Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Social Media Platforms Playing Well With Others

If you're reading this, then you likely frequent Facebook and Twitter. And while you may see a lot of content from friends, family, and other contacts, when there's an article, photo or video posted, you pretty much experience in a couple of ways:

  • Embedded within the stream
  • As a click to a new page with the full content
This isn't a big deal when you're on your computer, but it can be sort of a pain when you're on your smartphone.

  • If it's embedded in your stream, it's likely just a tiny snippet and you'll have to click through to the site anyways
  • If you have to click through to the full site, you may end up some place that's not well formatted for smartphones. You might get popups to install their mobile app, interstitial ads, or you simply have to double click on the content column just to read an article
Basically, you have to leave what is a pretty well designed mobile app into an unknown. Twitter and Facebook may be fine providing you links to other content outside of their networks, but they typically leave it at that. They don't care if they leave with you a nice pat on the shoulder or a kick in the pants.

Well, Twitter just announced an expansion of their "tweet cards" which may be an interesting way  help ensure that as users walk out of Twitter, they're given a nice handshake and pat on the shoulder.

Tweet Cards first showed in June 2012 and they're a nice way to show some good embedded content within the stream so you can make a better decision about whether you want to click through to another site. This is actually pretty nice on a computer, but on a smartphone, it's not always helpful for the reasons I mentioned above.

So what's new? Now tweet cards can actually be really helpful on smartphones. Not only will they show some additional content within the stream, if you click through, they don't have to simply go to a website, they can actually open up the relevant app on your phone. So if it's a photo on Flickr, you don't just go to their mobile site, if you have the Flickr app on your phone, it would open up the photo in that app, which is a much nicer experience than their mobile site. Presumably, the same could happen  with a Pinterest or Tumbler link.

While this can be seen as a double-edged sword, as noted on this GigaOm article by Mathew Ingram, I think this is a great sign. It shows that social media platforms are actually thinking about how to provide a good experience for users. Not just a kick in the pants as you leave the network, but hopefully a warm  "Au Revior". Not only that, users can be made aware of interesting or useful smartphone apps. As the article notes, this could mean that Twitter could wield its power to push developers and smaller players around, but that's just part of reality. Twitter can do that since it is indeed so popular. And while doing so, it can presumably make more money without degrading the experience for its users through more in-stream ads.

I'd love to hear from you all about your experiences in frequently multiple social media sites and how you discover new sites or content through them.

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