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Is Change Good or Bad? What if the Change is on Twitter.com?

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twitter use in real estate and elsewhere

Oprah wasn’t always on Twitter…

A few years back, South By Southwest Interactive Festival attendees began using a little web app called Twitter.com which began simply as an aggregator of everyone’s away messages so people wouldn’t have to visit various sites to quickly review what their friends and contacts were doing.  At sxsw it was used to mobilize folks and thousands of people trying to figure out where the hot happy hour was, so much that the old fail whale resulted.

Now, Twitter is a household name- Oprah and my dad tweet, which is a far cry from us sxsw geeks back in the day.  For those of you new to Twitter, you may not realize that once upon a time, there wasn’t a standard culture and best practice for Twitter and as early adopters, we helped mold the culture.  Recently, Twitter has made a variety of changes to their terms of service and now to the design of their site and those of us who are immersed in the culture are watching closely- some object, some support and honestly, some don’t care, but change has not gone unnoticed.

What interests me most because I have an affinity for web design (although I don’t design anything, I’m more of a fangirl) is the tiny changes Twitter is rolling out that aren’t mentioned on their press releases.  So I ask those of you who have been around since BackInTheDay, is change good or bad?  Does it matter?  Let’s peep some of the changes and then I want you to opine…

Innovate or cling to the old for nostalgia?

all - CopyFirst up, the default avatar has been changed from the standard brown with blue eyes wonky person face to a variety of colors with a bird-ish figure… does this change your wardrobe?  Am I the only one with a now-vintage twitter avatar t-shirt?

Besides that, is Twitter getting further away from their logo of the standard bird?  Have you noticed there are like three versions of the Twitter bird now generated by Twitter themselves?  Does YOUR company have multiple logos?

Secondly, look below… Twitter has changed the font to a helvetica, check out the numbers on this picture… Does it matter?  Is it cleaner?  Is it an indication of a newer UI on the way?  Is this like mom trying to chop up carrots and sneak them into the meatloaf so we eat healthy crap?

helvetica use on twitter.com

Lastly, the overall community has designed a variety of “follow me” buttons and although I lean toward the polished icon and the Practika logo set, does it distort the “follow me” message your site is sending when a user doesn’t recognize the logo or are you showing you are creative and innovative?  Which of the below do you lean toward?

twitter follow me buttons

What are YOUR thoughts?  Are these hidden carrots or are they tiny changes that show Twitter is still a diamond in the rough and the polish is on the way?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Stacey Harmon

    September 16, 2009 at 11:49 am

    @laniar

    Wow Lani – Sharp detail eye you have there! Impressive. Great post.

    Twitter never has been a beacon of design, so I’m happy to see some overall improvements to the UI (the home page redesign was certainly a step in the right direction), but I don’t think moving away from their core brand image of the blue bird is a smart move. I’m all for the blue bird evolving, but that change to a purple thing seems a dramatic departure. I think of the McDonalds logo…it always has the yellow M, but the application of the logo has been modernized over time and adapts to the current business environment. Twitter could do the same.

    I am perplexed by the change of the font to a serif font. Certainly not more readable. I don’t get it. Makes me wonder if there really is any graphic plan at all.

    In general, I belived that good design can make users/customers raving fans of your brand. Now, I love twitter (even w/o great design) but think the entire platform can gain broader acceptance and love with a strategic brand clean-up and redesign. Problem is, as your examples above point out, it doesn’t seem to have any greater standard behind it. At least not that we can see…yet.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    September 16, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    @LaniAR One of the things I’ve noticed about Twitter in the past is that they throw changes out there willy-nilly and then change them the next day. It’s as if Twitter is in constant beta. I’m all for some change to clean things up and make it look all nice and pretty, but remember when they kept switching what appeared in the left sidebar? Everyday I logged in it was different. It was confusing. Those sorts of changes can be more detrimental to your user stats than anything else. Although there will be those that complain that Twitter “sold out” (to use a music industry favorite) when they change a logo or graphic, I’m not too worried about these as long as it works. For branding purposes though, I have to say it’s a bad move to change too much too fast.

  3. Ian Greenleigh

    September 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    My dad was Apple’s go-to photographer back when few had heard of Steve Jobs or his Macs. He was asking me about twitter the other day, because he’s still not on it. He said, “Isn’t Guy Kawasaki on there?” Uhh, yeah Dad, he’s on there in a big way. “I know that guy. He came from Apple.” Well, Dad, maybe you should get your ass on twitter since you’ve got some inside guys.

    See, it’s hard for me to explain to otherwise tech-savvy people like him why they should be on twitter without sounding like I’m trying to literally sell it. When I tell people the things that have happened for me, things that all started on twitter, I understand why they don’t believe me. How can it be of value if it’s free? And fun? Well, you’ll just have to accept it as a new era.

    The other day on twitter I made the worst joke ever about a rain dance. Someone on the east coast read it and responded. We had a silly little conversation, nothing of substance. Then he asks me if I have time soon to talk about what I do. He checked out the site. I checked out his, and he’s a huge multifamily developer. From the stupidest little joke, I may get some business and an incredibly reference-able new customer. I wouldn’t believe it myself.

  4. Scott Allen

    September 16, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I like the default avatar change from an aesthetic point. On the flip side, seeing the brown wonky face was an easy way to pick out followers who aren’t really committed to Twitter, i.e., many are spam accounts. Of course, among the changes on Twitter are that any serious spammers now use a photo of some cute girl in a bikini or showing cleavage rather than the default avatar, so I don’t know that it matters so much any more.

    I do NOT like the new follow button and more generally the shift away from the blue bird. Twitter has encouraged the development of an ecosystem of related products, many of which play on the blue bird as a way of acknowledging the connection to Twitter. Personally, I love the fact that they have allowed, perhaps even tacitly encouraged, this practice, rather than sending out C&D letters for trademark violations.

    So what now if the Twitter bird is suddenly a white bird on a purple (or whatever) background? Does the entire Twitter ecosystem shift along with them?

    This isn’t just a matter of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Twitter bluebird is a well-recognized, well-established brand that has spawned a plethora of derivatives. Changing it isn’t just risky — it’s downright stupid.

    While we’re on the topic of UI changes, I hate the fact that all actions regarding a user are now in a drop menu rather than a simple link. Also, there’s no longer an easy way with Twitter to tell whether someone I’m following is following me back or not (you used to be able to tell by whether there was a DM link next to their name or not).

  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 16, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    “twitter”

    The other day I was in the geek section of my local Barnes n Noble. You know, the section with all the 4 inch thick SQL Server books.

    These two teen age girls come by, one leading in front of the other, walking pretty quickly through that aisle (I guess so no knowledge would actually stick).

    As they round the end of the aisle, the one in the front sees a twitter book (bet that’s a good read, btw) and says “oh cool, twitter.”

    With no delay, like it was one long choreographed sentence, the one in the back follows with, “that’s so stupid.”

    This is strange because the one in the back was the one texting while walking.

    But, regardless, apparently and officially, the verdict is still out on “twitter.”

    RM

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Social Media

Twitter branches out into voice chat – what could go wrong?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We’re learning more about Twitter’s forthcoming audio chat rooms, but what is Twitter learning about moderation?

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Twitter open on a smartphone on table next to a cup of warm brown tea.

Twitter wants you to talk more with more people. Like, actually form words. With your mouth.

In November 2020, the micro-blogging giant announced it’s testing its new Audio Spaces feature, which allows users to create audio-only chat rooms – making it what Wired calls a copycat of the new and buzzy Clubhouse app.

Twitter itself hasn’t released many details, but tech blogger/app-feature detective Jane Manchun Wong has been tweeting some of the deets.

How it works

Here’s what we know about the private beta version, according to Wong: Users create a chat room and can control who is admitted to the group, whether it’s the public, followers, or followees. Group size is currently limited to 10. Members can react with a set set of emojis: “100,” raised hand, fist, peace sign, and waving hand. Spaces conversations are not recorded, but they are transcribed for accessibility. It uses Periscope on the back end.

One thing that’s not clear: The actual name. Twitter’s announcements have been calling it Audio Spaces, but the product’s handle is @TwitterSpaces.

It’s Twitter! What could go wrong?

The big gorilla in the chat room is moderation – as in, how do you keep humans from being terrible on Twitter?

We can all be forgiven for skepticism when it comes to Twitter’s aim to keep Audio Spaces safe(ish). Twitter can be a toxic stew of personal insults and even threats. Interestingly, Twitter is starting its test by inviting users who are often targets: Women and people from marginalized groups. Great idea! Who better to help craft community guidelines?

Requiring platforms to shut down hate speech and violent threats is having a moment, and Clubhouse is already in the controversy mix. Even as invite-only, the app has had some high-profile failures to moderate with threats toward a New York Times reporter and a problem anti-semitic conversation. It seems likely Twitter is paying attention.

Also on the safe(ish) side: The space creator is all powerful and can mute or kick out bad actors. Spaces can also be reported. Then there’s the transcription, which sets Audio Spaces apart from similar apps. Chat transcription was aimed at accessibility but, TechCrunch suggests that might help keep things civil and appropriate if people know their words are being written down. Hmm. Maybe?

Also… Why?

It doesn’t appear that there was a groundswell of demand from users, but Audio Spaces at least is something different from the feature pile-on making the social media big dogs start to look the same, as in Twitter’s also-new Fleets, Instagram’s and Facebook’s Stories, Snapchat’s… Snapchat. (See also Instagram’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, TikTok’s… TikTok.)

Clubhouse does appear to be hugely popular in Silicon Valley – and it has the investment capital to show it – so maybe there’s something to this audio-only chat thing. But we’ve already seen pandemic-fueled Zoom-happy-hour-fatigue, as users have gotten frustrated with too many people talking at the same time. Video chat can give users at least a few more clues about who is talking and who might be about to talk. Audio-only chat seems like it could quickly devolve into a chaotic cacophony.

But, Twitter says, conversation will flow naturally, and it advises users to “be present.”

“Just like in real life, the magic is in the moment,” it says.

It’s beta testers will surely have a lot to say about “magic” and “moderation.”

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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Social Media

Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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