Facebook and Google as all-encompassing, central networks. Fred Cavazza has published his 2012 version, and this year’s edition has quite a bit to take in - (click the thumbnail to see the full size image).

The big three

Facebook remains the go-to network, and the arrival of OpenGraph and Timeline mean that other networks (such as Spotify) or brands, can really integrate with a user’s experience through Facebook apps.

Twitter, while it may not offer options for “playing” or “buying”, does deserve its place as a central network, with it being a significant driver of news, links and information from other networks.

The arrival of Google+ since last year’s infographic is the most obvious change - and while it’s still early days for Google’s take on social, the implications for social search mean that we’re likely to see much more of it in 2012.

Almost as many devices as networks

One addition to this year’s “landscape” is the broad range of devices that we can use to access the social web. There tends to be a strong temptation to declare each new year as “the year of mobile” or “the year of social TV”. With smartphone ownership in the UK exceeding 50% of market share, the need to make content accessible and optimised for platforms other than lap and desktops is key.

What does this landscape mean for brands?

Even though this infographic is a summary of the range of social networks out there, it really goes to show the need to have a clear social media strategy.

  • Think about how to maintain consistent branding and tone-of-voice across your chosen networks.
  • Really think about user-experience, especially for bespoke websites, and consider all the devices that users may connect with.
  • Stay abreast of the constantly shifting landscape! This time last year Pinterest was a relatively unknown platform, today it is the new social media darling. It will be interesting to see how it fares in 2013!

What’s hot in social media – February 2012 round up

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February was a busy month in social media: Pinterest rocketed in popularity so much that some are (wrongly) calling it “the next Facebook”, while Facebook itself announced the roll-out of Timeline for brand pages. Here’s a few other things that have caught our eye this month, which you may have missed:

Twitter sentiment analysis heats up

  • Datasift historic tweetsTwitter and UK based data technology company Datasift came to an agreement to release tweets going back two years. Until now, marketers have only been allowed to see tweets from up to 30 days ago. Datasift will be taking in about 250 million tweets every 24 hours and analysing them for sentiment, location and influence. The effect of this arrangement to access the Twitter archive has led to concerns about privacy, as well as conjecture that it could be a step towards being able to predict future events.
  • And speaking of predicting the future, HP and Organic took advantage of this month’s Oscars to play with some real time sentiment analysis. Similar to XFactorTracker from Professor Noreena Hertz, The Awards Meter used language analysis to monitor Twitter during the run up to the Oscars and ranked nominees according to popular or negative opinion on Twitter. At FreshNetworks we believe that you can’t necessarily take sentiment analysis at face value - automated tools need deeper analysis and understanding of the tool’s inherent biases to really dig in for insights.  However, simple tools like the Awards Meter do hint at how useful it can be to look at social media for viewing overall trends and, and are a great way to demonstrate the technology.

Social influencers are the new darlings of social media

  • PeerIndex, the social influence company has released a service targeted towards people who are ranked highly in specific subjects to offer them related discounts. Essentially a free sampling service, ‘PeerPerks’ aims to differentiate itself by ensuring that free samples only go to people who are really influencers in their product fields – with the aim being that if they then talk about the products in their social circles, the uptake will be much greater. As Ian Carrington, mobile sales director at Google UK said during Social Media Week, consumers are 300% more likely to buy something when it is recommended by a friend, so it will be interesting to see whether PeerPerks takes off.
  • Boo Facebook's most influential dogAnd as we’re involved with Park Bench, a community for dog owners, we like to keep a handle on the non-human influencers in social media too – and with almost 3.5 million fans, Boo is possibly the most famous dog on the planet. Interestingly, it looks like even he is now endorsing products in social media with the recent mention on his Facebook page of a new American Apparel hoodie. Will other brands be jumping on the Boo bandwagon?