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Archives: December 2009

Keeping It Real

I think one of the most important things you should be doing on Twitter is being yourself.

This is true for all of social media. If you want to build your brand or establish yourself as an authority, it’s absolutely essential that you’re not only consistent in the way you behave and the things that you say, but that this consistency comes across to everybody else, too.

After all, it’s no good you thinking you’re ‘the same guy in real life’, but everyone who knows you thinks that’s a crock.


Unfortunately, social media seems to encourage split personalities. There are so many people who are one way on Twitter, another on Facebook, yet another on LinkedIn, and something else entirely when you hook up for coffee.

(And don’t get me started on their anonymous accounts.)

To a certain extent, we’re all guilty of putting on our best version on the internet – and why not? Those who strive to put across the worst of themselves – otherwise known as trolls – are doing more than enough to drag the rest of us down. And it’s probable, and I dare say healthy, that the private version of you that is seen by family and close friends is a little different – a little more relaxed and a little less polished – than the professional.

But if the online you is too far away from the real you, then you’ve made a mistake. If you tout yourself as a social media guru, when in actuality you’re little more than an affiliate spammer, you’re going to get found out. If you’ve spent years carving out an affable public persona, but it all falls to pieces when the chips are down, others are going to notice.

And if you constantly jump onboard the latest trends, or the most happening indie bands, and act like you were a fan all along, or involved from the beginning, people will notice. And they’ll start to whisper about it.

And they’ll think you a fraud.

It’s absolutely okay to be super-confident online – there’s significant merit in ‘fake it ’til you make it’ – but always, always be sure you can back it up. There’s a ton of value in saying, “I made a mistake,” or, “I need some help here,” because those little cracks give us character. It’s the really big ones you need to avoid.

So here’s your wake-up call: nobody expects you to be perfect. So why try and act like you are?

Twitter Traffic Falls -2.43% For November. Facebook -0.47%, LinkedIn -6.93%, Friendfeed -20.95%

This is a monthly series that looks at visitor data for all the major social networks as calculated by Compete is USA-biased, and certainly in the case of Twitter the visitor numbers are distorted by the openness of Twitter’s API and the numerous Twitter software clients, but on a like-for-like basis the numerics have value and warrant investigation. Please refer to previous installments in this series for a more detailed overview.

Unique visitors to fell for the third successive month, dropping 2.43% overall, to 22,481,568, according to More concerning for the network was a -7.24% dip in overall visits.

Twitter Traffic Falls -2.43% For November. Facebook -0.47%, LinkedIn -6.93%, Friendfeed -20.95%

(click to enlarge)

Overall, traffic to all social media fell, with Facebook losing -0.47% to 128,339,156 unique visitors for November, but gaining 3.51% to 2,601,399,595 visitors overall.

Twitter Traffic Falls -2.43% For November. Facebook -0.47%, LinkedIn -6.93%, Friendfeed -20.95%

Friendfeed fell sharply, down 20.95% to just 552,147 uniques, and has now lost almost half of its unique visitors since peaking at 1,044,326 in August. Overall visitors fell 26.62%.

LinkedIn, which has been the social media star the past five or six months, fell for the first time since May, losing 6.93% of unique visitors, and 11.53% overall.

MySpace dipped -2.64%, and -3.08% overall.

Plurk, which was once considered a rival to Twitter, saw just over two hundred thousand unique visitors for the month, and surely will not last much into 2010.

There’s An Owl For That – Announcing HootSuite For iPhone

I’m a huge fan of Hootsuite. At work, where I manage various Twitter campaigns for clients, I use HootSuite exclusively.

Earlier today, the company announced HootSuite for the iPhone, and it’s feature-packed.

  • Customizable user interface with sortable tabs and columns
  • Easy navigation thanks to column swiping
  • Schedule tweets
  • Update multiple accounts at once
  • Save searches
  • Track statistics
  • Share photos
  • Import lists
  • Explore trending topics

Being able to schedule tweets whilst on the move is huge.

Check out the video here:

Get your copy of the app from Apple’s app store at this link.

My problem? I don’t actually own an iPhone (I know, I know), so can’t test this bad boy out, but early feedback is very positive indeed. If you’re running Hootsuite on your iPhone please hit the comments and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Why Your Twitter Avatar Needs To Be BIG (Not Small)

I’ve written about this before within the context of larger articles but it bears repeating as it’s important and I still see it happening far too often with new (and old) accounts, and even some very glamorous celebrities.

While Twitter automatically re-sizes your profile avatar to 73 by 73 pixels for display in timelines, this doesn’t mean you should make your image this size when you create it. In fact, my recommendation is that you image needs to be a minimum of 300 pixels wide (and/or high), for the following reasons.

  1. When somebody visits your profile and clicks on your image, it just feels a little, well, strange when that image stays the same size or – and this happens more than you might like to believe – actually gets smaller. (Yes – some people are uploading tiny images that Twitter is then making bigger within the stream). When I click on your image, I want to see YOU. Or I want to see YOUR brand logo. In all of its splendour.
  2. Many external Twitter software clients have a built-in profile viewer. In some cases, these viewers will make the profile avatar significantly bigger than 73 x 73 pixels, which leads to a horribly distorted, grainy effect on small avatars, which makes you look like a porn star. We already have enough of those on Twitter, and I’m sure it’s not the way you were intended to represent yourself.

Two well-known accounts who get it right:

Why Your Twitter Avatar Needs To Be BIG (Not Small)

Why Your Twitter Avatar Needs To Be BIG (Not Small)

Okay, not everybody looks like Katy Perry. But if you’re using a small avatar image because you’re unhappy with your picture, then change the picture. I wholeheartedly recommended that all individuals on Twitter and all persons representing their company or brand as an individual use their own photo for their avatar – it makes you seem real – but that means taking the time to find one that best represents who you are. A close-up of your eyeball or a snapshot of the miniature you taken from a couple of miles away doesn’t really tell me an awful lot, but if that’s what you want then the image should still get bigger when you click on it.

Otherwise, it absolutely feels like you’re hiding away. That you’re ashamed of that picture. That may well be the case – I’m no Hugh Jackman myself – but that means making a little effort to find (or take) a photograph that you like and are confident to share with the world. Trust me on this: it pays off because it makes the right impression. When we visit your profile page we want to see YOU – not Twitter’s chopped-down version thereof.

How To Tell If You've Been Blocked On Twitter

UPDATE: While this article still has some value – there’s a lot to be gained from having a second Twitter account just in case – Twitter has recently made it a lot easier to find out if somebody has blocked you. All you have to do is try to follow them. Click here to read an updated article on this topic.

Various articles have been written about how to determine if somebody has done the unthinkable and blocked you on Twitter, but they are inconsistent and in many cases quite wrong.

There is, however, one very easy way to tell immediately if you’ve been blocked: open a second Twitter account.

When you’ve been blocked on the network, and try and access somebody’s tweets, this is what you see.

How To Tell If You've Been Blocked On Twitter

(And yes, I have been blocked by Stephen Fry – find out why here.)

This is essentially identical to what you see when somebody has protected their status updates, so it can be confusing. Moreover, it can be a little embarrassing if you issue a request to follow to somebody who you later find out has blocked you.

But there is a loophole: Twitter blocks on a per account basis – not by using cookies or IP addresses. By logging out of Twitter and revisiting their profile page with a different account, you can immediately see what is what. If you can now see and read their tweets, then your other (likely main) account has been blocked. If you still see the ‘This person has protected their tweets’ message, then that is what they’ve actually done.

So You’ve Been Blocked – Now What?

People have many different reasons for blocking somebody, and most of the time a block is issued legitimately, at least in the eyes of the blocker. Chances are that the person is unlikely to reverse their decision, and even if they might it’s awkward for you to now approach them, so the best thing to do is just move on.

Plenty more tweets in the sea, after all.

Two Accounts Good, One Account Bad

Apart from this easy and convenient way to find out if you’ve been blocked, there are other valid reasons to have a second Twitter account, too.

  1. It can protect you from identity theft.
  2. If Twitter suspends your main account (for whatever reason), you have another way to contact them and issue a help ticket.
  3. It’s useful for testing purposes, allowing you to experiment with new features on the network, or via a different device (i.e., a mobile phone).
  4. You can try different avatars, background wallpapers, even protected updates, without impacting your main account.
  5. If you run a blog, a second account could be used to share new articles, which gives your readers an alternative way to subscribe to just those updates (avoiding the other tweets you likely make on your main account).


Blocking is very much a part of the Twitter experience and while the feature definitely needs some improvements, for many it plays an important part in making them feel safe and secure on the network. Finding yourself blocked by somebody else is never pleasant, but it’s not something to obsess over, either.

Let’s face it: most of the time, you will have some idea of why it has happened. And if not, or if you feel that an individual has blocked you for something utterly ridiculous, do your very best to regroup and move on. Much like if you lend somebody $20 and then never see them again, it was probably worth it.

Today Is #WorldAIDSday. Here’s How You Can Help Turn Twitter Red!

If you attempt to login to today – and this is why this blog article was worth writing as about 75 per cent of all users access Twitter via an external client – you’ll be presented with a new home page.

Today Is #WorldAIDSday. Here's How You Can Help Turn Twitter Red!

World AIDS Day, which is observed on December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Each year has a different theme, and for 2009 it is universal access and human rights.

JoinRED is part of the Product Red initiative, a business model which teams up with many of the world’s most iconic brands to produce RED branded products, raising awareness and money for the Global Fund. A portion of all profits are invested in African AIDS programs, which a specific focus on women and children.

Follow @JoinRED as instructed, and check out their latest tweet:

Today Is #WorldAIDSday. Here's How You Can Help Turn Twitter Red!

By adding #red to your tweets, it appears to switch everything that is clickable in that tweet to the colour red. This includes your username, the hashtag itself, and any link.

This also works with any mention of the word ‘Aids’.

I’m sure something more dramatic is meant to happen, and I’ll update accordingly if I find out exactly what this is.

You can also turn Facebook red too.

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a very worthy cause, and even though five of the current trending topics are AIDS-related, you can still play your part.