Category Archives: Social Networking

Why social network Tsu had to close its doors Eileen Brown Amastra

Why social network Tsu had to close its doors

Once in a while, something comes along that disrupts the way we work.  Tsu, the social network that launched to help charities and pay its users, closed its doors in August 2016. And who were to blame? The very users that flocked to Tsu in their thousands contributed to its demise.

Tsu launched in October 2014 with little fanfare. Seeded to the tune of $7 million, it promised to share its ad revenue with its content creators.

It kept 10 percent of its revenue and distributed the other 90 percent. That went to the content creators and people that shared its posts on and off the network. It used the ‘rule of thirds’ to distribute its revenue across its content creator network.

Tsu quickly grew, signing one million users in just five weeks after its launch (Facebook took 10 months to reach one million users).

New users had to sign up using another user’s short code. This added the new user to the existing user’s ‘family’, showing who was influential across the platform.

Registered charities on Tsu could benefit from generous benefactors. Users could use peer payments to transfer their earnings to a registered charity – validated by the platform.

It opened up its platform so that posts could be seen by people who did not have an account on the platform. The aim was to increase royalty payments for creators of viral content.

The platform also introduced groups for community engagement. it wanted to compete with the 850 million users in Facebook who used groups and communities.

Soon stories started to circulate about people ‘cashing out’ their first cheque. Tsu paid users once their earnings passed $100. Within two months the platform had reached two million users. But with these numbers, cracks started to appear.

Money…the motivator

Some users, desperate to earn more revenue, tried to ‘game’ the system. A few users banded together to share all posts of their buddies, and like every new post. The team at Tsu, headed by Sebastian Sobczak, could see this happening. After all, they had all the data, IP addresses, and use patterns to monitor the users who were trying to cheat the system. Offenders were banned from the platform, or given a warning.

Engaging in “prohibited activity” would result in the user not getting paid. This could be by generating spam,  or generating invalid impressions, clicks on ads manually or by using an automated program.

Soliciting for clicks or impressions generated by payment of money, false representation, or requesting users to click on ads were banned. Ads served to end users whose browsers had JavaScript disabled also would result in non-payment.

In September 2015 Facebook blocked Tsu from posting items to its platform stating that the platform was posting spammy content. Two months later, citing that ‘issues with concurrent sharing’ had been resolved, Facebook restored 10 million posts from Tsu and permitted direct posts again.

In March 2016 Tsu upgraded its platform, focusing on communities, channels and topics. its aim was to increase payments to its users. Some users complained that it was harder to engage with their friends and smaller networks as the platform focused on the larger topic areas.

Tsu goes dark

In August 2016, a notice appeared on the Tsu web site:

“You are probably wondering about the new layout but in fact we have taken tsu dark.

Although we have still have numerous active communities on the site, our mission of changing the social landscape for the benefit of the content creator has passed. I started this concept eight years ago and when we launched in late 2014 we brought the conversation of content ownership and monetization to the content rights holders into the mainstream. All told there were approximately 5.2 million of us who have used our platform. Through you, tsu’s emergence into the mainstream spurred discussions on virtually every major media outlet touching on the tsu concept, royalties of music streaming services and to the business models of established platforms. I wish we could have done more for the content creators and the wonderful charities that lent their names to our platform. In all, we built water wells, gifted wishes and gave back en masse.

Although I would have hoped we could have done more, I am proud of our team and the wonderful, diverse community of friends we have cultivated along the way. I am proud to have been a part of something that millions of people helped create from North America to the Asian subcontinent.”

The investors had puled the plug on more cash injections and the platform had to close. Users with over $100 in their accounts were paid in full. Many with less than this amount did not receive any cash.

Tsu’s decline and fall

According to the current message on the website the platform was successful. Over 2 million mobile downloads across 1,085 cities. 5.2 million Tsu accounts, 533 million page views, over 681,000 IOS downloads and 1.3 million Android downloads.

But some of the users never really ‘got’ the platform. Images were taken without respect for copyright, directly from Google images and other image sites. Some users routinely ‘liked’ every post, pasting the same comments across each post, hoping for a cash pay-out.

Some users ran heavy recruitment initiatives, spamming their friends in an attempt to bring them to the platform and make cash for themselves as ‘parents’ of the new members. But when the new contributors discovered that cash did not immediately appear in their accounts, went elsewhere

The sheer number of members hoping to make money, then turning away when this did not happen, coupled with lack of ad revenue, contributed to its decline.

A way forward?

I am sad about Tsu’s closure. When I joined, I wanted to see how the platform worked. My first $100 was donated to the Charity Water charity, and I used other revenue to buy goods from small businesses across Tsu. I liked the peer to peer payments and the ability to give cash to good causes and never considered the money as ‘my money’.

Perhaps that is the answer. A platform that operates in the same way as Facebook, generating community and social connection, but with a difference. Any cash generated could go to benefit registered good causes.

Committed users might be less inclined to try to beat the system, and earn cash for themselves. Instead, the platform could work together for the common good.

Too good to be true?  With the raft of other platforms promising to pay users for their contributions, Tsu was certainly onto something. It is a shame that human nature meant that some users wanted it all for themselves.

Tsu groups: Why your beta tsuGroup is not getting authorised

Lots of people who engage on Tsu have been asking why their particular group has not been approved for the beta testing phase of tsugroups.

Eileen Brown social Media consultancy Amastra Tsu groups

 I talked to the Tsu team about the new Groups feature and how tsuGroups groups will work. I have two Tsu groups in the beta test: Tech and Social Media Trends. It will be interesting seeing how these groups evolve.

To join Tsu – the social media network that pays users to post, you need to use another user’s link to join – such as From there you will become part of the user’s family tree and be able to build your own network from there.

Here are the definitive answers to the questions I got to #askSebastian for my article on tsu.

  • If the group owner has a ‘low quality’ page with few posts or interaction the group will not get approved for the beta. For the time of the beta tsu wants groups that have owners that are really active on tsu already.
  • Every group in the beta MUST have an admin name in the application. Furthermore, the admin MUST have accepted the invitation to be an admin of the group. Groups without admin names WILL NOT be considered for the beta.
  • Groups will NOT be permitted if the group name contains the word tsu in the name (It might be mistaken for an ‘official’ account and might have incorrect information). The terms of service for #tsugroups says this really clearly.
  • Groups offering tips, rules, hints on how to use tsu will not be allowed at beta stage (they might also have incorrect information and might mislead readers). It MIGHT be ok to run groups like this AFTER the beta ends – I do not know this for certain.
  • Tsu has over 3000 groups in the queue — it is rolling out groups really slowly — a few per day — to watch the spam levels and how users react to the different views of groups (timelines sometimes, images other times).
  • Its a beta test — EXPECT change.
  • Remember – this is still a beta test. Tsu is working out how best to optimise the platform so that when groups are fully live, then everyone will have a great experience.
    If you have been wondering why your group has not been approved yet, check that the group has a nominated charity and that the admin has accepted your invitation to administer the group. Tsu doesn’t have the resources right now to chase everyone to provide this information. Hopefully the community on Tsu can let everyone know 🙂

Just how valuable are Twitter followers to your small business?

I saw an interesting infographic from Twitter the other day. It tracked the progress of a follow of a promoted tweet. There are some interesting statistics in this infographic which was produced by Twitter in conjunction with Marketprobe International.

73 percent of Twitter users follow a small to medium enterprise (SME) for updates on their products. If you are running a small business it is really important to keep in touch with your customers, and more importantly, your potential customers. keeping in touch with them will turn them into advocates. If they are not ready to buy from you just now, if they like you, they could still pass your message on to other potential customers.

85 percent of tweeters feel more engaged with an SME after following them. They are more likely to favourite your tweet, retweet it or have a direct conversation with you. The personal touch makes them feel much closer to you the brand. Your direct engagement with them will make them more likely to recommend you to others. 82 percent are more likely to recommend an SME they follow to friends.

72 percent of followers are likely to make a purchase after following a company.  Your followers become your advocates. They feel that they have a good relationship with you as an individual and also your brand. The personal touch from an SME makes them  feel more valued so their intent to buy from you is higher.

Here’s the full infographic from @twitterUKI_SME



Eileen Brown is a social media advisor at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Being happier on social media and make everyone around you feel good

Users take to social media to vent their spleen as soon as a brand stumbles online. There are thousands of examples of complaining users. Last month a blind passenger and his guide dog were removed from a US Airways flight – and the passengers complained across all media channels.

Users took to complain about the behaviour of the restaurant owners at Amys Baking Company’s social media meltdown after appearing on Remsays Kitchen Nightmares TV show.

We seem to complain about anything on social channels – hoping that the brand will listen to us. Angry tweets get retweeted more often. Sina Weibo analysed over 70million posts from 200,000 users and found that anger elicits faster responses from the largest number of people.

But wouldn’t it be be great if we had an opportunity to be nice from time to time? Good news spreads. Happy, funny items are more likely to get shared – especially if they are about ourselves, a study has found.

Social networking site Happier aims to change our attitude to the negative side of life. The site is filled with things to make you smile and make you feel a little bit better about your day.


Happier is a Boston based company with “a mission to inspire millions of people to be happier in their everyday lives”. Based on research Happier focuses on making people happy. Circuits in our brains light up when we are happy and when we are happy, folks around us become happy too.

Nataly Kogan spent the first 13 years of her life in soviet Russia. The family escaped to Vienna before taking the train to Italy to spend months in a refugee centre. On getting to the US, she tried to “chase the big happy” but found that after 20 years of doing this she wasn’t happy at all. 

Her nirvana moment was realising she was “chasing the non-existent impossible state of happy” and was missing the “small happy moments” that made up her day. Collecting your own positive moments will make you happy.

Stop saying “I’ll be happy when” and start saying “I’m happy now because”.

Focusing on small positive moments have been scientifically proven to make you feel happier. It seems like a really small principle to capture these moments – but you can capture this “emotional bookshelf in your pocket” with an iPhone app that reminds you to collect your small moments every day.

Sometimes a moment can be as simple as enjoying a giggle with a friend – or as simple as “getting to go to the bathroom after needing to go all day” Smile

Smiling releases endorphins and you have the ability to impact others’ happiness. Making someone’s day will make them feel great – and make you feel happier too.

  • People who write down three positive things about their day report feeling happier, less, anxious and more optimistic. People who continued to do that for a period of three weeks reported feeling more optimistic and positive for up to six months afterwards.
  • People who think more positively are 50 percent less likely to have a heart attack, catch a cold or the flu.
  • Functional MRI shows that focusing on a few positive things every day can permanently alter the chemistry of the brain to become more positive.
  • Being happier is contagious: If you have a friend who is positive, you’re 25 percent more likely to be positive.
  • People who express thanks to others feel better about their lives, exercise more, and go to the doctor less.

So what does Happier recommend that we do to become – and stay happier?

If you feel that your Facebook feed is full of people complaining and moaning – then trying to be a little bit happier might be just the tonic you need. Write down some happy moments and share them with yourself – or  your friends. Paying it forward – and sharing your happiness will make everyone around us all feel better today…

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Why our social networks make us feel lonely

There are days when I look at my Facebook and other social network feeds with envy. Everyone in my social circles seems to live and lead perfect and interesting lives. I see stories of holidays, activities, friends getting together and having fun. I see complaints, whinges and bitching. I see anger and indignation, boasts and one-upmanship.


But do I see the truth about my friends and their lives? Or do I see the minute speck of reality, carefully edited that they want me to see? Do I only see the carefully crafted parts of their lives that they want me to see – so I can think of them in a better light. So that they can show me the best part of who they really are. But are they the person I think they are?

Are our social networks changing us – encouraging us to portray a better version of the people we really are?

Our communities are weakening as we spend more and more time away from our friends and families. more and more of us think of ourselves as lonely. But how can this be? We have lots of friends on our social networking sites. We engage with them often. Our online social lives are demanding and require us to constantly contribute. At dinner, at home, as soon as we wake we add status updates to show our friends what a great time we are having. We feel connected to all our friends. And our friends stop us from feeling alone don’t they?

Our online networks grow. We collect connections on sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook like badges of honour – as a mark of how successful we are. But do we have the deep friendship and relationships with these collections? Of course not. We are replacing intimacy with status updates and photo sharing.

But do the online messages of support really make us feel part of a closely knit community of friends?

I know some of my friends on social networks really well. I share gossip and experiences with some of my friends. My other friends, my weak ties still matter in my social network. But they are less ‘connected’ to me than my strong ties. I can not manage to have a close relationship with all of my social networking friends, Dunbar’s threshold number of 150 friends works for us online as well as offline.

As humans we tend to be really social creatures and congregate together in communities either offline or online. However, we are valued and rewarded for our individuality. At work we are measured for our personal achievements – not the achievements of the community, or work group as a whole. As a result of our achievements we get paid more salary, bonuses and achieve a higher grade of career. We feel better about ourselves and spend more money to validate our self worth.

Unfortunately, in pursuing our careers we often ignore the personal community that makes us feel connected. We spend more time on social networks, sharing thoughts and feelings online that we could be sharing with our close family friends and communities.

But social networks are making us lonely.

We become addicted to our devices, to our virtual relationships. We all suffer FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and we use our smartphones from the shower to the sack. We effectively manage our social lives through our devices. But are we truly fulfilled with our online social lives?

We are exchanging our community and our conversation with online connections. We seem to have many friends – but we are ultimately lonely. Our conversation now happens online instead of face to face.

We will always be heard by someone online. We can get the attention that we crave online. We can write humorous, witty posts, we can share interesting, thought provoking prose. We can be who we desire to be online. And we will never be alone. We have our connections and we have our conversations online.

And as our conversation happens online, we spend time making sure that our online status shows us in the best possible light. We promote our successes and edit out the unsuccessful parts of our lives. We delete swathes of our actual lives to show how fabulous our lives seem.

The problem is that conversation is unstructured, chaotic and unpredictable. It is unedited, it is ‘how it is’. Sherry Turkle in her brilliant Ted talk talks about conversation.

‘People say, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” So that’s the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right’.

And yet our online messages, are thoughtfully constructed and edited. This post has been corrected, and edited. It is not the original thoughts from my brain. It is a better version of the original truth I intended to share.

Our online messages are not chaotic. They are carefully contrived to have the biggest impact on our society. We display ourselves to our community in the best way that we can. We announce our successes (and our failures) in the way we want them to be seen by our connections. We cut out the bits we do not want you to see. We reserve the unedited truth for our face to face friends.

In the Innovation of Loneliness, Shimi Cohen says ‘I share therefore I am’. We use technology to define our thoughts and feelings – even as we are having them. We are faking experiences so that we have something to share with our connections.

As Turkle says,

“That feeling that no one is listening to me is very important in our relationships with technology. That’s why it’s so appealing to have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed — so many automatic listeners. And the feeling that no one is listening to me make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us”.

Don’t let a machine take the place of the human that cares about you. Ignore Timothy Leary’s phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out”. Sometimes the best way to enjoy your true friends is to Drop in, Tune in, Turn off.

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.  Connect with Eileen on Twitter and  or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.