Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy HalloTween

The Twitterverse has always been a spirited bunch, participating in holidays and contests. Halloween is no difference as you can see from the avatars below.

We do more than change our avatars, though. Courtesy of Sonny Gill (and others), I found some cool Halloween icons. Rob Key and his Converseon team have creatively crowdsourced a company Halloween costume contest by asking the Twitterverse to vote for the best costume. I voted for Catwoman, by the way.

Bryan Eisenberg and Mass High Tech All-Star Chris Brogan are organizing a meme, Trick or Tweet.

There are 2 goals for Trick or Tweet:

1. Connect lots of interesting people with other interesting people they didn’t know before.

2. Do some good with our Tricks (there is enough tricky things going on in our worlds).

A great way to connect people within the community, particularly new users and donate to some very worthy charities. So let's get scary and #trickortweet!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do you remember your first?

Have you seen MyFirsttweet, a site developed by Noah Brier, that searches the database for a user's first tweet? It's a little buggy, but the concept is sound. What was your first tweet when you started and were in the Ham sandwich phase. From the archives, the first few tweets in history:

The first Tweet in history? From Jack, "just setting up my twttr" and a not very imaginative nor visionary one either. In fact, none of the founders showed much excitement for the revolutionary microblog! About the only thing that one can glean from this is the product's first name was twttr. How very Web 2.0! Now let's look at some other prominent Tweeters?

Anyone can find their first tweet without Well, almost anyone, you'll see. Thanks to Jason Grigsby, there is a simple formula:
  • Go to the Twitter page of the person whose first post you want to see. Take note of their Twitter username.
  • Look for the number of updates in the Stats section in the right column.
  • Take the number of updates and divide it by 20. (There are 20 updates per page).
  • If you have a remainder after the division, add 1 to your result. This is the page number you need.
  • Construct a url using the following syntax:[username]?page=[pagenumber]

  • Load that url in your browser.
  • As an example, for me, since I have updated 4039 times, my first tweet should be located at:
However, it doesn't work! According to Biz,

After playing around with it for awhile, i think the threshold is about 150 pages, so if you have tweeted fewer than 3000 times, you are in luck!

For the rest of us, sorry, keep waiting.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Join the Race to $20K - One Home Many Hopes

Gradon Tripp, one of the leaders of Boston's social media community, is drivenl to use social media for social change--using the tools of social media to help people and non-profit organizations. You may have heard of the Social Media 4 Social Change event earlier this month which raised over $20,000 for Jane Doe Inc., an organization that is committed to ending domestic violence.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Gradon has brought to our attention, One Home Many Hopes, an organization that is working to improve the lives of orphaned girls in Mtwapa, Kenya. “Mudzini Kwetu” uses education and family support as ways to lift our children out of cyclical poverty. Today, there are 35 parentless girls living as one family. These girls who had spent their earliest years surviving on Mtwapa’s streets and trash piles now live as one family, attend school, and care for one another. Although their lives are so much better, there could be so much more. The vision of One Home Many Hopes is to build:

• A new three-story building with each floor serving as a distinct family unit headed by a “house mother.”
• A university education for the girls so they will be able to support themselves and be agents for ending poverty in their town, region, country and continent.
• An on-site kindergarten and school, free of the prohibitive private education fees that are common in Kenya.

In order to do this, One Home Many Hopes has started a campaign, Race to $20K which will get the building started. Vanessa Leong, an MBA student at George Washington University is spearheading the social media elements of the campaign. Vanessa is seeking to finish the race in 30 days! We are asking the Twitter community to donate towards their ambitious goal. If 1000 people (say each of my followers) gave just $20, they would get there. Please donate here. Be proud to tweet Vanessa that you support her using #ohmh. And please join me in getting the word out:
  • Tweet it
  • Blog it
  • Digg it
  • Stumble it
  • Show it in your status.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Do you really know who is following you?

Have you heard? The Army intelligence report, thinks that Twitter could be used as an effective tool for coordinating militant attacks. We've all marveled at the speed of distributing news on Twitter. Many people have found Twitter to be the fastest way to break news. There have been well-documented reports of Twitter being used for keeping the public informed during catastrophes whether it's earthquakes, California wildfires, or hurricanes. Twitter succeeds in disseminating news because it's:
  • Portable, working on multiple platforms, browsers, and clients
  • Easy to use
  • Global distribution
  • Fast, works in real-time
These same attributes make Twitter very attractive to terrorists according to the Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion. They lay out a possible Scenario : Terrorist operative “A” uses Twitter with… a cell phone camera/video function to send back messages, and to receive messages, from the rest of his [group]… Other members of his [group] receive near real time updates (similar to the movement updates that were sent by activists at the RNC) on how, where, and the number of troops that are moving in order to conduct an ambush.

The report identifies three new technologies as possible threats to national security. Alongside Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software are claimed to be “potential terrorist tools”. You can learn more about the report on the Homeland Security News site, National Terror Alert Response Center. Ironically, NTARC is also using Twitter for the reasons above to get its messages out.

Maybe this is a little farfetched, but at least the boys and girls in the 304th are thinking.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bye Bye Sarah!

Sarah Silverman at the Tribeca Film FestivalImage via Wikipedia

Friday afternoon, Twitter was abuzz with a new celebrity Tweeter, Sarah Silverman. Many of us started following her and chatting with her even though we all saw the signals that signaled fanjacking: mispelled names, links to unofficial websites, and suspect dialogue. Still, we were having fun.

At the same time that Sarah joined the Twitterverse, Greg Grunberg of Heroes also joined. Encouraged by his co-star Brea Grant, Greg has gotten 1167 followers from his 17 tweets.

Of course, we all were skeptical about everyone's identity. However, based on Brea's twitter activity and her cool blog, most people were convinced that she and Greg were not fake. Sarah created more skeptics.

I've written about fanjacking before regarding Mad Men, but this is different and much more serious. Fans taking control of a fictional character like Don Draper or Chewbacca are one thing. However, taking someone's identity, whether a celebrity or not, is something else.

Katja Presnal dug deep and got to the bottom of things. By analyzing the tweets and checking out the links, she uncovered the scandal. Craig Murphy also chronologs the activities of Fake Sarah. Since Sarah's real identity was discovered, the accounts were deleted and now the twitterverse is safe from impersonators. Well, obviously not. Both Katja and Craig offer great advice on how to combat fanjacking/ impersonation on Twitter in their posts:
  1. Go and get your name on Twitter RIGHT NOW, before someone takes it.
  2. Be in control of your Twitter stream.
  3. It’s always worth checking out the friends/followers of the person you are about to connect with.
  4. Take a look at the people that person connects with, do they look like the kind of people who would connect with each other?
And as for, Brea and Greg, welcome to the Twitterverse! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do and find ways to really connect with your many fans out there. We're happy to have you.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Stop Keeping Score

On Twitter, we seem to have this crazy preoccupation with keeping score. Maybe you remember Twitterholic, which tracks the top 100 Twitterers ranked by numbers of followers. By the way, with 105,689 Barack Obama is number one. and John McCain (3977 followers) is not on the list at all. Recently, two new entrants joined the ranking systems, Twitter Grader and Twinfluence. Twitter Grader surveys over 100,000 Twitterers to provide you with a grade based on the number of followers you have, the power of this network of followers, the pace of your updates, the completeness of your profile and “a few other factors.” Twinfluence looks at factors like Reach, Velocity, Social Capital & Centralization. The new tools have become quite popular with people focused on their scores and ways in which they can improve. Since yesterday, there have been over 800 tweets focused on Twitter Grader alone!! Mashable even has a post on How to Improve Your Scores!

To me this focus on grades, rankings and competition, goes against the whole concept/ value of Twitter. Twitter is all about the value of conversation with your community. We focus too much on the score and where we fit in the pecking order. Personally, I don't care. I love the community and just want to engage in conversations and learn new things from all of the interesting people in the Twitterverse.

This is not about grade envy either, because as you can see from below, my "grades" are well regarded. How do you feel about the new competition?

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Betty Draper outed!!!

Like many of us, I got caught up in the Mad Men on Twitter craze a few months ago. Now it seems like any character who was ever in a frame has a Twitter character.  The overexposure of Mad Men on Twitter caused me to unsubscribe to all of them.  Well, it turns out there was a little controversy---The fanjackers were fanjacked. For example, who did you follow- @bettydraper or betty_draper? Although betty_draper had a head start, @bettydraper has come on strong:
Now here's where it gets really interesting.   The writer of the fabulous advertising blog, Ad broad, has been tweeting as @bettydraper. So a cloaked character (Ad Broad) is spoofing another character on Twitter (Betty Draper) who is fanjacking the TV character.  You can read all about it on ad broad, but I need an aspirin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vroom, Vroom-Fastest growing social net

Nielsen Online reported today that Twitter is the fastest growing social site. Twitter's traffic has grown by 343% in one year.  Current traffic is estimated at 2.3M, a huge increase from last year's 533K. And a lot more stable, too! CNET also has the analysis here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Re-introducing Twitter

My friend, Aaron Strout, just celebrated his 10,000 Tweet by tweeting his top 10 Social Media lessons learned as he approached 10K.  Aaron provided some great advice that everyone can benefit from.  A few of his Twitter related tips include:
  • Make sure you spend as much time commenting, responding and reading other people's content as you do creating your own.
  • Every day I a point of calling out others blogs, Twitter updates or FF activity. Remember its all about them, not you!
  • On Twitter be social. Talk about work AND social things. Too much of either can be a turn off.
Thinking about Aaron's tweets, I realized that although I blog about Twitter, I haven't been all that helpful in teaching people about how to use Twitter here. As we all know, although Twitter is very simple to learn and use, it can be difficult to master.  Since much has been written about how to Tweet, I have combed the Twitter ecosystem to find the best advice. I highly recommend each one of these great posts:
 And finally, here is a deck that I presented to Seattle Podcamp, Twitter, What's it all about and why should I use it

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can I influence you to comment?

Geoff Livingston wrote a great post today in which he published 4 social media primers that were presented at a recent PRSA workshop in DC.  I highly recommend reading his post and downloading the decks on:
As the co-author of  Now is Gone,  Geoff definitely knows his stuff and is a great writer. You should have it in your social media library.

I really enjoyed the Influencer Relations deck.  Geoff's guidance was right in line with a project that I worked on this spring for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Led by chairmen, Sean O'Driscoll of CGT Consulting, Brad Fay of Keller Fay, and Steve Hershberger of  Comblu our committee created an Influencer Handbook that focused on documenting best practices in influencer marketing and engagement.

The high-powered committee was comprised of many influencer experts: Idil Cakim of Golin Harris, Erik Rabasca of PHD-US, Filiberto Selvas of Avenue A-Razorfish, Scott Carpenter of Callaway Golf , Tarah Remington of WOMMA and myself.

The Influencer Handbook is a great document that I encourage you to read.  The Influencer Handbook aims to provide practitioners with the following information:
• Definition of an influencer and influencer marketing
• Types of influencers
• Methods to engage and thank influencers
• Guidelines for influencer self-regulation
• Bibliography of influencer communication research and practice

WOMMA is also soliciting feedback, so please let them know your thoughts.  Unfortunately, Monday is the deadline, so do it quickly.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Twitter shuffles the deck

Twitter founders, Jack and Ev have traded places. Twitter Chairman Evan Williams will now become CEO and CEO Jack Dorsey is now the Chairman. Now Ev will manage the day to day affairs at Twitter. The third founder, Biz Stone said, “We had two very strong leaders here and we really needed to choose one,”Board member Fred Wilson said,“We all think Ev is a better fit to lead the company from a product perspective, an operations perspective, and a business standpoint,” You can read the details in the NY Times bits column.

The news was announced on the Twitter blog today.  In the co-founder's characteristic minimalist styles, you can see their reactions in their tweets:


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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Public Service Announcement - Twitter gets tough on Spam

I've written about spam on Twitter before yet follower Spam continues to annoy Twitter users.  As Twitter has grown in popularity, it has gotten more aggressive about combatting spam. In the past, the best defense against spammers was to block the spammer from viewing your updates. It was understood that Twitter tracked the blocks closely and the community's self-policing would be acted upon by Twitter. And it seemed to work fairly well as many of the spammers were removed.  Now TechCrunch reports that Twitter has taken an even more aggressive approach by introducing the Spam account.  By sending a reply @spam or direct message will get a spammer on the list.  I just started to follow the Spam account and suggest that you do as well. Let's get rid of Spam!

Crowdsourcing on Twitter

I've seen a lot of interest in Crowdsourcing on Twitter lately. We seem to crowdsource all the time.

As Laura Fitton said in Clive Thompson's great Ambient Awareness article, “I outsource my entire life,” she said. “I can solve any problem on Twitter in six minutes.” Many other people are relying on the twitterverse for its opinions and referrals. As an example, just the other day Ken Burbary asked,

Ken promptly received several answers to his request.  Chris Brogan asked Twitter forinnovative ideas on a social media project for Oreo. This happens all the time. Twitter is the ultimate crowdsourcing vehicle.  Several months ago, Zena Weist, discussed the concept in her blog and described the activity on Twitter as Community Sourcing, Community sourcing is taking crowd sourcing to the next level:
Outsourcing a task to a connected group/community for the benefit of that community.

There are a few great books on Crowdsourcing that I highly recommend and of course, each author is active on Twitter.

Mzinga Chairman Barry Libert, wrote We are Smarter than Me.
NYU Professor Clay Shirky, wrote Here Comes Everybody
and most recently, Jeff Howe of Wired wrote Crowdsourcing.

Have you read these books?  What did you think?  How do you use crowdsourcing?

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Twitter Communities

As we all know, the Twitterverse is a great community where we can enhance our networking, strengthen relationships and crowdsource various questions/ problems among other things.  Recently, I've joined a few off-Twitter communities devoted to the Twitter network.

Twitterpated is a Ning community organized by A+ Networker, Vincent Wright,  whose goal is a separate discussion and networking group for My Linking Power Forum members who want to enhance their knowledge and reach on Currently, there are 107 members.

The Birdhouse is another Ning community.  This one is organized by Tweetcrunch, a blog devoted to Twitter and Microblogging news. The Birdhouse is a place for developers and users who share the love of Micro blogging in any shape or form, from Twitter to Rejaw create groups, share new apps, ideas or suggestions, and get to know the people behind the tweet.  Brand new, there are currently15 members.

More established Twitter communities include Tweeple, a LinkedIn group devoted to Twitter.  Currently,  there are1600 members and 27 lively discussions posted.

On Facebook, Mark Carter created Twitter Strategies and Connections, For people actively using Twitter and people actively wondering HOW to use Twitter...Your forum to connect with like minded people so you can ask questions and share expertise and strategies (this includes everyone from new users to the "Twitter pros") that will make your Twitter experience more valuable! There are 697 members with some lively discussions, videos, and wall comments.

I enjoy participating in each of these communities as well as other social media communities.  A lot of interesting tips,tools and discussions that don't occur in 140 characters.  The net-net is a stronger community, whether on Twitter or not.  Hope to see you around.
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