Tag Archives: On the Web

Top 5 Twitter tips and the best Twitter tools [podcast]

My colleague, Elaine Hom, was kind enough to invite me to sit in on her website’s monthly podcast, “Reality Check.” In the episode, I offered up my “Top Twitter tips and the best Twitter tools

I was well-caffeinated, as you’ll hear, but I’m generally quite proud of the final product. I hope others will find is useful for navigating Twitter in an efficient way and make some meaning out of that noise.

Listen to: Top Twitter Tools and Tips

Reality Check: Top Twitter tips and the best Twitter tools
29 May 2009 | SearchUnifiedCommunications.com

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Filed under journalism, podcast, social media, Twitter

Use RE for @replies on Twitter

Biz Stone
Image by DNSF David Newman via Flickr

There’s a bonafide Twitterstorm on today after a post from Twitter co-founder @Biz Stone indicated that the service would be changing the way it handled @replies. Just check out #fixreplies.

Here’s what @Biz posted to the Twitter blog yesterday:

Small Settings Update

We’ve updated the Notices section of Settings to better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies. Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

The Importance of Discovery

Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you’ll still see mentions or references linking to people you don’t follow. For example, you’ll continue to see, “Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff” even if you don’t follow @biz. We’ll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

And here’s what he followed up with after today’s tweetstorm

Whoa, Feedback!

We’re getting a ton of extremely useful feedback about yesterday’s update to Settings. The engineering team reminded me that there were serious technical reasons why that setting had to go or be entirely rebuilt—it wouldn’t have lasted long even if we thought it was the best thing ever. Nevertheless, it’s amazing to wake up and see all the tweets about this change.

We’re hearing your feedback and reading through it all. One of the strongest signals is that folks were using this setting to discover and follow new and interesting accounts—this is something we absolutely want to support. Our product, design, user experience, and technical teams have started brainstorming a way to surface a new, scalable way to address this need.

Please stay tuned and thank you again for all the feedback.

Talk about real-time feedback and response! I’d like to hear more about the technical reasons behind the change.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to propose a simple fix to the Twitter community to preserve the “cocktail party effect” whereby you can catch snippets of interesting conversations and then tune into them and their participants:

Add RE to the beginning of your tweets in front of a given username.

Since, as Laura “@pistachio” Fitton pointed out this morning, @replies were a community generated convention, it’s quite straightforward to continue that practice and introduce a way of indicating to everyone that you are are @replying to someone.

RE = reply to.

At some point, stats wizards can pull out who gets the most RE @ them, just like they have analyzed the RT (retweet). In the meantime, this will “surface” a person for everyone. And, since Twitter and other clients automatically now default to “@mentions” instead of direct replies, we can keep on chatting.

RE is all of two characters to add, plus a space. Yes, 3 spaces out of 140 is a bit dear, but in this writer’s opinion they are worth adding to buck the filter.  I’ve posted a comment on the Top 15 Twitter Acronyms to add RE to the list. I hope that RE catches on, as I’d really miss those snippets of conversation.

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Filed under microsharing, social media, Twitter

Unofficial Poll: Greatest rock guitarist ever?

I had some fun creating a Twitter poll tonight using Twtpoll.com.

After I asked who the “Greatest rock guitarist ever?” was on the way home and received 10 great replies, I used #alexasks and Twtpoll to try to turn those answers into a quick quiz.

I’ll wait for a bit and then ask on Facebook, where I expect more friends might contribute.

It’s an apologetic homage to #andyasks, where HBS professor Andy asks his followers a different interesting question every day. Mine was impromptu but satisfying.

Here’s the result.

My answer? Like Peter Townshend at Rolling Stone I gotta go with Hendrix.

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What’s the value of Stumbleupon?

stumbleupon2A new online friend, Dave Atkins, asked recently what the value of Stumblupon was. “Who has time to randomly browse web for interesting things?” I’ve been thinking of that too. After all, there are dozens of social bookmarks or social news submission networks around the Web. You can see the best — or at least the most popular — over at popurls.com. Digg, delicious, Reddit, Yahoo! Buzz, Truemors, Newsvine, Metafilter, Slashdot — all the usual suspects plus many of the world’s top blogs and newspapers.

When I saw what Marshall Kirkpatrick had written StumbleUpon Hits 7 Million Users, Quietly 50% Bigger Than Twitter” at ReadWriteWeb, however, clarity of utility of the service came quickly. Here’s how he put it:

What’s got a button to push, knows how to make money while changing the world and is read all over? StumbleUpon! The social discovery network [is] like Pandora for webpages and videos.”

Needless to say, that got my attention. Twitter’s business model is one of the great speculative exercises of our time — well, at least in the hothouse garden of the social media world. Mark D. Drapeau‘s thoughts on Twitter’s vision offer considerable insight concerning the possibilities for the popular microblogging service. As Marshall notes, however, Stumbleupon has several things going for it that Twitter does not quite enjoy, at least to date.

  1. Stumbleupon has its own Firefox plugin and Toolbar. While there are many addons that allow you to add a Twitter bookmarklet to your browser, to date Twitter does not provide one itself. Small potatoes compared to the next three.
  2. Stumble upon is a social discovery service. As Marshall wrote, it’s ‘like Pandora for websites and videos.” This resonates with me on a fundamental level. I’ve chosen who I follow on Twitter carefully; my network brings me news I care about constantly, especially when I ask questions about specific subjects. Stumbleupon, however, adds an algorithm and 7 million other clickers to the challenge of finding more content for me. That’s incredibly powerful. I adore Pandora — and my stations continue to get better at tuning music to my interests. So if the parallel holds true, there’s every reason to keep “stumbling” while I “tweet” away.
  3. Stumbleupon is profitable. According to Marshall, “Advertisers pay a few pennies to have their pages inserted into the Stumble streams of relevant users and those ads are silently voted on just like any other page. Silicon Alley Insider estimates the company was making $10 million each year as of this Fall.” If Twitter monetizes the realtime search at search.twitter.com, maybe they’ll get there too.
  4. Stumbleupon delivers massive amounts of traffic. I can vouch for that. When tweeted about my last post, Online J.R.R.Tolkien Translators and Font Converters, I earned a few dozen clicks and a retweet or two from friends like Shava. When one of those people Stumbled the post, however, I immediately began receiving a river of visitors to the blog (relative to normal traffic, anyway).

In sum, that’s all powerful. And it’s all occurred without much notice. So here’s my answer to Dave’s question: Stumbleupon has some power when one person uses it to bookmark sites and explore the Web that way. Like delicious or Twitter, however, the service shines when all of those clicks are analyzed and used to rate content on the Web. We’re all deluged with increasing amounts of information online; the websites that matter to me are the ones that help me make sense of it all. I haven’t been using Stumbleupon at all in 2009. I suspect Marshall’s post may change that. Who knows? Maybe I’ll stumble across you. You can find digiphile on Stumbleupon here.

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