What to make of Twitter #music

Last week it finally happened: Twitter launched its own music service in Twitter #music. This is “a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter.” Like so many other music and content-oriented services out there, Twitter is trying to crack the holy grail that is ‘discovery’.

Here are three reasons why I think Twitter is in a fairly good position to do so:

  1. It knows what’s popular – Since Twitter’s acquisition of music service We Are Hunted, which specialised in analysing the likes of Twitter and making recommendations accordingly, the question has been how Twitter would encourage its users to discover music. An obvious first angle is to highlight music that’s popular, showing “new music trending on Twitter” (see Fig. 1 below). The tracks on here are irrespective of a user’s taste or the artists you’re following on Twitter.
  2. It can point you in the direction of new talent – I’d love to find out more how Twitter’s algorithm compile the artists and bands that appear in its “Hidden talent found in the Tweets” screen (see Fig. 2 below). Twitter suggests over a 100 artists who are considered “emerging”. Because Twitter Music primarily focuses on the artist, it will let users discover new music through the artist. For instance, when I click through on The Blank Tapes, one of the emerging talents mentioned, I get a neat overview of all the artists that The Blank Tapes follow (see Fig. 3 below).
  3. It’s dynamic! – The dynamic nature of Twitter is probably best symbolised by Twitter Music’s #nowplaying view which displays those tracks tweeted by the people that you follow. The tracks that appear on this screen are likely to change in rapid succession (obviously dependent on the number and kinds of people you follow and their Twitter activity).
  4. It’s cross-platform – Users can currently access Twitter #music via the web and iOS. An Android version is set to follow soon, with Twitter also looking to expand the service beyond the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. One can imagine a tablet version to also be introduced soon. Apart from being cross-platform (which was to be expected), Twitter Music offers a tight integration with iTunes, Rdio and Spotify. By default, you users can listen to track snippets through iTunes and will have to log into to Rdio or Spotify account to listen to the full-length track. Twitter is thus creating its own – fairly closed – ecosystem around music and music discovery.

Main learning point: in a way, with “Twitter #music”, Twitter has launched a music service that very much does what you’d expect it to do. With the amount of ‘social data’ that Twitter has of its users and the activity on their platform, you’d expect nothing short of a highly usable and ‘intelligent’ music service. Twitter #music definitely delivers on those fronts: it provides a good user experience, it’s visually appealing and – most importantly – it does stimulate users to discover new music.

However, Twitter’s new music service still feels fairly one dimensional. Opportunities to actively engage with artists are limited and ways to find out about more things than just their music (e.g. live dates, discographies) are non-existent. It would be great to see Twitter build on its music service by adding more ‘interaction’ over the next few months.

Fig. 1 – Sample “Popular – New music trending on Twitter” view 

FireShot Screen Capture #029 - 'Popular I #Music' - music_twitter_com_i_chart_popular

Fig. 2 – Sample “Emerging – Hidden talent found in the Tweets” view

FireShot Screen Capture #028 - 'Emerging I #Music' - music_twitter_com_i_chart_emerging

Fig. 3 – Sample of viewing the artists followed by the artist you follow

FireShot Screen Capture #027 - 'Artists followed by The Blank Tapes I #Music' - music_twitter_com_theblanktapes

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://music.twitter.com/
  2. http://evolver.fm/2013/04/12/twitters-trending-music-app-set-to-arrive-on-web-ios-android-to-follow/
  3. http://blog.twitter.com/2013/04/now-playing-twitter-music.html
  4. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/apr/12/twitter-apple-music-streaming-service
  5. http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/?newsid=3442038&pagtype=allchandate
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9994422/Twitter-Music-coming-soon-officially.html
  7. http://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/why-twitter-music-should-only-be-considered-a-small-first-step/
  8. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2013/apr/22/twitter-music-iphone-app-review

Do you have Klout?

What is the appeal of Klout, a service which provides social media analytics that measures a user’s influence across their social network? The Klout Score uses data from a user’s social networks like Twitter and Facebook in order to measure:

True Reach – This measures the number of people you influence. It concentrates on the people who act on the content posted by a user, by responding or sharing it.

AmplificationHow much do you influence people? When a users posts a message or other content, how many people spread it further?

Network Impact – This measures indicates the influence by the people in my “True Reach”. How often do ‘top influencers’ (think Robert Scoble or Lady Gaga) share or respond to a user’s content?

The analysis is done on data taken from sites such as Twitter and Facebook and measures the size of a person’s network, the content created, and how other people interact with that content. Klout recently added LinkedIn, Foursquare, and YouTube data to its algorithm. Scores vary from 0-100, with 100 being the most influential.
Apart from giving you a score, Klout will also provide you with a ‘label’ based on your score and online behaviour; for instance, am I a ‘celebrity’, a ‘tastemaker’ or ‘thought leader’? To me personally these kinds of labels don’t mean that much to me, but I can well imagine that people will look at their scores and labels, which brings me back to the original question,what kind of people do care about their Klout Score and why?
  1. Social media junkies – I can well imagine that if you spend a lot of time on platforms like Twitter or Facebook you want to see what your impact is, even it’s just for fun.
  2. Am I having an impact? Klout will help you in figuring out the impact of the content you put out through your social media networks; who is responding to it and how?
  3. Am I making the right impact? I’ve seen posts from social media consultants advising people to use Klout as part of their ‘influencer strategy’, which I guess comes down to assessing whether you’re acting as a ‘thought leader’ or ‘tastemaker’ and if you’e reaching your target audience.
  4. Tailor your content strategy – Using Klout to generate insights regarding points 2. and 3. can help you in (re) assessing your content strategy and in making sure its customised to meet the needs and interests of your target audience.
  5. Other business related stuff – This is where things in my opinion get a bit murkier, but there are social media consultants who suggest using Klout scores to for example create candidate shortlists for job interviews, to put certain people on guest lists or to accept speakers (with a minimum Klout score) for an event.

Main learning point: Having looked into it, I can imagine who would use Klout and why. If you’re very active in the social media space, have got something to sell (be it content, a service or a product) or are generally interested in finding out your social media impact, then Klout can be a helpful tool. However, by its own admission, the Klout score is susceptible to people gaming the system and pulling all kinds of simple tricks to improve their score. Especially in cases where businesses start using the Klout score to select job candidates or invite people to events, it all becomes a bit too tricky for my liking. In short: I can see why people use it but it wouldn’t be for me!

Related links for further learning:

http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2011/09/20/klout-ceo-joe-fernandez-talks-with-us-about-the-future-of-social-influence-scoring/

http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/09/30/klout-has-competition-peoplebrowsr-announces-new-social-influence-tracker-kred/

http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=21023

http://mashable.com/2011/06/22/klout-gate/

http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2011/09/15/social-analytics-tool-klout-rolls-out-topic-pages/

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/your-klout-score-why-you-need-to-care-now-063391

http://www.mengonline.com/community/newsroom/meng_blend/blog/2011/09/27/why-klout-really-matters

http://ariherzog.com/klout-scores-and-you/

How social media reacted to Bin Laden’s death

I just came across some interesting stats by Mashable on “How the Social Web Reflected on Bin Laden’s Death”.

A day after the news of the killing of Osama Bin Laden broke, it’s interesting to reflect on the role social media played in the breaking and sharing of this news. Moreover, Twitter and Facebook really provided people with the perfect platform to express (and share) their feelings and opinions in relation to the death of Bin Laden.

These are the main things I learned from Mashable’s research:

  1. As news about Bin Laden’s death started to spread, Twitter was recording about 12.4m tweets per hour.
  2. Similarly, an “Osama Bin Laden is dead page” on Facebook generated over 442k “likes” within a day.
  3. A picture of a tense looking President Obama following the secret operation saw 600k views within the hour of the photo appearing on Flickr.
  4. Finally, YouTube turned out to be an important hub for professional journalists and ordinary citizens alike, with more than 13k uploads of Bin Laden related videos within a day.

Let’s not forget that the raid that killed Bin Laden was first revealed on Twitter by an IT consultant who lives in Abbottabad where the raid took place. He tweeted, amongst other things, “a helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)” as well as drawing in information from other locals who were also online at that time.

Main learning point: I feel that historic world events like the killing of Bin Laden really demonstrate the significance and value of social media. The speed and volume with which platforms like Twitter and Facebook enable news to spread and people to connect is really incredible. Especially the opportunity social media provides for people to express themselves and to share their opinions so rapidly and at such a scale is unparalleled.



HoverMe adds social context to the people you follow

I’m pretty sure there must be quite a few people out there who find it a pain to have to look at other people’s profiles in a separate places like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a functionality to connect the various social profiles of each individual user?

HoverMe is a new browser add-on that enables users to see the social web profile of their friends, simply by hovering over the name of the person in your Twitter feed. The HoverMe profile provides links links to the person’s other profiles on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Delicious.

There’s one aspect of However that stands out for me:

  1. It’s all about “contextual social information” – HoverMe adds contextual social information about who you follow. Users will be able to get a much more ‘rounded picture‘ by seeing their friends‘ info and activities through a range of different social profiles.

I feel that this is very strong feature of HoverMe, it makes it very easy to jump straight into someone’s profiles on a whole host of sites. However, there are some limitations to the current version of HoverMe which I hope will be addressed in the forseeable future; it only works in (the latest version) of Twitter and not in any of the other key sites such as Facebook or Delicious.

Main learning point: HoverMe is a very useful browser plug-in that will provide user with a lot of context and additional information about the people they are following on Twitter. Having only launched last week, I really hope that HoverMe will eventually also become available in popular sites such as Facebook and Delicious.

Related links for further learning:

http://www.hvr.me/

http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/23/see-your-twitter-friends-social-profiles-with-hoverme/