Tag Archives: twitter

Tweet This, Facebook That

SmallBusiness.com has an interesting post about how the uses of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit differ depending on the subject:

  • Platform usage is context-dependent. Entertainment events are more likely to be discussed on Facebook, while sporting events (and live news events), like the NFL Kickoff or the Napa earthquake, are more likely to be discussed on Twitter. Reddit tends to be the dominant platform for political and international discussion.
  • Timing is crucial when posting to certain social networks. Facebook tends to be the dominant platform to discuss and publish stories 2-3 weeks around an event; but Twitter and Reddit are more reactive, dominating 2 to 3 days around an event.
  • Within 24 hours of a major event, 85% of sharing occurs on mobile devices.

This next one was very interesting:

  • News events like the Napa earthquake and the Ferguson riots are highly localized with sharing. Missouri saw a 7.7x surge during the riots.

Back in the early days of blogging it became trendy to “liveblog” at conferences. Basically attendees would send out rapid fire blog posts sharing what they were seeing, hearing and learning. While it still happens that action has been largely replaced by people Tweeting their experiences and using a hashtag so that their observations will be group with other attendees’ in a stream of conference-related information that any Twitter user can see. That’s why every conference now has a #ID printed on everything so that everyone knows which one to use and they can generate some real-time conversation.

Facebook is also used at conferences but usually it’s people posting photos, letting people know they’re there, or at the end of the day saying things like “Had a great day at JonCon. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s session on excellent enemas!” It’s not nearly as spontaneous and, to use a real world analogy, is the conference yearbook vs. Twitter being the conference newspaper.

What does all that mean? If you’re using social media for business, church, non-profit, school, club or whatever, you need to make sure you utilize the proper social media channel at the right time. If you don’t you’ll be whistling in the wind.

Push Button Publishing

Here's a very cool little piece at Wired showing how Blogger spawned a lot of the current "push button publishing" services we know today:

At the close of 1998, there were 23 known weblogs on the Internet. A year later there were tens of thousands. What changed? Pyra Labs launched Blogger, the online tool that gave push-button publishing to the people. It was a revolutionary web product made by a revolutionary web of people who went on to build much of the modern net. Here’s how Pyra propagated.

The "family tree" you find when you click through to Wired does a great job showing how the people behind blogger went on to create/influence Twitter, Square, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.

The Ultimate Water Cooler

An interesting quote from the editor of Details in an interview about what he reads:

Once I get into the office and turn on my computer, I actually go to Twitter first thing. I'm not terribly prolific, but I like to see what’s trending. If you go to CNN.com, or any news outlet, they’re controlling what you’re seeing. On Twitter, it’s a worldwide list of what’s trending, and that’s interesting. I hunt and peck by subject—I don’t follow that many people—you can do it sort of mindlessly. If I see a name or subject, I'm curious as to why it's trending, and it’s a guessing game I play with myself before I click through to see what it is. It represents the ultimate water cooler: anything from a sports figure to a political figure to a celebrity to a cause to "I’m a Belieber," whatever it is. That's my first conversation of the day, eavesdropping on this great global discussion.

Is 140 Enough?

Twitter, the source of much derision for anyone who doesn't use it, was built at a time when SMS texting was the primary form of non-verbal communication on "mobile devices" so it was designed to work within the 160-character confines of the system. Since then Twitter has grown like kudzu and most people use it with anything but SMS – the Twitter website, web-based tools like Tweetdeck or mobile apps of various persuasions. That development has led to people suggesting that Twitter increase the character limit which has led, in turn, to others defending the 140 character limit. Here's a simple argument in favor of keeping the limit:

And, that's how we have learned to use the service. Or, as GigaOm's Mathew Ingram put it the first time Manjoo made this argument: "The point the Slate writer misses (or hints at, and then discards) is that if it did this, it wouldn’t be Twitter any more."

What truly makes the character limit so crucial to Twitter being Twitter is the brevity it forces on its users. Ask any writer and they'll tell you that brevity is hard – any fool can take two pages to tell you how to install a light bulb, but it takes some work to tell you in one sentence. Is 140 characters really "writing"? Not in the traditional sense, but if you haven't used Twitter you have no way of knowing how creative and witty people can be in so little space and it's truly a wonder to behold when it's done well. (See the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten for a good example, although the fact that he uses a turd as his icon might be a little off-putting to some of you).

The character limit also promotes sharing, because the less space someone has to write the more likely he is to simply provide a link with a quick (hopefully witty) intro. So rather than reading an unnecessarily long missive about a subject you get to read a quick intro and then view the source piece itself. Here's an example from Weingarten:

"Women may not be any smarter than men, but they are definitely less stupid." My new column:http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/maga …

Sure, some folks use Twitter poorly, but some people who own Porsches drive like granny going to church and that's not the car's fault. Hopefully Twitter will stick to its guns and keep the 140 character limit. As the article linked to above points out, Twitter can expand and improve its service (i.e. photo sharing, links to expanded posts, etc.) without altering its fundamental 140-character DNA, and if they're smart that's exactly what they'll do.

FWIW, here's a link to probably the worst Twitter account in existence.

Online Confessional

If you follow any of the media outlets on Facebook or Twitter you've probably noticed how they use social media to find interview subjects for their stories.  One of my kids was interviewed for a story a while back because I saw a local business writer's post on Facebook asking if anyone had teenagers who were having a hard time finding work, and if they'd found a job how they'd done it.  Nothing earth shattering about reporters using social media to find story subjects, but I have to say I was somewhat surprised by this post on AP's Twitter feed:

Have you stolen from a grocery store or other retailer to get something for the holidays? If so, contact@sarahskidmoreap for an interview.

Why would anyone actually reply to this?  Even if you weren't worried that it was a setup wouldn't you be horribly embarassed to admit something like this?  Well, maybe not.  Given some of the things I've seen over these last few years on social media I'm certain there are plenty of people out there who are totally devoid of shame and crave any kind of attention they can get, so this would be right up their alley. 

Sign of the times I guess.

Lost in Translation

One of the things I have set up at work is a system to monitor feeds from various information sources like Google Alerts, RSS Feeds, Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds, etc.  One thing I've noticed is that some of the local media outlets let errors creep into their headlines when they translate them for their social media feeds.  I know they try to get out a lot of info in a short amount of time so I understand typos and bad grammar creeping into the stories themselves, but I don't think it's too much to ask that headlines be done right.   Lest you think I'm referencing one or two isolated incidences let me just stroll through my Twitter feed and give you a sampling from the past week, followed by my initial thoughts upon reading the offending headlines:

@myfox8: High Point Police Officer Seriously Injured After Being Rescued from Wrecked Patrol Car http://t.co/BfEhYWK
"Please God don't let me be rescued by the same people."

@WXII: Homes Evacuated By Gas Leak At Vacant House http://bit.ly/p2qBzY  
"What does a gas leak look like when it goes door-to-door?"

Here's an interesting comparison; look at the previous gas leak story headline and compare it to this one at myfox8:
@myfox8: Hwy. 70 Closed in Whitsett Due to Gas Leak http://dlvr.it/bpXgc 
A little more accurate wouldn't you say? 

@myfox8: Fire Closes Wright Brothers Visitors Center Temporarilyhttp://dlvr.it/bx7SR 
"Did the fire have a key?" 

@myfox8: Overturned Grain Truck Closes I-40 Ramp on US 421http://dlvr.it/bvSyt 
"It's a helluva truck that can pick itself up and direct traffic like that."

To be fair, with the possible exception of the first headline, the questionable construct of the headlines won't cause you to misinterpret what the stories are about.  Also, there are probably 100 stories linked to on Twitter without questionable headlines for each headline that contains the kind of error that would make your average 8th grade English teacher turn red with frustration. And, again, I understand how much info they're processing and getting out to their respective audiences, but I still think there must be a lot of old-school editors out there shaking their heads in wonderment at what has become of their industry. 

So, is it unrealistic to hold media companies to the same editorial standards for their social media as we do for their traditional media?