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Archives: May 2010

Twitter Gets More Direct With Letting You Know When You’ve Been Blocked

This may not be a very new development, but it’s new to me.

Last year I wrote quite a popular article informing users how to work out if somebody has blocked them on Twitter. Well, that information is now a little dated, as Twitter has provided us with a much easier way to tell if you’ve been blocked – just click on the follow button.

That’s all it takes. If you’ve been blocked by that user, Twitter will tell you. I tried it on @stephenfry, and here’s a screenshot of the message I received.

Twitter Gets More Direct With Letting You Know When You've Been Blocked

There it is in black and white – this user has blocked you from following them.

Nice and simple, definitely. However, this will inevitably lead to more spats on the network, as people take offense to being blocked by their idols and peers. Sometimes, for no apparent reason.

(Hat-tip to Peter for the spot.)

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Twitter Revamps The Help Center, Promises "More Good Times" After One Million Help Tickets

Or so they say. Judge for yourself here.

One point of note:

Special thanks to Zendesk, with whom we celebrated our millionth ticket in a year’s time.

What @crystal actually means is that Twitter received one million help ticket requests over the past twelve months. Now, one, that’s not really something to boast about and, more importantly, two, how many of those tickets received nothing more than the usual automated reply of FAQs followed by a swift closure? Thirty per cent? Forty? Fifty? I wonder, I wonder…

PS. If you need help on Twitter, just ask.

Yfrog Has Estimated Annual Revenues Of $10m. How Do They Make Their Money?

Yfrog is the second-biggest source of uploaded photos on Twitter (and closing in on the number one spot fast). But how are they raking in the cash? By focusing their ad campaigns on their most popular users – celebrities.

Yfrog Has Estimated Annual Revenues Of $10m. How Do They Make Their Money?“If you look at the hundred users on Twitter that have most followers, they have a lot of followers. And usually they are very very famous. They could be sports superstars, movie stars, whatever. If a person like this posts a picture and a lot of their fans come to look at it, those fans are in a very specific demographic. Nike may want to advertise next to Tiger Woods. People who have special interests come in masses to our sites. It’s not the same as a bunch of noise.”

I always notice the Twitter three (Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams) using Yfrog to share their pictures on Twitter – never Twitpic. Which makes me wonder if they have some kind of special arrangement in place.

And if they don’t, then maybe they should.

(Source: SAI.)

The Plateau Remains Supreme – April Unique Visits Just +1.07% (Overall -18.11%*)

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.

New visitors to rose by just +1.07% for the month of April for a total of 21,514,898, with overall visits to the site falling by an eyebrow-raising -18.11% (147,418,997).

Twitter Unique Visitors (April 2010)

Twitter Overall Visitors (April 2010)

* Month-on-month, overall visits to the site are down some 33 million. We might have to take this with a pinch – Compete, who seem to be getting slower-and-slower to release data each and every month, had overall visits to Twitter for March at 161,903,421 the last time I wrote this report, and they’ve now changed this number to 180 million. If the former is correct, it’s still a pretty big drop, although nowhere near as serious.

However, has clearly reached a ceiling that requires something special to break through – possibly the extra functionality that @al3x hinted at before he moved on to pastures new.

Or, perhaps this is the beginning of a ‘topping-out’ process that could see more users – new and established – moving away from the Twitter home page towards desktop and mobile clients in greater numbers? The sharp decline in visits this month would indicate that this is already happening for veterans.

One wonders how many of these old-hands the iPhone – and possibly the official Twitter for iPhone app – have picked up and converted.

Meanwhile, Facebook added 2.53% of new visitors (135,375,036 visits) and +15.70% overall (3,165,316,934), which obviously contrasts sharply with Twitter.

Facebook Unique Visitors (April 2010)

Facebook Overall Visitors (April 2010)

We’ll have to look at next month’s data to see the full picture for Facebook, but at the moment it would appear that not only are people not leaving the network over privacy concerns – they’re actually more eager to sign up.

5 Mistakes You’re (Still) Making On Twitter

Twitter comes with a fairly steep learning curve, and it can take a while for absolute newcomers to get to grips with what the platform is all about.

Indeed, the process of ‘getting Twitter’ is a thing and in and of itself. Some people understand the network before they even sign up. For others, it’s a lengthier journey, and one where they often turn to many social media gurus, looking for short fix, quick and easy answers.

This is a mistake. Ergo, further mistakes are made. Six months pass, and suddenly to other new users it’s YOU who is the ‘expert’. It’s you who has all the answers. And so the cycle repeats itself, ad infinitum.

Read more

Review: Seesmic For iPhone

Good news – the Seesmic for iPhone app is finally available (iTunes download – it’s free).

Seesmic for iPhoneI like it.


  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s clean, runs very quickly, and the interface is intuitive and easy-to-use.
  3. Includes native and traditional retweet support (including via), which is a huge plus.
  4. Support for your own credentials.
  5. It’s very Tweetie-like. This is a good thing, but the timing of this release is unfortunate given Twitter’s official successor to Tweetie, Twitter for iPhone, also came out this week. It might be a little too like Tweetie to gain a lot of market share, especially as both apps are free.
  6. The Seesmic app supports Twitter, Facebook and I’ve never been hugely bothered about having an ‘all in one’ aggregator for my mobile or desktop social media client – if I’m using Twitter, I’d rather the client focused its attention and resources 100 per cent on that – but the Facebook implementation here is efficient and handy if all you want is a quick look at your news feed. I don’t use so can’t comment there.
  7. Supports multiple accounts, and also cross-posting (something which I don’t like to see but others disagree).
  8. Evernote support.

Seesmic for iPhone

I only have a couple of immediate issues. One, when you close the app and re-open it, it doesn’t remember exactly where you were. It knows that you were in Facebook or Twitter, and puts you back there, but on the latter it always starts on the home feed, and not where you left it (i.e., replies or in a list). This is something Tweetie does very well, and it’s a small but niggling oversight.

My second concern is from a marketing perspective. When you submit a tweet using the Seesmic iPhone app, it’s labelled simply ‘Seesmic’. For me, I would expect (and prefer) to see ‘Seesmic for iPhone’, and for Seesmic, I would think they would want to do this to benefit from the marketing exposure. Maybe I’m unusual, but when I see new clients in tweet information, I always check them out. As it is now, the vast majority of users will see ‘Seesmic’ and think nothing has changed. There’s an opportunity for growth there that I think might have been overlooked.

(You can suggest improvements and tweaks through a special feedback page that Seesmic has started.)

Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur (@loic) has recorded his usual enthusiastic video:

Overall, this is recommended. It’s not quite as slick as Tweetie/Twitter for iPhone, but there are a couple of extras here that should have some appeal, notably the support for old-style retweets and the Facebook implementation.

Review: Twitter For iPhone

Twitter for iPhone – aka, Tweetie 3 – was released today. You can download it here (iTunes link). It’s free.

Twitter for iPhoneThis review will be brief, essentially because Twitter for iPhone isn’t enormously different to Tweetie 2. Sure, they’ve moved a few things around and done a couple of minor adjustments to search, but for the seasoned Tweetie user the overall difference is very marginal indeed.

These include:

  • An ability to use the app without actually having a Twitter account. (Which seems both utterly pointless and actually self-destructive from Twitter’s point of view.)
  • On the off chance you think that Twitter looks fun, you can now sign up within the app
  • Search results have been “improved”, which means you’ll now be able to see ads

So, not much different for veterans. Be warned – if you install Twitter for iPhone, it overwrites Tweetie. It’s one or t’other.

For new users to Tweetie, however, this is an essential download. For the full list of reasons why, check out my review of Tweetie 2. Don’t let my indifference put you off – it was already spectacularly good. I just expected this upgrade to offer a little bit more.

Twitter For iPhone

On Twitter, Be Nice. Until It’s Time To Not Be Nice

For the most part, Twitter is a friendly place. There’s something about the connecting process between two strangers on a social network that encourages both of them to act in a polite and civil manner.

(As an aside, this can often contrast quite sharply with how our so-called real friends behave.)

However, from time-to-time, often regardless of how well you conduct yourself, things are going to get ugly. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the better you get at doing it right, the more likely it is that you’ll start to develop a sub-following of critics and haters, all of whom will gladly go out of their way to tell you that you’re actually doing it wrong. At least, in their opinion.

For you, this is actually a positive. It means you matter. As Colin Powell once said:

“Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable if you’re honourable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.”

While it’s often true that haters are actually some of your biggest fans in disguise, a growing number of them will be unpleasant, often seemingly bitter people, arguing endlessly and clearly for the sake of it. It’s a trap, and no matter how hard you try, sometimes you’re going to get caught.

It’s these folks I want to address in this article, and in doing so I’d like to pay homage to the words of the great philosopher James Dalton, whose guidance seems very appropriate here.

When push comes to shove, you'll need to ask yourself - what would Dalton do?

When push comes to shove, you’ll need to ask yourself – what would Dalton do?

All you have to do is follow three simple rules. Read more

Twitter On Future Profitability: "We're Thinking About Big, Big Numbers."

Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo (@dickc) has been outlining Twitter’s plans for its new advertising system and addressing concerns about the company’s long-term monetization goals.

“We were valued at over a billion dollars last September, so we’re going to live in a world where we need to be generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” Costolo told Reuters. “We’re thinking about big, big numbers.”

Other points of interest:

  • Twitter is currently adding another dozen advertisers to their Promoted Tweets platform, which Costolo says has been “successful beyond our wildest dreams.”
  • Costolo says Twitter will start to “ramp this up aggressively” beginning in the third quarter of 2010
  • The long-hyped premium Twitter accounts are due this July or August

Costolo: “I’m super confident but it’s a dark tunnel and we’ll see where we are at the end of Q4.”

(Source: Reuters.)

Twitter API Lead Alex Payne Quits To Open "A Bank That Doesn't Suck"

Alex Payne (@al3x), who has worked at Twitter since March 2007 and been API lead for most of that time, has left the company to join BankSimple, which bills itself as “an easy, intuitive, and social bank for people who appreciate simple online services.” Payne is a co-founder, and will have the role of Chief Product & Technology Officer.

He announced his move on Twitter.

Alex Payne Leaves Twitter For BankSimple

Walking away from Twitter wasn’t an easy decision. Working there has been a life- and career-changing experience. I’ve learned all sorts of lessons, made great friends, and worked on something that millions of people now use every day.

On BankSimple:

Imagine, for a moment, a bank that doesn’t suck.

A bank that doesn’t gouge you with fees.
A bank that doesn’t treat you like crap.
A bank that cares about design, but gets out of your way.
A bank that puts your money to work automatically.
A bank that’s building a platform for the future of personal finance.

Sounds good. Read more at his blog.