Twitter May Be Realizing the Full Stream is Overwhelming

There’s a report in Vice’s Motherboard that Twitter is experimenting with arranging your Twitter feed in a non-chronological order that’s curated by an algorithm.  It’s similar to what Facebook does with showing you the posts you’d find most interesting.

Twitter is trying to find a way to make itself more appealing to a mass audience and grow their numbers. Twitter could be realizing the forcing it’s users to consume the full stream is overwhelming.  Twitter may be the world’s microphone but if you follow many accounts that’s a lot to handle. It’s easier to just show consumers the things they’ll find most interesting.

I’m an off and on TweetDeck user for consuming Twitter. But then I realized that the fact that TweetDeck exists and is useful demonstrates Twitter’s problem. The stream is just too much that you have to break it into different columns. This is great for power users but the eyes of normal people glaze over.

Of course, while curated Twitter streams is better UX for consumers, it’s terrible for people and brands that use Twitter as a means to communicate with their audience. With the way it is now, it’s fairly straightforward how Twitter works and what you need to get seen. If Twitter moves towards algorithm-driven curation, we’ll have no clue if or how to actually reach the audience that we’ve built up, just like Facebook. You’ll probably have to pay in order to reach your audience on Twitter, much like Facebook.

I’m super curious how this’ll all shake out.


Twitter Lists Have Become My Favorite Twitter Feature

One of the most underrated features on Twitter has also quickly become one of my favorite. It’s Twitter Lists.

Twitter Lists is a way to stick different Twitter accounts into groups and then see all their posts in a dedicated feed. This is great if you have a group of accounts that all tweet about a similar topic and that you’d wanna see what they’re saying together.

For example, I have a Twitter List for people that tweet about St Louis stuff. This includes news outlets, sports teams, restaurants, neighborhoods, politicians and more. Seeing all their tweets together gives me a picture of what’s happening in the city. It’s given me great ideas for weekend adventures with the family.

Unfortunately, during the simplification of Twitter in order to make it something that can garner more mass appeal, Twitter Lists has become a pretty buried feature. But it’s worth seeking out.  You can find them when you click over to your profile when you’re signed in.

I have other Twitter Lists like…

There’s one called VIP. It’s tweets that I absolutely can’t miss. I wanna read every single one. It’s family, close friends, and co-workers. This lists and its members is obviously private.

There’s my STL Tech list of people in the St Louis tech and startup community.

There’s my Food list. It’s famous chefs and food media sites that I love to follow. Food is one of my passions. 🙂

I need to build out a few more. They’re that useful.

Do you use, follow, or create Twitter Lists?

The New TweetDeck Let’s Me Use Facebook Without Being on Facebook

It’s true.  I’m kind of in love with TweetDeck.  It’s a Twitter client that lets me see everything that’s going on in my world with all of my friends.

Well they just did something which took the usefulness of the product to a whole new level.  They integrated Facebook statuses, to which I can dedicate a whole column of my TweetDeck. It’s pretty AWESOME.

I wish Facebook would let TweetDeck pull down more then just the status updates because then I could really abandon going to but this is good for now.

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WaPo Columnist Dana Milbank Compares Twittering Congressmen to High School Kids

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank published a column this morning slamming congressman for using Twitter and Qik to give color commentary and play by play  last night during President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.

In the column he says…

President Obama spoke of economic calamity and war last night in that solemn rite of democracy, the address to the joint session of Congress. And lawmakers watched him with the dignity Americans have come to expect of their leaders: They whipped out their BlackBerrys and began sending text messages like high school kids bored in math class.

This column seems very telling to the extent which many members of the old guard just don’t get where the world is going.

I don’t want to be communicated to by politics in page long press releases or newspaper op-eds that are full of buzz words and empty rhetoric.  I want to to get the unfettered access.  I want to hear their unfiltered thoughts and I want to be able to hold conversation with them about these thoughts.

Twitter and Qik are great tools for this transparency… for this level of access and conversation.

It is our government.  These politicians represent us and thus should do anything and everything they can to connect and form relationships with us their constituents.

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Don’t Express Every Thought On Twitter…

The Economist has a funny and kind of sad blog post, “How Twitter stopped a coup.” Essentially, the Virginia State Republican Chairman tweeted that a Democrat in the state Senate was about to switch parties potentially giving Republicans control. The tweet got back to the Democrats and gave them the time to browbeat the state senator into staying where he was.

*smacks head*

Moral of the story: Twitter is great for expressing your inner thoughts but there are some thoughts that should just stay in your head.

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Make Real-Life Friends – A Key To Getting More Twitter Followers

One conversation that I’ve been seeing more of is – how do i get more people to follow me on Twitter? Well, Ryan Carson of Carsonified just posted his top 5 tips and especially hit the ball out of the park with one of them, “Make real-life friends.”

I’ve gotten to know a lot of the leading figures in the web industry – people who are really influential on the Twitter space. I didn’t have some sort of Machiavellian plan – these were just the folks who were speaking at FOWA and FOWD. Once I was trusted by people, they were happy to connect me and recommend me.

The important thing is that I wasn’t trying to use people – I have a genuine interest getting to know them and be of help if they need me for anything.

One of the biggest parts of my job is getting out there, extending the size of the company’s community, and making new friends.  Twitter works perfectly as a mechanism for me to stay in touch with those friends… to know what’s going on with my “global neighborhood.”  Often, they want to stay in touch with me too and they’ll follow me.

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How Do You Use Twitter to Provide Customer Support Without Pissing Off Your Friends?

So… this morning I was drinking coffee with my buddy Jackson before a meeting that we were both going to.

He brought up that he loves following me on Twitter and he’s going to continue following me but sometimes it can get slightly “noisy”/annoying when I’m using Twitter as a mechanism for doing customer support for Clearspring and AddThis customers, like the amazing Frank from @ComcastCares.

I completely agree with Jackson’s concern.

I LOVE Twitter because it allows for me to have a certain level of connection with both my friends and my greater communities, as well as the Clearspring and AddThis user communities.  But… by using it to have conversations with such a large base of folks, I run the possibility that I alienate the friends that I started out with on Twitter, when I was just using it to share what kind of beers I was drinking and when I was waiting at an airport terminal. :-p

All of my communities aren’t interested in all sides of me.  Today’s social networks can’t have such a macro way of approaching how I communicate.

Yet… I’d much rather have just a single Twitter account.  Having multiple is  just a lot to manage.

I don’t want to hide under the cloak of a corporate Twitter account.  I agree with Dr. Mark Drapeau. It adds so much to the conversation when all the relevant parties are completely transparent about who they are.  It adds an authenticity.

So what should I do?  Should I create a Twitter account that’s @JustinFromClearspring?  What do you guys do?

Twitter Is Just As Good for One Way Broadcasts as Two Way Conversations

Blogs move over.  Twitter is is the new squeeze of the social media scene and thus is getting more of a spotlight shined upon it by those who’re looking for more effective ways of taking their message to their users.

There are two things companies are doing.  Employees are getting on Twitter as themselves and talking on behalf of their company or companies are making corporate Twitter accounts like Starbucks or the Washington DC Metro (subway) System.

In a recent Mashable article, my friend Dr. Mark Drapeau makes the case that Twitter is for two way conversations.  It’s about individual people talking to individual people.

I agree that this is a major use but I think that Twitter can be used just as effectively for one way broadcasts.  There are plenty of times where I want to keep up with something, in the hyper connected manner that Twitter lends itself too, but don’t want to have a conversation with them.

Look at the success of the Barack Obama campaign on Twitter.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  This wasn’t Barack Obama on Twitter.  Someone in his  campaign hooked their RSS feed of live events to their Twitter account so that their community could know when things are going on.  And guess what?… it worked.  150,000+ folks followed the account and I’m confident it drove significant traffic to their Web site.

If I was a big fan of Dunkin Donuts, I’d absolutely want to follow them on Twitter.  It’s not because I want to have a conversation with them.  It’s because if they’re holding an event or something where I can get a discount, I want to know about it right away.

I guess what I’m saying is… I think the value of Twitter is in its hyper connectedness.  It allows me to have that level of ambient intimacy with whomever I want however I want.  Whether I want to use that for being connected with the coming and goings of people, organizations, trends/memes, or for  having conversations, that’s up to me as the user.