What makes a successful headline and what makes people share it may actually be completely different from each other. Nick Diakopoulos takes a look at some data from the NYT and finds out that it may not be so straightforward as you thought.
I’ve blogged a few times before on some of the wonderful, versatile things Twitter can be used for and happily I’ve had some rather pleasant feedback from people saying I’ve opened their eyes to one or two things about it. One thing that still interests me though, is that people are still using Twitter as just a communication tool and that communication is tending in some cases to be of a very narrow – person to person – style. The real power of Twitter is it’s possibility for much broader communication and generally the barrier to that seems to be not understanding the full breadth of functionalities of the Twitter platform.
With this post what I am specifically looking to do is illustrate the breadth of Twitter so to do that I’m going to briefly run down every absolutely essential core function of Twitter detailing why you should use them, that is if you aren’t already.
OK, this one is basic and fairly simple, @s are the cornerstone of Twitter to the point where they appear in everyone’s user names. They are however massively important as prefacing a user name with an at constitutes a “mention”, these are then automatically picked up in the @yourusername section of that user’s profile (or client) and this lets them know that they are being talked about.
One of the slightly disconcerting things about Twitter for the newer user is the fact that everything is public, sometimes things just need to be kept private though and, dull as they are, Direct Messages (DMs) are therefore very useful for this. DMs are great for passing users more private messages like meeting times/places, email addresses or mobile numbers.
Retweets are the lifeblood of Twitter and allow tweets to have a truly viral reach. That is, they allow messages to be rebroadcast to more and more followers. I follow a lot of people who have a lot of very interesting things to say and, knowing that people who follow me would find these things interesting, Retweeting messages to my followers is a great way to share the love. Also, Retweeting is a great way to get more followers as people will identify you as a sharer of useful information and will be more inclined to follow you because of it.
Retweetrank is a useful website where you can see who Retweets what and how often a user RTs content.
Hashtags are also pretty important to Twitter’s functionality. When common topics are being discussed they are usually identified by gaining their own hashtag and this in turn makes the hastag identifyable in Twitter’s “Trending topics” section. When breaking news happens nowadays you can usually see it first there. Hashtags are also great for memes and pun games, a recent favourite of mine being #cheesefilms.
The #Hashtags site is a useful site to see how hashtagging in more detail.
So that’s all of Twitter’s functionalities covered but there’s one other vital part of Twitter that’s vital to use in order to get the most from it. Twitter Clients are third party applications that provide a more intuitive user interface for your twitter accounts. Popular desktop clients are Tweetdeck, Destroy Twitter, Twhirl and Seesmic.
Generally they sort functions like your mentions (@yourusername) and DMs into columns alongside tweets from your friends. Clients also do handy things like provide automatic URL shortening – especially handy for posting long urls in tweets whcih have a maximum character count of 140 – and, perhaps most handily of all, automatically upload your photos to Twitter photo sharing services like Mobypicture, Twitpic or Yfrog.
In some, such as Tweetdeck, you can also separate tweets from users into different groups, run real time searches on hashtags and other keywords.
So, with a basic understanding of all of these you should have enough to get yourself set up on, and well into, Twitter. As per usual, if I have missed anything out or you think I have got anything spectacularly wrong then please drop me a comment below.
Conflict in the Commons? Scuffle in the Senate? Altercation in the Assembly? Conflab in the Council or Fisticuffs spoiling your Filibuster? Hot on the heels of the terminally amusing fracas in the South Korean parliament Totaal is proud to bring you the Top Ten Parliamentary Punch-Ups.
I cant take the credit for this though, this is the brainchild of Totaal buddy, fellow AWIMBer and respected B3tard @igotdamaged and was cooked up over the course of a particularly bizarre Twitter exchange late last night.
10. Taiwanese tear up – Bonus points for the sheer number of people involved in this mass brawl. If this chart was ranked on participants alone it would get a much higher place.
9. Mexico mêlée - For a moment, it looks as though a chair is going to be thrown, but the chair was simply being moved out of the way to make more room for the fight. There’s also a great guest appearance from Nintendo’s Mario who shows admirable tenacity.
8. Dust up by the Dnieper – Striking a blow for democracy in Ukraine. This one ranks highly, especially given the sheer scale of the proceedings.
7. Assaults aplenty in Abuja – Nigerians, plenty of action, good outfits and virtually no attempts from bystanders to stop the scuffles. The guy in the pink robes really steals the show here.
6. Mix up in Maan – I like the way in this one, the Jordanian parliament appears to have a pre-prepared sumo style area for fights to take place within. The girly style attempt to run away really adds to the piece here.
5. Tiff in Taipei – Taiwan again, second entry for this disputed territory with excellent bitch fight. And lets face it, nothing spices up proceedings like commentary by the legendary Sheriff John Bunnell (Retired). What’s Taiwanese for “Oooh no you di’en’!”
4. Calcutta carnage – Note the TV being throw 30 seconds in as things turn nasty in India. Bonus points also for the appearance late on by the Ghostbusters.
3. La Paz pugilism – Hot-headed South Americans. The Bolivians really go for it, there must be something about fighting at altitude that angries up the blood.
2. Spar in Somalia - This is how Somali politicians negotiate a peace settlement, rounded up beautifully by the momentary look by the newsreader at the end.
1. Fall out in Fukuoka – Presumably, this guy was the “Minister of Judo”. It’s short, sweet and by no means the most violent but the moves shown here make it a clear winner.
Facebook’s recent buzz has all been about their “Twittification”, reducing the former enjoyable randomness of Facebook to a homogenous Twitter feed. It’s caused all sorts of ructions and mutinies among users with the predictable Facebook groups being set up to demand that the system be scrapped and the norm returned to.
Haha Facebook, now you know people who dont like Wispas feel.
Anyway, under the radar of the awful publicity and frantic petitioning Facebook have been making some very shrewd, very quiet changes to the way it works. I have, for some time now, been telling anyone who will listen (and some that wont) that the value of Facebook’s targeting information is worth it’s weight in gold and that they havent even began to exploit it. It now looks like they have began to actually realise what the potential of the data they hold and they have chosen just about the right time to do it. Online advertising spend is conservatively predicted to fall by around 10% in 2009 and Google has just recorded its first sequential quarterly drop in sales since 2004. Even that’s great when you compare it in the virtual collapse of traditional media ad spend which has tanked and is in the process of taking many a newspaper and TV station with it.
So in the face of all of that what of Facebook’s revenues then? Well, as I said above, theyhave historically been awful at making money so it’s from a fairly low basemark. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO says that their ad revenues “may climb 70 percent this year”. Simply amazing, doubly so in 2009, so how are they doing this?
Firstly there’s the ads which have up to “25 characters in the title and as many as 135 characters in the body of the text”, sound familiar? Yes, it’s Twitter. OK, theres an optional photo but that’s what it is, but while Facebook had egg on its face when it last aped Twitter it seems this time it has paid off. Tim Kendall, Facebook’s director of product marketing for monetization (ouch, nice title Tim) says the service lets companies target users based on the information they put on their profiles “You basically just have a greater diversity of people using our ad system — lots of businesses, lots of local businesses finding success. It’s really been a steady, successful growth pattern.”
They have also been *ahem* heavily influenced by Google’s adwords system with their new campaign configuration interface. Feedback for this has been pretty patchy and that’s being kind, but as someone who used early incarnations of the AdWords system I can attest to the fact that it has improved immeasurably over time.
They have also, for the first time, emplyed a real, human Sales Team to assist companies with more interactive promotions, rather gloriously called “Engagement Ads.” They can include features such as video and let users do things like become “fans” of a brand. Add that to the fact that that it has 200 million active users and is still growing rapidly, especially among baby boomers, then Facebook’s outlook is pretty rosy.