Twitter Experiments

Twitter Experiments

Twitter has been speeding up the experiments they run on their platform recently. From a recent blogpost:

"A common thread across recent releases has been experimentation. We’ve tested various features with small groups of our 200 million users before determining what we’ll release. These tests are essential to delivering the best possible user experience. It’s rare for a day to go by when we’re not releasing at least one experiment."

Some of the most visible Twitter experiments are new accounts that they have created: @magicrecs@eventparrot and - the latest addition - @magicstats.

@magicrecs is a useful account to follow. If you follow the account, you receive "instant, personalized recommendations for users and content via direct message." So, if three or more people you follow all follow the same account in a short period of time, you'll get a DM from @MagicRecs with a message along these lines:


The account is really useful for discovering new and interesting people to follow, and "makes it even easier to follow what you care about, connect with people and discover something new on Twitter."

@eventparrot sends "direct messages that help you keep up with what's happening in the world":

events parrot

For me, this account is less useful. Unlike @magicrecs, which is tightly aligned with your interests, news is harder to make meaningful for everyone, all the time. Which means most of the DMs I've received from @eventparrot are largely irrelevant and ignored.

It would be great if the @eventparrot account would DM trending stories based on the news account I follow (e.g. @BBCNews) rather than a random, global news account that I don't follow (e.g. @NBCNews). This may be on the cards for Twitter already, and hopefully this small tweak would mean a more meaningful experiment.

The most recent Twitter experiment, @magicstats, is intriguing - especially as it's a private Twitter account (for now).

The Next Web explains how they think it might work:

"When a user tweets something that the service thinks will go viral, it favorites the tweet within a few minutes of it being sent. In both instances where @magicstats favorited our tweets, they received well over 100 retweets within a few hours."

It looks like @magicstats might be more of a trending tweets account,  picking out tweets that are being shared a lot in a short space of time (this is how the "thinks will go viral" element likely works), then tweeting them out again to help those tweets gain more traction.

I think it will be a useful way to discover new content that isn't being shared by my Twitter network, so I've followed @magicstats  and will see what happens once my follow request is approved (current status: "pending").

Of course, there's lots of Twitter experiments we don't see:

We also experiment with features that may never be released to everyone who uses Twitter. Those experiments are perhaps even more valuable because they help us decide what not to do –– which is important as we work to keep Twitter simple while improving the user experience.

But of the visible ones, @magicrecs@eventparrot and @magicstats are worth taking a look at.

Oh, and you should follow me on Twitter too.

Best Social Media Platforms for Social CEOs

Best Social Media Platforms for Social CEOs

Zoe Amar and Matt Collins invited me to write a chapter for their guide, "Social Media for Charity Leaders", as part of their project revealing the top 30 charity CEOs on social media. I wrote a chapter on The Best Social Platforms for CEOs", which you can find below. If you're interested in finding out more, you can read Zoe's article in the Guardian - "Five characteristics of the top 30 charity CEOs on social media" - or follow the #SocialCEOs hashtag on Twitter.

The number of social media platforms grows every year, but as a charity CEO there are only a few that need to be on your radar.

You don’t need to be on every available platform, from Google+ to Pinterest to Instagram – it’s better to do a couple of social media platforms really well than many of them mediocrely.

Where should you start?

Your proficiency on social media will develop naturally over time, so it can be useful to start with a channel where you can control your output more, compared to some of the more open or conversational platforms.

It’s not thought of as a traditional social media channel, yet starting a blog can be a great way to communicate your vision and share your charity’s
stories with your supporters.

Although one of the main uses of a CEO blog is to engage with employees as well as customers or supporters, a charity CEO blog will have greater impact with external audiences.

A recent study showed that CEOs who blog reach external stakeholder groups better than on other kinds of social media platforms (see Weber Shandwicks’ Social CEO Study).

"It’s better to do a couple of social media platforms really well than many of them mediocrely."

Twitter can be the most helpful platform for quickly and easily building relationships with your employees, donors, supporters and the media.

If you haven’t used Twitter before, it can be a daunting prospect to start tweeting.

But you don’t have to tweet as soon as you’ve set up your profile – listening is just as important.

First of all, just spend some time finding interesting people and organisations to follow and start listening. Get a feel for the conversations and community etiquette.

Seek out your Twitter expert

If you want to start tweeting more regularly, spend an hour with one of your charity’s Twitter champions and get them to set Twitter up on your phone and computer.

They can show you how to find and follow new people, what search terms you’d like to keep track of, and best practice for engaging with people.

Top tip: make sure you know where the ‘new tweet’ field is and where the search field is. You don’t want to ‘do an Ed Balls’ and tweet your own name instead of searching for it!

The Tenei Carrier: Japanese Elegance and London Living

The Tenei Carrier Japanese Geishas

This article originally appeared in The Carrier, a monthly newspaper founded in 2012 as a way to send news to the people in our lives. 

I love living London with all it’s hustle and bustle. It can feel like the centre of the world and that all the world’s important moments are happening, just minutes away, in the streets, pubs and parks of the city.

But it’s good to get out of the London bubble and see a different part of the world. To be reminded that to everyone else some other place is the centre of the world, and to reflect on how it differs from home.

I was lucky enough to visit Japan for two weeks earlier this year and felt it had lots of resemblances to the UK. The size of the countries are similar, are both island nations and lucky enough to have high standards of living and life expectancies.

Japan has a much higher population - around twice that of the UK at 127 million people - but they live on a smaller space of land. The country is about the size of UK, but only half of it is habitable due to the mountainous regions. So they’re squeezing twice as many people into half the space

You might then think that Japan would have similar problems to England, maybe even more concentrated due to their dense urban environments. But this is not the case: Japan has lower crime rates and higher community cohesion than the UK.

Having observed life in Japan for myself, and noted these similarities and differences, there was a way of Japanese life that struck a chord. The Japanese enjoy a sense of flow in all they do. They carry a certain elegance through their busy city lives that we would do well to learn from. An elegance I have tried to take back with me to my life in London.

Take for example Japanese aesthetics, a set of ancient ideals that include wabi (transient and stark beauty), sabi (the beauty of natural aging), and yūgen (profound grace and subtlety). These ideals, and others, underpin much of Japanese cultural and aesthetic norms on what is considered tasteful or beautiful. These aesthetics are seen as an integral part of daily life in Japan.

Wabi sabi is the Japanese ideal of beauty that values impermanence and imperfection. I felt this when seeing the Japanese cherry blossom-viewing celebrations. Cherry trees across the country burst into bloom in spring. The spectacle lasts only for a few short weeks, but the Japanese enjoy the beauty of this season even more so for its transience. It wouldn’t have the same effect if the blossom was there all year round.

There are of course two sides to Japan. The elegant way of life I’m talking about here and the modern, dazzling neon lights of Tokyo: the electric towns, harajuku girls, crazy anime and weird maid cafes. The blossom-viewings often do turn into long drunken afternoons for Japanese businessmen, but this is for only 2 to 3 weeks a year, not the year-round drink fuelled delights of an English pub.

Or on the underground for example. When Japanese people ride an escalator everyone knows that the right side should be clear so people in a hurry can pass by. This is the same in London, but all-too often it’s accompanied with impatience and irate anger for the person who doesn’t realise quickly enough that they are standing on the wrong side.

Even in the packed Japanese underground, there is a sense of calm as commuters wait in specially marked areas to the sides of doors. I never witnessed anyone getting angry for being squashed in, even in rush hour and one of the busiest undergrounds.

Catching a group of geishas rushing through the street in Kyoto, it was the tourists struggling to catch up to take photos that were causing the commotion. I don’t know how the geishas strode through with such elegance, but it must have been difficult in the heavy silk kimonos and tall shoes.

The Japanese are even more polite than the British. Take the word “teinei”. Teinei goes beyond the English word “polite” because it applies to more than just people and their actions. In Japanese, you can treat a fragile item “politely” meaning “with care”. A birthday present can be wrapped “politely”.

Teinei extends to putting other people first: giving them the biggest piece of cake, the best seat in the restaurant, or the center position in the photo, are all part of everyday politeness. The traditional Japanese house even has a dedicated seat for guests so they are framed in a background of beautiful Japanese art.

These are just small examples, but they add up to something special that I feel is missing from modern life in London. The small accumulation of tenei in Japanese life seems to have larger societal benefits.

Since coming back from Japan, I’ve tried to be more “tenei” in my life. It can be easy to forget on the swelteringly hot and jam packed tube in the Monday morning rush hour, but I’m trying.

This is my first article for The Carrier. I’m writing about trying to be a carrier of elegance. I hope that by reading this article a few more of you will try to be more tenei too.

This Is An Insight: Social Media Week and Quiet Success

Social Media Week

Social Media Week 2013 has kicked off in London this week. The team at Chinwag have put together a fantastic schedule of events for Social Media Week. The companies and attendees they've attracted are world class. They've done a brilliant job once again.

But already there's been a Tumblr set up calling people out on their mundane, obvious or uninteresting tweets from Social Media Week events.

Here's a few choice cuts from the This Is Not An insight Tumblr:

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Maybe a bit harsh taking out of context, but compare the noise, social posturing and buzzword bingo (nice one, Wadds) of Social Media Week  to this article that appeared on Forbes recently, on the quiet successes of Silicon Valley.

The article describes how recently announced the acquisition of EdgeSpring, a startup in the business intelligence/analytics market. It was a big deal for the company's two founders, employees and investors. So why didn't you hear about it?

Because the founders want it that way. EdgeSpring's cofounders Vijay Chakravarthy and Ryan Lange both have had repeat entrepreneurial success, yet they have a combined amount of just 27 followers on Twitter.

They never held a launch party. They didn't raise money from a hedge fund, a kickstarter campaign or a round of notable angel investors and celebrities. They announced the acquisition with a simple change to their web site:

Salesforce Acquires Edgespring

Edgespring took the same approach when announcing their Series A funding and debuting their product just a few months before their Salesforce acquisition.

Reflecting on this Quiet Success of Edgespring, my feeling is that the people who are "leading" at social are the ones doing it day in, day out (so are too busy to attend Social Media Week events - I'm looking at James Whatley here) or are the ones who are running their own Social Media Week events (I'm looking at Battenhall and Ketchum here, from today's events alone).

When you see one agency tweet about how they're attending a different agency's event on social, I know which agency I'm going to think is better at social:

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So if you're attending Social Media Week events, I'm sure you'll get some good insight, some new infographics to put in your own presentations, and meet some nice people.

Though I would think that if you want to get ahead in social and you're not one of the companies or individuals running an event, then your time might be better spent quietly working until you find your own success.

Social Charity Index: 6 ways charities can make the most of social

Social Charity Index

Two years on from producing the first Social Charity Study, the team at Visceral Business have produced the Social Charity Index 2013, a report looking into how phenomenal and substantial the growth of social and digital media has become among charities in the UK.

A few headlines from the report:

  • The average rate of growth in terms of user take-up across the four main platforms of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube averages at around 350% over that time.
  • Networking technology means that large and small charities are now operating on a more level playing field.
  • Smaller charities tend to have higher levels of authenticity among their social followings. They also have a closer inter-relationship between the amount of supporters and revenue raised.
  • Small charities often have supporters who are better at sharing: their networks may be smaller but are relatively strong
  • Levels of income raised have dropped by 26% over the last two years, but social sharing has bucked that trend and increased by 152%
  • As income levels are challenged, turning likes, retweets and shares into income and working in more agile and responsive ways is taking centre stage
  • The power of the smartphone, mobile connections and networked relationships with third parties including giving platforms is on the increase

The Social Charity Index 2013 also looks at the top 100 social charities in the UK. Their survey findings - provided in collaboration with over 60 UK charities - looked at the digital and social activity of 300 charities nationally, across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube.

The top 10 charities according to the report are:

  1. Save The Children
  2. Comic Relief
  3. Oxfam
  4. Dogs Trust
  5. The British Museum
  6. Tate
  7. Macmillan Cancer Support
  8. Cancer Research
  9. British Red Cross
  10. The National Gallery

You can download the report and see full list of the top 100 social charities in this year’s Social Charity Index from the Visceral Business website.

Anne McCrossan, managing partner at Visceral Business, also shared her tips for charities to make the most of social business and networked media over on the Just Giving blog:

1. Bold Stories

A charity’s website is a crucial first impression and the look and feel of your relationship with supporters starts there. Charities that tell a powerful story and have a strong visual character stand out more and stay in the mind.

2. Social Network Signposts

Signpost people to where your charity can be found across social networks so they can connect with you easily. Thinking about the entire supporter journey from the user’s perspective will make it easier to develop an integrated content plan that connects people.

3. Content Curation

Good curation is a powerful way to develop a strong digital culture. Video and rich media can create really powerful scrapbooks that people can go back to, enjoy and share.

4. Audience Analysis

Social network analysis can be a great way of getting to know your supporters and to build your charity’s networked culture, so that events can become shared experiences.

5. Consider Commercial

Consider how your cause can become embedded into everyday life through partnerships with commercial organisations. Social business principles can be used to develop innovative new ways to fundraise.

6. Connectors and Communicators

Who are the people in your charity who are the natural connectors and communicators? Supporting them with training can help them feel comfortable and empowered using digital media.

Download the report and see full list of the top 100 social charities in this year’s Social Charity Index from the Visceral Business website.