Talkshow: I hope this is a joke

1gy0-4kj3qjurm9cybw87paThis morning one of the top stories in my Nuzzel newsletter – which puts together the most shared stories from people I follow on Twitter, so that I don’t get FOMO – was about Talkshow, a messaging app that allows you to text publicly.

Don’t get me wrong, I like texting. I text cat pictures, screenshots of internet funnies, comments about my breakfast, questions about my friends’ relationships, all the standard stuff. I use iMessage interchangeably with WhatsApp. And the majority of my message threads would be totally fine to appear in public. What I use Twitter for is public conversations: things I’d be happy for my friends to see, but I would also quite like other people to see it if they want to.

Anybody with a significant following on Twitter is likely also using it to have public back-and-forth conversations with one or two individuals. Often the same individuals – maybe their former editor, or a housemate, or someone from their industry who they like to engage in a bit of lighthearted sparring. It works well for public chatter, only occasionally interrupted by random Twitter users.

The two forms of communication – texting and Twitter – serve different functions as far as I’m concerned, and they work relatively well for these functions (even if Twitter is on the decline). But ultimately, quite a lot of what is shared publicly and privately is pretty bloody mundane for anyone not directly involved in whatever is being talked about. Cat pictures, Beyonce comments or otherwise.

So what the hell is Talkshow here for? This has got to be a joke. The messaging app for “texting in public” lets you invite whoever you want to be on your “talkshow” (aka your text thread), and it seems to have blown up in the tech press and beyond overnight (see Mashable, BuzzFeed, all the excitement on Twitter). The idea of it makes me shake my head and tut like a grandma. “Kids these days!” What is so appealing about sharing your random chit chat for others to see? You were doing that anyway on Twitter! And Instagram to an extent. And Snapchat. And so on.

The main reason I thought the app was a joke was because in the blogpost they shared, called Talkshow is texting in public, the founder cites a screenshot of what I think might be the most boring interaction I’ve seen in months:

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Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran’s fascinating text conversation

Internet, we have reached new lows. If that is what I’ve got to look forward to working with as a marketer or a writer, then things look pretty bleak. I don’t care that it was created by Michael Sippey, former VP of Product at Twitter. I don’t care that instant messaging via robots is going crazy at the moment. Or that Christopher Mims, the tech columnist from the Wall Street Journal had this to say about Talkshow:

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What I really think – after having laughed and maybe cried a little – is that Talkshow might go the same way as Jelly and Peach both did, which is to have massive media interest and hype for about three or four days, and then never be mentioned again.

Tweet me if I’m proved wrong @fakebananas

5 Things Worth Following

Follow Friday kitteh

Here are five blogs or people worth following, as decreed by James Whatley, king of social media. Or more specifically, he’s the Lead Social Strategist at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising and Soho Square. I made him talk to me about what I should be reading more of to make an impact in social media, or interesting reads generally, and these are suggestions that cropped up:

1. We Are Social: social media agency with an awesome blog. Not only are they experts in their field and their blogs showcases that, but they have positioned themselves as experts from the very start: with their name.

2. Steve Waddington: definitely follow his blog and Twitter. He’s the European Digital & Social Media Director @KetchumPR and he is excellent if you want to better understand how to work well in PR and social media.

3. Web Curios newsletter: from Imperica, in your inbox every Friday. The first section is social media specific, other than that: lots of random crepe harvested from all over the interwebs.

4. Robert Scoble’s blog: super cool guy, interesting blog,  tech celebrity. Follow his blog or just carry on living in a hole. Whichever. Follow him on Twitter as well.

5. Brown Cardigan: well this one is just a way to lose several hours in the internet’s seedy underbelly. Sometimes NSFW so be careful. Something with a similarly random feel is ConsumeConsume.

Follow them and enjoy x

Meeting Twitter followers in real life

Twitter follower

“How do you know this guy?”

“He’s my Twitter friend.”

“What does that even mean? Is it like that?”

“No, it’s not Like That.”

Ever met up with a stranger who follows you on Twitter? Neither had I, until last night. Neither of us are sure who made the first move when it came to following each other, but @EdwardJamesH and myself (@fakebananas) had a few months of back and forth; replies, retweets and favourites.

I suggested a pub in central London – suitably neutral. I was nervous that he might be slightly arrogant – after all, if your impression of a person is when they are on “broadcast” mode, you never know if that might also be the case in person. I was nervous anyway cos he was a Random Internet Stranger, the sort you’re warned against when you’re younger. I wore trousers with my geeky stripy socks showing so he would know we were friends from Twitter not Tinder (hey, women move in mysterious ways, don’t judge me). He was in a suit, straight from work. As it turns out, we got on really well and had more in common than I would have expected from a Random Internet Stranger.

creepz

So why did our paths even cross in the first place? Truth be told, I can’t actually remember. But the two of us do have overlapping interests, especially copywriting and online marketing. Both of us had been doing what you’re supposed to do on Twitter to get more followers, which is that we helped each other out. Which led to more conversations. We borrowed each other’s content, and offered each other industry-specific advice. Recently Edward even tweeted the link to a cover letter I wrote, to support my job application. We weren’t afraid to ask for each other’s help – after all, “it’s only Twitter”. No biggie. 140 characters of effort.

Something that took me by surprise and I was really pleased about was that we’d both really listened online. I had provided feedback on Edward’s blogposts, he said he found the articles I tweet really interesting, and we talked about some of them in detail, made recommendations and… Well, it struck me that we had exactly the sort of conversations that brands would love to have with their customers. Taking it from 140 characters a pop to nearly two hours of animated chatting. A great experiment for two people in the online marketing world.

In keeping with the blind date feel to this piece, I’ll tell you the gory details: I insisted on paying for the first round (Ed understood, he’s big on equality and all that!), we walked to the station together, but there wasn’t really a chemical spark. That wasn’t what I was looking for anyway. And it turns out you can’t tell from Twitter that I’m 6’1, so the major height difference was a lot more noticeable offline!

This post also appears on BuzzFeed Community.

Community management: how should startups cultivate their communities?

What happens when you mix coffee, noms, and a group of people who are obsessed with communication? Inspiration happens! The guys at HowDo organised a breakfast for a small group of community managers and other writer-y types from Loopcam, EyeEm, Readmill, GigaOM and Somewhere. There we talked about tone of voice, good examples of community management we’ve implemented or witnessed, and well, we talked a lot about talking.

Writery types

Communications crew. Pinched from @severin

HEY WE’RE AN AWESOME STARTUP! HOW’S IT GOING?

Many startups tend to adopt an enthusiastic, bubbly tone singing the praises of the overwhelming awesomeness of their product and even of life itself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spreading the love, but it can be hard to make yourself heard in this space. Even harder is making your communication style truly unique, while telling your brand story and putting across your values.

Share me

Some startups – and many larger companies – fall victim to a certain narcissism online. Yes, people have ‘Liked’ your page because they like your brand, but keep WIIFM in mind (What’s In It For Me?). Creating shareable content is 1 part magic, 1 part relevance, mixed with 2 parts awesome content. Ok maybe the ratio is wrong but they’re all pretty vital. Tell people what’s happening in your industry. Share other people’s content, sometimes they’ll return the favour. Even play on universal truths. They may be generic, but it’s ok to create or share them from time to time: inspirational images (particularly on Tumblr and Pinterest) and funny videos are incredibly shareable, and will expose your name to a much wider audience, even if the content is less key to your brand. As long as it’s relevant – in your industry, geographic location, whatever – you can play in this space sometimes.

Einstein FTW

I like this Gidsy post because it was timely (Einstein’s birthday) and relevant (imaginative maker types = core users). Generic is sometimes ok! Reach a bigger audience.

Who are you speaking to?

A lot of your output is going to be preaching to the choir. This is invaluable, as you’re keeping your most enthusiastic (and possibly most influential) people topped up with brand love, and they are going to evangelise like anything. But how will you speak to people that don’t already love your product? You might need a different channel for this, for example paid ads, or you could widen the net when posting things to your followers. By being a little more informative and persuasive about your product, there is a small risk of alienating your core group, but the risk the other way round is much bigger. People will simply hide, unlike, or unfollow if you give them irrelevant content.

Offline. Yummy.

Receiving lots of Likes and shares is always a boost, but meeting the users of your product In Real Life is genuinely inspiring. Organising events and meetups gives you a very different perspective than what Google Analytics will tell you, and best of all, it’s really fun! The next step is converting these people so that they actually use your product. Which brands do you think have done a good job offline? An event I enjoyed was an Airbnb open office in London, but that’s probably because I got a Moleskine luggage tag embossed with their logo. Swag is always going to be a winner (if you can afford to do it), swag that’s relevant to your brand is even better.

Which startups are doing this well? I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.