Tag Archives: Community

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 Tsu.co 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.

Crisis communication: Twitter and the Queensland floods

A year after the floods that devastated Queensland Australia, a report has been released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation (CCI).  The report discusses the impact that Twitter had in enabling efficient crisis communication during the floodins episode..

There are some interesting call outs about Twitter and the use of hashtags in the top line points from the report:

The hashtag, #qldfloods became the central coordinating mechanism for floods-related user activity on Twitter.

50-60% of #qldfloods messages were retweets

30-40% of messages contained links to further information

Twitter users amplified emergency information and thereby increased its reach.

Twitter became a source for mainstream media to report on the flooding.

Users uploaded and distributed flood photographs taken on their smartphones and digital cameras to sites such as Twitpic.

Retweeting of messages focussed especially on tweets with immediate relevance to the crisis at hand

Over 35,000 tweets containing the #qldfloods hashtag were sent during the period of 10-16 January

More than 15,500 Twitter users used the hashtag #qldfloods.

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Source: CCI Australia flood report

The report also shows how much we share images – especially related to disasters, with those not in the immediate area of the flooding participating in sharing the images and broadcasting links which were picked up by media and shared on Facebook.

There are pointers for emergency services to consider coordinating a crisis response using social tools such as Twitter and Facebook:

An established presence on Twitter is important, and on-going monitoring of Twitter activities is valuable.

The community is willing to support and assist the work of emergency services

Emergency services should develop comprehensive, flexible strategies for using social media in times of Crisis

Emergency services staff should be trained

Emergency organisations should engage with and respond to messages received from the general public.

If Emergency services and official organisations use social media effectively, then it is easy to get the right information spreading rapidly. False information is quickly suppressed as the report shows,whilst information about help is propagated to rebuild communities after disaster strikes.

Used correctly, Twitter and other forms of social media have valuable parts to play in crisis situations.

Unfortunately, there are still many organisations that don’t yet have the correct procedures in place.  But with the actions of people in the community, help and information gets to those who need it most.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

 

Content strategy the Coca-Cola way

Coca-Cola has disclosed its content and creative strategy for the next phase of their journey which will take its key brands up to  its goal in 2020.

The intention is to move from creative excellence to content excellence. Goals are to:

  • Create ideas so contagious that they can not be controlled
  • Through telling stories they will provoke conversations that they can earn a disproportionate share of popular culture
  • Create a conversational model centred around brand stories to create ideas, provoke conversations that coca-cola can act and react upon
  • Harness the distribution of creativity.  Coca-cola has observed that user generated content outnumbers coca-cola generated content on its brands
  • Respond to the on demand culture where consumers can turn their demands on 24 hours a day
  • Leverage existing ideas and behaviours used in other companies using social media
  • Develop a deeper emotional connection through storytelling

Moving from one way storytelling to dynamic storytelling is a challenge.  Creating a unified band idea needs system wide capabilities amongst technology platforms.  Storytelling needs to be at the heart of communities and cultures and should be captured across the brands

Brand stories should be captured and should demonstrate commitment to making the world a better place.  Without this the brand won’t succeed.

The 5 guiding principles Coca-Cola mention are worth noting:

  • Inspire participation amongst the very best
  • Connect these creative minds
  • Share the results of efforts
  • Continue development
  • Measure success

Chapter 2 of the Coca-Cola content creation story is here

Applying the 70:20:10 principles to content will ensure a good mix.  70% is bread and butter content, consuming less time and engaged broadly.  20% is medium risk content, which engages more deeply.  10% is high risk content which introduces brand new ideas for the next set of medium or low risk content idea.

By using conversation in an iterative way, the conversation can evolve and have longevity. using great measurement tools can ensure that the increased investment in social activities.  However, bringing the consumer conversation into the mix can make sure that each activity is exactly what the consumer wants. and can evolve to match changing needs.

Iteration not replication of the content will ensure the correct evolution of content and bring the company towards its 2020 ambition.

If Coca-cola can do this successfully – then their ideas could also be adapted for use in your own business.

It’s certainly worth a try

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Companies are still ignoring social media

It’s quite amazing to think that even now – with all of the communications across several social media platforms that companies are still ignoring this powerful way of communicating.  I found Alterians annual survey report and infographic showing how far behind the adoption curve some marketers and companies are.  Here are some call outs from the report:

70% of marketers are unaware about the conversations that are going on about their brand.

30% of Marketers claim to have very little understanding of the conversations happening around their brand and 70% are not reporting regularly to management about conversations around their brand.

33% of web sites only serve as a corporate brochure – and are not designed to engage and encourage interaction

29% struggle to tie analytics back to the campaign strategy

Marketing also has challenges with IT when it comes to tool selection and implementation.  have a look at this graph from Alterians Annual survey report

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I see a lot of discord between different teams when I’m working with clients.  Everyone wants to ‘own’ all parts of the social media strategy, tool selection and implementation.  Social Media managers and other roles should be spread across the organisation.  There should be roles in several different departments: HR, Legal, Technology, IT, Marketing, Communications, Business units etc.

It’s a co-ordinated approach.  No one should own the whole strategy or implementation.

Perhaps we should stop being so busy trying to implement everything ourselves and let our colleagues help with  social media implementation, strategy and on going management.  Don’t struggle alone

…After all – social media is all about community…

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

5 ways to better engage your customers

I often get asked about how to get more engagement on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  After all, it’s what I do for a living.  The challenge that most companies have is trying to get their customers to talk to them.  They expect far more engagement than they are getting.  But companies don’t tend to engage.

They  use social media as a way of broadcasting their message.

They don’t reach out and engage with their customers, they broadcast to them.  Brands have campaigns to run, launch calendars and social schedules to adhere to.  They don’t have time to reach out and proactively chat to their online audience.  They broadcast and wait for a response. So how do you get better engagement for your brand? Here are a few ideas…

Talk to your customers.  First.  Reach out, don’t wait to respond.   Your customers would love it if you proactively joined in the conversation

Use the tools to find out who is talking about your brand and join in the conversation.  when I say join in the conversation I mean: Leave a comment on someone’s blog, initiate a Twitter conversation, comment on a YouTube video, vote for something on a web page.  The link with track back to your brand.

Don’t spend all your time talking exclusively about the brand.  The Cravendale social media campaign using subliminal messaging to raise awareness of milk.  They don’t even use the brand name Cravendale, preferring to communicate through the Bertrum Thumbcat alias.  This makes you more curious to find out what is happening to the ‘purrsonality’ each day.image

Don’t expect too much from your Facebook engagement and ROI efforts.  Remember not many people ‘actively’ engage

Don’t worry if engagement doesn’t appear immediately.  Like all relationships, they take time to develop and grow.  But you’ll reap the rewards if you’re patient and your group of brand evangelists will grow.

What are your tips for better brand engagement?  Is there anything I’ve missed out?

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

 

Using crowdsourcing for farming, revenue generation and advice

Tapping in to the collective knowledge of the Internet is something that business communities have taken advantage of for some time.  Forums, help desk communities, Q&A sites all tap into the collective knowledge of the crowd.  But how do you actually make any money from your connections?  Knowledge is given for free, advice sought, connections and discussions made.  But not revenue.

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Well the National Trust in the UK has hit upon an innovative way to tap into the collective knowledge of the community of experts and earn enough revenue to run the farm for a year.  This is not Farmville or a virtual game.  It’s a real farm attached to Wimpole Hall – a National Trust property in Cambridge. The project is called MyFarm.

Its an ambitious project.  They want 10,000 farmers, or members of the community, to each pay £30 membership subscription for a year.  That’s potential revenue of £300,000 per year to run the farm.  They get to make decisions on the farm.  They’re not easy decisions either.

In addition to deciding what crops to grow and where the community will have the say on which cow gets slaughtered and when, whether the sheep have their tails docked.  Every major decision on the farm will be opened up for discussion.  Here’s the trailer for the initiative.

MyFarm at Wimpole Hall

There are videos for voting – for example whether to sow the grass seed or not and ‘farmers’ are introduced to the financial implications of making a wrong decision.  Crops might fail.  It might not rain. it might rain too much.  It might freeze.  The Weeds might smother the crops.  We all know what to do.  or do we?  Getting the crowd to do some work for you.  Its a very good idea.

On the site the polls and discussion threads are active – although with the project in its early stages, there are a few teething troubles at the moment. Nothing that can’t be sorted out if the momentum is maintained and the project keeps moving forward in this collaborative way.

Its a great way of generating revenue for the farm.  Its a great way of getting people involved with actually where their food comes from and the challenges of growing the materials for food. It’s a great way of keeping people involved using the social tools that they engage with already.  Blogs and YouTube videos, forums and polls keep people engaged and active.

And it helps people know where their food actually comes from.  Not from the supermarket in the chill cabinet.  Not from McDonalds or Pizza Hut.  From farms.

And unlike Farmville, this is real life community farming.  Real life decisions made by the community.

Just like they should.

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.