Posts Tagged: twitter

The new multilingual web – vox pops from the ‘man on the tweet’

The internet is becoming increasingly multilingual with each year – currently only about 20% of all web users are native speakers of English, and that number is dropping all the time.

The same is true for the social web – about half of all tweets are in languages other than English, while Facebook’s global success is in no small part due to the network embracing its multilingual audience, translating its pages into more than 50 languages.

In fact, Facebook is fast becoming the most popular social network in countries which have traditionally lagged behind on the social media revolution – for instance Indonesia, which is poised to overtake the UK as the third largest country of Facebook users, and where Indonesian is by far the most used language (80.6%).

The great thing is that this growing online multilingualism has the potential to actually increase cross-cultural communication, rather than decrease it – thanks to ever-more sophisticated translation widgets. And it’s perfect for doing a bit of free market research and opinion gauging in foreign language markets.

Statistical machine translation tools like Google Translate may often throw up hilarious contextual and grammatical errors – and there’s no way you’d trust them for a client-facing, business-critical document – but they can be very handy for getting the gist of international news and opinion.

Say I want to find out the views of Chinese environmentalists on the BP oil spill – now I need only Google Translate the China Green Times newspaper website.

Or let’s say I’m interested in the current climate of opinion on the economy from the centre left and the centre right in France – then I need only translate Le Monde and Le Figaro and browse the Économie sections.

That’s now gone a step further – with the launch of a new extension for Google Chrome, Social Translate, I can now get opinions not only from blogs and the media, but also from the ‘man on the tweet’.

Social Translate integrates with Twitter and Facebook (and with more social networks to come) to automatically translate status updates, and while it’s far from perfect – especially with languages like Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese – that doesn’t mean it’s not a groundbreaking development.

For an online start-up business looking to expand into foreign language markets, these tools are a goldmine. If you don’t have the budget to commission a professional market research survey of a foreign market then that’s no longer a barrier – now you can simply do your own research.

Check out the websites of your competitors, see what their social media presence is and what keywords they’re using, and see what the social media-sphere is saying about their products on Twitter and Facebook. Test the waters, so to speak, and get a view of the world – and a new potential market – that you would otherwise never see.

While these tools still have a way to go before becoming fully functional and reliable, it is exciting to think of a future where translation is integrated into every part of the web, where the language of a webpage will no longer be relevant.

Rather, there will be only a hierarchy of translation quality – those pages which have been translated professionally by humans, and those which have been run through machine translation.

Naturally, while the former will be preferable for content where meaning is crucial, automatic machine translation would be perfectly adequate for content that would otherwise remain lost in a sea of monolingualism.

Imagine being able to visit a Facebook profile in any language and understand the wall posts and comments, and post yourself in the local language, all with the click of a button.

The possibilities for increasing cross-cultural communication, and for consequently opening minds to the potential of international export, are enormous. Perhaps Douglas Adams’ ‘babelfish’ wasn’t so far-fetched after all?

Christian Arno
Founder and Managing Director of translation and localisation agency Lingo24.

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Charities need to be bolder and braver online

The maturing of the online space has meant that we are increasingly finding comfort in tried and tested methods, rolled out time and time again. This often results in multiple brands using similar approaches to fish in the same shrinking ponds, and this should be a cause for real concern.

For charities this is especially concerning. As a sector, we have not on the whole been at the forefront of digital innovation although we have now embraced the breadth of opportunities the online world presents. However, for those charities not currently embracing bold and brave digital marketing, capturing the hearts and minds of the increasingly astute, demanding donors will be difficult. This would be a sad development for the charity sector, especially as it has been built on the lessons that consumer brands are only just getting their heads around. Charities are already capable of selling beliefs not benefits, being transparent, involving rather than informing, encouraging word-of-mouth by providing dinner table conversation starters, aligning donor values with their own and turning a consumer into an ‘armchair volunteer’ for lifetime value. Let’s face it, a little from many is worth more than a lot from a few.

The dynamic relationships that charity brands traditionally have with their donors gives them the ideal platform on which to build innovative ‘open’ campaigns, which Nita Rollins Ph.D. describes in ‘The Open Brand’ as being On-demand, Personal, Engaging and Networked. ‘Open’ is big, it’s bold, but it’s embraced only by brands which have the courage of their convictions. This makes it the ideal brand and communications architecture for charity brands, for what are they founded on other than convictions?

When considering any online activity, charities need to make their offering not only findable and accessible, but immediate. If they are to truly engage donors, content must be real-time and reflective of their needs and expectations. Interactivity in the digital space is becoming increasingly popular and for charities this is a great way to inspire donors and foster active and emotive relationships with them. Through embracing social media strategies, charities have a great opportunity in prompting donors to discuss and interact with their brand. Yes, some do already have Facebook pages and Twitter Feeds, but there is certainly room for improvement.

The issue most brands have with embracing this call for an ‘open’ campaign architecture is that they’re not bold enough to let go. As AG Lafley, CEO of P&G said, “Consumers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands and participate in their creation. We need to learn to let go.” Charities are going to have to face the challenge of giving back to donors, in the form of information, accountability and even giving donors some say in what the charity does. As Nike and Coke discovered, once you open a dialogue with your consumers they expect you to listen and take notice of what they say. Although for many charities this dialogue is already materialising online, others need to go with it instead of resisting the transparency the digital space expects of them.

Living and giving is increasingly becoming part of people’s lives, with thousands taking to the streets to raise funds through their own initiatives. Digital media is playing a crucial role in this evolution. Just Giving, for example, has transformed fundraising. It has allowed individuals to modernise fundraising to just a click while also creating talkability around charity initiatives. The site has set the standard for online fundraising and reflects the willingness of consumers to donate to charity if given a quick and easy option.

Digital doesn’t have to mean just online ads or social media, it’s about encapsulating the brand in the right way for the right audience. There are some great examples out there. Take the RNLI ‘Mystery Package’ campaign which proves that it’s as much about digital as direct, online as offline, cause as purpose, personal as social, and response as relationship. Ultimately, charities have to get by giving. At a basic level, when Dogs Trust asked its Facebook fans for £2 each on January 12th 2009 it received £1,000 within 24 hours. How do you calculate an ROI on an investment of nothing?

For those clients who ask – “Tell me something new?” or “What should I try to break the mould?” Or for those that want to pioneer and are bold enough to champion, let’s work with them to inspire, provide, promote, facilitate and nurture, not just ask.

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It’ll end in tears if you’re just going to Tweet around.

I’ve just been through a whirlwind of social media lately. Conferences, projects, discussions, it’s left me feeling quite anti-social about the whole thing. But stay your burning pitchforks. Do not assault my door as you Tweet that you’ve found a non-believer.

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Twitter Search Deal: Social Networking Now Mainstream

It’s undoubtedly very exciting that Twitter has struck deals with Microsoft and Google which will see people’s tweets added to their respective search engine results.

In certain respects these are landmark deals – rather than a particular search engine trying to take market share off the other, what we’re seeing is two search engines clearly recognising the importance and influence social networking now has within the search marketing space.

The fact is social networking is now mainstream – that the search giants are now actively adding tweets to their search results underlines that.

This isn’t something that has happened over night, and many industry gurus will be quietly thinking ‘I told you so’ and breathing a sigh of relief after years of trying to convince advertisers to take social networking seriously.

In recent years we’ve seen ideas such as desktop search and search content ads fall by the wayside as search companies try to increase revenues and improve user experience.

This latest Twitter deal will be different as it offers something in search results that is incredibly useful to users – opinions, real stories and snippets of information that will help them to navigate the web better, purchase products/services that are right for them, and warn them off anything that perhaps sounds too good to be true.

The integration of tweets into search results needs to be done properly to avoid diluting the quality of search results. ‘Bing’ especially, has spent a lot of time improving relevance.

But for brands, the development means they’ll have an even bigger job on their hands as user opinion spreads even further.

Author: Tim Cook, Group Account Director, CheezeDMG –,

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Does it matter if 24% of tweets are created by bots?

This is just one of the interesting statistics held in the recent report, Inside Twitterby Sysomos, which goes into some serious detail about this most loved and hated darling of the social media set. There are more women twitters than men, 50% of twitterers have less than 6 followers, and Tuesday is the most active day for tweets are just a few of the facts in the report.

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Fakester, Friendster or Fraudster -Tools for effective social networking

Twitter has the badge of distinction of the first mass protest from members at a change it has implemented – thousands of people objecting to a change it has made in replies. At the same time it has been subjected to an amusingly wrathful blog post from rapper Kanye West, who is incensed that the service allows people to impersonate him.

This highlights a strength and weakness of the service. Seven years ago, Friendster was the social network that everyone was talking about. It made a virtue of the fact that it discouraged members from pretending to be someone they weren’t. That meant no “Fakesters” –people pretending to be Homer Simpson or God or Harvard University or a dog. It also meant no “Fraudsters” — people pretending to be someone else,such as Britney Spears or their cousin Billy. “The whole point of Friendster is that you’re connected to somebody through mutual friends, not by virtue of the fact that you both like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,” Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams told the San Francisco Weekly at the time.

However, the “No Fakester” approach violated one of the Internet’s central tenets — anonymity — best embodied by a Peter Steiner cartoon in the New Yorker from 1993 showing a dog in front of a computer screen with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” To many, the power of anonymity is not a luxury but a necessity, the essence of freedom.

By gathering online anonymously, people are free to find others who share their political views or their sexual orientation without fear of repercussion. As a result, many of Friendster’s users revolted. They decried the “Fakester Genocide” on Facebook and vowed to start a “Fakester Revolution.” They wrote a revolutionary document, the “Fakester Manifesto.” The first declaration: “Identity is provisional. Who we are is whom we choose to be at any given moment, depending on personality, whim, temperament, or subjective need.

No other person or organization can abridge that right, as shape-shifting is inherent to human consciousness, and allows us to thrive and survive under greatly differing circumstances by becoming different people as need or desire arises. By assuming the mantle of the Other, it allows us, paradoxically, to complete ourselves. Every day is Halloween.”

MySpace and Facebook subsequently took all of Friendsters users. Twitter is in an interesting situation of being praised by certain celebrities — Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher most famously – for letting them bypass pesky journalists who are liable to twist their words, and speak directly to those who are interested in what they have to say (and then have the media report it later).

However, there is little barrier to fakesters setting up Twitter accounts and gaining vast numbers of followers before anyone can confirm that it is actually a phony account. Is this a major problem for the micro-blogging site? Not really — Kanye West’s somewhat frightening rant aside. James Kirkham, Managing Director of Holler

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Twitter me this, Twitter me that

What are you doing? Brands on Twitter take note: content is key

The phenomenon that is Twitter despite being over two years old has recently exploded into the media landscape. It seems you can’t open a newspaper, consumer mag or trade publication/site without some reference to tweeting- Ashton Kutcher, for example, collecting over 1,000,000 followers or top tips from digital experts on twitterquette.

Whilst early adopters are moving on to create the next big thing, the rest of the web population is converging on the site in their droves and with people, inevitably comes brands. Starbucks, Amazon, ASOS, Coke, eBay, Compare the Market et al have embraced the channel in order to communicate with their target audiences and B2B brands are also jumping on board with many using Twitter as a way to disseminate news to their industry and trade journalists such as Ogilvy, TBWA, AMBV BBDO, Proximity and Wunderman, who are all regular tweeters.

However, like blogs before them, there is a real danger for brands that they’ll jump on the bandwagon with a first flourish of enthusiasm not really thinking through a strategy. For some, the glitter has already worn thin and tweets have dried up resulting in consumers opting-out and ultimately feeling let down by the brand they wanted to engage with.

The real hazard is that tweets need only to be 140 characters – how hard is that to maintain? Actually, in reality very difficult. Building a profile and communicating a brand personality on a word limit is firstly tricky, but maintaining it is even trickier, as Search Marketeers will attest to. Editorial strategy is key and I am seeing brands making the mistake, that because a tweet is so short they’ll do it themselves and everything will be fine – but its not. With no strategy in place brand tweets are ad hoc and boring, moreover there are a few where you can tell more than one person is posting tweets as the tone alters and the brand image becomes confused.

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Top Five Tips for Harnessing Twitter for Brands: Conversion through Conversation

Author: Tom Griffiths, business development manager, CheezeDMG

Twitter’s here. You can’t visit a website or turn a page, digital or otherwise, without reading about it. Whether it’s Jonathan Ross’ banter or breaking news stories – Sky has a Twitter correspondent and CNN has the highest following of any user; yet it’s the user who’s breaking news first – the plane dumping in the Hudson River being the most high profile recentexample.

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Is all this networking encouraging us to become more sociable by actually being less sociable?

Is all this networking encouraging us to become more sociable by actually being less sociable? Everyone seems to know what one another is doing via Facebook and Twitter etc., yet were not really communicating directly with our friends anymore! We leave it up to them to find out where the party’s at via status updates and online invites! Are our communication skills improving or diminishing?

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