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Archives: November 2009

Twitter's Project Retweet Goes Live – Let's Take A Closer Look

Twitter’s somewhat controversial re-imagining of the retweet mechanism – codenamed Project Retweet – is being staggered into the network on a piecemeal basis, and it went live for me a few moments ago. In this article I’ll take a quick look at what you can expect when the feature is activated for you.

First, here’s how my Twitter.com homepage looked when the tool first appeared:

Twitter's Project Retweet

(click to enlarge)

The text at the top of the screen says:

Hi there, you’re part of a beta group receiving this feature, which means you may start seeing retweets in a new way. People who don’t have this yet will see your retweets prefaced by “RT”.

That last sentence is quite important because it means any retweets you do now using the new system won’t be invisible to people who don’t have access to this item.

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Don't Be A MeTweeter

The retweet is the backbone of the entire Twitter network. It allows messages (and, indeed, knowledge of users) to move rapidly throughout the system and it’s very possible for one tweet to reach millions of other users if it’s retweeted enough and by the right people.

What this means is that even if your network is relatively slight, because Twitter itself is open – everybody is connected through everybody else – your reach can still be significant.

What this also means is that retweeting mentions of yourself is really very foolish indeed. It looks completely egotistical (which of course it is) and accomplishes almost nothing.

Don't Be A MeTweeter

I’m sure you’ve stumbled across some of these individuals:

  1. Those who seem to retweet every message they ever get sent. By anybody, about anything, and at any time.
  2. Those who retweet any mention they get that is even the slightest bit positive.
  3. Those who retweet every single #followfriday mention they ever get. (I still can’t figure this one out. WHY do it? The only people who will see this are people who are already following you and anyone else who was included in the inevitably grouped-together mass #ff post, all of whom are already aware of you thanks to the recommendation. And now you’ve just pissed them all off.)
  4. Those who retweet themselves. Yeah, because that last observation you made was so good, it would be nothing short of a crime to make double-sure that nobody missed it.

All of these actions attempt to accomplish one thing, and that’s to make the person doing it seem more important than they actually are. Look everybody – somebody else is talking about ME! Self-promotion in social media is very much par for the course, but trying to draw attention to yourself using these kinds of methods is entirely superficial. And to observers, blatantly so.

(You’ll notice that these practices are very common amongst the mass-followers/mass-marketers, i.e., those who can only get tens of thousands in their network by following tens of thousands themselves. Anything for more attention, even if it is an entirely futile attempt.)

If you want to thank somebody for a positive mention or #followfriday recommendation, you should absolutely feel free to do so. But do it properly, via a simple ‘thank you’ reply.

Don’t turn a retweet into a metweet by making it all about you.

50 Days Of Twitter: Tracking My (Un)Follower Frequency

Long ago, I deactivated the emails that Twitter sends you each time you have a new follower, and switched instead to SocialToo.com‘s premium notification service.

(You can read more on my reasons for doing this here.)

One of the best things about the SocialToo email is it includes both followers and unfollowers, giving you a working total for each. I thought it might be fun to look back at the last fifty days of these stats for my @Sheamus account, looking at how both of these numbers fluctuate (sometimes considerably) and how it impacts your overall follow number.

Disclaimer: Because of the way some people game Twitter, sometimes the same individual will follow and unfollow me several times in any given day. Moreover, I received no email update from SocialToo between October 26-28, nor on November 5, so these days are missing from the data. Hence, the period this analysis covers is between September 14 through November 6, for a total of 50 days.

Followers vs Unfollowers (Sept. 14 – Nov. 6, 2009)

50 Days Of Twitter: Tracking My (Un)Follower Frequency

For this period, I picked up 26.96 new followers on average each day, had 20.96 unfollowers, for a net gain of exactly six followers per day, for an overall gain of 300 (a little under nine per cent).

Follower Gain/Loss (Sept. 14 – Nov. 6, 2009)

50 Days Of Twitter: Tracking My (Un)Follower Frequency

As you can clearly see, there’s occasionally a tremendous shift in these numbers, both relative to each other and overall. The day when I lost almost 90 followers was when Twitter did one of its periodic spammer purges. Most of the time, the follow/unfollow ratio is actually pretty small and surprisingly consistent (hence the net daily gain of only six.) And while my overall gain over this time zone was up, many individual days are losers (and I was actually underwater for a short while near the beginning.)

UnFollow Friday?

Curiously, my average net gain for the seven Fridays over this period was slightly lower at 4. This proves how ineffective the #followfriday meme has been for me – and I certainly get my share of recommendations – but it’s something I think holds true for everybody. I’m already seeing a much bigger impact from Twitter’s new lists feature.

You might want to take a look at your own statistics, and I recommend SocialToo as an easy and convenient way to do this.

Real-Time Search: Twitter Licences Tweets To Google And Bing – How Big Will The Business Become?

This is a guest post by Stefan Wolpers. Stefan works as a start-up consultant in Berlin, Germany, and is founder and chairman of Twittwoch e.V., a non-profit organisation that furthers the use of social media in the corporate world. Follow him on Twitter @stefanw.

Real-Time Search: Twitter Licences Tweets To Google And Bing - How Big Will The Business Become?The tension was short-lived. In the end, first Microsoft announced two deals with Twitter and Facebook, just to be followed by Google. Real-time search was not just promoted by the two most important players in the search-market but also lifted to monetisation level.

(And apparently we are not talking peanuts here – as @AlleyInsider speculates – which in my opinion should also put an end to the endless discussions whether Twitter has a viable business model or not. See David L. Smith on the Harvard Business Publishing for in a recent analysis.)

What has changed since the closing of the deals?

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Alan Davies And Stephen Fry: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

UPDATE: Shortly after publishing this post, Stephen Fry decided to block me. I have no idea why he felt this was a necessary course of action, but it nicely underlines one of the main points I’ve made in this piece and consistently since Twittercism started: that being, how the naivety of celebrities in these largely uncharted waters of one-to-many online social interaction with the (shudder) public is as much to blame for any negative attention they receive as the ill-will of the collected masses.

I have no idea if Fry read my piece, or simply felt I posed enough of a threat by daring to mention Alan Davies in a negative light (one hopes he was proactive and actually did a bit of detective work). And being frank, I’m not sure it really matters: by blocking me, it’s essentially the same as if he’d left Twitter and never returned, as he briefly proposed to do. Twitter, for me, is now a no-Fry zone.

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You’ve no doubt been following the furore surrounding Stephen Fry’s announcement that he was considering leaving Twitter, after a user declared him to be ‘boring’.

Alan Davies And Stephen Fry: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

There’s actually more praise than criticism within that tweet, but one thing you can never do to a working celebrity is announce that they are dull. Fry, who suffers from bipolar disorder and was in his own words in quite a low mood, took the communication very much to heart.

Alan Davies And Stephen Fry: When Celebrities Fail At Twitter

A full 12 hours passed between this last tweet and his next, and in this time his fans and supporters went a little bit… crazy. @brumplum was repeatedly and at times viciously attacked by hundreds of people on the Twitter network.

These outbursts included the participation of Fry celebrity chum and QI contestant Alan Davies, who after stating that @brumplum was a moron, then went on a mad tirade at anybody who dared to pick him up on it.

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