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Archives: October 2009

Celebrity Twitter Tip: Avoid Having Your Feelings Hurt By Ignoring Replies And Mentions

I don’t watch The Hills, and I have no idea who Stephanie Pratt is. Earlier today, I (somehow) stumbled across a conversation between Stephanie and another Twitter user. Stephanie was being pressed as to why she only seemed to reply to ‘other famous people’, and she volunteered this response.

Celebrity Twitter Tip: Avoid Having Your Feelings Hurt By Ignoring Replies And Mentions

Outstanding prose aside, this is actually a somewhat enlightening statement. I’ve speculated before about how the ‘real world’ interaction that celebrities on Twitter are now facing with the public is something that many of them would not in any way have been prepared for, and the departure of such luminaries as Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen over the past few weeks underlines this.

And while on one hand you can absolutely understand Stephanie’s reluctance to delve into the murky waters of her replies and mentions folder – there are a lot of strange characters out there, after all – to deliberately avoid these communications (unless one is feeling really, really brave) essentially puts a thick black line through the words social media and replaces them with soapbox.

It’s a two-way mechanism, folks, and not one that’s just limited to the proles. Either embrace social media and learn to deal with the weirdos and stalkers (and master the block) or hand control over to your PR team. The latter is a complete fail too, of course (I’m looking at you Amy Winehouse and Tom Cruise), but it’s a heck of a lot better than intentionally ignoring us.

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Is Twitter’s Controversial Project Retweet About To Make Its Debut?

If you take a close look at your timeline on today you’ll notice that there’s been a slight cosmetic change to each tweet that likely means that Twitter’s internal retweet functionality is soon to appear on the network.

Is Twitter's Controversial Project Retweet About To Make Its Debut?

See the space being made available to the left of ‘Reply’? That’s probably where the retweet button is going to appear, or perhaps reply will shift left, with retweet on the right.

Why is it controversial? Because it’s very different to the retweet that you and I have come to love. The implementation, codenamed Project Retweet by Biz Stone in his blog post about the new feature last August, completely changes the way that retweets are handled. Rather than simply re-coding Twitter to analyse the RTs, vias and so on that most people understand and use, Twitter determined it made more sense to present the retweet whole – that is, when you retweet somebody (using the internal button), their entire tweet will appear in the stream of the people who follow you (as well as their username, avatar etc), and you’ll be credited below.

Here’s a sketch Biz put together to illustrate the idea:

Is Twitter's Controversial Project Retweet About To Make Its Debut?

While I can see some of the logic, I personally think this is going to be very confusing for many people who use Twitter. Lots of folk are going to see people they don’t follow and avatars they don’t recognise appearing in their timelines, and not like it. If you’re following a few hundred people now and a number of them are big retweeters, suddenly it might seem like you’re following twice that amount.

Perhaps more importantly, because these Twitter-powered retweets are not in any way editable you will not be able to style them to your liking. As said, they come 100 per cent as is. This means you cannot add your own comments, something that lots of folk love to do (myself included). Which means that many people will likely continue to use the manual retweet system as before, just to have a little flexibility. I, for example, almost exclusively use via, because I like the content to come first. (There’s been some talk from Twitter that future versions of this system may allow the user to configure the retweet in some way, but that won’t be an option on launch.)

There is some good news. In-built retweets will come with metadata, which should give us lots of lovely numbers to play with (most retweeted users, most retweeted tweets etc). You can turn retweets off on a per-user basis, which at least gives you some control over the impact on your timeline. (I can see this being very popular.) And seeing new faces in your timeline may introduce you to new people to follow – or perhaps avoid.

(I’m not sure what the mechanism will do with retweets of people you have blocked – I assume they won’t show up in your timeline, whereas using the manual RT function we have now they do.)

And while in six months or a year the obvious pros of an internal retweet mechanism will likely mean all these niggles are a thing of the past, when the system goes live it’s going to be very messy, and very confusing. Particularly if it’s staggered into the network like Twitter’s lists feature. Expect #fixretweets or something very similar to be trending shortly after Project Retweet launches.

Hey, Brands On Twitter: What Happens To Their Work Account When Your Star Employee Quits?

You’re a huge, global brand, and you’re on Twitter. You have lots of support employees on the network, and sensibly you’ve each allocated them a @name_company or @company_name username (i.e., ASOS_james). You have a unit working under your name, and they’re doing good things.

One of your employees becomes the real star of the team, and gets tens of thousands of followers over many months, offering fantastic support and just enough personality to be a hit. He starts getting a lot of attention.

Then one day, suddenly, he quits.

What now?

Some things to consider:

  1. Do you allow him to announce in his (current) Twitter account that he’s moving to another company, even if it’s a rival?
  2. Do you let another employee take over the account? And do you do this on the sly, or do you make it public knowledge?
  3. Do you rename the account, allocating it to another employee? What about those 50,000 followers – how are they going to react knowing their superstar is no longer in charge?
  4. Do you let the person running the account rename it, and take it over, doing with it as they will?
  5. Or do you just close the account? What about all those cases they solved, and help they gave? There’s a history there.

This is going to be a big deal in the future. I can see lawyers getting involved deciding who really ‘owns’ the tweets on employee accounts – or even the account itself. Yes, you’re tweeting on company time using company resources, but it’s your personality that’s made that account a success. It’s you that nurtured those followers, and it’s you that turned them into clients. When star salespeople leave companies, they often take clients with them. Indeed, their clients want to go. Why should it be any different on Twitter?

If you’re an individual like Jeremiah Owyang that moves his essentially personal account between companies, then it’s less of a problem. Owyang is the account. He takes it with him when he leaves. This perhaps seems like the right way forward, but it’s not necessarily best practice for companies to let employees use their personal accounts for work (and vice versa). And both lose the advantages of being associated with the brand name.

It becomes significantly less clear about what is the right thing to do – in both the contractual and ethical sense – if somebody becomes a superstar on Twitter using their work-only account, and then leaves. By association, the company becomes a superstar, too, particularly if the individual is being applauded for great support, and the ramifications of what happens when he or she quits (or, daresay, is fired) are considerable.

And as such, it might be worth thinking about the inevitability of that future now, as opposed to when it actually happens. Because believe me, it will.

#Media140 London – Everything A Brand Needs To Know About Twitter & Real-Time Social Media

I’m attending the Media140 conference in London today. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll already be there or perhaps still on the (0639) train. I’m excited, because the subject this time is brands, something which has become very much a part of my working life in the past few months.

Media140 London: How Is Real-Time Social Media Changing The Rules Of Consumer Engagement?

This is the second Media140 event. The previous and first, which I also attended in May of this year, was a huge success. This second event is bigger and by all accounts should be better, too – it’s completely sold out.

(The after-party is a blast. Tickets are still available here.)

I’ll be live-tweeting the entire event, which runs from 9am until about 6pm, and you can follow everything by tracking the #media140 hashtag on Twitter. If you follow me on Twitter, that’s pretty much all I’ll be tweeting about in the day.

Also, if you’re looking for a great list of people to follow, all of whom are involved with this year’s event, check out the Media140 list on TweepML.

If you’re attending tomorrow and want to say hello, I’ll be the guy with the shaved head and the black Samsung NC10 netbook. My default expression seems to be the scowl, but I assure you I’m a lot friendlier than I look. Would be nice to hook up, and put some names to faces. :)

Twitter Is, Facebook Is, Friendfeed Is…

A little bit of fun for the weekend: the most popular search definitions for Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed, according to Google (the top-ranking terms are highlighted in blue).

Twitter Is, Facebook Is, Friendfeed Is...

Twitter Is, Facebook Is, Friendfeed Is...

Twitter Is, Facebook Is, Friendfeed Is...

Feel free to try it yourself.

5 Ways You Can Stay Safe On Twitter

As Twitter grows in popularity, like Facebook it begins to resemble almost an internet within the internet. Indeed, if Facebook is the second internet, there’s a strong argument that Twitter, even with its relatively slight 25 million users, is the third.

With all the good that comparison brings, it also means a lot of the less savoury elements of the web arrive in abundance, too.

Here are five tips (and the now-compulsory bonus) to help you stay safe on Twitter.

  1. Regularly change your password, particularly during any kind of phishing or XSS exploit. You don’t have to be paranoid, but use your common sense. If there’s any potential  risk to your password at all, why not just change it?
  2. Consider using a URL expander (or software where it comes built-in) before clicking on a shortened link. Most shortened URLs are perfectly safe, but a certain percentage are going to lead you to places you don’t want to go, and might be harmful to your computer. Again: common sense prevails. Do you know the user who shared the link? Do you trust them? Is this the kind of content they typically share?
  3. Be mindful of the things you say, as anybody could be reading. Who’s the worst person in the world that you can think of that might be reading your tweets? Your boss? Your mother? Your fiancée? If you always write with them in mind, you’re unlikely to go too far off course.
  4. If you post under an alias, considering reserving your real name for future use and to protect from identity fraud. You never know when you might hit it big. Even if you think there’s no chance whatsoever, it costs you nothing and takes less than five minutes. Why not do it?
  5. Take responsibility and make sure you’ve authorised all external connections to your account. If something is tweeting on your behalf, most of the time it’s because you ticked a box somewhere. Find that connection, and remove it.

BONUS: This is more of a request, actually – petition Twitter to let us backup our accounts. Currently, there’s no way to do this, which means if something happens to your profile there’s a risk you could lose everything. What if you get hacked, and the exploiter decides to delete everything you’ve ever written, unfollow all your friends, and generally run rampant? Sure, you can start over, but lots of us have a genuine history on the network. All those connections, and all that metadata, could be lost. There are various services that let you save your data offline, but there’s no way to get that back on to Twitter. And the only way I see that happening is if Twitter takes responsibility and provides us with this service.

I’ve made this point a couple of times but it’s worth saying again just in case it didn’t take – there’s no need to be paranoid about using social media. But it absolutely pays to be smart about it, too. And by following the guidelines above you can significantly improve the chances that your Twitter experience is always a good one.

You Think You Tweet A Lot? Here Are Twitter’s Top 10 Tweeters

According to, I update my Twitter timeline at an average of 45.2 times per day. For some people that seems like quite a lot, but it absolutely pales in comparison when held up against Twitter’s big-hitters. Using both Twittercounter and Twitterholic (both of which actually have slight variations in their charts), and checking as much as I can on itself, I’ve taken a minute to calculate who it is that’s tweeting the most on Twitter, and (where possible) what is they’re talking about.

Here then, are the top ten, ranked by daily average:

1. @Market_JP (1,560,818 tweets, 43 followers, 2,268 tweets per day)
The runaway leader on Twitter, and the only account with more than one million tweets, is @Market_JP, which seems to be some kind of feed of news from the Nikkei, the Japanese stockmarket.

2. @Nieuwslijstnl (529,393 tweets, 443 followers, 2,126 tweets per day)
News from Holland, and broadcast from Amsterdam at an astonishing rate.

3. @dogbook (470,210 tweets, 1,238 followers, 1,992 tweets per day)
Dogbook appears to be a Facebook app that lets dog owners connect with each other. The @dogbook feed seems to tweet the updates from these folks’ dogs. At a rate of almost two thousand times per day. Good times.

4. @Aviongoo (420,597 tweets, 141 followers, 951 tweets per day)
This account links to, an ‘Aircraft market information site for aviation professionals’, but the tweets seem represent a stream of visits (perhaps to different aircraft?).

5. @InternetRadio (700,881 tweets, 333 followers, 909 tweets per day)
This account collects links from which gathers songs broadcast on internet radio stations around the world.

6. @annoyingcanary2 (528,182 tweets, 1 follower, 886 tweets per day)
This is a protected account so I have no idea what they tweet about. Still, you wouldn’t want to be that one follower, would you?

7. @exteenrecent (461,443 tweets, 454 followers, 783 tweets per day)
Your guess is as good as mine what this one is all about.

8. @ATNews (575,643 tweets, 149 followers, 690 tweets per day)
Based in Vienna, this account transmits all the news from Austria that’s fit to print. And does so approximately every two minutes.

9. @PitbullSecurity (438,412 tweets, 1 follower, 573 tweets per day)
This is another protected account, with only one follower. Possibly it’s some kind of alert mechanism that’s sending notifications via Twitter.

10. @11870 (515,187 tweets, 1,234 followers, 529 tweets per day)
This Madrid-based account broadcasts updates from, a web portal that allows users to “save, share and keep track of the places and services they like around the world through reviews, pictures and videos”.

This list, accurate as I think it was at the time of writing, is of course likely to change.

As for my own stats, that average has actually been decreasing of late, with the number now somewhere about the 30-35 mark. Well, at least I think that’s what it is – according to Twitter (and using the data at Twittercounter), I submitted 8,051 tweets on October 14, and the same again on October 15, which has somewhat skewed my average. Indeed, Twitter seems to think I’ve submitted 32,218 tweets, when the actual number is around half that amount.

Still, something to aim for, I guess. At this rate, I’ll be amongst that top ten in no time.

Twitter Introduces Lists – Now, Can We Kill Off #followfriday For Good?

It’s not available to everybody just yet, but Twitter has started to add the promised lists feature to user accounts.

Twitter Introduces Lists - Now, Can We Kill Off #followfriday For Good?

Already, many lists have been built. You can check out the Twitter team here, for example. And when you visit a list page, you can easily follow the updates of everybody within that group, and more conveniently, add them all with just one click.

Twitter Introduces Lists - Now, Can We Kill Off #followfriday For Good?

Within your own profile, you’ll (soon) notice a new lists link where you can check out any lists to which you have been added.

Twitter Introduces Lists - Now, Can We Kill Off #followfriday For Good?

From here you can also see any lists you are following yourself.

Twitter Introduces Lists - Now, Can We Kill Off #followfriday For Good?

This, of course, poses a major threat to the very similar TweepML service. More agreeably, it should also hopefully put a major dent in the #followfriday meme, which is, in my opinion, well past its sell-by date.

This will be an extremely useful feature for any and all tribes that use the Twitter platform – for example, it’s now very easy to link up everybody who works at a given organisation, and fans can quickly group their favourite sports teams and TV show casts.

One (obvious) thing that’s missing would be a way to add a note next to each person in your list explaining why they have been included. Otherwise, there’s not much more incentive to follow anybody within that group (and certainly the entire group itself) just because they’re there.

If it’s an established team (like the aforementioned Twitter or Mashable lists) then I can immediately see the value. It’s less apparent when it’s a list of people you don’t know who have been collated simply because they’re ‘cool’ in the opinion of somebody else. This of course is one of the more common complaints about #followfriday recommendations when made in bulk. And it won’t be too long before some genius starts putting lists of mass-marketers and spammers together. (Maybe a way to mass unfollow or block everybody in a given list might be nice?)

Still, this should be fun, and I would imagine could have a positive effect on many of our follower counts. Will you be building any lists? Let me know your thoughts in the comments area below.

Twitter Ups The Fight Against Spammers, Still Isn’t Doing Enough

Over on the official Twitter blog, there’s an update of a new way that all of us can help in the mounting battle against spam on the network. Twitter has added a one-click way to report any user as a spammer – which is now visible on everybody’s profile – and once done their ‘Trust and Safety’ team will move into action, investigate the alleged nuisance and act accordingly.

Also, once a profile is reported, it’s also automatically blocked.

Twitter Ups The Fight Against Spammers, Still Isn't Doing Enough

It’s important that a team is involved and that this isn’t in any way automated as this naturally limits the impact of false accusations and, as Twitter states, cannot be used to “incite an angry mob” against an account.

Previously, the only way to alert Twitter of a spammer account was to send a message to the official @spam account. I assume this will still be an option. And while this one-click, take care of everything approach is a step forward, it’s likely to only have a marginal impact against the growing spam problem.

What the network really needs is an Akismet or Gmail-style filter system that is configurable at the user level so that it learns. Because Twitter is an open network, and anybody can contact anybody else, whether they’re following each other or not, the biggest concern on Twitter right now is reply spam. (Closely followed by abuse of trending topics.)

I also think we need a stricter sign-up process, possibly via a subscription model. Because it’s so easy to set up a disposable Twitter account using a disposable email address, blocking one user doesn’t mean the end of your problems, as another one is right around the corner. And another one. And another one. All managed by the same despicable teams. This is a proactive move by Twitter, but because it doesn’t really tackle these existing concerns, the benefits are likely to be negligible.

Twitter Traffic Down -0.17% For September, Facebook +1.93%, Friendfeed -28.41%

Last month we reported on the continuing plateau in social media growth across all networks, and according to data at, September was no exception.

Twitter saw a 0.17 per cent dip in growth for the previous month, registering 23,538,791 unique visitors, and 144,661,590 overall (-2.68%). This means Twitter has gained just over half a million unique visitors since June.

Twitter Traffic Down -0.17% For September, Facebook +1.93%, Friendfeed -28.41%

(click to enlarge)

Facebook edged up 1.93 per cent, to 124,579,479 uniques.

Twitter Traffic Down -0.17% For September, Facebook +1.93%, Friendfeed -28.41%

MySpace continues to decline rapidly, dropping another 9.66% (50,229,156), and has lost around 10 million unique visitors over the last three months.

Friendfeed fell a massive 28.41 per cent, with only 747,616 individuals visiting the site in September. Plurk also fell heavily, down 15.44 per cent, registering less than quarter of a million isolated visits.

The best performer once again was LinkedIn, which grew 5.68 per cent to 15,051,069 uniques. The network has seen almost 50 per cent growth since May of this year, adding almost four million visitors.

The reasons are unclear, but with one legitimate exception (LinkedIn), social media is clearly in the midst of something of a slump. It will be interesting to see if Twitter in particular can regenerate itself by the end of this year and approach anything like the growth we saw at the beginning of 2009.