Linkspotting: Links We Liked This Month

Check out some of the most talked about and linked to stories on the Web this month and find out why members of our Social Media Group say you should take note.

Getting Real About Social Media

Selected by Jasmine Lyons

We love the possibilities that social media creates for brands, but at the same time, it’s important to set expectations for what social can achieve. In this topline roundup, Fast Company explored the “6 Unpleasant Truths About Social Media.” And though I agree with all of these unpleasant truths, these are the ones that resonate most:

  • Engagement can’t be seen in dollars. Depending on the activation, brands can’t expect to drive sales simply by having a social media presence or by crafting clever posts. They need to look for opportunities to activate consumers and drive trials, with the goal of establishing loyal customers after they experience the product benefits.
  • Facebook Isn’t a Megaphone. For mega-brands, Facebook engagement is comparatively low – a page with 22 million fans may only receive a few thousand likes and a couple hundred comments, if that! But at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game with marketers, and the majority will say, “We need to have more fans than our competitors.” I’d rather have a smaller brand communities with higher engagement, where it’s obvious they are deepening brand loyalty and personal connections with consumers.
  • You’re Being Watched. It still surprises me how many brands disregard the rules that social platforms enforce. Take for instance, Facebook’s rule against using a post as a sweepstakes. I’ve seen and heard countless times from friends in the industry and smaller brands that since they “fly under the radar” they’ll take their chances with breaking this rule. Our POV: If it’s against the rules, we don’t recommend it; and whether the rule-breaking is noticed or not, it’s not worth the risk.

Twitter Re-visualized

Selected by Victor DeVries

Doesn’t using Twitter sometimes feel like hard work? You just scroll and scroll through endless text, links and hashtags, without a proper picture of what’s really important. “Twheel Reimagines Twitter with Cognitive Science and Circles” explores Tweel, a cool iPhone app fixes that by using your Twitter data to re-visualize your timeline as a wheel of news.

Within the wheel, white bars show the retweet count, so you can easily spot the hot items of the day, and it also remembers the tweets you’ve already read. The app is designed to help our brains process Twitter’s barrage of information. According to the company, “Twheel does not curate or filter information, but reshapes the way data is displayed based on our understanding of human cognition.” In other words: The app makes our Twitter life more efficient and fun!

What Twitter Could have Been

Selected by Ben Foster

App.Net is a service created by a guy who believes Twitter should have been a fundamental communication protocol rather than a platform for marketers and advertisers. The creator of, Dalton Caldwell, recently posted an article, “What Twitter Could have Been,” laying out his argument; if you like what you hear, you can try out his alterative, which uses real-time messaging to connect various services in a novel way.

App.Net is like Twitter, but it costs US$50 to sign up. Tens of thousands of people signed up for the Alpha (including yours truly) and invitations are slowly going out. The hope is that by paying for the service and building it slowly, developers will be able to build new an improved functionality through a completely open API. Translation: Cool stuff that isn’t limited by the sales department at Twitter.

Will users flock to a service like this at the expense of advertisers like our clients? It’s too soon to say, but I’m watching it because I still think that Twitter is the greatest thing to happen to the Internet since Google.

Twitter Rolls Out Restrictions to API Use

Selected by Grant Johmann

Twitter announced in a blog post, “Twitter’s API Update Cuts Off Oxygen to Third-Party Clients”that it will be rolling out changes and restrictions to its API in the coming weeks that were expected but unlikely to be popular with developers who tap into their API to run apps and platforms. Any client involved in such an app will want to take notice.

On tap for the changes is an authentication requirement to enforce additional platform security, as many users are currently accessing the API without providing Twitter any identification. Additionally, there will be a reduction in how many requests developers can pull every hour from Twitter. But perhaps the biggest change lies in enforced brand guidelines for how third parties receive and display tweets. Twitter is shifting from “display guidelines” to “display requirements,” which all apps displaying tweets will have to follow, or face cancellation of API access. In addition, Twitter applications pre-installed on hardware devices will need to be pre-approved by Twitter, and will add additional restrictions to third-party clients with large numbers of users.