Author Platform Sidekick Version 2.0 Released Today
Since the launch of Version 1.0 on February 1, 2017, Author Platform Sidekick has attracted many authors pleased to offload many of the activities associated with growing their Twitter account and mailing list, exploiting its ability to auto-tweet fresh new content soon after being published in blog sites and newspapers and to regularly tweet promotional and evergreen non-promotional content, all designed to drive readers in the direction of their books.
Many authors subscribe because they either don't have the technical knowhow or don't have the time available to put into practice the techniques documented in Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors, written by the founder of Author Platform Sidekick, Ian Sutherland.
Today, five months later, Ian is pleased to announce Version 2.0 of Author Platform Sidekick. The release introduces a range of usability enhancements as well as a more sophisticated audience targeting capability.
New Features and Enhancements
View and Update Your Own Data
In Sidekick 1.0, a simple forms based system was employed to capture all of the necessary information from subscribers in order for the Sidekick team to setup and configure the service behind the scenes on behalf of the customer. However, once submitted, the customer was unable to view or update the information provided.
Version 2.0 completely redefines the data collection interface to be much more intuitive and enables customers the ability to log back in and view or update information previously provided. All data entered by customers under Version 1.0 has been migrated over and is now viewable and updatable.
The overall result is that Version 2.0 feels much more like a product than a service. That said, Ian's personal touch with his customers remains very much at the forefront.
Improved Navigation and Usability
Navigation and usability within Sidekick has been massively improved, with a consistent look and feel throughout. The system is now much more intuitive, making much more use of buttons to guide activities. All of the activities are centred around the Sidekick Control Center for Twitter, which is presented to customers upon login.
Advanced Audience Targeting Strategies
Sidekick Version 1.0 targeted new followers by monitoring Twitter for tweets that included hashtags specified by Sidekick author customers. The system worked on a round-robin basis. Version 2.0 replaces the underlying engine with a more advanced system that enables far more sophisticated audience targeting.
A four step process is now employed to identify target accounts to follow:
Firstly, we follow back all fans (people already following your account).
Secondly, we enable the following of anyone who mentions your account in a tweet.
Thirdly, we introduce the ability to follow the followers of role models (Twitter users who are similar in profile, but who have amassed at least 10,000 followers). This is the approach originally recommended by Ian in Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors, and is now finally introduced!
Lastly, we enable the ability to follow people tweeting content using hashtags provided by Sidekick customers. But even here, we improve on Version 1.0 by prioritising hashtags into five layers, focusing first on the most narrowly targeted hashtags and then becoming more broad as we drop through the layers, until we reach you daily limit.
A more detailed explanation of Sidekick's new targeting strategies is explained in Advanced Audience Targeting with Sidekick.
LastPass Option for Secure Password Sharing
During initial setup and configuration, a member of the Sidekick team needs to log in to your Twitter account to connect the third-party apps that power Sidekick. This is a one-off exercise. Once completed, the apps will remain connected even if you change your password on a regular basis. To make this work, Sidekick customers had to either entrust Sidekick with their password or set a temporary one. Now, we introduce the ability for anyone who uses LastPass to share their Twitter password more securely with Sidekick in such a way that no one from the Sidekick team can ever never know what it is. More information can be found in Why Does Sidekick Need to Know My Password?
Sidekick Version 2.0 introduces the ability to whitelist accounts that Sidekick should never unfollow, regardless of whether they follow you or not. This helps protect friends and family and other accounts that you wish to follow regardless.
Minimising Account Lockouts
Sidekick Version 2.0 has replaced the underlying engine that drives the follow and unfollow activities. The approach the previous app took attracted the attention of Twitter, which assumed (incorrectly) that it was carrying out too much automation, something that Twitter limits in it's Terms of Service. The result was occasional account locking, causing Sidekick customers to have to go through the account verification process and then the process of reconnecting the Sidekick apps to their account. All very inconvenient and far too intrusive.
The approach the new engine takes is 100% endorsed by Twitter and so account locking should be a thing of the past. That said, there are many factors that can cause an account to be locked, especially one growing at a rapid rate, and so it may still happen occasionally.
Version 2.0 introduces an offshore team of operators who carry out the daily activity of clicking follow and unfollow hundreds of times per day per Sidekick customer.
To comply with Twitter’s terms of service, a human must always initiate the act of following or unfollowing. That makes following and unfollowing a time consuming and laborious activity. That said, Sidekick does use sophisticated software to target whom to follow and unfollow and present them to one of our operators in a easy to click through list, so it can be done fairly rapidly on your behalf.
The offshore team is completely scaleable regardless of the number of customers who sign up for Sidekick, which means the quality of service will remain high as we grow our customer base.
(Feel free to recommend the service to your friends!)
Configurable Time to Unfollow
Version 1.0 was restricted to allowing 3 days before unfollowing someone who hadn't followed you back. Version 2.0 allows customers to define the range between 3 and 7 days.
Evergreen Queue Now Part of Engager Plan
The Evergreen Queue typically contains tweets related to evergreen blog posts previously written by you. It’s an opportunity to tweet out interesting non-promotional, non-timebound content that drives traffic back to your author website. If are not a blogger, then this queue may instead be filled with tweets to interesting articles or blog posts elsewhere on the internet. Or both.
This feature has now been made available as part of the Engager Plan. Previously, it was only available as part of the more expensive Promoter Plan.
Newsdesk RSS Feed Count Doubled
Sidekick Version 2.0 doubles the number of RSS feeds that may be subscribed to from 15 to 30.
Dynamic Newsdesk RSS Feeds
Sidekick Version 2.0 is released with 69 predefined RSS feeds. These are presented in a dynamic list to Sidekick customers. As before, customers have the ability to define their own custom RSS feeds. However, any feeds that the Sidekick team feel have wider interest will be dynamically added to the predefined list and automatically made available to all.
The following features from Version 1.0 are no longer available in Version 2.0.
The ability to automatically 'Like' tweets based on hashtags provided has been removed. This contravenes Twitter's terms of service.
The ability to automatically 'ReTweet' tweets based on hashtags provided has been removed. This contravenes Twitter's terms of service.