Friday Wrap #5: Twitter gets newsy, tablet adoption explodes, NFC is coming, B2B is trailing2012-06-15
A review of some of the more interesting stories that have crossed my feeds in the last seven days.
Big moves from Twitter
If you’re The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC or another brand on the list of Twitter’s partner companies, your followers will soon be able to see something followers of no other account can see: more than 140 chararacters. These “expanded postings” will show video, pictures and more text. A Gartner analyst quoted in Businessweek thinks it’ll keep people on the site longer because you’ll want to spend more time with the enhanced content. While the media partners’ enxpanded postings appear only on the Twitter.com site for now, they’re coming to the iPhone and Android apps soon. No clue as to whether you’ll be able to see them if you use one of the 80 gazillion third-party mobile apps. Also no word on whether non-media brands will ever be able to take advantage of the tech that makes expanded postings possible.
Twitter is also getting into the content curation game. The first shot out of the gate focuses on NASCAR, with a page displaying tweets bearing the NASCAR hashtag. It’s not an aggregation of every tweet, though. Real live human curators are poring over the tweets and selecting those that convey the best and most interesting material, including images, videos and observations from NASCAR insiders. Thomson Reuters’ digital strategist Ross Neumann explains, ” Instead of burying a great behind-the-scenes pic uploaded by a driver beneath a mountain of less interesting hashtagged tweets, Twitter wants to surface this kind of content and present it in a clean product. With hashtag pages, Twitter is essentially cutting out the social media editor, the middle man in content discovery.” GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram agrees that social media editors should be worried: “Is Twitter trying to put media companies out of business, or even social-media editors? Probably not, at least not directly. But in a way, it’s formal intentions don’t really even matter — it could easily wind up doing so by accident”
The perfect tweet
While we’re on the subject of Twitter, let’s analyze what makes the perfect tweet. No, wait; we don’t have to, because HP Labs has already done it for us. In a paper (PDF) produced as part of a joint research project with UCLA, HP Labs asserts its algorithm is 84% accurate in determining which news tweets will earn high levels of coveted linking and retweeting before anybody eveer hits the send button. The researchers looked at four dimensions of a news article: the source, the category of news, the subjectivity of the language in the article, and named entitites. “We quantify each of these characteristics by a score making use of different scoring functions. We then use these scores to generate predictions of the spread of the news articles using regression and classification methods.”
So which tweets are most likely to hit it big? To begin with, Mashable is more likely to generate a successful tweet than The Wall Street Journal or, as PC Magazine put it, “More loosely organized outfits…are often more successful in generating Twitter traffic than the biggest and most respected news organizations.” Tech news is also more likely to spread, and articles about major celebrities “with the most rabid fans” produce more linking and retweeting. But the news category classification, the named entities and even the language of the article weren’t as important as the source. Says PC Mag:
So that hypothetical article from a top tech blog about Apple, Google, or Facebook that mentions Barack Obama in measured tones may generate “the Platonic version of the news tweet,” as The Atlantic’s Megan Garber put it in her review of the research team’s findings.
Tablet usage is exploding
The way people consume content is changing, and the rise of the tablet is responsible. comScore finds that one in every four smartphone owners use tablets, making them “one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in history and poised to fundamentally disrput the way peple engage with the digital world both on-the-go and perhaps most notably, in the home,” according to comScore mobile SVP Mark Donovan, quoted in a MediaPost article. For example, people with tablets are three times more likely to watch video than smartphone users; one in 10 watch video on their tablets every day. “Once consumers get their hands on their first tablet,” Donavan says, “they are using them for any number of media habits.” Heaviest tablet usage is between the ages of 25 and 44, but compared to smartphone owners, tablet users were nearly 30% more likely to 65 or older. They also tend to have higher incomes.
NFC is shifting marketing in Japan
My new phone, the HTC Evo 4G LTE, came equipped with a Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip, which means I was able to try out Google Wallet. It works. In fact, it works great. I loaded the wallet with $40 for testing. I was in a Peets Coffee & Tea getting a pound of Guatemala San Sebastian (whole bean), and when the barista rang it up, I just held my phone to the Google Wallet logo and just like that, I’d paid; the $14 was deducted from the account.
Most phones in the US don’t have NFC chips yet, but when they do, we can expect them to have the same kind of impact they’re having in Japan, where companies are expanding their use beyond payments and identity verification. AdAge reports that two GAP stores in Tokyo have launched a marketing campaign that takes advantage of NFC. Dubbed “Like with a high-five,” it works like this:
A customer connects the app to her Facebook account, then gets a bracelet in-store to act as an identifier. When the customer sees a staff member wearing an outfit she likes, she “high-fives” to show approval by touching the bracelet to her smartphone. The phone makes a cheering sound and sends the outfit to her Facebook feed.
The same bracelet can be used to like individual products. No, it’s not earth-shattering, but it’s enough to get you thinking about what you could do with NFC. As AdAge puts it, “There has to be a benefit to the customer to interact, but we’re seeing more and more interesting ways the technology can be used.”
Half of Fortune 500 don’t translate content
The Net is global, but 48% of Fortune 500 companies don’t translate their online content, according to a study from translation service One-Hour Translation. (Nothing self-serving there.) The study, reported in BtoB, analyzed the online content of the Fortune 500 and found that 41% of those that don’t translate are in the business-to-business sector. The categories with the least amount of translation include energy and utility (83%), retail (66%) and health care (65%).
Google introduces Content Experiments
Did you ever want to test which website design among several options will to produce the best results? Google has made it easier with Google Experiments, baked into Google Analytics to let you play around with layouts to determine which best achieves your goals. Setting up an experiment is a four-part process, according to Entrepreneur:
Google provides a few lines of code to be added to the tested pages. Google then begins randomly displaying the variant pages and collecting data on which page designs are the most effective. Businesses determine how much of their site’s normal traffic—anywhere from 10 percent to all of their regular visitors—they want directed to the various test pages. Content Experiments then generates comparative results in graphical and data format.
Facebook launches app center
Apple has an app store. So does Google. And Amazon. Why not Facebook? After all, there are tons of apps page creators can use, if only they knew what their options were and where to find them. Facebook has finally jumped on the bandwagon with its App Center, which All Things D describes as “a repository for third-party developers who want to integrate their applications into the social giant’s 900-million-plus social network.” But Facebook is quick to dismiss comparisons to Google Play and Apple’s App Store. “Quite the opposite,” writes Mike Isaac:
It’s essentially a direct funnel from Facebook to Apple’s App Store. Last month, Facebook sent 83 million of its users to Apple’s App Store directly from the social networking site. That’s 83 million potential app installations for third-party developers.
As director of developer products Doug Purdy said at the event, “It’s not a matter of if you should build a Facebook or an iOS app, it’s a question of and.”
B2B companies trail B2C in social media tracking
Listening for references to your brand is basically table stakes for engaging in social media. Yet B2B companies are trailing B2C organizations in tapping into social channels to listen in on what customers are saying about their brands. The survey eMarketer reported came from Satmetrix, a customer experience management software company, found that more than half of B2C companies tracked mentions of their brands and followed up on them. A quarter tracked mentions without follow-up. For B2B companies, only 27% both tracked and followed up, and nearly half didn’t do either. This could be explained by the social-media-doesn’t-work-for-B2B myth. It is certainly a lost opportunity.