Monthly Archives: March 2018

I tried Twitter’s Promote Mode for a month and all I got were these lousy 26 followers

Twitter, in a desperate attempt to start making some money, has launched a new feature called Promote Mode. Well, I think it’s still in Beta – but you can access it anyway by clicking on your profile picture and selecting Promote Mode.

The gist of Promote Mode is that you give Twitter money and then just tweet as normal. Twitter then takes your tweets and shows them to new people that don’t follow you. So it’s as if you were paying to manually promote your own tweets, except you don’t pick them yourself.

With me so far? In a nutshell it’s ‘give Twitter money for greater reach and gain followers.’ At least, in theory.

The cost, by the way, is meant to be £79 per month. Somehow I ended up paying £95 but oh well. It’s all for science.

When you set it up, you pick up to five categories for targeting. It’s not clear if there’s any additional targeting, which would be helpful as the categories themselves are quite wide-ranging. Here’s what I went with:

Sounds about right, based on what I can tell about my followers from Twitter Analytics and this blog.

How did I do? Let’s look at the results!

Ok, so first up my tweets reached more people. Only 41% more than usual though, which doesn’t actually seem like a lot. Moreover, I didn’t really have much control over who these people were. I got the occasional RT or reply from someone who didn’t follow me, but it didn’t feel like I was suddenly reaching some new audience. So this was a bit disappointing.

I did get the odd reply from someone being like GET THIS PROMOTED RUBBISH OUT OF MY TIMELINE from people who are extremely angry that promoted tweets appear in the feed of the free online service they use every day. So I guess you’re kinda opening yourself up to that kind of criticism, if you care about that.

Followers gained: 26. That doesn’t seem very impressive. £95 for 26 followers. About a £3.60 cost per follow. Maybe my tweets just weren’t good enough (in a normal month my net follower gain is minus forty lol). But it feels like if I’m paying Twitter to promote my tweets, they should be finding people really eager to follow me. And I’ve seen similar results from other reviews.

So maybe it’s not a ‘buying followers’ tool, which is fine. They say that follower count is just a vanity metric anyway. I just happen to be extremely vain. It looks like a bunch of folks visited my profile, but I’m not sure how that’s really useful to me in any way.

Further thoughts

This doesn’t feel like a product meant for your everyday normal Twitter user. The best way for them to get views and follows is just to tweet out great content and finally go viral with something extremely stupid. This feels like something more for brands to use, a kind of ‘set it and forget it’ to make sure you’re not just screaming out your content into the void. At the very least, with Promote Mode, you know that someone will see it.

It’s a shame then that the targeting options are so limited. Like, am I really going to find my most engaged followers by targeting people just on the basis that they’re interested in ‘society?’ What does that even mean? (Also lmao at ‘Hobbies and Interests’ being an interest).

I’d like to see a more powerful version of this with some more granular options. (Don’t think that Twitter doesn’t have loads of data on you, just like FB). Then it’d feel more like a bona fide marketing product, rather than the weird little gamble it is currently.

Other problems

You can’t pick the tweets to get promoted. This is a problem, imo. I tweet a lot of stuff that’s context dependent. A random tweet plucked out of a series of other tweets wouldn’t make much sense in isolation. This can lead to some strange results.

I also kept getting this weird tweet promoted to me –

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Not having control over your own promoted tweets is a pretty major liability. If there was, say, a horrible train accident, I wouldn’t want my tweet about my train being late from three days ago to get promoted. You have the option to stop promoting all tweets whenever you want, but having more control would be appreciated. And frankly, it’s kind of vital.

So in conclusion, I don’t rate Promote Mode. It’s super expensive for the casual Twitter user, not worth it for the bigger Twitter users, and not a good fit for brands to use. There’s better options out there if you want to start promoting your tweets, and you’ll have more control over targeting. This is a blunt tool that doesn’t seem right for any particular job.

Who would win in an all-out battle royale between the Letterland characters?

The Battle Royale format is so hot right now. PUBG, Fortnite, The White House Cabinet – everybody’s at it!

And so, in the interests of relevancy (and GREAT SEO results) here is my contribution. I’ll be ranking the characters of Letterland, according to how likely I think they’d be able to survive in a battle royale situation (aka a fight to the death).

But first up, what’s ‘Letterland’? I don’t know if it was common to lots of schools, but it was definitely a thing where I grew up. It’s like a series of books, videos, and teaching resources to help kids learn the alphabet. It’s a phonics-based approach, teaching children the particular sounds they need to make up words.

In Letterland, each letter of the alphabet is anthropomorphised as a character, roughly based on something to do with how the letter looks or sounds. The names are also alliterative, so you end up with things like “Robber Red” or “Oscar Orange.”

Got it? Ok, let’s make them fight to the death.

Rules:

  • Letterland characters have two distinct ‘forms’ – their upper and lower case versions (this creates some weird situations like the capital H guy just constantly doing this janky handstand) – we’ll just be thinking about the lower case characters, which is how they typically appear.
  • In the case of a conflict between classic and modern Letterland characters (some of them have changed over time), I’ll just pick the more interesting one.
  • The Vowel Men do not get involved. These are human characters that associate with the letters A,E,I,O, and U. I don’t think outside help is allowed, so they are not taking part in this battle royale.
  • No weapons are provided. The characters can only use fighting methods naturally available to them, or equipment already associated with their character.
  • The fighting arena is a typical outdoor ‘Hunger Games’ environment. So natural features only, nothing urban.
  • Characters are eliminated by death. And there can only be one winner.

Let’s begin. I’ll take each character in turn, discuss their strengths and weakness, and predict how I think they’ll do.

1. Annie Apple

Annie Apple is literally just an apple. I can’t see her having any real offensive capabilities.

Likely outcome: Poor. Eaten within the first five minutes.

2. Bouncing Ben

Now Ben I like. He’s characterised by his bounciness, making him an extremely agile opponent. I can’t say the extent to which he’d be able to inflict damage (I guess he could claw and bite people?), but he’d definitely last a while before going out.

Likely outcome: Dies within the second half of the game

3. Clever Cat

Clever Cat always freaked me out. Something ‘Chesire Cat’ about this character. And cats can be extremely viscous. Not someone you want actively trying to kill you.

Likely outcome: Makes it through to the top 5 through cunning and guile.

4. Dippy Duck

Dippy Duck is just a no-hoper. She’s all neck.

Likely outcome: Strangled to death by literally anyone with hands.

5. Eddy Elephant

The elephant in the room! Now, elephants can be deadly. Eddy is definitely gonna be stamping around and crushing smaller opponents (sorry, Annie Apple!). He can also take a lot of damage before falling. One of the bookies’ favourites, for sure.

Likely outcome: Survives to the top 5.

6. Fireman Fred

Nice hose, mate. Lots of fires in Letterland are there? I guess Fireman Fred could spray people with the hose, getting them a bit wet maybe? But it seems like more of a liability to me.

Likely outcome: Strangled to death by his own hose.

7. Golden Girl

This is depressing. Golden Girl is literally a child. She has no place in the theatre of war.

Likely outcome: Just dead.

8. Hairy Hat Man

I don’t trust this guy one bit. Hairy Hat Man (aka TRIPLE H) has definitely done prison time. Look at him! He’s not even wearing shoes, so you know he’s not gonna fight by the rules.

Likely outcome: Goes down fighting, taking at least two others with him.

9. Impy Ink

Lol. What a fun basis for a character. Kids love ink, right? Unfortunately the most Impy can hope for is to stain someone’s fingers or an important document.

Likely outcome: Just tipped over, dying a slow painful death.

10. Jumping Jim

A natural nemesis to Bouncing Ben, Jim has all the hop and more! In Letterland canon he can jump so high that his head becomes obscured by cloud (hence the cap on the capital J!). Not only that, he’s also a mean juggler. Taking this to mean he has Hawkeye levels of skill and accuracy, he’s one of the few characters naturally equipped for combat. A strong contender.

Likely outcome: Top 5 material for sure.

11. Kicking King

A man whose entire existence is defined by his ability to kick? That makes him one to watch.

Likely outcome: Kung-fu’ing his way into the top 5.

12. Lucy Lamp Light

Lucy’s mutant ability is that she can shine light out of her head. In other words, she is more lamp than human. I guess this would be handy in a defensive capacity. But probably not that handy otherwise.

Likely outcome: Savagely beaten to death.

13. Munching Mike

Ok, so Mike is literally a KILLING MACHINE. He’s a mechanical monster with wheels, designed for death. By any estimation, he’s the most fearsome Letterland character. But he has one weakness: uneven terrain. We stated that the skirmish is taking place in a outdoor environment, meaning he’d struggle with things like, I don’t know, TWIGS. Sorry, Mike.

Likely outcome: Pushed onto his back and can’t get back up.

14. Naughty Nick

Look at this cheeky little boy. Nick is a sort of Dennis the Menace kind of character, going around putting nails into things. Of course, he’s allowed to bring his nails to the fight. Watch out for Nick.

Likely outcome: Takes down a few opponents. Eventually just killed by a larger, stronger foe.

15. Oscar Orange

I can see why the vowels needed special men to help them out, they’re all incredible weak. Oscar Orange, happy though he may be, is not a fighter.

Likely outcome: Swallowed whole.

16. Poor Peter

Aw, just look at those puppy dog eyes! That might slow down a weaker-willed opponent, but I don’t think it’ll stop anyone with a genuine bloodlust. Poor Peter…

Likely outcome: Stabbed, possibly by Naughty Nick.

17. Quarrelsome Queen

Quarreling is not an effective fighting technique, unfortunately. So QQ would probably make a lot of noise, but not actually physically injure anyone. And this is a death-fight, not a debate.

Likely outcome: Taken out quite quickly.

18. Robber Red

Now we’ve got an actual criminal in the mix. Robber Red has a record of burglary, so it’s not too much of a stretch to assume he’s comfortable with violence. Plus he’s got a bag of swag, which could include weaponry. I think he could go far.

Likely outcome: Dies just short of making it into the top 5.

19. Sammy Snake

Snakes are famously untrustworthy creatures, and regarded as dangerous by many. I have no intel on whether Letterland’s Sammy Snake is venomous or not, but he’s definitely a slippery character. Nonetheless, he’s at a definite size disadvantage – so in my head he doesn’t having winning potential.

Likely outcome: Trampled to death by Eddy Elephant.

20. Ticking Tess

Another character that relies on the lazy “head in the clouds” explanation for the capital letter version. But that aside, Tess is all about… telecommunications? I seem to recall her being about clocks and things, but in all the pics I can find atm, she’s just got lots of phones for some reason. Oh well, I can’t see anything that’d give her a particular advantage. Though she’d be a strong partnerships in any temporary alliances that formed.

Likely outcome: Unexpectedly betrayed by an ally

21. Uppy Umbrella

Everyone hates umbrellas, right? They’re pointy and annoying and the spokes are always directly at eye-level. However, when an umbrella is actually being wielded by anyone, it’s much less dangerous. So I’d question the amount of damage that Uppy could do by herself.

Likely outcome: Turned inside-out and left for dead.

22. Vase of Violets

What is it with Letterland and extremely weak characters that are vulnerable to tipping? Sorry, VoV, but literally every single other character is stronger than you. RIP

Likely outcome: Destroyed within the first millisecond of the game.

23. Wicked Water Witch

This is an interesting case. According to official Letterland lore, WWW at some point got turned into an animal by a spell and is now known as Walter Walrus. Yup, it’s super weird. But she’s always been a witch to me, and has some kind of hydrological powers to manipulate water. Could be handy if she’s by a river or lake?

Likely outcome: Her strong magic sees her through to the second half of the match, but no further..

24. Max and Maxine

AKA Letterland’s ‘kissing cousins’ (really, look it up). Max and Maxine are unique in that there’s two of them. so they can team up and do things, etc. I wonder if this could be a liability, though?

Likely outcome: Max is injured, Maxine stops to help him. Letting her guard down for a second, she is taken out. Max has to watch her die.

25. Yo Yo Man

Absolutely a stone-cold killer.

Likely outcome: Cruises into the top 5 without a scratch.

26. Zig Zag Zebra

The camouflage of a zebra is well suited to the wavy grass of the African savanna, but not so much the Letterland death forest aka the bone yard. RIP.

Likely outcome: Killed, skinned, and made into a designer hat by the Hairy Hat Man.

So, our Top 5 Letterland Battle Royale characters are:
  1. Clever Cat
  2. Eddy Elephant
  3. Jumping Jim
  4. Kicking King
  5. Yo Yo Man

But who is the ultimate champion? Here’s how I think it goes down:

The top five characters are in an empty clearing. They are each covered in the blood and guts of the other twenty-one dead characters, who up until just now had all been close friends. They’ve come so far, but each of the five knows that the battle isn’t over, and the hardest part is yet to come. 

Eddy Elephant moves first. He charges in, heading right for Clever Cat. The cat performs a deft feint, dodging out of the way of the charging beast at the last minute. Eddy crashes headfirst into a tree, knocking himself unconscious. Clever Cat tears his eyes out, and gets to work on his vital organs.

Jumping Jim and Kicking King both leap fifty feet into the air. They battle as they fly, throwing punches that tear muscles and break bones. Jim reaches for his ammunition but he’s out. The last thing to cross his mind is utter panic, as Kicking King delivers a killing blow, kicking Jim’s brain directly out the back of his head.

Yo Yo Man advances on Clever Cat, still tearing through the body of Eddy. A well-placed yo-yo hits Clever Cat in the rib cage, rupturing an internal organ. Speed beats intellect every time.

Kicking King gently comes to a rest in a pile of a moss behind the Yo Yo Man. “Let’s finish this”, he says. Yo Yos fly like lightning, but the king dodges them all. Finally, Yo Yo Man reaches for his special weapon, a Yo Yo he’s nicknamed ‘The Finisher’ – a reinforced yo yo with steel spikes, long since banned by the yo yo battling league.

He throws The Finisher. It cuts the air as it flies. Kicking King takes in a deep breath, draws a leg back, and exhales into the kick of his life. His foot meets the yo yo in the air. And for a moment time seems to stand still. Neither man knows which way this will go, but they each know it’ll decide the outcome of the match – the winner of the first and last Letterland battle royale.

An eternity later, the yo yo gives way, and begins to fly back towards its sender. His eyes widen, just moments before it tears into his torso. With a furious momentum, it tears through him without resistance, leaving a clean hole at least a foot wide. Yo Yo Man crumples over.

Kicking King sheds a single tear and offers a prayer to the heavens. There’s a reason he’s the king, after all. “But not like this,” he whispers. “Not like this”.

WINNER: KICKING KING

Hope you enjoyed, kids!