How to fail with Twitter

Twitter Logo FailI’ve been using Twitter since 2007, and though I’m not in the same league as celebrities (or z-listers)  who count their followers in hundreds of thousands, I’m comfortable knowing that my following has been grown organically, I’ve never ever paid for new followers, and I do know and recognise most of them in the virtual world we populate.

There’s much been written about how to use social media – most of it crap, and most aimed at marketing, brand promotion or people with massive egos.

Since I don’t fall into any of these categories, and use Twitter mainly for engaging with people who have something useful to say, picking up on news and ideas, and sharing stuff I’ve learnt (even the useful stuff!), then feel free to ignore the following tips, all of which are aimed at those who use their Twitter statistics to massage their overblown egos:

  • Make sure you auto-reply to new follows with a link to your free (but crap) ebook.
  • Provide an obscure description of who you are and what you do, or…
  • Have a completely blank bio.
  • Have a nice pose showing that six-pack or gawky grin.
  • Have a profile photo or an image that only makes sense to you and your imaginary friends.
  • Attract like-minded followers by posing with a gun, a knife or a swastika flag in the background.
  • Always refer to yourself as an “expert”, “ninja” or “blackbelt”.  You’re in a much better position to judge this than anyone else.
  • Never add a link to a great resource you’ve cited.
  • Have big gaps (e.g. days) between posts.
  • Try and follow thousands of random people. They’re bound to follow you back.
  • Write about the cat/hamster/holiday over and over again, and don’t forget to include the photos.
  • Fill your tweet with obscure abbreviations and hashtags.
  • Send an-auto DM to every new follow suggesting you connect on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Retweet EVERYTHING!
  • Follow everyone and everything – even those with zero tweets.
  • Say whatever comes into your head – no need to think (this one is a bit of a challenge for politicians, elected councillors and footballers!)
  • Use Twitter as your primary marketing plan.
  • Try and find an idiot to have an argument with. See who wins.
  • Take credit for tweets that did not originate from you.
  • Tweet on every piece of news you can get your hands on.
  • Tweet about your need for coffee or what you had for breakfast.
  • Be emotional and let off steam.
  • Always remember that your follower count is far more important than the content of your tweets.
  • Pay for followers (most of them will be bots anyway) – quantity trumps quality.
  • Make up new hashtags and try avoid using ones that are already in use to categorise information.
  • Look out for anyone that has only tweeted several times but has many thousands of followers. This is a mark of ‘awesome’ – the followers can’t all be wrong, can they?

I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list. If you have any more tips for growing your ego twitter following, let me know at @stephendale and I’ll post an updated list.

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30 ways to fail on Twitter

Twitter Logo FailCulled and curated from a few of my archived blog posts, a few tips on Twitter protocol that might enhance your social media credibility and encourage real people (not Bots) to follow you.

However, to conform with the (slightly misleading) title of this blog post, which you’ve probably guessed was crafted to attract attention, just do the opposite of the items in this list!

  • Don’t auto-reply to follows with a link to your free (but crap) ebook.
  • Don’t provide an obscure description of who you are and what you do.
  • Don’t have a completely blank bio.
  • Don’t refer to yourself as an “expert”.  That’s for others to judge.
  • Don’t have a profile photo or an image that only makes sense to you and your imaginary friends.
  • Always add a link to a great resource you’ve cited.
  • Show you care by customising your background.
  • Don’t have big gaps (e.g. days) between posts.
  • Don’t follow over 1000 people in a 2-hour period.
  • Don’t write about the cat/hamster/holiday over and over again.
  • Don’t swear and expect business people to take you seriously.
  • Don’t over-abbreviate.
  • Don’t tell people on the public timeline that someone else is on vacation.
  • Don’t reply on the public timeline when you meant to DM (or when it should be a DM…).
  • Don’t retweet EVERYTHING!
  • Don’t follow everyone and everything – even those with zero tweets.
  • Don’t auto DM spam.
  • Don’t be stupid (this one is a bit of a challenge for politicians, elected councillors and footballers!)
  • Don’t assume that Twitter is a marketing plan.
  • Don’t get into an argument with an idiot – they will always win!
  • Don’t take credit for tweets that did not originate from you.
  • Don’t report on every piece of news you can get your hands on.
  • Don’t tweet about your need for coffee in the mornings.
  • Don’t tweet emotional rants!
  • Don’t worry about your follower count. The content of your tweets is far more important.
  • Don’t pay for followers (most of them will be bots anyway) – quality trumps quantity.
  • Don’t let spammers into your feed.
  • Use hashtags (and if possible, ones that are already in use) to categorise information.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags (e.g. several in one post).
  • Don’t post a picture of yourself holding a knife, gun or other weapon.

You can probably think of more – if so let me know at @stephendale and I’ll post an updated list.

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Social Media: It’s not the Wild West after all!

If there is one good thing to come out of the Newsnight fiasco, which resulted in the irresponsible and inaccurate smearing of Lord McAlpine on social networks, it’s the challenge to the long-held assumption that Tweeting or blogging defamatory or libellous material cannot be policed, and that those who propagate and repeat such mis-information cannot be held to account. As Lord McAlpine’s lawyers progress their legal case against the BBC and those considered to have been responsible for incorrectly identifying him on social networks, it may cause quite a few people to reflect on their behaviour. This is the moment when it can be clearly shown and understood that people cannot be libelled or harassed with impunity just because the defamation is published online and by individuals rather than on paper or by large organisations. The idea that the world wide web is the Wild West and immune from the law is – at long last – being seriouslsy challenged.

 I think Sally Bercow should be particularly worried, since her tweet on 4th November: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*” was deliberately meant to start a feeding frenzy, which it did. I hope she’s got some good legal insurance (actually, on reflection, I hope she hasn’t!).

What many people seem to forget is that having a social media account, e.g. on Facebook or Twitter brings with it a certain responsibility. After all, these social networks bring incredible reach and potential access to an audience of billions. Other than age restrictions imposed by some vendors, you don’t need any special skills, no training, no licence and you don’t have to demonstrate any competence before you can establish an account and begin pumping out your message to the world. This is all well and good, and reinforces the democratisation of voice and freedom of speech. But this doesn’t mean you can say (write) anything you want. Yes, there will always be trolls, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them or to not pursue them through the courts if they harass, incite hatred or libel people. A few short sharp shocks, as is promised in the pending legal action brought by Lord McAlpine, will perhaps remind social media users that they have moral and legal obligations and cannot sit behind a computer screen detached and immune from the consequences of their actions.

Think twice before you post that blog, or tweet/re-tweet that message! Do you trust your sources?

Mona Lisa

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Twitter Search in Plain English

Twitchboard

Maybe nothing new here for the seasoned Twitter user, but as always, Lee Lefever does a great job in putting across fairly complex concepts in a simple ‘matter of fact’ way. This new video from CommonCraft covers Twitter Search, and for anyone who wants to know more about ‘trends’ and ‘hashtags’ then look no further, all is explained here.

If you want to see more of the CommonCraft ‘Simple English’ videos, subscribe to the CommonCraft channel on YouTube.

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Evan Williams describes the Twitter phenomenon

Twitchboard

Twitter is the fastest growing social network at the moment and gaining increasing credibility as the ‘killer app’ for 2009. Here Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, speaking at TED, describes how the project got started and how its development is continually shaped by user-driven innovations.  From its original concept as a simple messaging tool it is increasingly being used to gather and disseminate information on news-breaking events. Sharing of information through the use of  of hashtags is just one of the many user innovations discussed in the video.

The open API has fired the ingenuity of many small start-ups and entrepeneurs, and I see an incresing number of new applications being developed in the coming months (I’ve lost count of the number of ‘top 100 Twitter apps’ tweets from the twitterverse).  It’s great to see such a buzz, and think that we’re well into the ‘Early Majority’ phase of the Everett Rogers diffusion model. As more people use it, more innovative ideas are developed with potential benefit for everyone. It will interesting to see how many new Twitter apps get developed this year. I’m guessing several thousand!

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The Twitter 100

I came across this potentially useful compilation of the 100 most popular sites mashing up and remixing Twitter, as measured by the number of bookmarks at Del.icio.us. Thanks to the Museum of Modern Betas Labs for this list.

  1. twittervision (4194 overall)
  2. twitterfeed (3557 overall)
  3. twhirl (3149 overall)
  4. twistori (2589 overall)
  5. tweetscan (2567 overall)
  6. twitter-search (2198 overall)
  7. tweetdeck (1977 overall)
  8. twitpic (1967 overall)
  9. hellotxt (1895 overall)
  10. twitterrific (1692 overall)
  11. twitterholic (1421 overall)
  12. tweetstats (1356 overall)
  13. quotably (1337 overall)
  14. twellow (1265 overall)
  15. twitscoop (1261 overall)
  16. twitturly (1253 overall)
  17. twitterlocal (1249 overall)
  18. twubble (1192 overall)
  19. twittearth (1155 overall)
  20. monitter (1142 overall)
  21. grouptweet (1133 overall)
  22. twitter-grader (1115 overall)
  23. twitbin (1082 overall)
  24. hashtags (1073 overall)
  25. tweetburner (1066 overall)
  26. terraminds-twitter-search (969 overall)
  27. tweetvolume (907 overall)
  28. twittercounter (890 overall)
  29. twist (880 overall)
  30. twitthis (861 overall)
  31. qwitter (849 overall)
  32. tweetlater (815 overall)
  33. twitter-karma (786 overall)
  34. xpenser (777 overall)
  35. twemes (772 overall)
  36. twittermail (767 overall)
  37. twitdir (763 overall)
  38. tweetbeep (755 overall)
  39. twitxr (751 overall)
  40. twitterfox (745 overall)
  41. friendorfollow (696 overall)
  42. hahlo (664 overall)
  43. botanicalls-twitter-diy (632 overall)
  44. tweetmeme (631 overall)
  45. tweetwheel (618 overall)
  46. twittersnooze (602 overall)
  47. snitter (593 overall)
  48. twittercal (583 overall)
  49. remember-the-milk-for-twitter (577 overall)
  50. twuffer (566 overall)
  51. strawpollnow (555 overall)
  52. twitterpatterns (552 overall)
  53. twinfluence (552 overall)
  54. twitterfone (538 overall)
  55. tweetr (517 overall)
  56. election.twitter (508 overall)
  57. whoshouldifollow (496 overall)
  58. tweetclouds (493 overall)
  59. pockettweets (490 overall)
  60. favrd (490 overall)
  61. twitterverse (467 overall)
  62. tweepsmap (supercedes  twittermap)
  63. twitterposter (452 overall)
  64. twistory (448 overall)
  65. peoplebrowsr (442 overall)
  66. cursebird (441 overall)
  67. loudtwitter (421 overall)
  68. mrtweet (418 overall)
  69. colorwar2008 (408 overall)
  70. twitteroo (405 overall)
  71. twitter100 (403 overall)
  72. spaz (399 overall)
  73. tweetag (389 overall)
  74. twitbacks (387 overall)
  75. twilert (383 overall)
  76. fuelfrog (383 overall)
  77. twitter-blocks (380 overall)
  78. tweetake (378 overall)
  79. tweeterboard (376 overall)
  80. be-a-magpie (369 overall)
  81. twerpscan (367 overall)
  82. twittergram (366 overall)
  83. matt (365 overall)
  84. twitternotes (359 overall)
  85. twitter-friends-network-browser (359 overall)
  86. twitlinks (359 overall)
  87. tweetrush (355 overall)
  88. twitterblacklist (350 overall)
  89. twitku (348 overall)
  90. foodfeed (330 overall)
  91. tweetgrid (325 overall)
  92. mytweeple (321 overall)
  93. twitter-charts (316 overall)
  94. spy (314 overall)
  95. trackthis (313 overall)
  96. twittersearch (308 overall)
  97. politweets (306 overall)
  98. tweet-cube (301 overall)
  99. phweet (301 overall)
  100. tweetwasters (297 overall)

Further reading:

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Twitter under the microscope

twitter

An interesting study by Bernardo A. Huberman, Daniel M. Romero and Fang Wu over at HP on the social interactions within Twitter. To quote from the preamble:

Scholars, advertisers and political activists see massive online social networks as a representation of social interactions that can be used to study the propagation of ideas, social bond dynamics and viral marketing, among others. But the linked structures of social networks do not reveal actual interactions among people. Scarcity of attention and the daily rhythms of life and work makes people default to interacting with those few that matter and that reciprocate their attention. A study of social interactions within Twitter reveals that the driver of usage is a sparse and hidden network of connections underlying the “declared” set of friends and followers.

Key points from the report:

  1. A ‘friend’ is loosley defined as anyone the user has directed at least two posts (tweets) to.
  2. They conjecture that users who receive attention from many people will post more often than users who receive little attention.
  3. Users with more followers and friends will be more active than those with a small number of followers and friends.
  4. There are two different networks: a dense one made up followers and followees, and a sparser and simpler network of friends.
  5. The number of friends is the actual driver of the user’s activity and not the number of followers.
  6. Users with many followers post updates less frequently than those with few followers.

The full report is available at the HP website link above, or can be downloaded here.

Twitter under the microscope
Twitter under the microscope
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New links for Communities and Networks 2008-05-04 @ del.icio.us

Tools for Communities Wiki A companion piece to a forthcoming book Stewarding Technologies for Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John D. Smith. It collects knowledge about how Communities of Practice use different tools. Like all Wikis, this is a work in progress. It collects knowledge about how Communities of Practice use different tools. The vision is to provide a community perspective on these tools and their key features.

GroupTweet GroupTweet piggy-backs on the Twitter service via the Twitter API. It allows you to set up a private group on Twitter for sending and receiving text messages (tweets) to members of the group. This tool might be a great introduction to Twitter as quick information sharing tool for a small community of practice and people who are new to Twitter.

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