Shane McDonald Facebook pixel
Tips to Improve your Twitter Account

Tips to Improve your Twitter Account

Easy Twitter Tips to improve your Twitter account

I have been on Twitter 10 years now (as of April 21st 2019) and over the past 7 years I have come to love the platform. For me,​ Twitter is a source of news, opinion and interesting articles as well as the odd competition which I have won. If you are looking to grow your Twitter audience and influence you are going to have to invest some time on Twitter. These are some Twitter Tips to help in growing your following and presence.

1. Have a good Twitter Profile image

The first of the Twitter tips is to update your profile pic. The Profile Image is the small icon which appears beside each tweet. Your profile picture should be representative of you or your business. Try to​ make the image one which will stand out.

The key here is don’t leave it as the default Twitter Egg! The profile photo of an egg is indicative of an account which is new. So change this and you’ll get an advantage over accounts with Twitter eggs.

 

2. Ensure you include a Twitter Header image

At the same time, you should upload a good header image. The header image could be a product photo or something which works along with your profile image to strength your accounts visual appeal. You can use systems like Canva to place a nice quote or even your web address.

 

3. Your Twitter Bio

Your Twitter Bio should detail what your account is about. It should also outline the content people will expect if they follow you. For example, you could tell people what interests you or what you tweet about.

Feel free to use hashtags or even other accounts. e.g. “I am an​ ​ account manager for @mentioncompanyhere and I like #Travel”. or “I love Twitter. Follow my account for freebies and great Twitter Tips and advice.”

If you have a website don’t forget to include that. This is one of the key Twitter Tips – so if you do one thing, it’s update your Bio.

 

4. Daily Twitter Activity

Each day, you should log on to Twitter and do some sort of activity. This is my personal must do from this Twitter Tips list.
This activity may include;

– Tweeting something even if it is just a comment on the weather. This keeps your feed flowing with recent content.
– Retweeting others tweets. If you find something interesting retweet it.
– Responding to any replies or notifications
– Thanking some of your recent followers.
– If you find the ​content you like the press the ‘Like’ button
– you should follow any Twitter accounts which you are interested in. Normally I follow about 5-10 accounts per day. If I find a Twitter list of Food Bloggers or Travel Writers I may end up following 50 or 60 accounts. Using Twitter Lists you could place all accounts which are foodies in one list or all accounts which give great Twitter tips in another list. This saves you time in reading related content. By monitoring their content I can then see if I want to keep following. Every so often I clear down the accounts I am following based on their content. One good app for doing a follower check is Crowdfire.

 

5. Tag or include others in your tweets

Every now and again you should mention other accounts using the @account method.
For example “Hi @mrshanemcdonald many thanks for liking my tweet. I am delighted with the Twitter Tips post on your website” would send me a nice mention and I may then follow you as a result.

 ​

Twitter Tips : The Dreaded Twitter Egg - No profile image on Twitter is not good.

How do I know if I am doing well on Twitter ?

If you follow some of the Twitter Tips above, you should see some growth over the next while. There are a few pointers and KPIs to show your success in growing your Twitter account.

  1. The first is your follower’s growth if it is increasing fast this is one indicator that you are doing well.
    You can track your growth visually on TwitterCounter – take a look here at my Twitter account on TwitterCounter to see how it works.
  2. Secondly is your mention notifications, if you are getting a lot of @mentions, either responses or direct mentions, this shows a well-engaged audience.
  3. Check your Twitter Analytics to see your performance month on month
  4. You can also look at how much traffic is being driven to your website via Google Analytics. Strong Twitter performance would lead to good traffic to your website.
  5. If you are enjoying Twitter and you are Tweeting daily – In a way, this is a success of its own as many people start on Twitter and just give up!

 

Klout is Dead, Long live the King

In 2018, Klout had it’s last score update. There are a few different cites which have digitally passed-away over the years and you can view them here at the Social Media Graveyard.

You may also be interested to know how long people spend online and on social media – check out this report regarding the Average Time on Social Media.

 

I hope you enjoyed these Twitter Tips and this is what works for me. If you have any other interesting Twitter Tips or hacks please feel free to leave a comment.

 

Follow Me on Twitter

My Twitter account is @mrshanemcdonald so if you like this Twitter Tips post why not follow and say hi!

FlightRadar24 Vs Plane Finder, Flight Tracking iPhone Apps

FlightRadar24 Vs Plane Finder, Flight Tracking iPhone Apps

A few years ago when I got my first iPhone, I downloaded two Aircraft Tracking iPhone Apps. These flight tracking apps were FlightRadar24 and Plane Finder. The smartphone air traffic apps allow you to track the position, height, speed, Squawk Code, Aircraft type, heading, source, destination and Aircraft Registration, plus much more.

These amazing iPhone apps are brilliant, especially if you are interested in aircraft. You may also just want to know where a plane in the sky is heading. Ever since I was a child, when I got my first pair of binoculars, I have been fascinated with knowing which aircraft or which airline is flying overhead. Aircraft are such amazing feats of engineering, it is amazing to watch them as they fly 10km up.

So, back to the flight tracking apps. Which one is better, FlightRadar24 or PlaneFinder? I am going to look at the 2 apps and do a proper review…in no particular order.

FlightRadar24

The FlightRadar24 system was the first flight tracking app I downloaded. The main features of FlightRadar24 were full flight tracking plus visual tracking where you could hold the iPhone camera up to the sky where there was an aircraft and it would point to it with identification using augmented reality. At the time this was very new to smartphone technology but the Augmented Reality system makes it possible to point the camera to the sky and view aircraft information and all the details regarding air traffic over you.

Flight Radar Screenshote - FlightRadar1 iPhone App Review

Flight Radar Screenshot - FlightRadar24 iPhone App Review

The accuracy is stunning – I actually grabbed a pair of binoculars when a Lufthansa 747 was reported over Waterford, and it was indeed the aircraft mentioned on the FlightRadar-24 iPhone App. Amazing.
Check out http://www.flightradar24.com/ for more details.

PlaneFinder

I downloaded the Planefinder app just as a comparison as this one showed actual photos of the aircraft in question and also allowed for sharing of the spotted aircraft on Facebook etc.

PlaneFinder does almost everything that FlightRadar24 does, but I find that there are certain functions you can achieve such as advanced filters, e.g. show all aircraft above a certain height, speed or indeed of a certain airline.  I also found some aircraft not listed on FlightRadar24 – for example, a Galaxy C5 showed up on Planefinder and at the same time did not display on Flightradar24 for some reason.

More information on PlaneFinder can be found at http://my.pinkfroot.com/

How do these iPhone Aircraft Tracking Apps Work?

These apps only show information regarding aircraft which are equipped with ADS-B transponders. About 60% of the passenger aircraft and some private aircraft have an ADS-B transponder installed.

The Flightradar24 and PlaneTracker apps use a network of ADS-B receivers around the world. These ADS receivers get plane and flight information from the aircraft with ADS-B (Broadcasts) and send this information to the main server. These apps simply collect the ADS data and displays this information on the iPhone Apps map. However the only aircraft within the coverage area of the ADS receivers are visible – so if you are in the USA you may have limited visibility as these apps are mainly covering Europe. Current coverage is approx 90% of Europe. However, there is also limited coverage in the USA, Australia and the Middle East.

App Problems?

Both Apps require WiFi or a 3G connection to work. If you only have a cellular data connection you may get 1 or 2 aircraft showing up but the app won’t work to its full potential – so ensure you have 3G turned on.

The only problems I saw was one aircraft which was a ghost image of itself – i.e., for example, an aircraft D-GBHF was showing up side by side but it was the same aircraft. Could have been a glitch.
However, the most fun glitch I saw was an aircraft which had a recorded cruising speed of zero knots – clever trick!

Flight Tracking Apps – Conclusion

Both apps are excellent in the way the aircraft are displayed plus the refresh rate and the accuracy is very good on both apps.

Both apps have been updated since my original post and I will be updating this post with the changes and new features.

PlaneFinder retails at €3.99 in the App Store

FlightRadar24 retails at €2.39 in the App Store.

FREE Versions of these Flight Radar iPhone Apps are available also and the desktop or web-based version of FlightRadar can be used for a limited session and with limited functionality for free.

If you have any comments regarding these flight tracking/aircraft tracking apps please comment below!

 

 

This post is a re-edit of the original post regarding FlightRadar24 and Plane Finder which was written earlier in 2015.

How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your website

I recently ran a Google test on my site to check how friendly my site was. This test checks how fast your site loads and gives a percentage score so you know how good or bad your website ranks. When I checked www.shanemcdonald.ie I got a score of 32%. I knew I had to do something as Google could use page speed as a ranking factor. I did some research into WordPress caching plugins and found some interesting information.

Not all WordPress Caching plugins are the same. Some work better than others. These Wp-cache plugins varied in functionality and success. The one WordPress caching plugin which stood out WP Fastest Cache. I also found that it works best with Autoptimize and the image compression plugin Imagify.

I installed the first two WordPress caching plugins which help minify the .js and .css files on your site. They also .gz compress some other files to help your site load faster.

All of these plugins can be added using the WordPress Dashboard by clicking ‘Add New’ and running a search. If you are using the very latest WordPress version, then your plugin should auto-install. Once installed you can activate it from the plugins section. Note, you may need to adjust settings before any changes become visible. Most plugins have default values or no active values on activation.

The Google score was now 54% which was an improvement already.

Finally, I installed Imagify which compressed the images I already had on the server. Note, this was only done up to a certain limit. I get another limit of about 15Mb in 1 months time. A premium version of Imagify is available which gets rid of this limit.

After the WordPress caching plugins and the image compression plugin was installed and configured the Google score was at 75%. This was an increase of 43% points from 32%. This was 2.3 times better than the previous score. Hopefully, this will help reduce bounce rate and increase visits and visitor time to the site. Since I wrote this, I have added 2 new posts and the images I used are not fully optimised so there has been a drop in score but I now know the areas where I need to optimise on the website.

I am also running this optimisation on my photoblog at www.shanemcdonald.me and I will be posting the results and more details in the coming weeks. I am using the same WordPress caching plugins and the same image compression plugin. It should be interesting to see the effect on google analytics.

I have placed links to the WordPress caching plugins below.

WP Fastest Cache – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-fastest-cache/

Autoptimize – https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoptimize/

Imagify – https://imagify.io/

 

If you have any comments or questions regarding these plugins for WordPress caching, minifying or optimisation plugins please leave them below… If you liked this post on “How to setup WordPress caching and image optimisation your WordPress website or Blog” please share it on social media with the sharing links provided.

Be Careful with the new PayPal Phishing Scams

Be Careful with the new PayPal Phishing Scams

I get these from Paypal Phishing emails time to time and I’m sure anyone with an active email account will also. We are all used to seeing spam emails pretending to be from valid companies all the time. The question is how can you spot if these are legitimate emails? How can you spot if these are just trying to get your account details? Well, there are some things you can look out for…

No Personalised Name

Firstly you will normally see Dear PayPal User, or Dear Netflix user or simply Dear Subscriber

If this is a valid company, who has your details, why is the email not using your first name?
Most emails from companies such as Netflix or PayPal will include some identifying ID info on your emails. This may include your account number, your name or your username. Check out the example below!

Some Frantic Excuse

Very often there is some excuse for the email. Some scenarios I have seen include ;

  • “We were updating our servers and noticed an issue, you now need to revalidate your account”.
  • “In order to further secure your account please log in and verify your credentials”
  • “If you do not log in within 24 hours your account will be deleted”

Don’t fall for these excuses. This is just to get you panicking so that you don’t think about what you are doing.  Check out the example below!

Links are not official Links

Within the email, if you are required to log in, you will see a link such as ‘login’ or ‘sign in’. The link to these phishing sites will be under this.

You have two ways to check for this. First, you can hover-over the link in your email client. If it is from PayPal the web address should be PayPal.com. Similarly, if it is a Netflix email, Netflix.com should be the web address listed as the link. Occasionally email systems like ConstantContact may place their link and use a redirect – therefore it does not always work.

The second way to check is if you do click the link, ensure you are on the official site by checking the web address.

Graphics May appear out of line or pixelated

One other way you can detect spammy phishing emails is by their graphics. The images used in the emails are often just stolen from the official sites and are not always placed correctly in the emails. Therefore they may look too wide or not the right height to width ratio.

What to do if you are unsure?

If you get an email from Netflix, PayPal or even your Bank or Revenue, email them via their official website or call them. Better to be safe than sorry.

Remember your Bank and the taxation/revenue services will never usually contact you by email asking for personal or security information.
Be cautious and be safe. If it sounds a bit far fetched then it could very well be a phishing email.

Example of a Phishing Email

This is an example of one email I got, the web address when I clicked the link did not bring me to PayPal.com – you can see some of what I mentioned above in the email below. Not personalised,  and a frantic excuse about ‘unusual activity’.

Phishing email

Conclusion

Just to finalise on this topic, firstly companies like PayPal and Netflix have no control over this. If you get a phishing email it is not their fault therefore as the customer you will have to take due care with your account details. Hopefully, the tips above on how to spot phishing scams will help you if you are unsure. If you get an email and you are still not sure what to do, ask a friend who might have more IT/web knowledge – get a second opinion. It’s better than losing your account, or worse, money. Stay safe online, always be on the lookout for something which doesn’t feel right.

Twitter Verification for All

Twitter Verification for All

Can Anyone have a Verified Twitter Account?

Twitter has announced that there is now an online application process in order to get your Twitter account set as a verified status. Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify important individuals and organisation ensuring that the followers know that they are authentic. This authenticity is denoted by a circular blue badge icon. Before today’s announcement accounts were verified if they were deemed to be public interest, e.g. brands, celebs, sports stars, public figures, politicians etc. There are currently about 190,000 accounts with Twitter Verification*. (* Twitter stats correct at the time of this blog post in July 2016) 

Twitter has stated that they want to make it easier to “find creators and influencers on Twitter”. Twitter are hoping that by allowing people to appliy for verification it will help more people to find “great, high-quality accounts to follow, and for these creators and influencers to connect with a broader audience.”

The application process is now live and I have already applied for mine, so I’m hoping that @mrshanemcdonald will be verified soon. Full details of the twitter verifiaction process is available via the Twitter Help Centre.

How to get Verified on Twitter

To complete the Twitter Verification application you will need the following;

  • A verified phone number
  • A confirmed email address
  • A completed bio
  • A profile photo
  • A header photo
  • A birthday (for accounts that are not a company, brand, or organisation accounts)
  • A website / URL
  • Your Twitter account set as public in Tweet privacy settings (i.e. not a private account)
  • You will also need to explain why Twitter should verify an account.

The responses will be replied to by email and if your request is denied, you can submit another Twitter Verification request for the same account 30 days after receiving the email from Twitter.

I’m sure there will be hundreds of thousands of applications but lets see what happens. From what I have heard many applications are being rejected, even those with high follower counts and thousands of tweets. I will update this post should I get any news from Twitter regarding my application for Twitter Verification status.

 

Verified Twitter Progress Update: I have since applied for verification twice now and every time my Twitter verification has been rejected. Maybe Twitter Verification is not for everyone after all 🙁

More Details on Twitter Verification

Twitter Verification Update – 25th July

I just got an email from Twitter with the following;

 
 
Thanks for your request to verify @mrshanemcdonald.
 
We reviewed the account, and unfortunately it is not eligible to be verified at this time. Please visit our Help Center for more information about the types of accounts we verify.

Maybe next time … I can resubmit in 30 days !

Twitter to remove Images and Links from Character Count

Twitter to remove Images and Links from Character Count

According to reports in the media your Links and photos may soon (possibly in the next 2 to 3 weeks) be ignored by Twitter and therefore would not be counted in the 140 character limit for tweets.

Proposed Changes

This radical change would come at a time when Twitter is trying to boost active user numbers and new user registrations, by simplifying the product. Ultimately users would have the ability to compose longer text commentary in their messages. This would be a radical shift for Twitter who have always said that 140 characters are enough for the micro-blogging network.

At the moment a link in a tweet will use up 23 characters in your tweet after that most users like to leave about 20 characters for retweet potential, so this new change could be a welcome boost for Twitter.

Personally, I love Twitter, I find it really useful and very enjoyable to simply dip in and out of. Although the company have declined to comment I really hope that this rumour is more than just talk.

There could even be a situation in the future where Twitter will double the number of characters and maybe release 280 characters per Tweet. What do you think? Should Twitter also increase the length of its tweets? 

Let’s see what the next few weeks bring…