Job Profiles which Twitter should create right now!

On December 25, 2009, in Twitter, by Ramanujam

After wondering for long about how Twitter is going to make money, we did learn from many sources that Twitter was indeed profitable for this calender year. Thanks to the search deals which this San Fransisco based company has struck with the two big giants Google and Microsoft. By feeding in real time tweets in the search results of Google and Bing, Twitter has pocketed a massive $25 million according to the reports from Bloomberg. With $155 million VC funding in the bank and a valuation some where around a billion dollars, Twitter is definitely here to stay for quite a good period of time.

Twitter is definitely not perfect and except the search deal, the company has not made any real money till date. With ample scope for improvement in various arenas, Twitter is definitely going to hire more talented folks to get things done. Here is a take on the job profiles which Twitter ought to create right now.

The Whale Killer

The fail whale is one thing which most of early Twitter users would have seen every other minute. For those who are unaware, the fail whale shows up whenever there is a server failure. It mainly happens when there is a huge blow of traffic to the website. Things have improved a lot over the past few months but the fail whale still makes its presence felt once in a while. When many of the big corporations are using Twitter in full swing, it is really important to have a highly reliable server. With plans for corporate accounts, Twitter definitely cannot afford showing the fail whale to its paying customers. The ‘whale killer‘ needs to ensure that the website stays up and running round the clock without any intermissions.

The Trend Setter

Twitter Trending Topics‘ is really a valuable section to find what people are talking about. This is also one of the favorite destinations for spammers. As illustrated in the picture we can see that one of the spamming topics made its way in to the trending list. Getting on the list will give immense exposure in the form of traffic even if it is for a few minutes. Although some quality check is being done in the recent times, we can still see some spammy content once in a while. Not to leave aside the NSFW topics which get on top of the list many times. It is also important to combat spam to make Twitter a better place. Automating this process is greatly possible but only to a certain extent. The ‘Trend Setter‘ needs to keep this section clean and ensure that spammers don’t take advantage.

The Securitas

Twitter has faced many security infringement issues and it keeps increasing with its popularity. Some of them were the server status vulnerability, compromise of DNS records, leakage of confidential documents and more importantly the recent site hack by the so called Iranian cyber army. The path has definitely not been smooth for this company with a little over 100 employees. Recruiting ‘Securitas‘ – the roman goddess of security to the team might help!

The Money Minter

We have talked about it with our friends, we have discussed the possibilities, we have even made suggestions but we are still unsure as to how Twitter is going to make money! Twitter is one huge information repository with many different monetization possibilities. The recent search brought in a pretty good sum and it was indeed a great start. The machinery is set in place, the molten metal is ready to get cast and all Twitter needs to do is find the right money minters to bring in the magic.

Some of these profiles may exist already and they are definitely doing a wonderful job. This post was just an informal take on this topic.

Image Credits: Trends , Money Mint , Securitas

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Now that every business be it large or small is on Twitter trying to promote their brand, the big question is are they getting any return for the time and money which they invest. Whenever we speak of a successful Twitter or social media marketing story we point to Dell, Ford, Zappos or a similar big name brand. These companies have dedicated teams which take care of the social media marketing services and and no wonder they reap the benefits. Moreover it is not such a big deal for an established brand like Dell or Ford to get the message sent across the table.

Every day our twitter timeline gets spammed filled with several messages similar to the ones below.
“I just entered to win a Macbook pro. Simply RT to participate < some random link>”
“XYZ is giving away free passes to that dumb event, Check out how to get one for you <some random link>”

I have always wondered how successful are these campaigns and how well they provide a return to the people/companies who start these on Twitter. I explored one such recent campaign conducted by CyberMonday.fm which as the name suggests is a website where people can find coupons for laptops and other electronic gadgets.  The one started by CyberModay.fm was nothing new. They gave away a Macbook Pro to one random person who posted a pre-written tweet like the one above on their profile. Sounds fair! It is like entering a raffle where in instead of buying a raffle ticket you just post a tweet. So do you think CyberMonday.fm got their money’s worth doing this? Let’s see!

The Math Part

  • Total Money spent for the campaign : $1199

(The winner was provided a $1,199.00 gift certificate to the Apple store in lieu of a Mac Book Pro.)

  • Total number of Retweets : 63000 + (via Topsy.com)

topsy

  • Total number of clicks: 286,000 + (via bit.ly public stats)

cybermonday1

One good measure for internet campaigns is CPC or the Cost Per Click. It might not be totally applicable to a Twitter marketing campaign but it is definitely one good measure to look into.

CPC = Cost /Clicks
For this campaign
CPC = 1199/286000 = ~$0.004

$0.0004 is an extremely good CPC for any internet marketing campaign. Comparing it with Google Adwords, the minimum cost which an advertiser has to pay to obtain one click is ten cents ($0.10). Imagine how much money the advertiser would have spent if he had to get 286,000 clicks on Google and that too a major part of it on a single day. I know i am comparing apples and oranges here but this comparison was just to give a rough idea.

No wonder that the alexa graph of CyberMonday.fm had a big spike and rose up 19700%! The pictures and the numbers speak for themselves.

cybermonday_alexa

Using Paid Tweets? – Nah!

If the advertiser had decided to use a paid to tweet service like ad.ly or Sponsoredtweets.com, do you think they would have obtained similar returns? Definitely not!

For a budget of $1200 it would be possible to get less than 3 tweets from a web celebrity like Shoemoney or JohnChow. One other option is to get 1200 tweets from low profile tweeters paying them $1 a tweet. We should also not forget that the company in between (ad.ly or sponsoredtweets.com) takes a 50% cut for providing the service. Looking at a recent ad posted by Shoemoney, it gives a really bad impression.

Here is a paid tweet which was posted by Shoemoney. He charges somewhere north of $1000 for making a single tweet.

shoemoney1

Here is the outcome. If the advertiser had paid $500 for this tweet the CPC is more than $1.This might be the worst case though. A recent screenshot in one of his blog posts revealed that one such paid tweet sent more than 8000 clicks.

shoemoney2-1

Some Takeaways

  • CPC is definitely not a good metric for Twitter marketing campaigns but i thought it would be a good measure for this case study
  • Traffic does matter but what matters more is the number of conversions that the campaign yields. For example if the Commission BluePrint advertiser who paid Shoemoney had enough subscriptions or purchases then it is well and good. Integrating a conversion tracker and measuring it will definitely tell more about the success or failure of the campaign.
  • For CyberMonday.fm , they had to show the best deals to people and make them purchase it from a third party site like BestBuy, Dell etc who in turn will pay a % commission for making the sale. Obviously a huge traffic burst would have done the trick for them.
  • Cybermonday.fm is not a household name and i bet 9 out of 10 people would not have heard about them before this campaign. One thing to note is how a relatively unknown brand can pull up a successful campaign on Twitter.
  • More than conversions, sales, traffic one other factor which many of the advertisers look for is brand exposure. A single tweet from a celebrity will definitely send the message far and wide.

There is no doubt that more and more businesses are going to use Twitter to promote their products and the amount of spam is going to increase drastically. One other thing to note is every one else except Twitter are making money in this process! How is Twiiter going to make money?

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The Social Charity Experiment

On October 18, 2009, in Social Media, by Ramanujam

I have been trying to do something like this for quite some time and now that i got an opportunity and a good cause to support here goes the experiment. Different forms of this experiment/cause have been done by other people but this is my experimental version. The word ‘Social Charity’ is not something that i coined but i am putting it in contextually in this case and here goes my definition.

‘Social Charity’ is the act wherein a group of social media users support a charitable cause either by action or contribution.

bhumi chennai

The ultimate aim of such an experiment is to raise money for a charity organization through social media and at the same time provide some kind of benefit for the company/blog which initiates the experiment. To kick start this experiment, I am starting it on Social Couch and the benefiting charity will be Bhumi Chennai ( http://bhumichennai.org ) with Dr. Prahalathan being the person of contact. Bhumi is a non profit organization which works with under-privileged children in and around Chennai.

The Action Steps

1. For every new confirmed email subscription , Social Couch will donate $1 to Bhumi Chennai.

Enter your email address:

Opens in a new tab or window. When you enter your email address and confirm it, all new articles published on SocialCouch will be delivered directly to your inbox. This email will not be used for any other purpose.

2. For every new confirmed RSS subscription, Social Couch will donate $1 to Bhumi Chennai.
Subscribing via RSS will send in the latest articles to your feed reader.

3. For every comment posted on this entry, Social Couch will donate $0.5 to Bhumi Chennai.

4. For every retweet of the below text, Social Couch will donate $0.5 to Bhumi Chennai

Social Couch is donating $125 to BhumiChennai.org in this Social Charity experiment http://tr.im/CaO6 Please participate & RT

tt-twitter-big4

To make the $125 reach Bhumi Chennai one of these should happen before the end of the ten day time period. 125 new subscribers OR 250 comments OR 250 Retweets or a combination of these. An optimal success result can be something like this

25 new RSS subscriptons
25 new email subscriptions
30 comments
120 Retweets

A person can feel free to perform more than one action step. The total duration of the experiment is 10 days and any/all the action steps performed during the next ten days from the time stamp of the post will be counted. The subscriber count will be obtained from the Feedburner statistics and the Retweet count from Tweetmeme. The maximum amount which SocialCouch.com will donate to Bhumi Chennai through this socialcharity experiment is $125. The money will be paid via Paypal.

Why am I doing this?

  • The Bhumi volunteers are doing a great job helping out the kids and staying in a land thousands of miles away this is the one small deed that i can do for now. On a lighter note i also want to increase my karma points!
  • I know for sure that this money will be put to good use and Bhumi as an organization doesn’t have big overhead costs. The major part of this money will serve the deserving population directly.
  • This will serve as a small case study for one of the projects which i am intending to start in the coming months
  • This will bring in traffic and gain exposure for Social Couch as a blog and a brand. Although I have no plans of monetizing SocialCouch for now this might help me in the future.
  • This will provide an opportunity for others to help a charitable cause without chipping in money.

Seriously! Is this Ethical?

I have discussed this with a few people and in my opinion this whole experiment is totally fine. First of all, i am not seeking monetary contributions from anyone and i am the only contributor. A few weeks back i read a nice post from Manas Tungare about the exploiting nature of Marathon Fundarisers. I would not put this on the same line but still it had some good points to infer. I am not exploiting my social graph directly too. As a reader if you have any objection regarding the ethics of this experiment do let me know and i will take the necessary corrective action.

What if it succeeds?
Stay tuned! I will let you know.

For now all i need is one step of action from you!

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Combatting Twitter Spam and protecting your account

On October 3, 2009, in Twitter, by Ramanujam

I bet each and every one amongst us would have got followed by numerous porn stars and ‘make $1000 from home’ guys on Twitter. As every internet medium grows bigger one of the biggest challenges would be to combat the spam. Initially Twitter didn’t impose any follow restrictions and as the early bird gets the worm, the spammers started following thousands of people every single day so that they can increase their follower count by the way of reciprocation. The smart guys at Twitter imposed a 2000 follows per day restriction along with few other API restrictions. The growth was massive and this didn’t trouble the spammers much, thanks to hundreds of auto follow systems and scripts.

One good thing which Twitter can learn from Google is to build a Twitter spam control team. Google has an awesome spam protection team headed by Matt Cutts and they do keep under control.  Although there are some measures which Twitter has taken till now, a lot more can be done. @spam is the official spam reporting account for Twitter. If you come across a spam  account you can send a @ reply to that account. Blocking users is one other effective way but with the immense amount of spammers we get bored after a certain point. There are a few apps which will let you clean your follower/following list but the trustworthiness of the app is a big question which comes in front.

Clean Tweets Firefox addon

Recently i started using Twitter search for finding out real time search results. For example if Youtube or dreamhost goes down the first thing i do is to do a keyword search on Twitter as it gives out the up to date user powered results. The most annoying thing is the search time line is bombarded with lame marketers and spammers who promote all the possible products on earth. The Clean Tweets Firefox add on is a nice solution which eliminates some results from the search time line based on certain parameters like age of the account, number of trending topics used etc.

clean tweets

Protect Your Twitter Account

As an end user the best we can do is to protect our Twitter account from malicious attacks. Here are some simple steps which you can do to safeguard your account.

1. Don’t give your Password

Don’t give your Twitter username and password to an application or website at any cost. There are some trusted twitter clients which will need your password though. Make sure that you verify the authenticity of the client before letting out your credentials.

2. Remove unwanted connections

Twitter uses OAuth which is a secure method of providing access to your account information without revealing your password. Over a period of time most of users give access to a number of such services. If you are no longer using a app/service it is better to remove the connection and revoke the access.

Clicking on Settings-> Connection on your Twitter account will list all the connections and you can revoke the unwanted ones. Alternatively you can also follow this URL to go directly to the connections page. http://twitter.com/account/connections

Screen shot 2009-10-03 at 7.55.13 PM

3. Look before you Click

Don’t click on the links present in your replies or direct messages from unknown users. Clicking on these links may give access to your account to the impostor without your knowledge.

4. Block and Report

If you see a spam account following you block it and this will make sure that the replies made by the spammer will not show in your time line. Also, look before you follow !

5. Change your password

The basic and golden rule when it comes to passwords! Keep changing it once in a while and don’t use the same password across different services.

What are other ways in which Twitter can control spam? Do share it in the comments section.

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Proof that celebrities rule social media!

On September 20, 2009, in Social Media, by Ramanujam

It is really hard to spot a person who does not tweet or have an account on face book. Every one loves to tell the world about what they are up to and at the same time curious to know what is happening with their friends, family, colleagues etc. Celebrities belong to one big breed which keeps the social media sites hot and happening. Twitter and Facebook fan pages of celebrities serve as an avenue for the common man to get to know their heroes better and also to interact with them at times. Without the celebrities from various walks of life the social media world would definitely not be as interesting as it is now. Here are some funny instances which prove that celebrities rule social media.

1. The Million follower secret

ashton

Now there are many people and organizations with more than a million followers on Twitter. Ashton Kutcher was the first person to achieve this feat and now he is sailing strong with more than 3.6 M followers. It was an interesting competition between @cnnbrk and @aplusk as to who will reach the landmark. It is also worthy to note that Ashton was live streaming on Ustream and sharing the victory with all his fans.

2. The Tennis Hero’s twin babies

federer

It is a well known fact that celebrity magazines pay millions of dollars to get the first photos of famous persons’ babies. Roger Federer went out of normal way and shared the first picture of his twin babies on his Facebook fan page and his 2.5 million fans on the social network would not have been more happier. This photo got more than 30000 comments and over 100 thousand people clicked on the ‘Like’ button. In the ESPN interview with Federer it was also revealed that the he was getting “2 fans per second” on the Facebook profile.

3. The Oprah Effect

oprah

Initially Twitter was something which the tech guys and the geeks used and one of the good reasons for the wide spread usage across various sectors can be attributed to Oprah Winfrey. When Oprah sent her first Tweet on April 17th 2009, Twitter saw a massive 43% traffic boost when compared with the previous week and 37% of it came from new visitors to the site. Twitter.com also went offline for a while on that day showing the infamous fail whale as it was unable to react to the Oprah effect.

4. Hits, likes and more

Twitpics posted by celebs get thousands of views within minutes and a random status message on Facebook gets several hundred comments and likes. This one is a classic example! Being a fan of The Big Bang Theory, this one from Sheldon Cooper made me chuckle.

sheldon cooper

5. The Top 100

twitter top 100

Not a big surprise but if you look at the top 100 twitter users published by Twitterholic it is flooded with all the big celebrities. Only a few well known companies like Google, CNN, Zappos etc feature in the list and the rest of it is pretty much dominated by the celebrities.

Do you follow celebrities on Twitter, Facebook or some other social media site? Do they make the place more interesting or just use it because everyone else does?

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7 tweets that got people into trouble!

On September 19, 2009, in Twitter, by Ramanujam

Every single word which a person posts on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is documented in one way or the other and at times it may even spark controversies. With the media and the weblogs craving for attention even the smallest of the controversies will spread on like a wild fire. Here are some interesting tweets which got people into trouble.

1) @Shashitharoor

shashitharoor

Dr. Shashi Tharoor is the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and he is pretty active on Twitter with more than 180k followers. A random follower asked Tharoor if he will travel in economy class and he replied in a witty manner targeting the airlines but the Indian National Congress condemned his tweet stating that it was not in line with the political culture.

The newspapers and the TV channels also picked this up and made it even more controversial.

2) The Cisco Fatty
@theconnor tweeted:

Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

In reply @timmylevad tweeted

@theconnor Who is the hiring manager. I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.

This was probably the first well known ‘Twitter trouble’ incident where a guy who was offered a job in Cisco tweeted negatively about it and he eventually ended up losing the job. @theconnor has now protected his twitter time line and has also created a site where he has written a detailed explanation about the incident.

3) Terry Moran and Barrack Obama

@TerryMoran tweeted
moran

Terry Moran, the ABC anchor tweeted saying that President Obama called Kayne West a jackass. ABC later apologised for the immature tweet made by Moran and stated that Obama made that statement off the record

4) The CPK server

@Traphik tweeted

@calpizzakitchen black button ups are the lamest shit ever!!!.

Timothy DeLaGhetto worked at the California Pizza Kitchen and he tweeted the above statement and later he was fired as CPK thought it was inappropriate. Ironically @Traphik became famous on Twitter and now has more than 17500 people following his updates.

5) Mark Cuban

mark cuban

Mark Cuban, the owner of Dallas Mavericks criticized the decision of the match officials on Twitter and the NBA fined him $25000 for making such remarks.

6) Courtney Love

@courtneylover79 tweeted

is my clothes my WARDROBE! oi vey don’t **** with my wradrobe or you willend up in a circle of corched eaeth hunted till your dead.

Courtney Love, the rock star made some defamatory comments about her fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir after she sent Courtney an invoice for the clothes she designed. The result, Courtney was sent a lawsuit for her rants on twitter!

7) The Military Twitterer

mark kirk

Mark Kirk, the republican congressman and Navy Reservist tweeted while on duty at the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center. It is against the Military protocol to reveal one’s location and duties. Kirk later made a public statement saying that “It’s something that I will not do again,”.

When you are in public domain it is always good to look before you tweet and look before you follow.

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Look before you follow

On September 4, 2009, in Twitter, by Ramanujam

One good measure of authority although not accurate in the social media world is the number of twitter followers a person has. To make your Twitter time line interesting, informative and interactive you should follow the right folks. Deciding whom to follow and who not to follow is not an easy task. Doing a keyword based mass follow will result in a nice increase in your follower count due to reciprocation but it would also result in endless ramblings (mostly irrelevant and useless) on your time line. Here are some pointers which will help you in deciding who to follow.

follow

1. The Big Names
Following the big guys has both advantages and disadvantages. For instance if you are in the tech industry it will be good to follow some popular guys like Scobleizer or Arrington (TechCrunch). You will get first hand information about the latest happenings in the industry but you should be ready to be bombarded with other tweets too. The Wefollow directory is a nice place to find new people to follow from different arenas.

2. Common Interest
One important thing to keep the updates not so boring is to follow people who have some common interests. It you are into music then following music composers, singers etc will help to spark some interesting conversations and Twitter can also be a nice medium to get new contacts.

3. The Ratio
The follower/following ratio should be at an optimal level. If a person follows 2000 people and just has 25 people following him/her back then the account will probably be used for spamming. It is better not to follow such accounts as those tweets will be of little or no value. It is always good to follow users who have a follower/following ratio less than 1 and it is also good maintain the ratio on our own account although it may be a little hard initially.

4.Local Community
Some of the best tweets which i see daily are from the people who live in my town. Connecting with people in your locality is good fun. Attending Tweetups is the best way to find new people to follow and get followed in reciprocation but some sites like local tweeps will also help you to find some interesting folks. The user search feature from Twitter Grader is much more powerful and it uses a ranking algorithm and lists the top twitterers in your locality.

5. The knowledgeable
This is one of my personal favorites. I always follow people who know something that i don’t know but i am willing to know more. Some good examples of the twitters who come in this categories are subject matter experts like designers, researchers, elite bloggers, your seniors at work, associates etc. It is always good to follow such people even if they don’t follow you back because it will not only help you learn something new but it may also broaden your skill set in an indirect way.

6. Number of Tweets
Whenever you follow some one just look at their number of tweets per day. Although it doesn’t harm to have inactive twitters in your list, it is really annoying to follow people who tweet anything and everything they do. It is good to set a personal limitation (follow people who publish less than 30 tweets per day) and this will ensure that good tweets don’t get buried amidst useless ramblings. This number depends on the time which you are willing to spend on Twitter.

7.Recommendation Tools
You can also find new Twitter friends with the help of recommendation tools like Mr.Twitter and Who Should i follow. These tools will pick users who are similar to the people whom you currently follow.Users can also suggest other users and make recommendations in Mr.Tweet

It may take only a couple of seconds to think before you click the Follow button but the good thing is that we do have the option to unfollow!

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