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More than likely, you’ve encountered a “meme,” an article, photo, video or other digital file type which disseminates quickly through the Internet. These nuggets of information drop into our computer screen at the speed of digital transfer, and are propagated faster than fact checkers can say ‘misinformation’.

Which is not to say that every meme is a lie…But when dealing with information that can’t necessarily be verified, how can you be sure which is which? For those of you who have ever found yourself questioning whether the Tweet you’re reading is truth or meme, help is on the way. Researchers at Indiana University have developed a tool called Truthy, which analyzes the diffusion of Tweets in order to detect whether they are genuine groundswells of social sentiment or intentional spreading of misinformation.

The tool’s algorithms are complex and use several data input streams, including Truthy-user feedback, to identify misleading memes – a great use of Web 2.0 to improve data analysis system architecture. Check out the tool and see if you can spot any fishy memes!

Twitter can be a lot of things to a lot of different people. One way I use it is to get articles delivered to me from RSS feeds I might not absolutely have to read every day (I’ve got Google Reader for that). One cool service I’ve recently discovered is Paper.li. Paper.li lets you create a virtual Twitter newspaper, collecting the content from an account, a hashtag, or list. The site compiles the information that floats by all day and presents it in a format that is readable and might call attention to some of the stuff you missed throughout the day.

I’ve created a version from the W5 twitter feed and it’s an easy way to browse all the stuff I miss during the day.

We see a lot of data and present it in a lot of different ways, so when someone is out there analyzing the analysis it brings out the research geek. I tripped across Junk Charts today, a site dedicated to highlighting some of the worst in infographics. You can also follow the site on twitter, here.

Well, it was only a matter of time before Twitter found a way to incorporate advertisements into its social networking structure.

Today is the apparent unveiling of its advertising plan, which Twitter calls “Promoted Tweets” (although after searching for 30 minutes and not being able to find an ad I promptly gave up).  With Promoted Tweets, Twitter plans on incorporating advertisements into the Twitter live stream that relate to the personal search choices of its users.  The promoted Tweet advertising plan, however, differs from that of Google, Yahoo, and even Facebook, which all place their advertisements on the right side of their web page.  Unlike other social networking sites, Twitter only plans to display one ad at a time and plans to place the individual ads, which resemble normal Tweets, above the search results Twitter feed.

Advertisers will initially have to purchase key words that allow their ads to be displayed at the top of the Twitter feed when users use that key word in their searches.  Twitter is also in the process of developing a performance model called ‘resonance’ to determine pricing for its Promoted Tweets.  Similar to the pay per click model, Twitter’s resonance model will attempt to judge the impact of a particular ad by measuring the amount of times the ad is passed around, marked as a favorite, or how often users click the posted links on the advertisement, in order to determine price for ads.  The more demand and popularity for an ad, the longer it will stay around.

I was skeptical at first about Twitter’s Promoted Tweet’s plan, and not able to recognize the difference between a Starbucks Promoted Tweet and the normal tweets Starbucks puts out daily to promote its brand and products.  Why would a brand pay for something that it is already doing for free?  However, it is important to recognize the fluidity of Twitter.  Twitter is constantly being updated by its users, and as a result individual Tweets do not remain in one place for long.  The Promoted Tweet plan allows advertisers to display a message without fear of it being engulfed in the constantly updated stream of Tweets.  While Twitter’s advertising strategy is certainly unique, it is up to Twitter to convince advertisers, who will still have access to the promotional capabilities of a Twitter account free of charge, that its Promoted Tweets plan is worth the investment.

Twitter is what’s social media is becoming. It never stops growing. I have an account but don’t really like updating on-the-go – mainly because I’m terrible at keeping up with it. What I like about it is to follow others – not necessarily people but brands, organizations and even causes. I use it like another type of Google Reader. Very recently, low-price airline JetBlue launched a new promotion for their 10th anniversary, where they handed out free tickets to their Twitter-followers in Manhattan. The location of the giveaways was only announced via their Twitter account. The people chasing the tickets had to bring some JetBlue-related stuff to the destinations in order to get their award, and by doing so; they had to research JetBlue on the web.

At each destination there was over 300 tickets waiting for each crowd. Within minutes each time after the release, they were gone. Clever, I must say. This can obviously be risky business, but I actually like this form of marketing. If you can engage people, make something good, get a smile or two back – you have won so much more than new business. I would argue that your reputation is by far more important than the profit, even in shorter terms. Have a look at  JetBlue’s Twitter account, apparently the journey continues. This is exactly what Twitter is for in my opinion – to connect people and to connect businesses, to enlighten us but also to engage us on a daily basis. Give something, and you’ll receive something back.

In the last week, all Twitter users were given the Twitter List functionality. What are they? On the surface lists look like an extension of what Twitter already does, essentially giving the user more timelines. In reality, the simple add on has a lot of uses, including:

  • The ability to de-clutter and organize those you’re following
  • The ability to get updates without having to follow someone in your main stream
  • A great way to see what others are doing and find new people

In a sense, this move has made Twitter more useful and immediate. It gives the user the ability to switch views from the immediate and constant to custom streams that can be viewed occasionally. Twitter was a great tool at the recent Planningness event (check out the twitter search results to see how it unfolded). A tool like lists would let you isolate all those people and view it in a stream without also hearing from your other friends, news sources, and misc. tweeple you might follow.

The New York Times jumped on the bandwagon early and developed all kinds of lists from a complete list of their tweeting staff (@nytimes/staff) to specialized lists on technology (@nytimes/nyt-technology-bits-blog) and the World Series (@nytimes/nyt-world-series-2009). I’ve seen plenty of other lists out there as well.

W5 hasn’t created any lists yet. While we will, I think it would be more interesting to see what our followers might want to see from us. Any ideas for the types of lists you’d like to see?  Leave them in the comments or send me at e-mail mmolloy@w5insight.com if you’re shy.

A lot of businesses are trying to make heads or tails out of social media and how to use it, especially the micro-blogging site Twitter. While a company may not be able to direct the stream to where it wants it to go, being aware of how it can positively or negatively impact your brands, products, corporate image, etc. is becoming increasingly important. Case in point: summer movies.

A few summer films expected to be hits were panned by early audiences leading to consumers shunning the films later that weekend. It appears that Bruno suffered from a rather acute form negative word of mouth catching fire. This past weekend, however, a success story was in the works as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds actually picked up steam from Twitter, despite mixed initial reviews from traditional news sources and critics.Twitter Search

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s another great example of the conversation taking place independent of traditional media or the intent of marketing managers. Consumers are discussing everything from products to brands to customer service. Knowing what they’re saying is becoming increasingly important to keeping them satisfied.

New Picture

As was seen in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death, Twitter has become the new go-to place for news. It was one of the first to report Jackson’s death, it was correct, and it was significantly faster than most of the main news sources. So what’s the problem with this? Well according to Twitter, Rick Astley, Britney Spears, Natalie Portman, and Jeff Goldblum are all dead.  Clearly, this is not true.

It seems that people are more concerned with obtaining information quickly than worrying about the validity of the content. What people are forgetting is that, despite delivering compelling hearsay, Twitter is not a legitimate news source.

Perhaps Twitter’s only positive affect on the news industry has been restoring faith in fact-based news reporting of the New York Times, CNN and Fox News. Still, it is a shame that it’s now the job of reputable news sources to clean up Twitter’s mess.