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Posts Tagged ‘@techcrunch’

The Twitter Effect: Mashable vs TechCrunch vs BoingBoing

In May 2009, @Mashable, @TechCrunch and @BoingBoing were about equal as three of the biggest blogs on the planet. Each had about 1.85-1.90 million unique visitors in that month.

Fast-forward just a year later, and everything has changed. BoingBoing has dropped almost a million visitors, TechCrunch has gone nowhere, and Mashable has gained a million.

Why? Twitter.

@Mashable has over two million followers. Twitter started to really take off early in 2009, and Mashable totally capitalised. Twitter has easily become their primary focus point – they write a ton of Twitter content, and share heavily on the network. (As a comparison, Mashable has ‘just’ 207 thousand fans on Facebook – a tenth of the network size.)

@TechCrunch has a little under 1.4 million followers, but they don’t push anywhere near as hard as Mashable does on Twitter. That said, it’s enough to keep them in the game. (54,210 Facebook fans.)

@BoingBoing has just 43,219 followers. And doesn’t push hard at all. Indeed, BoingBoing isn’t even on Facebook. Which suggests to me that they either don’t really get the value of social media, or don’t think that they need it. For example – they don’t even use a retweet button on their blog.

After all, let’s face it – BoingBoing and Mashable aren’t all that different. Both are heavy recyclers of external content (although Mashable does write a lot more original material – TechCrunch is almost all original material and opinion). The main difference is Mashable is very much more attuned to the modern social media audience, both in content and presentation. Indeed, they made dramatic, intentional adjustments to capitalise on that audience shift.

BoingBoing did nothing. And until they realise that, and want to change, their numbers are probably only going to get worse. They’re still thinking old-school – Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Stumbleupon. And while you can still get some traffic spikes from those sources, it’s very much on the wane, and doesn’t begin to compare to the Terminator-like, never-ending, cannot-be-stopped onslaught of Twitter.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I know this is Compete, and yes, I know that this mostly represents US traffic. But unless you can prove to me that the relationship between these numbers is dramatically different around the world – and can show me where you get those numbers – it’s largely a moot point.)

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CORRECTION: Twitter Didn't Bite Back, Didn't Pull @TechCrunch From The Suggested User List

You know – I had a feeling about this one right before I hit the publish button, and should have perhaps sat on things for a little while. But there you go – lessons learned.

Twitter didn’t pull @TechCrunch from the SUL. Valleywag have just revised their story. They were kind enough to tip me off (thanks @ryantate) but there’s still egg on my face. Apologies to all concerned. I really should know better.

Knowing my luck, Twitter will go ahead and do this anyway. Still, I’ve left my original piece below so I can bear the full impact of the shame. Threats of litigation to the usual address. Thanks.

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No real surprise after yesterday’s Twittergate shenanigans, but Twitter has pulled the TechCrunch account from the controversial suggested user list (reports Valleywag).

Regular readers will be fully aware of my feelings about the SUL – while I support the concept of recommending people to follow in principle, the way Twitter goes about it is both cock-eyed and decidedly unfair. Those lucky enough to be given a spot on the list benefit from tens of thousands of new followers on a near-daily basis. The rest of us have to earn our crust the old-fashioned way – by being interesting and useful.

So, hardly the biggest shock that TechCrunch isn’t an account that Twitter wants to recommend to newcomers, but this decision doesn’t reflect well on the social network, either. Indeed, it rather underlines the superficiality of the SUL and further supports the notion that the only reason anybody makes that list is because they’re almost exclusively pro-Twitter or work at Twitter. Or both.

No doubt the attention TechCrunch has been receiving the past few days will ensure that their Twitter network numbers don’t dip too much – and one assumes this will free them up to run riot – but typically when somebody is removed from the SUL their account completely flatlines. (See iJustine, although the gains she has seen in the past couple of days suggests she might be back on there.) This, of course, perfectly illustrates just how much of a gift the list is for anybody on Twitter. Even a blog as well-renowned as TechCrunch.

And they’re only about 65,000 users short of a cool million, too.

With The World Watching, Twitter Gets Caught With Its Pants Down

Out of nowhere, and at the peak of its powers, Twitter suddenly seems really, really amateur.

You’ve probably heard that TechCrunch is privy to hundreds of confidential Twitter documents. No doubt you’ve seen the reaction to that news. And maybe reading the first leak, a proposal for a Twitter TV show called Final Tweet (which may well be the dumbest idea for a name since Shafted), made you want to curl up and die. You’re not alone.

With The World Watching, Twitter Gets Caught With Its Pants Down

But this is all just hype. The real problems are on Twitter itself. The network seems to be developing another major issue pretty much every week. We still haven’t had a resolution to the replies fiasco. An enormous number of users are still not showing up on Twitter search. For the past week, many innocent people have been randomly suspended. We’re all following people we didn’t want to.

And Twitter isn’t doing anything about it – at least, nothing that’s working. Of course, a big part of this issue is their lousy PR – instead of focusing on being timely and prompt in letting users know that they’re aware of all of these issues, especially when they’re ongoing, they’d rather talk about tractors.

Create a successful business, and and growing pains are inevitable. But Twitter is now three years old. Calling it a ‘start-up’ is beginning to sound daft. The service has a level of coverage in the mainstream media that rivals anything else on the internet.

You don’t see this stuff happening on Facebook. And here’s the rub – even if you did, we wouldn’t be as aware of it because Facebook as a mass-communication medium sucks in comparison to Twitter. It’s difficult on Facebook to reach beyond your immediate network of friends; the ripple effect on Twitter makes this really easy. Theoretically, and thanks to the re-tweet mechanism, one update can reach every single person. Or about 23 million people, if you want to get picky.

Which of course for those of us who use the service is one of the best things about it. For Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams, and their team, it’s also one of the worst.

Give Twitter Credit – Mashable Passes TechCrunch In Unique Monthly Visits; Dell Makes $3m

I’ve been wondering if and when this was going to happen – according to website traffic tracker Compete.com, May saw the first time that Mashable passed rival TechCrunch in unique monthly visits to their respective websites.

Mashable vs Techcrunch, Unique Monthly Visitors

(Click to enlarge)

Now, that chart only goes back a year (I don’t have access to Compete’s premium features), but I’m not sure Mashable has ever been more popular than TechCrunch, certainly in terms of traffic. And I also suspect that Mashable’s pretty impressive gain between April to May 2009 of almost 400,000 new visitors might have a little something to do with Twitter.

Now, while it’s fair to say that the follower counts of @Mashable and @TechCrunch aren’t different enough to be that much of an issue – 804K to 705K respectively – @Mashable is definitely a more high-profile account on the network. The @Mashable account tweets an average of 21.5 times per day, in comparison to @TechCrunch’s 15.2. Again, that doesn’t seem an enormous disparity, but it is a difference of over 25 per cent. And as both accounts predominately link to their own stories, it makes a huge difference in click-throughs.

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Hey, Twitter – I’m A Real Person. Are You Going To Verify My Account, Too?

Yesterday, Twitter started to roll out the verification of accounts, a process they first mentioned on June 6, on the official blog.

The experiment will begin with public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation. We hope to verify more accounts in the future but due to the resources required, verification will begin only with a small set.

Please note that this doesn’t mean accounts without a verification seal are fake–the vast majority of Twitter accounts are not impersonators. Another way to determine authenticity is to check the official web site of the person for a link back to their Twitter account.

Already, a lot of celebrities have been given the seal of approval, including Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O’Neal, Marvel’s @Agent_M, MC Hammer, Oprah Winfrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

@aplusk

Some businesses, brands and organisations have also been given the early nod, including The Whitehouse. It’s clearly a work in progress, as a lot of names you’d expect to have been verified very quickly – like, say Al Gore – have not, while a few surprising ones have made the early cut.

Curiously, @mashable has been verified, while @Techcrunch has not. Somewhere, Mike Arrington is seriously pissed.

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Anonymity On The Internet Needs To End

You’ve probably been following the drama that occurred between Mike Arrington of TechCrunch and Leo Laporte on an episode of The Gilmor Gang on Laporte’s TWiT.tv network.

Earlier today, Robert Scoble opened a discussion about this issue on Friendfeed. You can read it here – be warned, there are some 744 comments, and like any huge thread on Friendfeed, it’s a laborious process to follow.

This is the incident in a nutshell. Laporte had a new Palm Pre on his show, and Arrington asked if he paid for it. Leo replied that he did not and that it was a ‘one-week review unit’, which means that after seven days you’re meant to return it. Laporte then, rightly or wrongly, assumed Arrington was implying that his opinion on the Pre was compromised, and went ballistic.

Thanks to this very popular YouTube snippet of the incident, it was quickly all over the internet and large conversations began to take place on Friendfeed, Twitter, Laporte’s IRC chat room, and Techcrunch itself.

The latter was where most of the damage was done – many commentators, mostly anonymous, chose to attack Arrington repeatedly, and many threats and allegations were made. Arrington has heavily edited his ‘Ouch’ post on several occasions, but still intact is his reference to an incident that occurred at a conference in Munich earlier this year, where somebody walked up to him and deliberately spat in his face. After the spat with Laporte, who has a very strong following, Arrington was the recipient of a lot of negative and overly hostile comments on his blog and around the internet. (He mentioned at one point that TechCrunch deleted over 600 of these comments).

Here’s the thing: Arrington and Laporte are both well-seasoned pros and should have known better. I think they share equal blame for their behaviour on the show, and it’s to their credit that they’ve mostly resolved their differences (although Arrington has done a few strange things in the aftermath, such as deleting TechCrunch’s Friendfeed account, which has subsequently been recreated in an unofficial capacity.)

The problem here isn’t these guys – it’s the reaction. And it isn’t that the public doesn’t have a right to respond and comment on issues like this. That’s unavoidable, and if you’re a public figure, which Arrington is, certainly in the tech world, then you have to expect the good with the bad. If you do something that makes people unhappy, then expect to be called out on it. I don’t think Mike would assume otherwise.

The problem lies with anonymous feedback. Anybody can be a big hero and call somebody else a POS when they’re hiding behind a proxy and an alias. What does that prove? What does that mean? Nothing.

Dickwad Theory

I’m all for having a strong opinion, and voicing it. As long as they’re not defamatory or outright lies, I’m 100 per cent behind freedom of speech when it comes to those opinions. But if you have something to say, then you need to stand up and be counted. You need to accept that for your comment to matter – for it to mean something – it needs to be backed up with a verifiable account. We need to know it is you making that statement.

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One Million Followers On Twitter? Big Deal. (Perhaps A Very Big Deal Indeed.)

Since I last wrote about the Twitter top 100 users (by popularity) there have been a few changes in the top ten.

Stephen Fry, who was looking a possible favourite for the overall number one spot just a month ago, has slipped from third to ninth. I’m not sure if there’s been any genuine backlash or whether other more world-famous celebrities have been more readily-followed by newcomers to the network, but he’s definitely lost momentum.

The Twitter top 100 (March 14, 2009)

Barack Obama held the number one position quite comfortably this time last month but he’s now been overtaken by the CNN breaking news account (@cnnbrk), although I wouldn’t expect this to continue indefinitely for a couple of reasons. One, that @cnnbrk isn’t actually that good at breaking news, and two, it doesn’t have the global appeal and eagerness to follow you back that Obama’s team does (Mr President doesn’t actually tweet himself). At the time of writing @cnnbrk is following just one other user, some guy called James Cox. Why is this so? (I’ve asked Mr Cox, but have yet to receive a reply.)

A few other celebrities have moved up the leaderboard in the last fortnight, notably @aplusk and @jimmyfallon, and the @twitter account has, possibly rightly-so, entered the top three, but what I want to focus on within this article is the great leaps most of the main Twitter users have seen in their total follow counts.

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