Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do we hate spam that much?

Greetings from my summer office in Mashpee, MA.  Well, it would be nice to stay at New Seabury all summer, but I guess I'll have to make do with a week.  The beach is great, but the itch to blog is greater, so here is a quick post.  I'm sure glad that Starbucks is giving me 2 free hours for my overpriced, under-flavored Pike Place drip.  Anyhow, a great article from twitter bud, Jennifer Leggio, writing about Twitter's new anti-spam efforts.  I applaud Biz for taking an aggressive stance in his on-going battle with bots that follow way too many people.  In fact, I've written about spammers and bad corporate twitter practice several times.  However, it seems that Twitter's indiscriminate new policy's have affected innocent, power-users. Twitter rockstar and bonafide friend to all, Chris Brogan, has been limited in adding followers.

As Chris Penn tweeted this morning, "Twitter needs to get their stuff together. capping Chris Brogan means effectively capping his conversations, so what good is it?"

None of us want to see DarkSideSports and 24hBerlin (2 recent followers) show up in their twitter stream, but to stop them at the expense of Chris Brogan and ComcastCares, I don't think so.

Ok, the itch is scratched, so it's back to the beach.  But I'm sure I'll be back soon!

Friday, July 18, 2008

More on best practices

We all know how Twitter shines at events, whether it's taking notes, working the back channel, or the impromptu meetup.  I just read on Pistachio's blog of an innovative approach that HP is taking at the Blogher conference.  They are running a scavenger hunt with clues only given on Twitter using an event dedicated account. What a cool idea!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quick Tweets

As many of my readers know, I try to track all of the Twitter stories each day and I catalog them with a delicious tag which you can find in the sidebar on this site.  Today, I thought I'd display some of the more prominent ones that I found. Here are the top Twitter stories of the day all in 140 characters or less:

From Louis Gray, Twitter reduced the API requests for unauthenticated requests from unlimited to the same 100 rate as authenticated API hits.

From Corvida, on SheGeeks, Twitter has a new redesign coming.

Nikki Pilkington in the UK writes about new Twitter happenings including the Olympics on Twitter, twitterific for the iPhone, and many ways to search.

In a guest post on Mashable, Andy Beal provides 5 tips for building a stellar brand.

Community Guy Jake McKee posts a Twitter cartoon.

Duncan Riley with Australia's the Inquisitr reviews a new Twitter competitor,, calling it Twitter2.0.

Please let me know what you think of these stories and this new feature.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The cat is finally out of the bag.

In what is being deemed the worst kept secret on Twitter, it has been announced that Twitter has purchased Summize. Way to go, @Jack, @Ev, @Biz! The company seems to have already been integrated. Check out what happens when you go to now. That's right, it is now Congrats!!

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Finding A Perfect Match

We’re excited to announce that Twitter has acquired Summize—an extraordinary search tool and an amazing group of engineers. All five Summize engineers will move to San Francisco, CA and take jobs at Twitter, Inc. This is an important step forward in the evolution of Twitter as a service and as a company.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Social Web Milestones

This weekend I achieved a few social web milestones of which I am particularly proud. Not only did I make my 3000th tweet, but I also acquired by 1000th follower. In addition, I’ve added over 400 items to my Twitter Delicious tag and over 50 to my twitter tools Delicious tag. Nine months ago when I started tweeting, I was just kicking tires and didn’t really like it.  Who cares what I’m doing or that I’m having a ham sandwich. In talking to many tweeters, it’s not an uncommon experience to start. Now I am tweeting all the time, especially in the middle of the week, and at the beginning and end of the day as you can see from my tweetstats.  And obviously, I’m even writing about this crazy social network called Twitter.

So what changed for me? I think it was the realization that there were all of these great people active on twitter that had a lot of the same interests as me, whether it was Boston, Obama, sports, food and wine, or authors of books that I had read. People were talking about real issues, sharing links to cool content and definitely not talking about mundane topics.  Well, at least not all of the time.  And the conversation came to me.  I didn’t have to really work at it.  As a result, I’ve described Twitter as the lazy person’s social network.

As Twitter rock star, Laura “Pistachio” Fitton has said, “Twitter is my village.” Whether looking for like minds or shaken up by new ideas, I find it. When Gradon Tripp hit 5000 tweets about a month ago, he came up with a great top 10 list of things that he learned. A few things that I have learned are:

Don’t be afraid to respond: It’s twitter, you’re not interrupting a private conversation.  The incremental conversation is what makes it fun and why a lot of people are there.
Approach anyone in conversation: I’ve followed a lot of great people and had wonderful conversations with big time consultants, authors, chefs, etc.  If you are interested in what they have to say and have something to add or a question, go for it.  Most people here will answer. And those that don’t consistently, well, there are a million other people on twitter.
Don’t take it personal: Due to twitter’s asynchronous nature, people may not respond to everything you say.  They may not be logged in or perhaps they stay logged in and watch twitter as if it’s the radio (in the background for me when I want it). Try again later or just more on.
Ask questions: As Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang and many others have said, I use Twitter to learn things, test out ideas, and get educated.  For me, Twitter is the Shell Answer Man.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to 5000 tweets, but I do know it will be a fun journey and I will learn even more.  What have you learned on your journey?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

These companies get it!

Recently after seeing a proliferation of spammers join Twitter, I wrote about Identifying unscrupulous twitterers and some ways to protect yourself from them. Unfortunately, during my research, I found many companies that exhibited the same behavior.  Twitter is a conversational tool that enables community of like minded people and fans.  However, many brands just see twitter as another channel for broadcasting their campaigns and pushing the message out. A simple monologue,hawking the latest item on sale or “cool ad”.  I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. Who is doing this?  Unfortunately, there is a long list.  Many well respected companies, large and small.  Companies like Amazon, Mountain Dew, Cruise West, and Wine Enthusiast.
Twitter provides companies with direct contact and engagement with their customers. On Twitter, brands can engage with their customers to learn what they like and what doesn’t work for them. Conversations happen on twitter and the smart companies are talking to their customers in a dialogue.
So which companies “get it” and are having conversations with their customers? Of course, there are the famous Twitter case studies about Dell, HR Block, Comcast, and Zappos.  We all know, love them and talk about them to prove that Twitter is a viable business channel that fosters deeper engagement and evangelism with our customers. The YouTube interview below between two Twitter friends, Rodney Rumford and Amy Worley of HR Block really illustrates the benefit and value of true conversations on Twitter.

In addition to these well known case studies, there are many other large and small companies that “get Twitter” and are having relationships with their customers. Saul Colt of FreshBooks uses twitter to reach out to his customers, not only for customer support and development of new features, but to plan tweetups with his customers whenever he travels. He listens for freelancers with billing problems and then he engages them. Intel has a number of employees on Twitter led by prolific twitterer Josh Bancroft as well as many product groups that engage in conversations with customers everyday.  And then there is Melanie Notkin, who just launched her company, Savvy Auntie, and has been using twitter and other social media for several months to inform customers, the press, and other interested parties about her underserved community and her solutions.  As a result, SavvyAuntie has jumped out of the gate with a successful launch that few companies have experienced.
So what are the best practices of all of these great companies using Twitter?

  • They don’t push their message.
  • They focus on the conversations by inviting, engaging, cheering and helping their customers.
  • They listen for the relevant conversations and then try to be helpful.
  • Their employees all speak in their own voice and personality.
  • They have more than 1 twitter account, usually a corporate account but also individual accounts.
  • And most of all, they are responsive.
Now if your company is thinking about joining Twitter (and you should), take some notes and learn from some of the good guys above.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spam, spam, spam

Lately it seems like 1/3 of my new followers are spammers.  You know who they are.  Usually they have some strange number at the end of their name, like Stella214, Sarah717 or MikeGravel832. (Sorry, I usually include links to twitter accounts, but due to the subject, I don’t want to provide any traffic).  Other than a weird name, how can you identify a spammer? Usually you can tell from the following signs:

·        They do not engage in conversations with anyone (no @warrenss, for example), but just broadcast a single message often multiple times.

·        They usually use false profiles.

·        They often follow thousands of people. 

·        And their following/follower ratio is often highly skewed, they follow at least 5-10X as many people that follow them.

·        Most use the twitter default avatar (no photo).

Their goal is get you to click on the link in their stream or their profile. Now we all are very interested in get rich quick schemes, penile implants, car mileage enhancers, etc. So how could we have survived on twitter without them?? I don’t if there is a bad book out there that they are following, but I am seeing more and more of them.  And now it looks like some companies in their haste to get on twitter are exhibiting the same behavior.

Maybe twitter should take Chris Cardinal’s advice which is similar to how LinkedIn controls spam.  What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

They're using twitter and Qik in the house, oh wait, no they're not!

Since this issue broke on Wednesday, there has been alot more momentum and news on the issue, even in main stream media.  The Sunday NY Times has a great story about  Rep. Culberson and his quest to tweet from the house floor.  O'reilly News has an ongoing story which identifies the role of The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan entity that is dedicated to the idea of bringing digital transparency to the United States Federal Government. The Sunlight Foundation has launched a great website where you can sign up to support the use of twitter on the house floor, see who's tweeting about it and track the story in the press.  I highly recommend joining them.

There is a very interesting story coming out of the US House of Representatives that I learned about from Brian David Eisenberg in his blog. Progressive Congressmen John Culberson (R-TX) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) were using Twitter and Qik to communicate with their constituents right from the house floor. Unfortunately, the house has restricted the congressmen from using these tools as "official communications".  How Web 1.0/ command and control.  The leader of the complaint, my former congressman, Michael Capuano (D-MA). Congressman, you're not the mayor of Somerville anymore, but maybe you should be.  You can read more from the links from political bloggers, Andrew Wright, Aaron Brazell, and  Erin Kotecki Vest below.

Congress trying to restrict Twitter, Qik, and other social media sites’ usage by Representatives?

Ok. I saw a little bit of this break earlier today, but I’m just now catching up. I guess the word got out that John Culberson and Tim Ryan are using Twitter, Qik, and other socnets to interact in near real time with their constituents. Now apparently, there is a growing uproar of objection to using Twitter, Qik, and other social media outlets by representatives in Congress

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No more live Qk videos - no more live Tweets from the House floor or anywhere in the Capitol - no more www communication w/o prior approval

about 19 hours ago
from web



Rep. Culberson just sent a series of messages on Twitter indicating that the Democratic House Leadership is requiring that he submit each message for approval prior to posting. This move apparently invokes a little-known broader regulation that all Member communications posted on any public social networking site receive prior approval.

House Leadership Moves to Silence Twittering Members

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summize purchase

Rumors are circulating on Twitter that Twitter has purchased Summize. This would certainly make sense from a way to integrate enhanced search in twitter.

Found the rumor on Eiso Kant's blog, and it apparently originated with Josh Chandler on his blog. no confirmation yet from any of the big boys, Techcrunch, Mashable, Readwriteweb or the participant's themselves.

Although some may question the timing of the acquisition, this seems to be a very logical fit as many people like Jeff Pulver have speculated recently.

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Conversational Search

Friday, July 4, 2008

Twitter humor 2

Here are some funny twitter images and jokes that I've collected over the last few weeks. Appropriate links/ sources are attached. Enjoy and have a Happy and safe 4th of July Holiday!

(participant in a candlelit vigil in front of a computer, to an onlooker) Twitter's down.

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10 Things My Wife and Twitter have in Common
Like my wife,

1. gets to hear all my random nonsensical ideas
2. is my obsession
3. is built on Ruby on Rails (um... nope, nevermind, that one doesn't work)

4. loves to converse
5. has fascinating, stimulating ideas
6. sometimes doesn't respond to me
7. sometimes looks like a whale (just kidding!)

8. is the subject of this blog post
9. has multiple personalities; some are fun, some are annoying, and some a bit scary
10. remembers all the dumb things I said years later (damn you, Summize, you're too good!)

Chris Thilk and David Griner started to create Social Media yellow and red cards for egregious behavior on Twitter.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Twitter put to good use

Michelle Greer organized a tweetup blood drive in Austin today. You can read more about it below from Michelle's blog or check out the community responses. Tweetups are fun get together's for the twitter community to meet face to face, but this one really resonates as it allows us to do something good for others. This really demonstrates the strength of the twitter community.

Come to the Blood Drive Tweetup. I Promise You My Support 100%


38 people are responsible for saving my sister Deb’s life. She underwent 23 blood transfusions and 15 bags of platelets in her fight against leukemia before she finally got over it. I owe a world to these people for helping save my sister’s life so that she could live to raise my eight-year-old niece.

If you go to the Blood Drive Tweetup, I guarantee you my support. I guarantee I will be by you if you are scared or not feeling well. I do this because I value the 38 people who saved my sister’s life and the countless others who selflessly value the people in desperate, life and death situations. The right thing to do is often scary, but it is also the most fulfilling.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Twitter is Humpty Dumpty

Well, humpty dumpty sat on a wall…you know how it goes. In the never ending Twitter story of humpty dumpty, we got replies back a few days ago. And from what I’ve heard, many people got used to Summize and are happier with Summize. The search engine offers many more features than the replies tab. As Matt Dickman said in his blog, Summize scores an A+ for these great features:

  • · Real time polling for new tweets

  • · Logical tie-ins to Twitter (send to Twitter, links back to messages, etc.)

  • · RSS subscriptions

  • · Good up-time (not hard to do compared to Twitter itself)

Steve Gillmor of TechCrunchIT gives a great explanation of how they do it, Apparently the great folks at Summize have still been given access to Twitter’s XMPP stream which it had been previously believed shut down to all developers. Apparently all developers are not equal as it was determined that some developer’s apps like Summize provided a great deal of value to the widest audience possible at least cost to the overburdened Twitter infrastructure. Sounds like George Orwell’s Animal Farm where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Or it’s good to be the pig, or in this case, Summize.

Now, since we’re talking animal stories, about that old humpty dumpty, Twitter. In the never ending quest to put humpty back together again, what will we get back (IM, track, better API limits?) and what will come crashing down. Hopefully, all the king's horses and all the king's men will do a better job this time around.