In the aftermath of laying off more than 300 employees, now it is at it again. This time it will lay-off another 300+ employees. And this time, it seems that Twitter will shrink its sales force. Sort of ironic when you think about it. The company needs to boost sales and what does it do? Cut its sales staff. No matter.
Twitter is not going to make it as a for-profit company on its own. It needs a buyer and if I were CEO Jack Dorsey, I’d be looking for one. The fact is, the millions of its users don’t purchase sponsored ads. And the corporations that should be buying sponsored ads are losing faith in Twitter because their targeted consumers aren’t responding to sponsored ads. Twitter’s ad model is not working. I wrote last year that Twitter needs to reinvent itself. It needs to disengage itself from Wall Street. Maybe it’s too late. But proving itself as an earnings machine to satisfy the craven lust of its stockholders is not a model the company can sustain. I re-iterate that Twitter must become a public benefit corporation should it want to continue to try and succeed on its own.
It would make sense for Google to purchase Twitter but it can wait. Twitter will continue to bleed until it becomes desperate. Google once featured Tweets when it worked out an arrangement with Twitter to do just that. But then disagreements ensued and Twitter vanished from the Google feed. It would be advantageous for Google to buy it and play catch-up to Facebook in the social media game. But how to make Twitter profitable would be the problem and as I already suggested, Twitter’s value lies not in its profitability but in its public utility. It is valued by journalists and media and heavily used by various people around the globe to express opinions and receive updates. It would make a great PR move for Google if it acquired Twitter and kept it running as a free service without the need for sponsored ads.
In the end, Twitter is a another great example of a product that should never have gone public and only did so at the behest of greedy investors, and certainly its founders. Does anyone remember what Twitter was originally created for? Noa Glass founded the platform for podcasting. Then Jack Dorsey came into the picture saying the product needed to work as a “status” product, meaning you could use it to inform people of where you are. Twitter needs to go back to its roots and ultimately serve the public as a means to deliver important information fast. It is not for social media. It’s utility lies in helping people get necessary and important updates on events that impact anyone in around the world. It’s been corrupted by capitalist, corporate greed.
Twitter announced layoffs last this past week. It caught a few people by surprise. But it didn’t catch me by surprise. That’s because I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with Twitter since its very inception back in 2006. Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder, was originally inspired to create Twitter as a dispatch platform system. It eventually morphed into a SMS platform allowing you up to 140 characters for every message tweeted. I recall when Twitter came out my first reaction was, “oh great, another social media tool.” This was back when social media continued its explosive ways, inspiring the development of a multitude of social-oriented applications designed to further communication and/or socializing among users (whether they actually wanted to or not). In the early 2000s, we were inundated by the likes of Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, and of course, Facebook. The explosion of these social media applications astounded me because it seemed as if they appeared out of nowhere and I never imagined that so many platforms could exist for the express purpose of getting people to socialize more. The only one that truly seemed to serve a valuable purpose was LinkedIn as I saw the utility of professional networking.
Twitter made little sense to me because when it comes to “social,” I know no one in life who enjoys the constraints of communicating in 140 characters. Yes, there was a novelty with Twitter. And Shakespeare did write that “brevity is the soul of wit.” But after participating in a few Twitter chats, I found myself growing impatient and bored. On the flip side, some businesses that did take advantage of Twitter have found it fairly effective for customer service and increasing sales. But even with those success stories, Twitter struggles to become profitable. Worse, it’s not been able to find a way to generate sufficient profits from its advertising. On top of that because it accepted venture capital to build and develop itself, it was forced to go public even when it was not earning a profit.
To economize anything would suggest saving money and potentially time. Twitter forces you to express a message in 140 characters or less and messaging is done fairly instantaneously. However, I’m not using Twitter on a daily basis. And I’m not using it on a weekly basis. I spend more of my time on Facebook. Why? The interface allows for an easier consumption of information AND I’m not restricted to 140 characters in my posts or responses. Editorial commenting is now the chief central way for the average person to interact with the news of the day. Pretty much every corporate media entity, from the New York Times to the Huffington Post has a Facebook presence which sends oodles of traffic to its web pages. People do click on the stories posted and more importantly, they are commenting on the stories via the platform, in this case, Facebook. Responding to comments on Twitter just doesn’t offer the same allure as on Facebook. Facebook offers more than a SMS. It offers real, substantive engagement.
My hope for Twitter is that it would ultimately change its mission and go from putting profit first to becoming an actual public benefit corporation. Kickerstarter made a big announcement having just recently morphed into a PBC. It’s difficult now that Twitter is a public company beholden to its shareholders. Twitter was at its best as an emergency SMS. I ultimately would like to see a Twitter technology funded by taxpayers and managed by a government entity that is responsive and beholden to the public interest and not profits.
Helping community managers and social media marketers curate, share and create content
Let’s face it. Scaling social media is hard for both B2B and B2C players. Driving greater levels of engagement (and ultimately sales) remains an uphill battle for many, in particular, those in eCommerce. A number of major brands over the past two years have opened and then shuddered their Facebook shops, including J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, Gap, and GameStop. For marketers trying to gauge what a like, a share, or a comment ultimately signifies, the first stop is collecting this data. The next stop is generating the content that will speak to their audience. A few enterprise SaaS players want to help brands better leverage their social media muscle and one of them is Rallyverse.
Rallyverse is the brainchild of a few ex-Microsoft employees, all of whom worked in the ad/tech industry but shared an itch to make improvements in the way social media can influence advertising. I got the opportunity to try out Rallyverse and according to Gabe Bevilacqua, co-founder and VP, Biz Dev, “we let the brand define where they want to play and expand the reach of what they are doing with just a few clicks.” For community managers and social media marketers, Rallyverse (a Twitter-certified partner) aims to keep track of all of your owned and paid social media by helping you curate, respond, and post more relevant, engaging content to your target audience. It seeks to provide users with a dashboard of real-time recommendations so you’re never again stuck with the question, “What do I say today?”
Rallyverse takes a page from Pinterest’s groundbreaking tile platform
When you first login to your account, you’re immediately struck by the platform’s similarity to Pinterest, with tiles stacking up on top of each other. Images are vital components for triggering your levels of engagement and Gabe acknowledges Pinterest’s lead in promoting the tile format. Rallyverse examines your sources of content (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) in order to assign it a certain score. Using its own proprietary algorithm, it will serve up a baseline of recommended content based on your criteria. Under SETTINGS, in the left-hand column, you provide select keywords, categories, influencers, including those topics you don’t want Rallyverse to search for.
In my case, I focused on keywords such as content marketing, social media marketing, and social media technology. Rallyverse will curate content from any of the sites and services where you post content. In this case, that would include YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and your own personal feed from your blog. You can also enter the RSS, Atom, or XML feeds for any site and Rallyverse will add relevant content from those sites to your profile.
Users can set publishing frequencies (for example, one post every 60 minutes), and then can schedule individual messages for what Rallyverse calls “Optimized Publishing.” Within each time window, the platform will evaluate each eligible message and publish the one that is most relevant at that time.
Once you’ve entered all of your essential criteria for the content you want tracked, you click on the Rallyverse blue button and let the fun begin.
Capturing trending content
Rallyverse will populate your content within seconds. In reviewing each tile, you have an opportunity to thumb it up or down (thumbing it down will cause the tile to disappear from view), and Rallyverse provides its own “star-rating” for each tile of content. According to Gabe, its unique algorithm interprets each piece of content for you, the user, creating the star rating. The more stars highlighted, the more relevant the content is for you.
Inside a tile is a camera icon, which when you click on it, opens up, allowing you to repost it, make revisions to the content itself (including image), schedule a new delivery time for the content, or even turn it into a paid ad. You can also save it as a draft and revisit it at a later date. Rallyverse will also automatically shorten URLs for you (when tweeting, for example). It will also add hashtags automatically for you.
Rallyverse features a separate Conversations topic, which when you click on it will show you what social media you’ve posted has been retweeted or shared by one of your Twitter followers, including responses to your Tweets. It will document any Facebook interactions you’re having, including likes, comments, and shares.
One feature that I particularly liked was the ICYMI topic. ICYMI stands for “in case you missed it.” When a tile is tagged ICYMI, it means Rallyverse has determined it met a minimum click threshold (again, based on its own proprietary algorithm), and will bring it back to your attention. This certainly can help community managers and marketers understand what forms of content are more effective than others in generating engagement. Gabe told me that his company’s clients very much appreciate ICYMI as it constantly acts as reminder of just how much you need to nurture your social media content in order to help it grow and spread.
A feature I couldn’t take full advantage (being only a single user) was the parent/child relationships that Ralleyverse created to facilitate better social media scaling. The platform allows organizations to scale their social media efforts by sharing content for publishing between different users and Profiles. Child profiles can publish content that is shared by parent profiles as well as their own recommendations.
Reports – how can you track social media engagement without analytics?
What would a social media platform be without any analytics reporting? Once you’ve connected your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, you get the opportunity to review just what types of action were recorded once you’ve begun posting and sharing content.
Rallyverse currently goes back no more than two months when reviewing your owned content. It provides you with a graph, summarizing all of your channel’s engagement. Rallyverse details your click percentage by hour. This means the percentage of total clicks that were recorded for a post that took place in a particular hour. Establishing a percentage based on the volume of clicks seems a bit off to me and Gabe said Rallyverse’s platform is currently displaying clicks an hour early so you’re not getting an up to the minute exact summary of your actual clicks. This is something Rallyverse is looking to fix. However, you easily get to see a good overview of each one of your posts and their levels of engagement. You can select a 30-day report, which easily exports into a CRV file.
Is there room for improvement?
Rallyverse is far from perfect. There were a few minor annoyances for me, including the listing of messages underneath my profile that are published by the platform, which confused me. It continues to finely tune both its algorithm and the way it delivers metrics reporting. It also is currently missing additional social media channels for integration into its platform, like StumbleUpon or Reddit, for example. Gabe told me that there are plans to bring on additional social channels but that decision is heavily influenced by client demand. Its platform will undoubtedly continue to evolve as users require more sophisticated metrics that incorporate a greater degree of sentiment analysis. Overall, all of the features I could use worked. I truly got a kick out of watching what content got tweeted or shared and for a spell, I completely forgot about Tweetdeck.
Social media engagement: the never-ending quest for results
Rallyverse is not the only enterprise-level social media engagement platform on the market. Competitors like Percolate and HereSaySocial offer similar features though the technologies may differ. For Gabe, the elusive quest for the ROI of social media marketing makes creating Rallyverse a meaningful step forward. In his words, “I’m constantly surprised by how much our platform seems to understand the pulse of social conversations as they are happening. We’re making sense of the social media noise and doing it in a way that makes it easier for users to consume it. I get a thrill and surprise by our product each and every day.”
Overall, I very much enjoyed Rallyverse’s ease of use and look forward to keeping track of its development. Pricing begins at $500 a month. Request a demo of Rallyverse and let me know what you think.