This Week in Social: Obama Session On Reddit, Social Media Trolling, Twitter Launches Certified Products

By Rob McNair


A recent spell of political and cultural unrest in the United States is thought to have led the American President to harness the power of social media in an attempt to connect with his public. For the inexperienced, ‘AMA’ on message board Reddit stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’, which the social mediasphere old and new certainly did. No stranger to digital communication, Obama took to the site as a means to tackle enquiries about all sorts of topics, from online freedom of speech to US troops in Afghanistan… to the White House beer recipe. To prove it was the man in question, he himself Tweeted a statement to his 19 million plus followers alongside a verification photo from Reddit of Obama settling in for his session. Reddit itself is a platform of myriad ‘subreddits’, subjects that are voted and commented upon by users which then results in them rising and falling on the site (topic comments too are voted upon, meaning the ‘best content’ climbs to the top of each subreddit). As expected, Obama’s AMA gathering rose to the top of Reddit itself. At the end of the session, the President’s parting words underlined the value of social media as a connective tool: ‘I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating – this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run… By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience – NOT BAD!’

The Serious Side of Facebook and Twitter Trolling

Trolling can occur anytime, on any social media platform, and both the famous and non-famous may find themselves at risk. This week a police officer was arrested for targeting a woman with abusive online messages, and a judge from Australia’s Next Top Model found herself hospitalised following the stress of unpleasant online interactions. A serving policeman from was taken in under suspicion of harassing Nicola Brookes, who made a complaint last year during ITV’s X Factor following a comment of support she posted for publicly loathed contestant Frankie Cocozza on Facebook. Graphic posts appeared from duplicate Facebook accounts set up with her name and pictures, and her daughter was targeted also. She claimed she received over 3,000 insults via a number of social networks. Meanwhile, Reality TV judge Charlotte Dawson was taken to hospital following a barrage of Twitter abuse, and has since been denied access to media or communication devices during the psychiatric treatment she is receiving there. She is thought to have broken the ‘don’t feed the trolls’ rule by responding to abuse through retweets of comments encouraging her to commit suicide, and even telephoning the boss of a culprit. These actions served only to fan the online flames and teach her attackers that abusing Charlotte would get her attention. Blocking options exist on Twitter that could have prevented abusers from communicating with her, and namecalling her attackers seemed to make the situation worse. However, incidents like these have raised questions – particularly in Australia – regarding reforms to better protect vulnerable people from harassment and cyber-bullying online.

Twitter Generates More Revenue than Pinterest and Facebook Put Together

Zappos Labs, the research branch of Amazon-owned clothing site Zappos, has found that customers are 13 times more likely to share a purchase on Pinterest than Twitter, making it a great referral traffic source. However, Tweeted referrals generate the most revenue with an average of $33.66 per order, with those of Facebook at $2.08 and Pinterest just $0.75. The study disproves the theory that Pinterest users are inclined to buy and spend twice as much as other social network referrals. It also highlights the importance of businesses remembering the power of Twitter as well as Facebook during the current wave of love towards Pinterest from well-known brands.

Twitter Launches Certified Products

Businesses have long used Tweets to highlight deals, post daily specials, keep customers informed of new products and share information. It’s proved valuable as a means to engage communities and learn about their demographics, and now Twitter has created three badges to certify products that best represent the use of their analytics and marketing offerings. Comparable to Facebook’s ‘Preferred Marketing Developer’ project, the badges stand for Engagement (getting closer to customers on Twitter), Analytics (monitoring Twitter activity and providing insights into customer conversations), and Data Reseller (having many public Tweets available to partners for product and service building). Twitter’s business development manager Doug Williams took to the company blog to highlight the move and revealed the twelve businesses the feature has been rolled out to, including Hootsuite, Radian6 and SocialFlow. The aim is to help brands ‘flourish’ in the Twitter environment and help them find the right tools to market their product.

This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.