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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

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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Social Media

Well established Pinterest has a new competitor, Google Keen

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Google is constantly playing catch up, their new target is Pinterest. They have a new photo sharing social media app called Google Keen.

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Google Keen

It looks like Pinterest might finally have some competition: Google Keen. Notice the heavy emphasis on the word “might”.

It’s not hard to see why Google might feel a tad encroached upon by Pinterest, a photo-sharing and search-based platform; while Pinterest’s impact is relatively small in terms of taking traffic from the G-people themselves, any competition is unwelcome in Google’s eyes–perhaps justifying their move toward creating their own version of Pinterest.

Google Keen isn’t a direct ripoff–after all, they changed the name–but the general principle is the same: Users can create a “keen” for a specific visual topic, thus allowing them to search for, and add images of that topic. Google was quick to cite “bread” as a possible topic, which, according to Social Media Today, is a direct nod to recent Pinterest trends.

Subtlety never was Google’s strongest suit, and that seems to be a theme they’re reiterating here. Perhaps that’s why the Google Graveyard, a site we’ve addressed in the past, is full of tools that didn’t live up to their original inspiration (one of the latest additions being the half-baked Google Hangouts). Google Keen shows promise, but one can’t help but remember how Google’s Circles feature fared in Facebook’s shadow.

Keen is available for web and Android platforms, which answers one question while raising a few more. For example, while it makes sense that Google would brand Keen for their own smartphone audience, iPhone Google usage is notably high, and the Pinterest crowd loves a clean aesthetic (that’s another point in the Apple camp). As such, it might be in Google’s best Pinterests–I mean, interests–to implement an iPhone presence for the app as well.

It is worth noting that Google has taken deliberate inspiration from Pinterest in a lot of ways. So Keen may be a way for them to tout their adopted features and familiarize users with them so that, in the long run, they are able to begin migrating traffic back to their own platform from Pinterest. In a time in which any competition may open the door to disaster down the road, this is a move that, despite skepticism, makes sense.

After all, the Google Graveyard is operating at capacity, yet the tech behemoth continues to chug away. Who knows where their newest “innovation” may take them?

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