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There are times where I am searching for a business, band, restaurant, whatever, and the top result is a Google+ Place page, or a Yelp page. Or worse, a Facebook page. No real website. This usually happens with smaller or new businesses.

Don’t get us wrong. Having a Facebook, Google+ Page, and Yelp pages are great, and will definitely help your search engine ranking. But you still need an official home on the web where your content lives.

What happens if Facebook shuts down tomorrow and you rely on them to host your web presence?

Read more

Twitter is everywhere. Look on the news, you see the anchor’s name followed by their Twitter handle. Same on shows like American Idol and The X-Factor. Twitter is a huge driving force. You know this.

But have you noticed another increasingly growing trend over the past year? Hashtags! Read more

Earlier today, the official Twitter account of the Associate Press was hacked, and sent out tweets stating that there were explosions at the White House and that President Obama was injured. The report is not true, and the White House and President are fine.

That tweet did more damage than falsely report a possible attack at the White House, it caused the stock market to plummet when it was first posted. Luckily the stocks rebounded.

Twitter is not a game, nor is it only a fun social network any more. It is a serious tool used by millions of business people, journalists, and inbound marketing folks every day.

Still uncovinced of Twitter’s importance? Read more

A few months ago we blogged about passwords and security. It is such an important topic, that we posted a followup post a few days later.

Well, it looks like the folks who run the Burger King Twitter account (caution, this link may contain profane language or images) missed that blog, because they got hacked yesterday at about 11 am.

As of 10pm on Monday night, it looks like they finally got control of their account back.

How did this happen? Details are pretty scarce right now, so it could be a number of things.

It’s possible that Burger King’s password was one of the 250,000 Twitter passwords stolen earlier this month. Maybe they used a bad password like “whopper” that many people joked about. Hopefully it wasn’t the latter.

Passwords are no joke.

Create strong passwords for everything, your email, social networing sites, everywhere! If you must share a password with others, make sure you limit that number. It may even be a good idea to change your password often. You especially want to change a password after an employee leaves your team.

In those blog posts that we mentioned earlier, we suggested using a service like 1Password to create and securely store passwords.

Always on the ball they tweeted this:

Now that is how you market your brand online.

UPDATE!

Following yesterday’s hacking of Burger King, it now looks like @Jeep (caution, this link may contain profane language or images) has been hacked at about 12:30 CT today. Engadget is reporting that a hacker by the name of iThug is taking responsibility for the hacked Jeep account.

This article originally appeared on LyntonWeb.

A few weeks ago, Twitter announced changes coming in version 1.1 of their API. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that a lot has happened since that first tweet went out in March of 2006.

Twitter’s user base has grown to somewhere in the ballpark of 500 million. They enjoyed a successful partnership with the 2012 Summer Olympics and almost every show on television has a hashtag related to the show itself or a specific episode.

It took Twitter “3 years, 2 months and 1 day” to hit their billionth submitted tweet. They do that much in a week as of March 2011. Twitter is a powerhouse. No one can refute that.

Twitter’s Growth Trajectory

Many people feel Twitter owes their initial growth and survival to third party developers. Shortly after Twitter launched in 2006 they released their API which allowed developers to build applications on top of Twitter’s platform.

Many of those developers sold those applications for a profit. Some of them even sold them to other companies (the amazing Tweetie iOS app was picked up by Twitter itself and turned into the official Twitter for iPhone app). Third party developers and early adopters were all over Twitter.

There were heavy hitters such as Twitterrific, Twhirl, as well as simple mobile interfaces for BlackBerry. As soon as iPhone and Android hit the market, Twitter mobile apps grew rapidly. If you search for Twitter apps in the iOS App Store or Google Play store today, you’ll still find many third party apps, like Tweetbot, HootSuite, Echofon, TweetDeck, UberSocial, Seesmic and countless others. Third party Twitter mobile and desktop apps are everywhere, and everyone has a favorite one. It wasn’t until 2009, three years after Twitter launched, that it began to gain massive popularity.

Many of the design and branding elements that Twitter uses today came from third party developers and early adopters. Twitterrific itself is responsible for the first instance of the word “tweet”, the bird logo/icon, and a character counter as you type.

Features such as the @reply (which took Twitter 2 years to implement after it was widely used) and the hashtag  were created and used by Twitter’s earliest adopters. Could you imagine Twitter today without either of those features?

How has Twitter paid back those developers and early adopters? The changes in their API do a pretty good job of pushing them aside. Twitter is limiting developers who create Twitter clients like Tweetbot, Twitterrific and the rest to 100,000 user tokens. That effectively means app has a ceiling that will cap it’s growth and profitability.

Twitter has also cut off the ability to find your Twitter friends on other platforms. LinkedInInstagram, and  Tumblr are no longer allowed to access Twitter’s follow graph data. For example, at one point you were able to sign into LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr with your Twitter account and see which of your Twitter friends were on that service. This makes finding your friends easier and makes these new apps and services easier and more compelling to use.

Where’s Twitter?

Tumblr isn’t happy, and neither are a lot of developers who feel betrayed by Twitter. Two developers are even taking things into their own hands. App.net is a site that is a paid service currently in alpha testing. For $50 you can sign up and claim your username. Anyone can view the global time stream or an individual user’s streams/posts. Right now, App.net is more or less a Twitter clone, but the sky is the limit for developers on the service. Will App.net skyrocket or even be around in a year or two? Well, that’s tough to say. Currently there are about 17,500 people on App.net. They will need that user count to continue to rise.

A $50 entry fee seems high, and I’m sure it’s keeping some people from signing up. But $50 a year turns out to be just over $4 a month. Do you get more than $4 a month worth of value out of Twitter?  Think about it, if you have a paid service, it wouldn’t need to be supported by ads like Facebook. Twitter wouldn’t have to scramble as they are now trying to come up with a sustainable business model. Spam wouldn’t be an issue. The user becomes the customer, not the advertiser. That is how Facebook works, and that is the path Twitter is taking.

Are these API changes the end of the world? Is Twitter dead? Most probably not. On The Talk Show, host John Gruber asked the question of how wide spread third party apps really are. How many people actually post to Twitter using something other than Twitter.com or one of the official Twitter apps? Benjamin Mayo took Gruber’s question and did the research. Mayo found that 70% of the tweets that he sampled were sent through one of Twitter’s official apps or the website.

Twitter is very clearly trying to monetize, and no one is holding them to the fire for that. They are upset with HOW Twitter is going about it. Hopefully Twitter realizes this and repairs the bridges they have begun to burn.

Inbound Marketing Ramifications

Twitter has been a useful tool to extend your brand presence, share useful content on an ungated site and follow thought leaders in your field. However, if the developers and power users leave Twitter in droves its evolution will suffer. Certainly this won’t happen overnight. As an inbound marketer you should always be tracking your referral traffic and the sites that bring you the most leads. For LyntonWeb, Google and HubSpot are key referral sites for us – so a decline in Twitter would have less impact on our visitor traffic. However, if you have a huge Twitter following, like Chris Brogan, a decline in Twitter might affect what technologies you use to nurture and build your brand with. Don’t scurry away from Twitter just yet, but pay attention to how Twitter treats it’s original loyalists and other folks who helped make Twitter successful. Be wary of biting the hand that feeds you.

Since its launch in late 2010, Instagram has been a powerhouse. The iPhone and Android app allows users to take photos, apply a vintage filter and post them to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare.

Vintage photo apps on mobile devices have always been popular, but none have matched Instgram’s numbers.

The most powerful aspect of Instagram is its social community of users. In fact, the Instagram community was so strong that Facebook dropped a cool billion dollars to snatch up Instagram earlier this year.

As with any social network, businesses want to know how they can use Instagram to market and generate exposure for their company or brand. Read more

Each day, more and more people are putting their lives in the cloud. With the growing number of people using smart phones and tablets, this number will only continue to skyrocket.

We are trusting our photographs and videos of our children and families, our email, our banking information, our lives and our businesses to the cloud and its service providers.

Over the weekend, you may have heard about a horror story from Mat Honan.

Honan was hacked. And he lost everything. Read more

I wrote a guest post for a former LyntonWeb client, Rick Segel, about the rise of Foursquare and what it means for retailers.

You may have heard of this new social phenomenon called Foursquare and asked yourself, “What the heck is Foursquare?”

Foursquare is location based social network/mobile application where users “check in” at venues on their iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android and other smart phones to share with friends via mobile updates, or updates to their Twitter and/or Facebook pages. Users can become the “mayor” of a location by checking in at a venue more than anyone else in a 60 day period (only one check in per day is counted). Users can also unlock badges by completing certain milestones and other tasks.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why should I care?” Read more

Every day there are thousands of people on Twitter who follow others just in the hopes of being followed back. The questions become: why are you seeking out more followers? What do you have to offer someone who could follow you?

On Twitter, most of the time, I will not follow you if you follow me; this is a social media relationship, not a casual friendship. I need to be entertained, have interesting articles shared with me, something! I’m needy, what can I say? Read more

Twitter has absolutely redefined how companies and organizations communicate with each other, and every individual has their own theory on best practices across this medium.

Twitter is an important tool in any marketer’s toolbox, but just because you have a hammer and a saw, it doesn’t make you a carpenter. Or in this case, an expert at Twitter.

These “best practices” posts usually bug me, and I never finish reading them, because Twitter is something that you create for yourself. Your feed and whom you follow makes Twitter what it is for you. You and I may use Twitter in totally different ways. And that’s awesome. It can be used in whatever way you like, which is exactly how you should approach Twitter. Read more