Twitter on the launchpad #TWTR

We just priced our IPO...

Today, Twitter is on the cusp of becoming a publicly-listed company with an initial equity valuation of $18 billion, according to some analysis.

At 9.30am US Eastern time, 2.30pm GMT, the sound of the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange will mark the moment when shares in Twitter – at an initial offer price of $26 each and identified by the NYSE symbol TWTR – will become listed on the Exchange and public trading will begin.

It’s worth looking at what it is about the microblogging service (how quaint that moniker now sounds) that makes it, arguably, one of the most valuable tools for communication professionals and marketers, politicians and celebrities – in reality, just about anyone with a Twitter handle – to engage influencers and customers, broadcast news, manage reputations, and drive communication and marketing for individuals, causes and organizations of every type imaginable, in every country in the world.

You can acquaint yourself with today’s Twitter by checking the facts and figures on the company’s new ‘About‘ pages, redesigned and updated this week as the IPO nears.

About Twitter

You can also check any of the myriad online publications, from mainstream media to informed (even just opinionated) bloggers, all with commentary and opinion about any and every facet of Twitter and a business event that undoubtedly will capture imaginations globally from the sound of that bell ringing in New York City.

An article that caught my eye this morning is How Twitter changed the world, hashtag-by-hashtag by BBC News that assesses Twitter’s history, growth and other compelling metrics in a highly-readable timeline form.

Hashtag debut

The specific section on the history of the hashtag is especially interesting as it will give you insight into a tool that rapidly has become highly useful for connecting and measuring conversations, etc, on Twitter, that will help you see why this little symbol (#) is so significant today.

Some quotes from that history (with some added hashtags):

  • Hashtags are now the definitive way to group tweets on the same subject.
  • Hashtags can be a remarkably effective way of making a company change its policy. Whether it’s getting rid of offensive t-shirts, or forcing “gay best friend” dolls to be removed, there’s no faster way for consumers to well and truly kick off.
  • Twitter has cemented itself as a digital soapbox, and a place for #politicians to engage directly with people, making major announcements along the way. It is arguably one of the most effective campaign tools – particularly in reaching voters that are unlikely to pay attention to a party political broadcast.
  • #Newsrooms the world over have taken to social media, using it as both a source, but also a broadcast platform. Newsrooms are awash with positions that simply didn’t exist five years ago. The real challenge, of course, is to make sure what is tweeted is in fact true – and news organisations don’t always get it right.
  • In the English Premier League (#EPL), all 20 clubs are now on Twitter, with more than half of all first-team players having verified accounts. It means that fans are closer than ever to their heroes.
  • #Celebrities on Twitter are huge, and can perhaps be credited with bringing a more mainstream audience to the service.
  • During the uprisings in #Egypt, Twitter was a key channel for protesters to disseminate material, and to also organise gatherings.
  • Television executives the world over are implementing ways to make the most of the #secondscreen – your mobile or tablet – while watching their content. Often this is being seen as a way to fling more adverts at you.

Mainstream activities for something definitely not mainstream just a few years ago.

The #businessmodel has shifted. #TWTR.

Related posts:

How ‘social TV’ enables immersive involvement in live events

massrelevance

Audience participation with live TV events via social channels like Twitter is becoming increasingly common and a big part of audience expectations.

I’m thinking of campaign-type events, not spontaneous or serendipitous actions by individual tweeters, Facebookers or Google+ers with their communities.

This is about orchestrated activities: programme-makers and the television broadcasters creating a broader platform for wider, richer and valuable content dissemination where the tweeter becomes an active part  – and, perhaps, influencer – of a broadcast event that embraces true multi media.

And it’s way beyond simply sticking a hashtag on the TV screen.

Nowhere is this more part of the fabric of live TV events right now than in the US with shows like The Voice and – perhaps more significantly – live ‘town hall’ debates with President Obama.

CNET News reports on Mass Relevance, a “social experience platform for brands and media” (says its Wikipedia entry), and how it puts Twitter in front of television audiences, boosting the social network’s public profile and altering its perception as a place for more than pointless babble to being an essential tool that enables and facilitates immersive involvement in live events.

Understand the platform:

[…] Mass Relevance is software-as-a-service for brands, agencies, and producers. It’s a technology platform that instantly scans content flowing through the APIs of social media companies, Twitter in particular, and filters it according to the client’s desires. The rapid filtering piece, which is far cooler than it sounds, is what gives television producers like Nicolle Yaron of “The Voice” the confidence to put viewer comments on display and to let audiences vote live on a song for contestants to sing.

The platform, using real-time filters, sifts through hundreds of thousands of tweets, dumps the retweets and replies, purges the content producers know they don’t want — profane tweets, for instance — and then presents what’s left in a queue where someone manually approves the tweets to go on screen. The system can also collect and analyze data for visualizations and power audience polls […]

And you’ll understand more about what’s coming.

A far cry from the nostalgia of the test card from yester year!

It’s useful, too, to see this aspect of Twitter’s growing role in the evolving media landscape if you have interest in Twitter’s forthcoming stock market flotation.

Full story from CNET News: The secret company behind Twitter’s TV takeover.

(First posted to my Flipboard magazine as a story link.)

Related posts:

Twitter takes control of its story as it prepares for an IPO

Form S-1

The days when you heard about a company’s plans for a stock market flotation via a newspaper report or a TV or radio news item are now so much part of our nostalgic reflecting on simpler, slower times with the announcement by Twitter late yesterday on its plans for such an event.

The announcement was made in a tweet.

Posted at 10pm UK time, Twitter said that it has filed Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a first step on the route to an initial public offering of shares in the company.

The filing was confidential, Twitter said, so no information on what’s in the document is publicly-viewable via Twitter’s entry in the SEC’s EDGAR filings database.

That means no one can find any detail on what the company is planning, giving Twitter huge control over the story it now builds; and how, when and where it tells it, and to whom.

I saw Twitter’s tweet about fifteen minutes after it was posted. It had already been re-tweeted over 7,000 times by then and news had started appearing across the mainstream media. There’s more amplification now as you can see in the tweet itself, embedded below.

There’s nothing about this yet on their official blog.

Under SEC rules, Twitter now enters the so-called quiet period where the company is limited in what it can say or disclose publicly about its plans.

Cue huge speculation from anyone with an opinion and an internet connection. And jokes.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Twitter would use its own network and channel for such an announcement. Plus, the regulatory environment and rules on how you can make such announcements are far more relaxed now than they ever have been, where social media channels like Twitter are allowed in certain circumstances.

The communication landscape shifted again.

[Later:] The New Yorker magazine has an excellent assessment of Twitter and how it’s evolving from the broader user-experience and ad-business perspectives, focusing on developments with the Twitter service itself, the evolution of its apps and the ways in which you can use it with those apps.

A thought-provoking conclusion:

[...] what’s coming is simply Twitter following through on promises both explicit and implicit: a Twitter that is at once simpler and richer. One hopes it’s also a better Twitter.

Add that to broaden your view about the IPO and what’s next for Twitter.

Tweets that self-destruct

Spirit for TwitterI guess it’s inevitable that everyone reporting on Spirit for Twitter likens its self-destructing tweet service to SnapChat, the mobile app for real-time picture and video messaging that self-destruct after a sender-defined time, up to ten seconds.

Spirit is similar in outcome – tweets you send that you mark with a certain hashtag will automatically delete themselves after the set time has passed.

You get a lot more time flexibility than just ten seconds though: minutes, hours and days.

The service was developed by Pierre Legrain, an ex-Twitter engineer, who told ABC News in the US, “It’s an invisible piece of software, like an enhancement to Twitter. You don’t have to download anything and will work from wherever you tweet from.”

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up at the Spirit of Twitter website.
  2. Wait for a tweet from Spirit  to tell you that your account is active.
  3. Start tweeting with an end-time hashtag for when your tweet will self-destruct.

I signed up for the service a couple of days ago and got my account-active tweet today. So I tried it out.

I set the tweet to self-destruct after 30 minutes by including the “#30m” hashtag:

Make your tweets self-destruct...

Sure enough, after 30 minutes, the tweet had disappeared.

If you go to the actual tweet URL https://twitter.com/jangles/status/375869860602851328, you’ll just get Twitter’s standard ‘tweet not found’ error screen:

Sorry, that page doesn't exist!

It’s a clever idea, one that I can imagine marketers latching on to. Individuals, too, for personal tweets.

For instance:

  • Time-sensitive offers you want to tweet, where people have xx minutes to click a link. Great for contests.
  • Tweeting about an event or something where the tweet being seen hours or days afterwards would take it entirely out of context.
  • Tweeting your pals to meet up at a pub at 8pm; the tweet self-destructs after, say, 8.30pm.

So I’d expect to see a flurry of self-destructing tweets from experimenters as the service attracts more attention.

Yet I wonder what impact this disruptive tool will have on the Twitter ecosystem, eg, including the analytics aspect. And, once a tweet is gone, I think you’ll need something far more effective than just the standard Twitter error page, the equivalent of a 404 error.

And what happens to an embed of a tweet on some web page or blog post that’s marked for self-destruction? I guess it will show the error page as the actual tweet won’t be around any more.

How about retweets and favorites? I RT’d my original tweet – and that RT’d tweet did disappear. But the favorite I saved? It’s still there:

Favorite...

This latter behaviour may well be the off-putter to widespread use: if you want to use a service where tweets will self-destruct, you want to be sure of that. Sure, people can take screen shots, but at least you’d want to know that the tweets themselves will be gone.

And it’s not clear what Twitter thinks of this – they could pull the plug on Spirit’s API access, and that would probably be the end.

Still, I like the idea and can see benefits especially from a business point of view in a service that offers this type of outcome.

What do you think? Useful, or just a gimmick?

(Via The Verge)

Tweet catches on in the OED

The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED...

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the premier British dictionary of the English language – or, as its tag line states, “the definitive record of the English language” – adds new words from time to time, as well as evolved meanings to current words, that reflect contemporary usage.

They have strict rules on such additions such as a new word being current for ten years before it’s considered for inclusion in the dictionary.

In an announcement this week about recent words updates, chief editor John Simpson notes an exception in the case of the word “tweet”:

The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED. This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for ten years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on.

So the OED now shows the additional meanings of “tweet” thus:

a. intr. To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter. Also: to use Twitter regularly or habitually. Cf. tweet n. 2.

b. trans. To post (a message, item of information, etc.) on Twitter. Also: to post a message to (a particular person, organization, etc.). Cf. tweet n. 2.

I think it’s a sensible decision to evolve the dictionary definition, precisely for the reason Simpson mentioned. It certainly is catching on.

Now imagine my huge surprise when I see that one of the sources of information cited by the OED that I imagine contributed to their decision to add the new meanings is a link to a post I wrote in March 2007 (I’ve highlighted the text in yellow):

oedtweetcitation

The post in question is this one I published on March 15, 2007; the cited text is this:

[…] not much chance to tweet on Twitter, especially since it seems that SMS posting from my mobile phone doesn’t work […]

You saw “tweet” used as a verb here first, folks! ;)

Related posts:

Number 10 hands out Twitter exclusives to favoured journalists

UK Prime Minister

A discussion topic in episode 701 of the FIR podcast, published today, looks at a question asked in the Metro newspaper last week: should British politicians take notes from Barack Obama’s campaign team?

The Metro’s excellent report looked at the key role social media played  – especially Twitter – in both of the US president’s election campaigns in 2008 and 2012 in enabling direct engagement with reporters and opinion-makers as well as with voters in communities across the United States (see detailed analysis of 2012 from Pew’s Journalism. org).

The discussion that guest co-host Stephen Waddington and I had in the podcast considered key elements of Obama’s campaign as described in the Metro story by Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon. Her conclusion:

[…] Summing up the lessons of 2008 and 2012, Ms O’Malley Dillon said: ‘If there’s anything to be learned from our campaign, it’s that we made it a priority, we believed in it from the top to the bottom, we ensured the resources were there and we allowed it to help dictate for us in some ways the type of things we were doing based on how people use these forums.

‘We weren’t trying to recreate the wheel, we were trying to be part of the dialogue and I think that’s one of the many ways we were able to be successful.’

Keeping that in mind, Wadds and I broadly concluded in  our discussion that a) yes, British politicians would benefit from studying the role of social media in US election campaigning; and b) there’s little to suggest that they are or have done so – certainly at a central-government level that seems isolated from grassroots ‘social politics’ – even though the next general election in the UK is only two years away at most.

So The Guardian’s report yesterday on the role of Twitter in how Downing Street aims to secure goodwill from journalists by revealing news before its official announcement by ministers had me thinking about what looks like a chasm of a difference in how American politicians see social media channels like Twitter and how UK ones do.

There, it looks more open and inclusive. Here, it seems to be secretive, selective and controlled.

That’s a great pity if it does turn out to be how my cynical view of the political communication landscape appears. The way in which social media channels can galvanize political engagement with and by those who have the final word on who gets elected, as evidenced by the US experience, clearly is firmly understood by government communicators:

[…] “We’re getting to where people are these days,” said Anthony Simon, the head of digital communications in the prime minister’s office.

“Increasing numbers of people are on Twitter – journalists, stakeholders and professional groups – and to be part of that conversation is vital for any government department. It’s democratic because it’s open to anyone and we don’t go on it for the sake of it or over-rely on it – it’s a means to an end.”

I hope that the ‘means to an end’ becomes a great deal more honest- and authentic-looking than the current situation that The Guardian describes.

(The Guardian’s report below is published with their permission via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.)


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Number 10 hands out Twitter exclusives to favoured journalists” was written by Josh Halliday, for The Guardian on Sunday 28th April 2013 21.07 Europe/London

Asked in 2009 why he didn’t use Twitter, David Cameron famously responded “too many twits might make a twat” . Four years later, Number 10 is attempting to move more rapidly into the digital future with a Twitter strategy that includes handing out “Twitter exclusives” to favoured journalists for release before they are officially announced by ministers.

In a tactic reminiscent of the BBC satire The Thick of It, Twitter is also being used to try to quash negative stories before they gain currency in a news cycle where every second counts.

“Every minute that passes the poison is spreading into the system to all sorts of roots and you need to find a way to cauterize that very, very quickly,” said a senior No 10 source.

The Twitter exclusives aim to secure goodwill from journalists who are often under pressure to break news online before rivals, but will irritate those who believe announcements should be made in parliament.

Many of Downing Street’s new media strategies were introduced by Craig Oliver, the prime minister’s communications director, who insisted on moving a Twitter monitor into the No 10 newsroom when he assumed his role in January 2011.

According to colleagues, Oliver likes to describe the social network as similar to fire: a useful tool in the right hands, but massively destructive if it is misused.

The analogy might leave some scratching their heads, but Cameron’s inner circle wants all his MPs to take Twitter seriously – even if the 2015 general election is, in internet time, light years away.

One example of using Twitter to “seal” a negative story came after the Evening Standard mistakenly broke George Osborne’s budget embargo on the social network last month. A mortified journalist promised to tweet a swift apology but Oliver ordered a pre-emptive tweet from the Tory press office account, to ensure the reporter’s promise was met.

Conservative party headquarters brief MPs on good talking points for Twitter, using them to “tweet as a muscular force” about a single topic or news item to hammer home the message. Some 418 MPs have joined the tweeting fray, according to the news wire Tweetminster, up from 176 in 2009.

“Twitter used to be seen as tool for the egocentric and verbally incontinent,” said a senior No 10 source. “But the reality is that it’s an extraordinarily useful way of getting talking points out there.”

Downing Street has not always been so fleet of foot – it took hours to respond to the online mockery prompted by Osborne’s first-class train ticket debacle last October – but Cameron’s inner circle now recognises that the case for a clear Twitter strategy is “unanswerable”.

“We’re getting to where people are these days,” said Anthony Simon, the head of digital communications in the prime minister’s office.

“Increasing numbers of people are on Twitter – journalists, stakeholders and professional groups – and to be part of that conversation is vital for any government department. It’s democratic because it’s open to anyone and we don’t go on it for the sake of it or over-rely on it – it’s a means to an end.”

The most popular tweet sent by the government was Cameron’s tribute to Baroness Thatcher, prompting 3,500 retweets. The most divisive was when No 10 tweeted every single reshuffle appointment last September, which led to a mass unfollowing from less devoted users but praise from politicos.

But the jury is out on whether the rest of Britain is as Twitter-addicted as the Westminster Village. “I think the majority of activity comes from a fairly small group and most MPs have fairly small audiences,” said Alberto Nardelli, the founder of the app Tweetminster, pointing out that 1.2m people follow MPs on the site – about the same size audience combined as Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

“I think we’ve gone beyond a ‘should politicians use Twitter?’ phase. It’s now how will it be used,” he added.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.