Twitter Guide for Marketers

A nice presentation from Mojave Interactive for Marketers looking to use Twitter.

Hat tip to @Twitter_Tips

Save and Archive Your Tweets!

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If you have used Twitter search before, you may notice that you can only go back a certain amount of time and/or number of tweets for a given search. In fact, if you read the Twitter search documentation, you’ll note that the folks from Twitter say, "We also restrict the size of the search index by placing a date limit on the updates we allow you to search. This limit is currently around a month but is dynamic and subject to shrink as the number of tweets per day continues to grow."

Thus was born The Archivist, a Windows application that runs on your local system and allows you to archive tweets for later data-mining and analysis for a given search. The Archivist allows you to start a search and will get as many results as it can on the initial search.  If you leave The Archivist open, it will update with the latest results every 10 minutes.  You can also close The Archivist and open it later. The Archivist will save the tweets and get all the tweets it can since that search.

The Archivist will display a chart that shows the number of tweets per day for a given search, so that you can quickly assess traffic for a given search. For more comprehensive data analysis, The Archivist lets you export Tweets to Excel. It also natively saves tweets in an XML format, which could also be parsed  for deeper data analysis.

Install The Archivist today!

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Visible Tweets

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H/T to Steve

Hot on the heels of sites such as Twistori and Twitterfall comes Visible Tweets.

Enter in a search term and watch the results display as an animated display on your screen. Very cool.

Top 100 Twitter Tools

Picture Credit Twitip

I have been working on a Top 100 Twitter Tools list for some time. However, I found this great list from Online Best Colleges. The list should serve as a great resource for Twitter users looking to extend this experience.

Twitter Analysis

If your goal is to be popular and influential on Twitter, be sure to check out these tools that will tell you how you’re doing.

  1. Twitter Grader: Learn your Twitter grade, your local Twitter Elite, and find new people to follow through Twitter Grader.
  2. Twitterholic: Check out the top Twitter users and find out your Twitter stats on Twitterholic.
  3. TweetStats: TweetStats offers a graphical analysis of your Twitter stats.
  4. Twitter Friends: Carefully measure your Twitter conversations using Twitter Friends.
  5. Twinfluence: Twinfluence will measure your Twitter influence based on reach, velocity, and social capital.
  6. Tweetwasters: Find out how much time you and other users waste on Twitter.
  7. Tweet-Rank: Learn about the quality of your tweets by finding out which ones won or lost followers.
  8. Mr. Milestone: Get a tweet when you reach various milestones using this Twitter tool.
  9. Retweetrank: Find out how many retweets you and other Twitter users have through this service.

Information Gathering

With these tools, you and gather information for market research, blog posts, and your own simple curiosity.

  1. Tweetbeep: With Tweetbeep, you can set up alerts that will help you keep track of keywords on Twitter.
  2. @myflightinfo: Use @myflightinfo to stay updated on your flight’s status.
  3. Twitterverse: Check out archived timelines and tweets through Twitterverse.
  4. Twitscoop: Twitscoop shares what’s hot on Twitter at any given moment.
  5. Twitbuzz: Twitbuzz tracks the latest conversations as well as popular Twitter links.
  6. StrawPoll: Use StrawPoll to make sharing your opinion as easy as sending an @reply.
  7. Retweetist: This service ranks the hottest links being retweeted on Twitter.
  8. Monitter: Get real time keyword monitoring on Twitter from Monitter.
  9. TweetNews: TweetNews ranks stories based on the amount of related tweets.
  10. TwitterBuzz: TwitterBuzz will tell you what’s being linked to the most on Twitter.
  11. Tweetscan: Set up Tweetscan to make sure you don’t miss any @replies, and to get alerted of your search queries.

Network Building & Management

Find more relevant Twitter users with the help of these tools.

  1. Twitter Local: With this service, you can see tweets from Twitter users in a specific location.
  2. Twubble: Twubble will expand your Twitter bubble, picking out people you may like to follow.
  3. MyCleenr: Sort your friends by their last tweets, and you can get rid of the inactive and useless accounts you’re following.
  4. Follow Cost: This tool will tell you how much effort it takes to follow someone.
  5. Tweepler: Use Tweepler to organize your tweeps based on whether you’re following them or not.
  6. Just Tweet It: Find Tweeple, tools, Twitter bots and more through this directory.
  7. TweetWheel: TweetWheel will help you discover which of your Twitter friends know each other.
  8. SocialToo: SocialToo will help you keep track of all of the people who have followed or unfollowed you.
  9. Twitoria: Reduce your clutter on Twitter by finding your friends that haven’t tweeted in a long time.
  10. TwitDir: With TwitDir, you’ll be able to search for people, and exploring categories including top followers and updaters.
  11. Who Should I Follow?: Using this site, you can get good recommendations for Tweeps to follow.
  12. Nearbytweets: Learn about all of the Twitter users in a specific area with the help of Nearbytweets.
  13. Twellow: Find Twitter users in a specific industry using this service.
  14. Mr. Tweet: Mr. Tweet is a personal networking assistant for Twitter, helping you find relevant followers.
  15. Qwitter: Qwitter will help you manage your network by sending an alert when a person unfollows you.

Twitter Management

Save your time and cull your Twitter list with the help of these tools.

  1. Twitter Search: Retrieve information on Twitter quickly to search Twitter in real time.
  2. Tweet O’Clock: Trying to reach someone? Tweet O’Clock will help you find the best time to get their attention.
  3. Just Signal: Set up a filter using Just Signal to get only the tweets that discuss the keywords you’d like to read about.
  4. TweepSearch: Put your Twitter network to good use and search your followers for specific parameters.
  5. Friend or Follow: Manage your Twitter contacts and find out who’s not following you back through Friend or Follow.
  6. TwitResponse: TwitResponse makes it easy for you to schedule the delivery of your tweets ahead of time.
  7. TwitterSnooze: Put the pause button on a particular user for a while with Twitter Snooze.
  8. Twitterless: Get notified when someone stops following you with Twitterless.
  9. Twilert: Track specific keywords to receive alerts for using Twilert.
  10. Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck has a groups function that will help you more efficiently follow the people you really want to listen to.
  11. Twalala: Put the mute button on certain people and topics for a while if you are receiving lots of updates you’re not really interested in.

Sharing Tools

Promote your business, share photos, and more using these Twitter tools.

  1. Tweetburner: Use Tweetburner to share links, and you can track their usage.
  2. Twitpic: Twitpic makes it easy to take mobile phone photos and share them using your Twitter account.
  3. TwitterHawk: Get targeted marketing on Twitter through TwitterHawk.
  4. Acamin: Acamin makes it easy to share files on Twitter with your followers.
  5. Glue: Post links to books, movies, restaurants and more on Twitter through Glue.
  6. Ping.fm: This service will update all of your social networks at once.
  7. TweeTube: TweeTube makes it easy to share videos on Twitter.
  8. twiggit: Use this automated service to share the articles you digg on Twitter.
  9. Twisten.fm: Share what you’re listening to on Twitter through Twisten.fm.

Organisation & Productivity

These Twitter tools will make your life a bit more streamlined.

  1. Twittercal: Link your Twitter account and Google Calendar to easily keep up with your events and appointments.
  2. Timer: Use Timer to get reminders about tasks through your Twitter account.
  3. TwitterNotes: Organize your notes using Twitter with TwitterNotes.
  4. Remember the Milk: Use Remember the Milk on Twitter to update your to do list.
  5. Tweetake: Tweetake will back up your Twitter timeline for archiving and more.
  6. Nozbe: Nozbe makes it easy to add and update your to do list on Twitter.
  7. Toodledo: This popular to do list app integrates nicely with Twitter.
  8. TrackThis: Send TrackThis your tracking number, and you’ll get Twitter messages every time there’s a change in location.
  9. Joint Contact: Get project management productivity on Twitter using Joint Contact.
  10. Tempo: This time tracking tool allows you to send in updates from Twitter.
  11. Tweet Later: Tweet Later offers a great way to set up alerts, schedule tweets, send thank you DMs, and more.
  12. OutTwit: OutTwit will make it easy for you to use Twitter inside of Outlook.
  13. Jott: Jott makes it easy for you to tweet without ever having to type, transcribing your voice message to Twitter.

Life Tools

With these tools, you can work on relationships, life tracking, and more.

  1. MyMileMarker: Keep track of your mileage with info sent via Twitter every time you fill up.
  2. 21Tweets: 21Tweets offers personal coaching on Twitter.
  3. TwtTRIP: Organize your travel plans and find other Twitter travelers on your way with TwtTRIP.
  4. Tweet Answers: Twitter Answers makes it easy to ask questions and get answers on Twitter.
  5. Twtvite: Twtvite is a simple event organizer that will help you create a tweetup.
  6. Vacatweet: Set up an autoresponder for your Twitter account with Vacatweet.
  7. plusplusbot: Share when someone goes out of their way to help you, or otherwise make your feelings known using plusplusbot.
  8. TrackDailyGoals: Use this site and the #dailygoals hashtag to keep track of your goals every day.
  9. ConnectTweet: Put the voices of your group or business together through ConnectTweet.
  10. Tweeteorology: Find tweets about the weather in any location through Tweeteorology.
  11. DreamTweet: Keep a reminder of your dreams and nightmares, and follow the dreams of others through DreamTweet.

Business & Finance

Use these tools to improve your business and finances through Twitter.

  1. Chipin: If you’re raising funds on Twitter, make use of Chipin to set a goal and let your supporters track the progress of the campaign.
  2. Xpenser: You can Twitter your expenses to Xpenser and they will be recorded for you.
  3. Twittertise: Schedule your tweets and track their clickthroughs with this app designed for Twitter advertising.
  4. TwtQpon: Create simple Twitter coupons for your business with TwtQpon.
  5. CheapTweet: Get all of the deals, sales, coupons and more being discussed on Twitter through CheapTweet.
  6. Tipjoy: Like Chipin, Tipjoy offers a way to create social payments for your cause, content, or people.
  7. SalesTwit: Get contact management for Twitter with the help of SalesTwit.
  8. Tweet What You Spend: Track your cash in a really effective way using Tweet What You Spend.
  9. StockTwits: StockTwits shares the investment discussions on Twitter in real time.

Health

Track your health using these Twitter tools.

  1. Qwitter: Update Qwitter to shame yourself into quitting smoking.
  2. TweetPlot: Use TweetPlot to chart your food and fitness statistics.
  3. Tweetwhatyoueat: Keep a food diary to track what you’re eating every day using Tweetwhatyoueat.
  4. gtFtr: Use the gtFtr tool to record your exercise activity on Twittr.
  5. SugarStats: Track, monitor, and share your blood sugar through Twitter with SugarStats.
  6. FoodFeed: This Twitter-based food log makes it easy for you to track what you’re eating.

Blogging

Bring your blog life and Twitter life together with these tools.

  1. Add to Any: Get your posts shared on Twitter by using Add to Any on your WordPress blog.
  2. TwitThis: Make use of this plugin to send Twitter messages about your blog post.
  3. MyTwitter: Use the MyTwitter plugin to display your Twitter status on WordPress.
  4. Twitpress: Twitpress will send out a Tweet every time you post a new blog entry.
  5. TwitterCounter: With this plugin, you can display the number of followers you have on Twitter.
  6. TwitterFeed: Announce your blog post on Twitter with a customized message using TwitterFeed.
    Wait, There’s more!

10 Twitter Tools that Help You Work Smarter

10 MORE Must Have Twitter Tools

Via the fantastic Twitip Blog

Twitter Wall!

Wow. I found this neat little tool to create an online mosaic wall of all the people who are following you on Twitter. Hello everybody!!

Go create your own Twitter wall!

Presidential Inauguration and Twistori

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The team at Twistori have launched a great site showing the flow of the words relating to today’s inauguration. Take a look at the site, http://obama.twistori.com for further details.

Twistori is a great visual tool, where you can tweets flow on your screen that are related to a selection of keywords. I love Twistori and wish the team would open up the platform to allow any user to add their own search criteria. By far one of the best web flow applications around!

The Network of Hope

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With just under 24 hours to go till the American Presidential Campaign, I thought it apt to review how Barack Obama’s campaign has been using social media technologies to raise funds and to engage with younger voters.

Obama has taken grassroots campaigning into the digital age by embracing Web 2.0 and using it as a central platform of his presidential campaign. From YouTube to social networking, Obama has navigated Web 2.0 and turned it into a major force within his campaign.

Obama and Social Media

The first rule of social media marketing is to put yourself “out there”. This can be achieved by becoming an active blogger, establishing a presence on the major social networks, and embracing new forms of communication. Obama has done just that. From social networking to his blog to his Fight the Smears campaign, Obama has made his Web 2.0 presence known. Obama is using a number of tools including Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter

At the time of writing, Jeremiah Owyang compares Obama’s social media presence with that of John McCain. The statistics make interesting reading.

Facebook
Obama: 2,379,102 supporters
McCain: 620,359 supporters

Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain


MySpace
Obama: Friends: 833,161
McCain: Friends: 217,811

Obama has 380% more supporters than McCain


YouTube
Obama: 1792 videos uploaded since Nov 2006, Subscribers: 114,559 (uploads about 4 a day), Channel Views: 18,413,110
McCain: 329 videos uploaded since Feb 2007 (uploads about 2 a day), Subscribers: 28,419, Channel Views: 2,032,993

Obama has 403% more subscribers than McCain
Obama has 905% more viewers than McCain


Twitter
Obama: @barackobama has 112,474 followers
McCain: @JohnMcCain (is it real?) 4,603 followers

Obama has 240 times more followers in Twitter than McCain

This personal activity in social networks allows Obama to quickly get the word out across multiple platforms.

It’s clear that Obama is dominating the social media activity, this could because of two reasons: 1) Obama campaign moved quicker to social networking and social media, McCain only recently launched his own social network with KickApps. 2) The Social Technographics (behaviours to adopt social media) skew heavier towards demographics, yet these percentages are far greater than the margins shown in technographics.

Obama and YouTube

Barack Obama has done an amazing job of making sure his speeches sound as good on YouTube as they do on the evening news. Obama’s campaign has also gambled on YouTube’s audience by creating a strong presence on the website. Historically, younger voters have been high on enthusiasm but low on voter turnout. But Obama has been able to utilise the power of social media to challenge that trend.

The popularity of YouTube gives a global audience access to the entire speech, not just a brief segment chosen by the news editors. This allows the full power of the entire speech to resonate with the audience.

Obama and Social Networking

Obama’s social networking success can be attributed to Chris Hughes. Hughes, was one of the founders of Facebook and with Mark Zuckerberg. Hughes has the knowledge and the experience of building social networks and may prove to be a major factor in Obama’s Presidential success.

Obama is not the first to politician to use social networking. Presidential contender, Howard Dean used Meetup.com to become a serious contender for his party’s nomination in 2004. However, Obama also decided to build his own social network. which was simple to use, rally supporters and proved vital in fundraising. The jewel in the crown is My.BarackObama.Com

As a fully fledged social network, My.BarackObama allows users to create their own profiles, friend lists and the ability to write their own personal blog. They can also join groups, participate in fund raising, and arrange events all from an interface that is both easy to use and familiar to any Facebook or MySpace user.

FightTheSmears.com is Obama’s initiative to address the many rumours that circulate the internet about him.

Here’s an example:

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If Obama continued to let these rumours spread and grow, they would become facts in the eyes of the voting public. By hosting the conversation, the campaign can respond to rumours on individual blogs and forums.

 Obama and the iPhone

 

Obama’s campaign also released a free application for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch. The application allows the user to organise contacts by key battleground states, and measures statistics to see how the user is doing compared to other leading callers.

The application provides information about the campaign via text messages and e-mail, offers coverage of national and local campaign news. The application also helps the user to find local events, share information by e-mail, view campaign videos and pictures.

obamaiphone02

Win or lose, there is absolutely no doubt that Barack Obama has changed the face of politics in America today. Now it’s up to the voters to decide if he will win the election.

Obama on the Web

[BONUS]

12 Viral Videos from the 2008 Campaign

 

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Big Business jumping on the Twitter bandwagon?

 

If 2007 was the year of Facebook and Social Networking. Then 2008 is shaping up to be the year of what has been dubbed "microblogging". BusinessWeek have just published a special report, entitled the CEO Guide to  Microblogging which makes interesting reading,

This special report includes several features on how microblogging tools such as Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku are being used.  The article looks at how well known American companies such as, JetBlue, Dell, and GM are taking advantage of the power of these new breed of  "social connection" tools.  Whether a company is listening for customer feedback, answering questions, or otherwise helping the customer meet their needs. Big companies are finding the customer at the point of need.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the BusinessWeek Special Report:

  • How Companies Use Twitter to Bolster Their Brands provides a few examples of how companies are reacting and engaging with consumers. JetBlue reacted with stunning speed to a Tweet about one of their terminals. GM corporate communications helped a customer in need when buying a Saturn car. Southwest Airlines empathised with a customer who lost his luggage.
  • CEOs’ Take on Twitter – Twitteriing CEO profiles: how 18 leaders and entrepreneurs are using Twitter for work and play.
  • Engaging with customers with the use of  Twitter – a look at how companies are conversing and sharing directly with their customers. The customer has the microphone and is in the driver’s seat – companies are getting onboard for the ride… and the conversation.

Web 2.0 technologies coupled with a focus on listening, are helping businesses to reach out to a previously underserved segment of its potential customer base. The report also provides general tips and examples that will be familiar for those who have already adopted 140 character exchanges of links, information, and socialisation into their daily routines. What’s significant is that businesses not already visiting these online gathering areas will find it increasingly harder to ignore the unfolding opportunities.

50 Business Uses For Twitter

An excellent post by Chris Brogan. I was already compiling a list myself.  However, Chris presents a compelling list.

First Steps
  1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture. ( Shel reminds us of this.) We want to see you.
  3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  5. Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)
  7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)
  9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELL, LionelAtDELL, etc.
  10. Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.
Ideas About WHAT to Tweet
  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much.
  10. Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.
Some Sanity For You
  1. You don’t have to read every tweet.
  2. You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  3. Use direct messages for 1-to-1 conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation ( got this from @pistachio).
  4. Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.
  5. 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.
  6. If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.
  7. If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.
  8. Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  9. If someone says you’re using twitter wrong, forget it. It’s an opt out society. They can unfollow if they don’t like how you use it.
  10. Commenting on others’ tweets, and retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.
The Negatives People Will Throw At You
  1. Twitter takes up time.
  2. Twitter takes you away from other productive work.
  3. Without a strategy, it’s just typing.
  4. There are other ways to do this.
  5. As Frank hears often, Twitter doesn’t replace customer service (Frank is @comcastcares and is a superhero for what he’s started.)
  6. Twitter is buggy and not enterprise-ready.
  7. Twitter is just for technonerds.
  8. Twitter’s only a few million people. (only)
  9. Twitter doesn’t replace direct email marketing.
  10. Twitter opens the company up to more criticism and griping.
Some Positives to Throw Back
  1. Twitter helps one organize great, instant meetups (tweetups).
  2. Twitter works swell as an opinion poll.
  3. Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.
  4. Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”
  5. Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).
  6. Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?
  7. Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).
  8. Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.
  9. Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online (mine are).
  10. Twitter can augment customer service. (but see above)

What else would you add? How are you using Twitter for your business?

By the way, Jeremiah Owyang has a great post on this, too.

[UPDATE]  Jake has just sent me his three Twitter business uses too (Via Twitter of course!)

Why Twitter Hasn’t Failed: The Power Of Audience

Picture Credit

A great post on Twitter via TechCrunch

Twitter isn’t for everyone, and you may have dismissed the service a long time ago. But regardless of your own use, it’s hard to dismiss the phenomenon itself and the passion of so many that has built up around it.

No matter how long the outage du jour, Twitter users continue to stay attached to the service despite an ever-changing backdrop of alternatives. Blogging isn’t for everyone either. But unlike blogging, Twitter enjoys a far a greater variety of users — they include people, many people, who would never think of starting a blog and people who would never touch an RSS reader. The 140 character limit is a plus for Twitter, but it isn’t all.

What explains the Twitter phenomenon then?

That produces the positive feeling and the strong attachment among those who tweet? And moreover: How can other systems learn from this?

The answer lies in understanding Audience.

Twitter has a simple premise: You tweet & the message is pushed to your friends. The actual mechanics are slightly different (messages go to everyone who follows you, whether they’re your “friends” or not, assuming your stream is public) — but from a user’s perspective, the circle of receivers consists only of the people they know. Everyone else is part of a faceless crowd that’s hidden behind the follower count.
This simple premise holds the key to Twitter’s success: messages go to a well-defined audience. In the moment you release a tweet, you know who’s on the line and you have an idea of who can catch a glimpse of your message. @replies are the best illustration for this sense of audience: Even though Twitter is not a point-to-point message delivery system (let alone a reliable one), @replies are sent with the understanding that they will be read by the intended people because they are known to be in the audience. (Imagine a newspaper article that suddenly greeted a specific reader.)

Blogging on the other hand has no such clearly defined audience. An aspiring blogger who hasn’t crossed the chasm speaks into the void. Direct feedback can only come in the form of written comments (a relatively high barrier of effort) and it’s diminished by spam and vocal trolls these days.

FeedBurner’s subscriber count only provides the equivalent of Twitter’s opaque follower count and MyBlogLog didn’t solve this problem either.

So it’s not surprising that the majority of blogs are abandoned — the most-cited reason being “No one was reading it.” No one might be following your Twitter stream either, but Twitter is designed for network effects to take hold and given the natural reciprocity among groups of friends, it’s likely that most people have at least a handful of followers they know.

Back to Twitter: Why Audience works

Twitter works and enjoys such strong attachment because it provides real-time access to a well-defined audience. The backlog of all previous tweets is a guarantee of permanence (you can even search it) and you can catch up on it anytime. As a result, people use Twitter because they have an idea of who will see their lightweight messages and this sense of audience is reinforced by @replies, re-tweets and references in future conversations (online and offline).

Designing for the sense of Audience is a powerful tool to create cohesion and a sense of utility among users of a service. This lesson from Twitter can apply to many other services too. But before leaving the current discussion, it’s helpful to look at a service that has missed the full power of Audience so far.

Facebook: Designed for Audience? Not so much.
Facebook isn’t about Audience? That’s ridiculous, you’ll say — so let me clarify. I fully agree that social network profiles are all about self-expression and being seen, but a platform for self-expression isn’t necessarily designed for the audience that does “the seeing.”
Profile Pages on Facebook can have audiences of course, but this requires that users continually roam Facebook to look for news in their network. Facebook realized this limitation and introduced the News Feed. Its intent was to move a user’s “acts and performances” from the stage of the profile page to a single and central stage, a single place for Audience.

Sharing with the News Feed: Did it ever reach my friends?
Facebook was the first major social network to introduce the News Feed concept, which has since become a standard sauce for stickiness in many places (although not StudiVZ surprisingly). But Facebook’s implementation of the News Feed doesn’t capture the full power of designing for Audience: While Twitter distributes every message consistently, Facebook decides algorithmically which update is shown to whom. Algorithmic filtering is nice in theory, but such black-box behavior is simply unpredictable for the user.
“When I post new things, will my friends actually see them?”, one might wonder. And conversely: “Have my friends posted something that I’m not seeing? The news feed is cluttered right now with people I don’t care about.” Anything that’s unpredictable produces a feeling of uncertainty — and that’s never a comfortable feeling.

Even with Facebook’s recent attempts to introduce smarter filters, users only have relative means to customize their feed (more of this, less of that). Furthermore, there is mostly just one kind of feedback that users can give on the News Feed: comments. Imagine a concert, in which you could only leave written notes as you left — no clapping, no booing.

Because users don’t really know who’s listening on Facebook and who isn’t, the platform hasn’t been embraced as a place to publish proactively. Publishing events or photos is mostly push-driven (and generates an email — “you are invited to an event” or “tagged in a photo”). But for everything else you share, do you know if it ever reached your friends?

Who capitalized on this gap? FriendFeed.
It’s the same setup as Twitter, but with more content: You know who’s listening and you choose the people you listen to. A useful premise but it also has a catch: the word “more”. Too much content, too many people — which is exactly the problem that Facebook is trying to address with its algorithmic feed. But what’s a solution then? It’s not the “middle ground” and it has nothing to do with smarter filters.

The answer is feedback loops. But that opens up another discussion. If you’d like to read more, I have a separate post on my website, in which I elaborate on how to design for Audience.

One point I would add, is the eco system of applications and services that have built around Twitter. Using a client such as Twhirl, greatly improves the Twitter experience and is highly advised when using the Twitter service.

Gregor Hochmuth is the founder of zoo-m.com Interactive, where he created Mento, LaterLoop and other services. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he worked as an analyst for Hasso Plattner Ventures and has written about German startups on TechCrunch.