Twitter

Twitter’s Changed Layout yet again

Twitter has yet again changed the way they display tweets. The layout they unveiled last year, where information on a tweet – attached picture, people who retweeted it, etc. – showed up in the right rail, now that appears beneath the tweet itself.

So what? Sites change their layouts in minor ways all the time. It’s only Twitter. Also, I said I wasn’t going to write about social media anymore.

The truth is, I’m not even writing about social media here. Social media, as we thought of it a few years ago, is already dead. (More on that anon.) Their layout change is really about making space for their new advertising system.

Twitter has been using the right side of their screen for sponsored accounts and tweets for about a year as well. When people had the ability to expand a tweet and viewing it and the exchange it created on the right side of the screen, it pushed advertisements off the screen.

This layout change can only be necessary to improve the visibility of their paying advertisers. If tweets are now expanded below instead of to the right, then all that space on the right can remain advertising space. Twitter isn’t losing impressions because of their layout, they’re losing impressions because so many people go elsewhere – Facebook and Google Plus, for instance.

Obviously, they can do whatever they want – it’s their site. But last year’s layout was, in my opinion, a smart way to make the site functional. This new way of doing things isn’t, so money is the only motivation that makes sense to me for changing it.

How THAT is going to keep me from using TweetDeck or something similar to manage my Twitter account, I do not know.

Are we done with Paper.li yet?

As The Thing would say if he had been a blogger, “It’s complainin’ time.”

For the last year, all of us who use Twitter have seen posts that look like this:

“The CRAP I’M INTO SO YOU MUST BE INTO IT TOO Daily is out! bkt.ly/blahblahblah Top stories by: [Insert hapless Twitter followers who’ve had their content scraped here.]”

If you’ve clicked through on any of these links, you’ve seen a nicely designed page, full of stories credited to some people on Twitter.

The way this all works is, when you create one of these “dailies,” or weeklies or what have you, you tell paper.li to sift through your Twitter followers and post to this pretty page anything they post or tweet relating to a specific subject. If you want to create a “Star Trek” daily, anyone who posts a link with “Star Trek” in the destination, or tweet about “Star Trek,” will be placed in your daily.

Okay – useless explanation done. Onto the problem: Paper.li is a crutch for people who want to post to Twitter regularly, but don’t have enough to say themselves.

I really thought this trend would have burned out by now, as there are SO MANY people posting these things. Paper.li posts don’t provide any new information, and frankly if I really want to know what my friends are posting about Star Trek I’ll do a search to find out.

Some might argue it’s a way to cluster interesting nuggets together in an easily digestible format. I disagree. For one, you have to “luck” into these paper.li dailies when they hit someone’s Twitter feed. Maybe you could probably set up an alert for when they are published, but anyone willing to do that could also set up a Google Alert to find the same information.

No, Paper.li is not about providing useful content – it’s about getting around content. It let’s people abandon their social circle for a few days, but know that the hard work of creating posts is being taken care of by, effectively, a bot that scrapes RSS feeds.

I stop short of calling this plagiarism because Paper.li does credit the original authors. The point with these posts is not to pass off someone else’s content as your own. The real problem is still posting other people’s content so you have something – anything – for your followers to see.

Let’s say I’m a stand-up comic, but I have no jokes. Would it be acceptable for me to perform George Carlin’s, “Ice Box Man” in my act, even if I credited him as the original author? If the Carlin estate went along with it, at least it would be legal. Still, as an audience member, wouldn’t you still feel kind of cheated?

If you’re as tired of this crap as I am, join me in doing something about it: Block paper.li from using your posts to help other people’s laziness, and remove yourself. It is simple to do. Just tweet:

@NewsCrier please stop mentions paper.li/stop-mentions.html

This will get you off of their system, and keep these posts from showing up in your menitons when you’re in one.

“But why would I want to keep from being mentioned?” I can hear you ask.

Well, it’s like #FollowFriday – no one really follows anyone on the basis of a #FollowFriday post. People just do this to let some of their followers know they are loved.

In the same way, mentioning people in a, “The WHO THE HELL CARES Daily is out” doesn’t promote the people mentioned in it. It’s actually designed to get those people who were mentioned to click on the paper.li link itself.

Getting this kind of mention doesn’t help grow your social circle as much as it fools you into giving paper.li – and the user who, again, is riding on the coat tails of whatever interesting stuff you shared – more traffic.

Let us all band together and end this cycle of content rehashing by removing ourselves from the paper.li roles.

And if we can’t all do that, let’s at least agree that these dailies are really pretty lame.

Twitter finally updates character count when shortening links

One of the biggest pains for me in Twitter is typing out a message, then inserting a link, and being told it is now way over the 140 character limit. This always seemed idiotic, since Twitter and I both know they will shorten my link once I move to publish it.

In Blackjack, when you’re holding an ace and you get hit a card that would normally make you bust, the value of the ace goes from 11 to 1. Why can’t Twitter employ that kind of logic?

Well, apparently now they do. Here’s a tweet I wrote:

Twitter Links 1

As you can see, I should only be able to fit another 26 characters into this tweet. Before, if I put in a particularly long URL, it would refuse to let me publish.

Twitter links 2

Now, when I pop in a particularly long URL, (79 characters to be exact, or 53 characters longer than it should allow) Twitter determins the character length of what it is going to shorten my link down to, and that’s reflected in the character count.

Thanks for getting around to this, Twitter!

I hit the 10,000 Twitter Follower Mark Today!

Since it’s a Friday and hardly anyone reads blog posts between Thursday and Sunday anymore, I don’t mind putting out a horribly self-promotional post: Today I finally got 10,000 Twitter followers.

10000 Twitter followers

Maybe that’s an achievement, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I only did it to show how easy it is to do.

See, when people hire me to do social media marketing for them, they always talk about how they want a “lot of followers.” It’s the one metric that seems to make sense to everyone. “If I have a lot of followers by the end of this, then things must have worked out. I now have a larger audience, so I’m pretty sure to make some money out of all of this!”

But as I’ve said for years and years, a follower count isn’t any measure of success. When I can get 10,000 followers just by being dopey – about 7000 of those followers only happening in the last six months, when I decided to do this experiment – it isn’t an accomplishment worth much. I certainly don’t feel like there are 10,000 individuals “listening to me,” when I know a number of them are bots, or feeds, or companies that don’t read their followers.

There are a lot of really cool people I have met as a result of Twitter, but I certainly don’t feel like selling any SEO consulting work to them. I’d much rather discuss Dadaism. (If you were in on that yesterday – how fun was that? I’ll have to post about all that next week.)

Bottom line: The number of followers you get still isn’t a measure of success, it’s just an ego boost if you have a fragile, fragile ego. If you’re someone like me who is brimming with confidence and power, however… it’s no where near as good as, you know – actually brimming with confidence and power.

I so recommend that over just having a lot of Twitter followers.

DM Whacker – A Tool for Deleting all of your Twitter Direct Messages

I get way too many direct messages on Twitter – and there’s few of them I actually read. I’ve posted in the past about the annoyance of Twitter auto-responder messages. For some reason, people still feel the need to auto reply to anyone who follows them with something like:

“Thanks for the follow! Now read my blog!”

As if we followed this person for the sole purpose of helping them increase the number of views of their site. I’m surprised I haven’t heard someone go that step further and ask me to click on an ad because, “I have car payments, dick!”

I’ve found a great solution for this though: DM Whacker is a great way to delete ALL of your instant messages. Now keep reading, there are some instructions.

1) Go here to get the DM Whacker bookmarklet. Drag it into your browser’s toolbar.

2) Go to Twitter and sign in. While this tool really does work, it was made before Twitter’s layout update – so you’ll want to switch back to the old layout.

3) Once you’ve done that, click on the link in your toolbar. It will likely ask you if it can go to your messages. Click that “ok” button.

If you look on your right rail, you’ll see this:

The fields are pretty self-explanatory. You can either delete all of your DMs, or you can just delete DMs from a specific user. If you’ve got an active Twitter stalker, the latter is for you. But I get hit-and-run DMs from all of those dummies who read some blog post telling them to DM anyone who followed them. So I select “all dm’s.”

And a quick aside to the developer – it’s “all dms,” not “all dm’s.” That apostrophe is only necessary if you’re going on to say, “all dm’s on your profile are trash and need to be destroyed.” “All dms,” however, means all of your direct messages.

Anyway, if you also want to delete all of the DMs you’ve sent, check that box too. If you have a TrueTwit account, you’ve likely got hundreds of those. Also, shame on you for making people verify themselves. There aren’t THAT many Twitter bots out there you should be allowed to pester people who’ve been kind enough to show interest in you. I had to set up an account with them just to get all these messages to stop. Hypocritical? You betcha. Still, when TrueTwit wins, everybody looses.

Anyway again, you can also delete DMs with specific keywords in it, like, say, “TrueTwit validation service. To validate click here.” Then it will only kill those specific messages.

It would be nice if you could tell the app to delete all messages except those from specific users, but how badly do you really need your favorite DMs? If the person who wrote you was really that heartfelt, they’d have sent you a real letter. Or at least posted it to your Facebook Wall.

Because really, while DMs are supposed to be an easy way to get a quick, private message off to one of your followers, it’s been perverted by too many. Twitter isn’t going to do anything about it, so you may as well.

10 ways to be more interesting on Twitter

This is a video we produced for work – but these tips work for everyone.

If you’ve been on Twitter for even a little while, none of these tips are really all that ground breaking. The one I think is most important, though, is not being scared.

When people can’t get it together to write 140 characters or less, it’s usually because they’re afraid of making asses of themselves. Usually they either don’t want to get in trouble, or look stupid, or worst of all have someone tell them they’re wrong.

I have to ask: Does that describe you? Do you have trouble posting anything on line, that anyone can read, because you’re afraid of criticism?

Meltworks knows Social Media

My girlfriend has gotten me hooked on the latest reality show, “America’s Next Great Restaurant.” The idea is that a group of people compete to have the show’s judges – or investors – back them in opening their short-service restaurant.

Now, normally I don’t bother telling you about the shows I watch, because frankly who cares? (Everyone on GetGlue.com being the exception.) However, something happened recently with one of the former contestants and I that I have to tell you about.

Meltworks was a restaurant idea on the show, created by Eric Powell. Their primary food? Grilled Cheese. I love cheese, and grilled cheeses in particular. As I watched the show, judges kept asking, “What’s stopping people from making their own grilled cheese at home?” To which my Girlfriend and I kept screaming at the TV, “Because people are lazy!” or, “Because people only have crappy American cheese in their refrigerators!”

Motivated by angst, I gave Meltworks a shout-out on the aforementioned GetGlue:

Must say, @Meltworks is the only restaurant in the bunch I really want to go eat at right now. http://bit.ly/i74VPl @GetGlue

That wound up being posted on Twitter. And you know what? He wrote back!

@ciaoenrico Thank you! Means a lot. Hopefully you have a chance to dine with us soon.

That’s pretty impressive to me. He did not send out a canned, “Thank you for your support” tweet. He could have, and no one would have blamed him. He got a lot of mentions from being on that show. Instead he took the time to respond, and not just to me. All of the people who mentioned him got a response from him.

Do you put that kind of time into Twitter? Sure, you may not be on a show that gets as much buzz. Still, how long do you really spend connecting with people, 1-on-1, with social media?

Eric was eventually voted off, and we were bummed. After cancelling the show from our DVR, I signed up for Meltworks’ e-mail updates on its website. Two nifty things here:

1) The email sign-up form allowed me to send a personal message.

2) He actually responded to my message! Again, not with a canned message, but addressing what I wrote to Meltworks initially!

Eric, [me]

Thanks for checking out our website and for offering some suggestions. Yeah, we were limited to those panini presses for the first few episodes, but were able to get some new equipment that was more appropriate for grilled cheese. We’ve had a number of people suggest just using soups as dips. Since we already have soups on the menu, that could make perfect sense for us.

We’re actually back in the test kitchen now working on new ideas for the concept and should be rolling out more news in the next few months. Hopefully we’ll have a Meltworks in the Tempe area soon and you’ll be able to try out our sandwiches in person.

Thanks again!
Eric [him]

And now, the point

People talk all the live-long-day about social media, and how important it is. Then they go out and write a blog, or post things on Twitter or their Facebook Page, and act in the exact opposite way that makes social media work: They do it without being social. They broadcast, but are deaf to any responses.

Here a business owner has created a social media presence, gotten scads of people to write about him, and has actually taken the time to respond. Personally. And I didn’t work out some deal with him saying, “write me back personally and I’ll blog about you.” I’m blogging about the company because he actually bothered to write me back without being prompted. I’m blogging about the company because they’re a good neighbor in the social media world.

If you are planning on using social to promote yourself, take a page from Meltworks’ book: Don’t broadcast your message, respond to other people’s messages.

And if you use a dipping sauce for a grilled cheese sandwich, you’re a philistine. I’m looking at you, Bobby Flay – you like steaks, right? What if I lathered one up with ketchup? Think that would help its taste? No! A steak tastes fine the way it is! Same with a grilled cheese! Moron…

Sorry for the micro-rant.

Yes, I unfollowed you – now shut up!

I unfollow a lot of people on Twitter in an average week. Sometimes it’s because of something they post. Other times it’s because they use an auto posting service. And sometimes it’s just because I followed them without really looking at who they are.

I do this pruning a lot. On social networks, you aren’t what you say, but who you connect yourself with. No one would listen to Guy Kawasaki if he only followed porn stars.

As a result, something I’ve been seeing a lot lately are tweets from people I’ve unfollowed that look like this:

Butthurt from being Unfollowed

I believe the idea behind this is to “shame” the three of us who unfollowed Naresh. Services that do these kinds of tweets – fllwrs.com is one, and I think Qwitter is another – actually have a good premise. Their real job is telling their users who unfollowed them, and which post may have sent them packing.

Posting tweets about it is part of their package, however, and it totally works against people like Naresh when they do this.

First, my profile is getting a mention – which is always good. It’s another opportunity to be discovered by other users. Even if it is in the context of, “This jerk unfollowed me! Boo hoo,” I get just that much more growth in my social footprint.

Second, this kind of post would make most people ask, “why did you get unfollowed? Are you a bore? Are all of your posts NSFW? Do you constantly post quotes from the Bible?” Usually, things that are rejected by people aren’t popular with others – on the basis of having been dumped. (“If that guy doesn’t like it, I probably won’t either.”)

Finally, whenever I see one of these posts in my “Mentions” tab, it pisses me off. Frankly, it’s my choice to unfollow you for whatever reason I want to, just as it is your choice to return the favor by unfollowing me. Being childish in public doesn’t help anything, and does not convince me I should change my mind.

Instead, it makes me block you. I can’t trust I won’t hear more about your heartache later, so I make sure I won’t by shutting you off completely. If enough people block a single profile, Twitter may decide the profile is spam and ultimately delete the account.

So while you started with being pissy about my getting rid of you, you could end with Twitter itself getting rid of you.

A new Twitter follower tool: Followers4.me

Wow – it’s been nearly a month since I posted something here. Between the holidays, work, and starting a business, I’ve been wrecked. God that makes me sound old!

But now that the holidays are over, and I’ve inserted my gratuitous SEO link to my other site, I think I’m ready to get back to business.

One thing I’ve been working on a bit lately is my Twitter follower count. Anyone who’s read more than a few of my posts will know I’ve always had a dim view of people obsessed with followers. It’s usually the sign of someone just trying to inflate their ego by rounding up a few thousand people so you can point to them and scream, “they LIKE me!” like some kind of digital Sally Fields.

But I recently did some work for the site, Followers4.me – a Twitter follower tool that helps you build your following in a fun way. That got me interested.

The premise is relatively simple: When you sign up with Followers4.me, you start with 100 “coins.” You use these coins as exchanges with other users on the site for their follow.

So let’s say you start out offering 5 of these coins to anyone who follows you. With your initial 100 coins, you can get 20 new followers, and in turn they can get more coins to do the same thing themselves. If you want more coins, you can go follow others, get other people to sign up, or just buy them with real money.

In short, they’ve taken the follow/follow back politics of Twitter and turned them into an exchange game. Maybe you go on and follow everyone, and collect a bunch of coins. Great, but then you have too many people you’re following without anyone following back. Okay, so you up your reward for followers. You get more, but that runs out your coin… you end up managing bids for new followers as much as you do followers, but since the coins aren’t real money, (unless you’ve paid for them,) and Twitter followers themselves aren’t worth anything, (unless you have a strategy to monetize them,) it really does feel like a game of Go Fish.

This is a new way of looking at social media that feels like it started with Foursquare: You’re doing something anyway, so there will be rewards for your work. For Foursquare it’s badges that do nothing. Here, it’s coins – but at least they have a value. Either way, making a game out of social activity breathes new life into all of this socializing we do.

8 Types of Twitter Bios that Piss Me Off

Your Twitter bio is the first thing people see when they’re notified by e-mail that they have a new follower. What you say about yourself in that first 160 characters makes or breaks people’s decission to follow you or not.

Twittiots

So I made a list of the things people put in their Twitter bios that are turn offs. If you’re guilty of any of these things, look at your bio again and try to think of a more creative, interesting write up. Because all of these are done by a LOT of people, and they don’t entice anyone.

1) Your family.
“I’m a loving Father,” “happily married, parent” “I have 3 wonderful kids”

It is neither mathematically nor philisophically possible for me to care any less that you spawned. Unless your Twitter account is going to be all about your kids, it has no place here.

And if your Twitter account IS all about your kids, I really have no place for you either.

2) Your resume.
“Social Media Manager & Marketing Virtual Assistant providing services for High Level Business Owners.” (yawn)

You may care, but no one else does that you’re an SEO, or a PHP designer, CEO of your company or a collecter of rare, classic German pornography. Well, scratch that last one – that is actually a little interesting.

3) Sales pitches.
“For over 14 years the experienced and friendly team at [company] has been offering impartial and well-informed advice to thousands of holidaymakers”

Telling people off the bat that they should buy what you sell lets them know that all of your tweets will be equally antagonistic and silly. Profiles with these bios are usually just publishing information from a feed, without any real “author” writing anything. Companies that want to use social but not actually talk to anyone are big on this too.

4) Trying to appeal to everyone
“I am interested in everything,” “always discovering, always creating something,” “Never shy away from an opportunity!”

Cut the chatter, Red 2. You’re wasting your bio trying to be all things to all people. If you’re boring here, your tweets are probably boring too.

5) Including a URL
“Co-founder of http://www.crap site.com – the company behind http://www.another crap site.com, author (http://www.yet another crap site.com), blogger & passionate about project management”

You get ONE URL on your page! It’s even clickable! If you put a bunch more in your bio, no one can click on them, and no one would bother if they could. We aren’t here to help you get more traffic.

6) Hubris
“Social Media Expert, Professional Blogger,” “social media enthusiast,” “I’m The King of straightforward information about franchising”

Who are you trying to impress?

This used to be a bigger problem, until there was a backlash of people saying, “people who say they’re social media experts only show they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Since then, these people have taken to calling themselves, “social media junkies” or “really interested in social media.” But it’s all the same thing: “This thing you’re doing on Twitter? Well, I’m doing it too! But I do it better! Please give me a job!”

7) Nothing at all.
“”

This is just lazy. Sit down for a few minutes and think something up! Even if it’s nothing more than a, “I’ll have something to say later.” As long as you actually DO put something more creative in there later.

8 ) Your book
“Family 1st! but after that, Businessman, @winelibrary, @Vaynermedia, Author of Crush IT and a dude that Loves the hustle, people and the @nyjets”

There’s actually a lot of things in this bio that piss me off. Other Twitter profiles you should go to, family, hubris, meaningless chatter about “hustle” – but also an ad for a book. There are about another 1,000 of these author-types every day. If you were a writer of any note, we’d already know about it. You wouldn’t have to inform us in your bio, Gary.

9) “I follow back”

(I know I said, “8 types of Twitter bios that piss me off,” but I remembered this and kind of got on a roll.)

This is self-explanatory. People tell you they’ll follow you back if you follow them. Again, it’s desperate, and only appeals to those who are on Twitter just to build up more followers. That fact alone tells you they don’t post anything more than posts to their articles, sales, and a truck load of positive, airy, meaningless quotes.

But so you don’t think I’m just grouchy, here’s…

10 of the best Twitter bios EVER

@antifuchs I hack on things for people.
@jephjacques Surprisingly conservative for someone who has sex with dolphins.
@wytukaze I RAGE UNCONTROLLABLY
@tinydoctor I’m a Pentecostal Atheist putting on a tent show revival, speaking in tongues and witnessing to the Word of not god but the Mammon of my counterfeits of meaning
@tommyismyname I blog. I beatbox. I get the asses in the seats.
@virgiltexas i prefer my earlier work
@ISaidDont Seriously, don’t. And don’t touch my stuff either.
@grempz always fall asleep with your makeup on face down in the pillow so when you wake up you have something beautiful to kiss
@GorillaSushi Internet jealousy is measured in precise units, called butthertz.
@Giania I am full of vitriol & nonsense and will probably give you shit if I think you’re trying to sell me something. 😀

Extra special thanks to @Giania, as most of these come from her list Rad Dudes.