Category Archives: social media

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.

Tony the Tiger has the strangest Twitter page imaginable.

2020 update: Tony the Tiger no longer has a Twitter account. That’s not great. For more info, see this HuffPost article: “Was Tony The Tiger Driven Off Twitter By Unbelievably Horny Furries?

Tony the Tiger is a cultural icon. His raw animal ferocity exceeds the confines of the cereal box he appears on. His presence transcends mere association with the sugared corn flakes of which he was conceived.tony-the-tiger

More accessible than Shere Khan. More renowned than The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Less annoying than Tigger. Sure, he’s looked different over the years, but he’s always been there for us, with his can-do attitude towards eating Frosties (Frosted Flakes in the US). Tony is the Tiger we deserve.

So of course he has a Twitter account.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 18.50.00

Tony the Tiger in the age of Twitter is a strange CGI creature who loves to play sports and eat cereals. Its content is a weird mix of healthy living advice and smashing back as many Frosties as possible at all times. But the account itself is decent: a solid following-followers ratio, frequent tweets, he’s even verified. Yup, Twitter itself has given TtT a ringing endorsement: this tiger is the real deal.

Here’s a recent tweet:

Ah, cleverly getting around IOC guidelines in advertising by saying “Summer Games” in place of “Olympics.” Tony, you savvy social marketer you. Prima facie, it appears that Tony is doing everything right.

What a shame that Tony has an absolutely bizarre online following. Yup, we’re talking about frickin’ furries.

Yup, furries. People who dress up as big furry creatures. The kind of people who went to go see Zootopia about ten times, even though they’re in their thirties. The kind of people who go to conventions with names like ANTHROCON and FURFEST. The kind of people who still go on DeviantArt.

I don’t want to be too harsh about them though. It’s just a lifestyle choice. To them, my heteronormative non-fursuit-centric exploits are probably some kind of freakish nightmare. We’re all just different. Only, I don’t sexualise a CGI tiger that sells cereal.

You see, as detailed in gruelling detail by Gawker (RIP) in this article, furries have a strange attraction to Tony, sending him lurid messages on Twitter than can only be described as… NSFW. I really don’t want to put any of them in this blog, just go check out the @realtonytiger replies on Twitter if you really must see, but for illustrative purposes here’s one from the last 24 hours.

It has all the main features of a typical @realtonytiger reply:

  • An invitation to engage in a sexual act, usually where Tony is the dominant agent
  • ‘Raw’ language (ie: ass).
  • A reference to TtT as ‘daddy’

I repeat, this is one of the cleaner ones I could find. Some of them are just horrific. Being the account manager for the account must be a simultaneously fascinating and forever-life-scarring experience.

Anyway, things got so bad that Tony the Tiger had to put out a statement asking people to please please please oh god please stop tweeting NSFW things at him.

I kinda admire the fact that they did this in character, even slipping in a “gr-r-reat.” Tony the Tiger: always on-brand no matter what. Naturally, this only incited the furry fandom. Tony also started blocking users, which is a pretty surreal experience if you think about it – a cereal mascot from your childhood actively prevently you from engaging with them. The lines between fantasy and reality start to become blurred at this point, like some kind of IRL Jumanji.

(Just another example of a weird reply. Nothing to do with me).

What does this tell us about the cultural zeitgeist right now? Well, there’s something weird going on with jungle animals, it seems. Didn’t they just remake the Jungle Book? And isn’t a dead ape currently the most popular figure on Twitter right now? And isn’t that same dead ape currently polling at 5% in the US Presidential race?

Just what the hell is going on?

In any case, I’m glad the @realtonytiger Twitter account exists. It’s a reminder that in an infinite universe, anything that can happen will eventually happen, and that even the most mundane thing like a box of cereal can tell us surreal and magical stories.

I just hope and pray that the furries never find out about Sooty.


Viral Charity Campaigns

For the sake of posterity, I thought I’d compile a list documenting the recent spate of viral charity campaigns we’ve seen recently. These are a new craze which typically last a month or so (sometimes longer) and represent a new wave of charity activism.

1. Movember

This one has been going for years. Participants don’t shave their upper lips for a month in return for sponsorship. I actually do this myself.

2. #nomakeupselfie

Participants take a photo of themselves without any makeup on in return for sponsorship.

3. ThumbsUpForStephen

Participants take a photo of themselves doing a thumbs up in memory of Stephen Sutton, to raise awareness of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

4. Christmas Jumper Day

Participants wear a christmas jumper in return for sponsorship. Charity: Save the Children.

5. Ice Bucket Challenge

Participants dump a bucket of ice cold water on themselves to raise awareness of the ALS Association. Features an added “nomination” element where the participant picks two other people to do it subsequently.

6. Egg Crack Party

Multiple participants crack eggs on each other’s heads, raising awareness of egg donation programs across the UK.

7. Adoption Fakeout ’14

Parents secretly film themselves telling their children that they are adopted. Raising awareness for adoption agencies in the US.

8. Will Selfie

Will Self takes a photo of himself in a series of more exotic and dangerous locations, determined by how much money he is able to raise in 24 hours on IndieGoGo.

9. Don’t Get Done, Get Domination

Participants change their profile picture on Twitter/Facebook to that of television presenter Dominic Littlewood. When they are asked to explain this by someone, that person is considered “Dominated” and has to change their own picture. Raising awareness for anti-fraud schemes.

10. #PastLives

Participants must travel back in time and tag a picture of themselves during a previous time in their lives. The National Archives host all the entries  and pick a winner each month. Promoting genealogical research.

11. Viral Campaign Campaign

Participants must dump a bucket of ice-cold moustaches on their heads whilst not wearing any makeup and wearing a Christmas jumper, before challenging a friend to do the same. All in aid of Sports Relief I think.

And I think that’s all of them. If I’ve missed any out, please let me know!