Email Is The Last, And Ultimate, Social Graph

email-forgotten One of the magical innovations of the Web 2.0 era was when the bigger social platforms opened their doors to third-party app developers. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter widely touted ,and profited from, the concept of allowing consumers to plug their social graph into other applications. We saw the meteoric rise of games, apps and business tools that leverage the ability to quickly insert… Read More

Twitter aims to be slightly less white by 2016

Twitter headquarters - looking into the Twitter cafeteria from the living roof

Today Twitter revealed its latest staff diversity statistics and announced its intention to be slightly less white in 2016.

In 2015, U.S. Twitter employees are still predominantly white men. Since last year Twitter has managed to increase the number of women in its workforce by four percent, with women now comprising 34 percent of its U.S. workforce. Ladies represent only 13 percent of the company’s tech department and 22 percent of its leadership. Still, that’s a bump up from last year, when women only represented 10 percent of tech jobs and 21 percent of leadership.

In terms of ethnic background, Twitter employees are 59 percent White and 31 percent Asian. Overall, 10 percent of its staff identifies as Latino or Hispanic, biracial, Black or African American, and American Indian (those percentages breakdown to four percent, two percent, two percent, and less than one percent respectively). A majority of Twitter’s Black and Hispanic employees work in nontech positions, while tech and leadership positions are overwhelmingly comprised of White and Asian employees.

The percentage of minority ethnicities in leadership roles has actually decreased from last year. In 2014, Twitter reported that four percent of its staff identified as either Black, African American, or “other”. Though white leadership has remained steady at 72 percent, the number of Asian employees in leadership roles has risen four percent.


Next year the company wants to increase the number of underrepresented ethnicities in its U.S. ranks to 11 percent. It also plans on raising the number of women, both in the company at large and in tech roles, by one percent.

That may not seem like a lot, but it’s proving quite difficult for tech companies to infuse their workforce with women and more ethnically diverse employees.

To help diversify its staff, Twitter plans to tour historically black colleges and partner with organizations aimed at helping women and minority groups get the skills and experience they need to ascend in the tech industry.

Its 2016 goals include:

  • Increase women overall to 35%
  • Increase women in tech roles to 16%
  • Increase women in leadership roles to 25%
  • Increase underrepresented minorities overall to 11%*
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in tech roles to 9%*
  • Increase underrepresented minorities in leadership roles to 6%*

* US only

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Vine ❤️ Music

vine-music Vine, the six-second looping video app from Twitter, has today announced a significant feature update that brings more attention to the audio in users’ videos. Starting tomorrow (Friday), Vine users will have more control over their vines with the ability to add music to their content. While it was previously possible to add music to vines by using a separate device to play the music,… Read More

For back-to-school retailers, Instagram delivers 7X the engagement of Twitter, Facebook


Back-to-school shopping has been in full swing this July and August.

It is estimated that U.S. retail sales will increase 4.6 percent for the two-month period leading up to the new school year, and ecommerce sales will rise by 14.4 percent.

With every major retailer having a significant presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you can be sure they have been doing their utmost to leverage those platforms to increase awareness, loyalty, and revenues.

But which retailers are doing it best, and which social media channels are delivering the results retailers need to move the needle in their favor?

Those questions are answered courtesy of new data released by Engagement Labs today. I spoke with them to better understand the results, and discover why Instagram — in particular — is trouncing the more established networks at engagement.

Engagement Labs scored each retailer, and every department store, using its eValue Score to determine the top 10 on each social media network. I asked how the eValue score is determined.

“An eValue score is composed of a series of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), including Engagement, Responsiveness and Impact, which is benchmarked against 100,000+ handpicked and verified brands,” Bryan Segal, CEO of Engagement Labs, told me.

“Engagement is the level of interaction content receives on a specific social network,” Segal said. “Impact is the unique reach content receives on a specific social network. Responsiveness measures how much, how fast, and how well a brand responds to actual conversations among its users.”

So who are the winners and losers, when measured using these metrics and KPIs?

Top Ten Retail Brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


Top Ten Department Stores on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


For those of you that don’t consider Amazon a department store, I asked who would take the vacant tenth-place spots if they were removed.

“If Amazon is taken out of the rankings, Bloomingdale’s came out at number ten for Instagram, along with Target for Facebook, and Sears on Twitter,” Segal said.

Rankings are great, but the real surprise is the high engagement levels created via Instagram.

“On average, we see seven times higher engagement subscores on Instagram than on Facebook and Twitter,” Segal said.

Instagram is unique in that it does not offer the ability for third-party applications to post images. That hasn’t stopped some from trying to create an Instagram scheduling solution, but most of those tools simply tell the user when to post the image, but still require them to post it manually via the app. Others that claim to post directly could be breaking Instagram’s terms of service, or may be logging in on behalf of the user, opening up a security risk.

This means that the only way to post to Instagram for brands, right now, is to do it manually or pay for a sponsored image. Instagram users have come to expect an authentic experience thanks to the lack of marketing automation on the platform, and that could affect engagement in general. But there are other possible explanations for the much-higher engagement rates.

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“It could be due to the current popularity of the platform but also due to the format of the channel and simplicity of liking a post,” Segal said. “Also, due to Instagram’s discovery functions, users are easily able to discover brands without necessarily following the page, leading to increased engagement on posts.”

While simplicity, visuality, and discovery may be the main indicators in terms of Instagram’s success in engagement, that success could also be because the platform is newer.

“Brands are newer to Instagram than they are to other social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter,” Segal said. “We see that the conversation is more authentic because brands are interacting with followers from a lifestyle promotion perspective rather than a product promotion perspective. If, for example you looked at Facebook ten years ago, you would have seen a similar trend. However, with the migration to more media spend, we see, and will continue to see, Instagram as a whole changing from being authentic to a more product-focused channel.”

I’m not sure I agree with that prediction. While Instagram continues to disallow posting via its API, it should remain a wholly authentic platform. But if it were ever to open that capability up, or ramp up the number of sponsored images in the average stream, there’s a chance it could head that way.

instagram-engagementHowever, despite the high engagement scores, interaction with images remains skin-deep at present.

“For the department stores measured on Instagram, they received an average of 1 comment and 53.6 likes,” Segal said. “When looking at the retail brands, we saw an average of 1 comment and 227.9 likes.”

And why is that?

“This can be due to the simplicity of liking a post (by double tapping) when scrolling through the different feeds,” Segal said.

Simply put, it is easy to like on Instagram, but it takes time to comment. And while it was not seen in Engagement Labs’ data, I can say that — after looking at sample feeds from the retailers listed — many comments are simply users tagging friends so that they also see the post.

Instagram’s success may be due to the platform itself, but also could be down to the way retailers use each social network, as is evident from the way Nordstrom dominates the number one positions on both Twitter and Facebook.

The lesson to be learned? An active response strategy. According to Engagement Labs, the company responds to Facebook posts and comments quickly, with responses that include useful information such as links and photos, as well as detailed replies that tend to generate ongoing conversations. They also take advantage of the live, real-time nature of Twitter to respond to their users’ tweets.

With almost 70 percent of major brands using social networks as “broadcast platforms,” Nordstrom join KLM as an example of why taking social media seriously is not only a good strategy, but one that provides returns.

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Twitter’s web users will now get desktop notifications for direct messages

An illustration picture shows the search tab for Twitter on a computer screen in Frankfurt.

Twitter is making some updates to how users are being made aware of new direct messages. The company announced today that over the next few days it will start allowing users to receive desktop notifications for direct messages when they’re using

“Notifications appear on the top right side of the screen, when a Direct Message is sent,” a Twitter spokeswoman told VentureBeat in an email. “Clicking the notification brings you into the modal where you read and reply to Direct Messages.”

How many will be affected by this change is unknown as Twitter hasn’t provided figures on the number of people specifically on Eighty percent of Twitter’s 316 million monthly active users are accessing the service on mobile, however, there’s no indication about what percentage is exclusive to mobile.

Perhaps beneficial to those in places where smartphone adoption isn’t rampant, the addition of desktop notifications for messaging will be helpful.

Today’s feature release comes a couple of weeks after Twitter officially removed the 140-character limit on direct messages.


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Twitter shutters service that saved politicians’ deleted tweets

Twitter: Delete Tweet

Politicians the world over can breathe a huge sigh of relief today, as news emerges that Twitter has pulled the rug from under Politwoops.

A product of “digital transparency” organization Open State Foundation (OSF), Politwoops emerged as a key tool for journalists and opponents looking to track the deleted tweets of politicians. While many of the tweets it saved for posterity were dull, it also helped shine a light on regrettable utterances and opinions from political leaders.

OSF confirmed yesterday that Twitter had killed the API Politwoops relied on to aggregate deleted tweets in all 30 countries it operated in, though this should come as little surprise — Twitter first scythed the API in the U.S. back in May, saying that preserving deleted Tweets violates the developer agreement.

While many see deleted tweets as a key process in holding politicians accountable for their statements, it seems Twitter disagrees. Citing a statement it says it received from Twitter, a OSF press release notes that Twitter cut-off the API once-and-for-all in every Politwoops territory, after a “thoughtful internal deliberation and close consideration of a number of factors.”


Above: Politwoops

Twitter argues, according to OSF, that politicians are no-different to any other user — people have the right to delete ‘retweets’ or personal comments from the social network.

“Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable?,” the Twitter statement reads. “No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user’s voice.”

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That’s all very well and good, but many would argue that this lets politicians erase anything bad they’ve said from a public record, a privilege generally not afforded in other mediums. Indeed, Twitter has often sought to align itself with the media fraternity, be it newspapers, TV companies, or other broadcasters. But generally, anyone passing comment through these channels have little recourse to “back track”.

“What elected politicians publicly say is a matter of public record,” says Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation. “Even when tweets are deleted, it’s part of parliamentary history. These tweets were once posted and later deleted. What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice.”

In other words, this latest move isn’t just about protecting politicians’ rights to delete a controversial comment, it also holds politicians to account if their messages or “public position” changes over time.

It’s safe to say that Twitter is at least partly motivated here by a desire to keep politicians using the platform — if they fear a tweet they delete will automatically be saved and scrutinized, they will be less likely to use the platform. Faced with mounting pressure to grow, Twitter needs all the public-facing friends it can find.

While this doesn’t necessarily prevent all deleted tweets from being preserved (we’re counting on you, screenshots), it does make it much harder to automate. This means that many potentially controversial nuggets will slip away into the foggy ruins of time. However, OSF says it will “continue to explore and engage with others to keep public messages by elected politicians visible.”

Politwoops came to fruition following a hackathon in the Netherlands way back in 2010, and subsequently launched in more than 30 countries, automatically tracking the Twitter accounts of elected politicians. Last year, it also launched Diplotwoops, covering diplomats and embassies, and this has now been closed off too.

VentureBeat has reached out to Twitter for comment, and will update here if we hear back.

Source: Open State Foundation (via The Next Web)

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How Coursera Cracked The Chinese Market

image Most U.S. consumer Internet companies have a hard time breaking into China. Cultural differences and the Internet firewall are a huge barrier to entry. Even tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter have pulled out or found themselves on the wrong side of the Chinese firewall. So how did Coursera, a relatively young company, achieve this significant milestone? Read More

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 11.27.22 AM Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well: Update, 8/21/2015: We’ve extended this to desktop now too, and… Read More

Twitter Collapses To Record Lows, Tests IPO Price As Tech Stocks Slump En Masse

twitter-analytics In the post-IPO market, Twitter is sucking air. At least it isn’t alone. Alibaba also set a record low today. After repeated quarterly reports detailing slowing, anemic user growth, shares in Twitter today reached a new nadir: the firm’s IPO price. Twitter went public at $26 per share. It skyrocketed from that dollar point, eventually managing a $39.93 billion market… Read More