25 January 2014

Happy Birthday Vine!

One year ago Twitter gave birth to a beautiful baby....6-second video sharing platform - formally known as Vine. Since launching last January, Vine has acquired over 40 million users (August 2013) - although they are very tight lipped about how many of these are actually active and producing vines. 

In case you haven't  used Vine before, it's a feed-style channel that lets users create 6 second video clips (Vines) that loop when played back until the viewer pauses or scrolls down their feed to the next video. Like Facebook / Instagram you can 'like' and 'comment' on videos, and also 're-vine' to share the video on your profile. The 're-vine' feature is the little button behind many Vines going viral & users becoming 'Vine Stars' and accumulating millions of followers in a matter of days. 

I've had the app downloaded on my phone for a while now, and I mainly use it to scroll through my feed and watch Vines from users I follow - I seem to have a penchant for comedy/humorous ones! In fact, I think the comedy Vines make the best use of the platform (who knew 6 seconds could be so funny?) and make me the most interested to see what happens next? Famous comedians doing live vine-gigs? 

I haven't ventured into actually creating a vine yet - I think this might be because all the vines/users I see are so funny that I feel a bit intimidated about creating one? I wonder if other people feel this way as I've read suggestions that although the platform has over 40 million users - it's only a small number of these 'stars' that are actually creating vines...

Anyway, it's a typical Scottish morning with a steady stream of horizontal rain and snow so here are some of my favourite Vines that have literally made me LOL to cheer us up and shoo away the January blues :) 

I think aussie godzilla is my favourite :) 

Thanks for reading, Melissa x

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14 January 2014

How to write better tweets - some quick tips!

I don't know about you, but I mostly use Twitter on my phone and hardly ever log into the actual website. When I'm scrolling through my timeline of tweets I start at the most recent and go right back until I see the last tweet I read - skimming past most of them and only focusing on a few that grab my attention and actually clicking the link on even fewer of them. This got me thinking about why certain tweets stood out more than others, and what about them made me want to engage with them - may this be replying, RT'ing, clicking through...yadda yadda!

From investigating my timeline, and what I've picked up from working in Social Media over the past two years I've thought up some quick tips you can use to write better tweets that are really easy to implement and should help your tweets stand out in the ever-changing twitter timeline!

  • Use images! As Twitter now allows you to automatically see a preview of images in your timeline you should include images to make your tweets stand out, enhance your message and generally make them appear more attractive to users. A rectangle format of around 600 x 300px should work best for this!

  • Keep tweets to around 120 characters or less so that users can RT your tweets without cutting the end off, pretty much. Writing shorter snappier tweets will also encourage you to use smarter language to make your point - a wee trip to thesaurus never hurts!

  • Use clear Call To Actions (CTAs) -  What do you want your reader to do? If you have a specific link you want them to click then I've found that using clear & simple CTAs will drive clicks. Such as: Click here to....., Find out more....., Enter here......

  • Keep links separate - When you add an image and another link to a tweet the image link will automatically be added to the end. To save users getting confused as to what they should click, try and add the other URL link nearer the start of the tweet.

  • Shorten your URLs - talking about links, nobody likes to see a huge screed of text as a link so make the best use of your 140 characters and shorten your URLs using a service like bit.ly - you can even use this to track click throughs. 

  • Use relevant hashtags - Don't go overboard or use them just for the sake of it. I mainly use hashtags to link up tweets & join in the conversation with a specific event, TV programme or film - or if I'm feeling particularly devilish I use them to convey the feeling/mood of the tweet that you can't really form into a sentence, like #exciting #BringItOn (does that make sense?)

  • Talk to people -  and attract their attention by writing as if you are actually talking to them. This is as easy as using words like you (The top make-up looks you should try this Spring: [link]), and asking rhetorical or actual questions. (if you want to start a conversation with users or get their opinion on something)

  • Tweet at the right time - there's no point tweeting if nobody is going to be around to read it. I've seen loads of reports on 'the best time to tweet' but I don't think there is a hard and fast solution for everyone that if you tweet at 9.06am you'll get 1 million zillion RT's. I think that, depending on your audience, it's fairly obvious when most people will be online scrolling through their tweets. 7am-9am: during the morning commute, 12pm - 2pm: Lunchtime and an obligatory phone check, 5pm - 6.30pm: hometime (woohoo!) 10pm-11pm: bed time and one last glance to check you haven't missed anything! .......and yes, that is pretty much a rough timeline of a day in my life :) 

Do you have any tips for writing more engaging tweets? Comment below! 

Thanks for reading, Melissa x

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2 January 2014

A - Z of Social Media in 2013!

2013 has been a ground breaking year for Social Media: records have been broken; billion dollar offers have been made (and refused) and new standards have been set for 2014 and beyond. We've seen users from across the world uniting in the face of tradegy & loss, and over 8 million people tuned in to watch Felix Baumgartner make that death defying jump.....even the Oxford Dictionary got on board, with everyone's favourite photo the 'Selfie' being named the Word of the Year. 

There are a number of top/the best/coolest 'Social Media in 2013' lists flying around just now, so I thought I'd pull together some of the most interesting elements into the A - Z of Social Media in 2013. (which seemed like a good idea until I got to X....) 

In a bid to overcome the decline in album sales through streaming sites like Spotify and Deezer, Beyonce surprised fans on December 13th by announcing on her Instagram channel that she was releasing a Visual Album of 14 songs and 17 videos on itunes. The album was sold as one continuous piece of music & video, meaning fans couldn't download individual tracks - however, this didn't appear to scupper the desire with 80,000 copies selling within the first 3 hours and 365,000 copies sold by the end of Day 1. 

In 2013 San Francisco, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Social Media users across the world came together to help BatKid (aka Miles Scott) superhero dreams come true. Miles is in remission from Leukemia and had always dreamed of fighting crime in Gotham and driving the Batmobile - and for one day this was made possible! Over 11,000 volunteers and citizens lined the Streets of San Francisco taking photos, blogging and tweeting - resulting in an explosion of the use of #SFBatkid and @SFbatKid online.

In 2013 we seen Social Media go to infinity and beyond thanks to Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield. From aboard the International Space Station he took photos, vlogged, tweeted and also recorded his famous rendition of Bowie's 'Space Oddity' - for the first time giving earth-dwellers a fascinating inside look at what really goes on 220 miles up!

In February 2013 a strange phenomenon swept across the internet in a flurry of onesies, masks and questionable dance moves. The Original DO THE HARLEM SHAKE video was uploaded and subsequently replicated by thousands of users - with a number of notable organisations getting involved like NASA, the Norwegian Army and the Miami HEAT NBA team. 

E News! had a real EEEK moment when they used a photo of the wrong 'Ian Watkins' in their article about the Welsh rock band Lostprophets and their lead singer's guilty plea. They actually used a photo of 'H' from Steps who is now taking legal action against the US website, who have been said to 'deeply regret' the mistake. It just goes to show that you need to be a bit more careful when using Google Images to identify someone unless you want another case of mistaken identity...(Nelson Mandela and Morgan Freeman?)

At the end of November news of the Fast & Furious film series actor Paul Walker and his friend Roger Rodas' untimely death in a car accident became one of the most talked about moments of the year on Twitter. Hundreds of thousands of fans, fellow actors and organisations took to the social networking site to express their grief and offer consolation. The tweet from Paul's management was one of the most responded to tweets from the entire year, with almost 400,000 RTs.

Beware what you post on your Facebook page, Big Brother is watching you....or they are trying to! In the summer Facebook published its Global Government Requests Report for the first 6 months of 2013 which showed that during this time period the U.S Government made the most requests for information on Facebook users, with 11-12K total requests on over 21K individual users & accounts. Apart from the U.S other top Governments requesting data were the UK, India, Germany, Italy and France. 

Another event of the summer was the introduction #Hashtags to Facebook - to the dismay of many users. A hashtag is a word superseded by a # - thus turning the word into a clickable link to all other posts using this hashtag. Originally used on Twitter, hashtags are now becoming globally used across multiple social networking sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Vine - and are being integrated into TV, film and print to create fully linked-up marketing campaigns. 

2013 was a busy year for Instagram - the photo sharing platform that makes our photos look so much cooler. In April the platform was bought by Facebook for $1bn and in June it launched its video sharing feature which lets users take 15 second videos & apply filters to them. This new feature appeared to rival Twitter's 'Vine' which saw a 40% drop in video shares in June. 

Introducing Video on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

Cuppa Jo? Listen up caffeine lovers, in October Starbucks launched #TweetaCoffee - this allows you to gift a friend a $5 Starbucks gift card with just a tweet! Simply link up your account then tweet @Tweetacoffee to [your friends handle] and add personal message if you like - they are then sent a link to their e-giftcard! Nothing says I love you like a Caramel Macchiato, right? It'll be interesting to see how other retailers use this functionality in the year ahead.

Kerching! On the 7th of November Twitter entered the Stock Market under the name of 'TWTR' with stocks selling at $45.10, or 73 percent above its $26 IPO price. This opening price valued Twitter at $31 Billion. 

Glee actress and singer Lea Michelle's tweet with a photo and her late boyfriend Cory Monteith was one the most retweeted post on Twitter in 2013 with fans showing their support through just under 400,000 RTs. 

On 15 April the Boston Marathon finish line was hit by two bombs in quick succession. Journalists and members of the public took to Twitter to spread news of the event, with the first tweet being sent seconds after the event happened. Talk of the tragedy continued to dominate Twitter throughout the week with keywords Boston, #bostonstrong, Boston Marathon and #prayforboston being used millions of times throughout the week. (Boston used around 6 million times on the 15th alone) The Boston Police Department even used Twitter to try and identify the suspects showing how live-tweeting and two way conversation through Twitter is shaping how the public find out about, and talk about events globally in real time. 

No, that's what Snapchat said to Facebook when they offered to buy the platform for 3 Billion in November. It's thought that Zuckerberg made the offer to try and engage with the younger users who are now shying away from Facebook (probably because their parents and great aunties keep commenting on every thing they do) and are now flocking to other platforms like Snapchat in their millions - 26 million in the U.S alone apparently. I think that although Snapchat is very popular right now, it may experience a decline due to the new Instagram Direct and the ability for users to share photos privately with their family and friends. 

Oreo's timely tweet at the Superbowl on February 3rd showed how explosive a reaction can be seen when brands create timely and relevant content. The post has received over 15 thousand retweets to date and should get other brands thinking about upcoming events relevant to their industry or audience and how they should be 'on the ball' and ready to create relevant content if anything interesting/unusual/funny happens (even just the lights going out!)

In June Facebook started to roll out the ability for users to comment on wall posts with Photos. This small piece of functionality goes a long way in allowing users to be more creative with their replies, and gives brands a whole new functionality for running competitions - like the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games have done here to engage with users in a fun way and allow them to show their excitement for the Games. 

In 2013 the Queen's 'The British Monarchy' Facebook page reached over 1 million likes. 

The world also went mad for the #RoyalBaby - Prince George. From 7.37am on 22 July when +Clarence House confirmed the birth on Twitter a frenzy ensued which saw over 2 million mentions of the birth, and #RoyalBaby being used just under 1 million times by excited well wishers. Tweets peaked at 25,300 per minute at 8.37pm - no doubt during the evening news!

2013 saw the Oxford Dictionary take notice of Social Media with Selfie being named the 'Word of the Year'. A number of users took to Twitter and Instagram to share their #selfies during the day of the announcement, and a couple of brands got involved too like the Nando's cockerel and Clyde the mascot for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

After Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Phillipines in November a call for help went out, predominately through social media. Twitter was used to share information about the storm with over 6.1 million mentions of "Typhoon", “Philippines,” “Haiyan” and “Yolanda” from the 7th - 15th November. As people started talking about the disaster it became clear that most people wanted to help in some way. Celebrities such as Justin Beiber and Harry Styles urged their followers to donate to relief operations, around 5,000 people took #unselfies to share information about donating and Google's crisis map showed a crowdsourced view of evacuation centers, crisis areas, and relief drop zone areas.

U decide! For the first time ever in 2013 Twitter partnered with TIME to vote on the 'Person of the year' using #TIMEPOY. Whilst the final decision still lay with TIME editors, Twitter users could vote on who they thought most affected the news of our lives over the past year to help the editors make their choice. Miley Cyrus was leading the way until December 2nd, but was pipped to the post when Pope Francis was announced as the honoree. 

Twitter launched its innovative micro-video platform 'Vine' in January 2013 which allows users to share 6 second video clips with the addition of hashtags. Users can 'start and stop' filming by touching the screen allowing the production of stop-motion video, humorous comedy sketches and mini dramas! Vine was the most fourth most downloaded free app in the appstore in 2013 showing that the micro trend (Sending snapschats for seconds, 6 & 15 second video clips) is getting bigger, so to speak.

TWerk it! Miley Cyrus shocked the world with her performance at the MTV VMAs and it certainly got people talking: 306,000 of them per minute in fact! Tweets were mostly positive on Sunday night (#votemiley: 28K, sexy: 18K mentions) during the performance but come Monday morning things had turned a bit nasty.(bitch:20K, bad: 52K, hate: 40K metions) Is all publicity good publicity? Hmmm. 

In 2013 the #1 Top Trending video on YouTube was The Fox (What does the Fox say?) The video has over 317 million views.

On 19 June 2013 over 8 million people tuned into YouTube to watch Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall from 128K. This meant the Red Bull Stratos broke the record for the most concurrent liveview views ever!

There wasn't a Z-lister in sight at the 85th Annual Academy Awards held in L.A in February 2013. The #Oscars generated a record breaking 8.9 million tweets with 2.1 million coming in during the Red Carpet, and 6.8 million from the awards ceremony. The most talked about events during the night were 'Argo awarded Best Picture' (85,300 tweets per minute), 'Adele performing Skyfall' (82,300 tweets per minute) and not forgetting Jennifer Lawrence's dress! 

Thanks for reading! Here's to another exciting year for Social Media in 2014. 

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