Category Archives: Twitter

Twitter is getting a lot more like Facebook. In an effort to retain users who don’t necessarily know what to do with Twitter once they sign up (ie, most people) and in order to separate the signal from the noise, Twitter is rolling out a new look and feel. Initially, only new users and occasional celebrities seem to have the new format. I found it on actor Channing Tatum’s Twitter profile.

Twitter's New Look and Feel includes a large cover image

Twitter’s New Look and Feel includes a large cover image. Click to view full-size image.

Large cover image: Similar to Facebook, Twitter has gone for a simplified layout, including a white background and a large cover photo. I haven’t yet found the dimensions of this photo, but it’s pretty large.

Three column format: The flotsam and jetsam have now been separated into three columns. Your profile photo and bio are moved to the left-hand column. When scrolling up, your profile photo jumps into the always present menu bar.

Menu bar: A menu bar at the top of the stream allows you to view tweets, tweets with photo and video, followers and more.

Pinned tweets: You can now pin a tweet to the top. In this example, there is a pinned tweet from Feb 7, and the rest of the tweets are more recent. This is sort of an extension of your profile bio, in that you can share what you’re about in a single tweet.

Subpages have card formats. Click to view the full size image.

Subpages have card formats. Click to view the full size image.

Subpages: Subpages, such as Tweets with Photos and Video or Following are now displaying in a card format, which is similar in form to Pinterest. I suspect because all of this information is extremely visual, the card format is the best mode of presentation.

Popular tweets are called out. Click to view the full-size image.

Popular tweets are called out. Click to view the full-size image.

Popular Tweets: Tweets that are retweeted, replied to, favorited and just generate a lot of interaction appear in a larger font within your stream. Again, this is an effort to separate the signal from the noise. That said, I find the stupidest things I tweet often get the most interaction, for no discernible reason. We’ll see how this works out.

Again, the new format is slowly rolling out to everyone over the next few weeks. If you haven’t had a Twitter account before, this is the time to grab it with the new format immediately. The rest of us just have to wait.

Cheers!

fingerprintBy now, most of us realize that the US government is tracking our online activity (it’s just to what extent, we’re still a bit unsure), but it’s probably safe to say the bureaucrats know more about us than we’d like them to know. What’s more disturbing, however, is the extent that advertising and marketing companies go to determine who you are, what you do, what you buy, and who you buy from. And it’s no longer just your online activity: data mining allows companies to combine your offline activity with your online activity to create a more accurate profile of everything you do. This aggregation should cause more concern than anything the NSA is doing, and as of now, it’s completely unregulated.

Ever heard of Acxiom? Probably not. Well, Acxiom has heard of you. In fact, they probably know more about you than many of your own family members. Acxiom currently runs 23,000 servers that process more than 50 trillion data transactions per year. Acxiom has dropped over 1.1 billion cookies onto hundreds of millions of Americans’ computers, they have constructed over 200 million mobile profiles and average about 1,500 pieces of data per consumer. Scott Howe, the Acxiom CEO has stated, “Our digital reach will soon approach nearly every Internet user in the US.”

The recent hacking of Target’s commerce system has been widely reported, but what you may not know is what Target knows about you. Target assigns each customer a unique “Guest ID” which is linked to their credit card number, email address and/or name. Every purchase or interaction the customer has with Target is linked to their unique Guest ID. You tend to buy a lot of yogurt, live in San Francisco, and shop with your American Express? Target takes this data and links them to your profile, and then uses it to market more products to you. This seems harmless at first glance, and some would argue that targeted advertising is valuable, however, this data can be aggregated, diced and sliced to predict your future behavior. Target will know if you’re pregnant based on what you purchase. They’ll use that data to predict when you will be interested in buying diapers. Of course, they won’t stop there. They’ll know the gender of your baby when he/she is born, and be able to market to them as well. Lock them in at birth! This is valuable data for other companies too. PetCo will know if you’re buying dog food for your “older pet” and sell the data to insurance companies that will then encourage you to buy health insurance. Sound creepy? Creepier than the NSA logging your phone calls?

Sure, the NSA’s tracking activities should be a major concern, but you might also want to think about what advertising, marketing and data mining companies are doing “behind the scenes” with all those breadcrumbs you’re leaving behind.

Starting yesterday, if you have an Amex card, you can now tweet to buy products. Amex has teamed with Twitter to launch the first “pay by tweet” service. Amex cardholders simply send a short message with a hashtag to make a purchase. Out of the gate, Amex offered a $25 American Express gift card for only $15 if cardholders would register their card and then send a tweet with the #BuyAmexGiftCard25 hashtag. It took me just two minutes to register my card, and then seconds after sending the tweet, @AmexSync tweeted me to confirm with a follow-up tweet, and then no fax no direct deposit payday loans my gift card was purchased.

Coming next, synced cardholders will be able to accept offers from merchants by tweeting the hashtag in the offer. If I get an offer from Target that digital cameras are on sale, I could simply tweet the hashtag #BuyDigitalCameraTarget, for example.

The big question is — will consumers feel comfortable making purchases this way? Will they be more inclined to make “smaller” purchases using “pay by tweet”? What are the security issues? It’s good for Twitter to team with Amex first, since their trustworthiness is high with consumers, but are their cardholders early adopter types?