Archive for the ‘twitter’ Category

Can Twitter Cross the Chasm?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Several years ago Geoffrey Moore wrote “Crossing the Chasm”, a fantastic book about why high tech companies need to use different marketing strategies to cross the chasm from the technical literate to the mainstream. In many ways, the same information applies to Twitter.

Since 2007, Twitter has seen a huge surge in the number of people using its service. These numbers were predicted to continue into 2010 but that hasn’t transpired. Instead, Twitter’s growth slowed to a reported 3.5% in October. Not good if you’re Twitter but I think there’s a good reason.

Twitter has enjoyed a lot of success amongst marketing, tech, and media professionals. Even celebrities have jumped on board. This created a huge frenzy but it appears we’ve all been talking inside our own echo chamber – promoting our love of Twitter to people already on Twitter. The mainstream public has failed to jump on board but this doesn’t mean that Twitter is dead in the water. It just means they need to adjust their marketing strategies so they can cross the chasm.

What Can Twitter Do to Cross the Chasm?

  • Make Life Easier for Noobies: When you sign up for an account it is difficult to figure out what to do next. It took me almost a year after I created my Twitter account before I used it. Twitter could help itself out by understanding the interests of new users and suggesting people and lists to follow based on those interests. Get people engaged early and they’ll better understand the hype surrounding Twitter.
  • Why Should I Use Twitter? Perceptions have formed around what Twitter is but until you use it, it’s impossible to understand the benefits. Here’s two examples:
    • Introverts Welcome: There’s a perception that you need to be an extrovert to use Twitter. This is horribly inaccurate. The best part about Twitter is that you can stay on the sidelines. You can follow your favorite author or sports start. You can hear from the people at ground zero of a natural disaster and see what charities are doing to help. Twitter needs to inform people of the benefits of using it’s service even if you don’t post a single Tweet.
    • More than Status Updates: Right now, Twitter is one of the best news sites on the planet. It’s also one of the best ways to find new content to read on topics that interest you. It’s great for getting the inside track on your TV shows, movies, and other entertainment. Unfortunately, a stigma has been attached to Twitter by the mainstream that it’s a bunch of status updates about what someone had for breakfast or when they’re feeding their dog. This couldn’t further from the truth. Again, the benefits need to be more obvious.
  • Better UI: The Twitter UI comes from the early days when we were all supposed to be answering the question “what are you doing”. Twitter is so much more than this and the Twitter UI needs to reflect it.
  • Build Microsites: Why not have a Twitter news site? How about a sports fan site? Twitter should leverage it’s own stream to build sites on topics that interest the mainstream public. The mainstream doesn’t know 1% of the information flowing through Twitter on a daily basis. Show them what they’re missing.
  • Move Beyond Text: People like to share photos and videos. There are Twitter apps for this but the mainstream public doesn’t know. Expand the service to use other media and make it easy to share with people who don’t use Twitter. They’ll see the benefits of the service and sign up for their own account.

There are many ways which Twitter can regain it’s growth but it’s clear that it’s marketing strategies need to change to expand beyond it’s current user base and into the mainstream public. Twitter has time to make this happen but it needs to do so soon while it still has the momentum.

Mining Twitter for Gold

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Finding the 27% of Tweets that Have Value

A recent study by ReadWriteWeb has shown that only 27% of tweets contain information with some value. Many people will point to this and use it to dismiss Twitter as worthwhile platform. However, this number comes from Twitter’s flexibility. Some people use it to keep in touch with friends, others use it break news. Some use Twitter for advertising and others use it for sharing information they find on blogs.

It’s this last group that’s the most interesting. It’s the human web. It’s people finding information and sharing it that adds value where search engines can not.

The problem is finding the tweets that make up this 27% of the stream that holds information of value. Further, 27% doesn’t sound like much until you realize it’s 70+ million tweets per week. The best information on Twitter amounts to a needle in haystack.

This points to the growing need for filters and recommendation engines for the real-time web. Last week I posted on micro filters and I believe this post by ReadWriteWeb further emphasizes this need.

To leverage the value that Twitter and the whole real-time web hold, we need better tools. We need more filters that go beyond the basics; Twitter lists, follower lists, and individual favorites. For example, value can be attributed to the number of people sharing the same content or  the credibility and clout of those sharing it.

If the web is going to evolve beyond search, micro filters will play a huge part in it but filters alone are not the answer.

Recommendation systems are the other piece of the puzzle. They’re needed to understand user behaviors; what people like and don’t like, what they favorite, what they read, and what they share. Recommendation systems leverage this data and combine it with filters to find the best information that people want to read. This helps us to take a full advantage of the real-time web without becoming overwhelmed.

To solve the problem of finding the 27% of Tweets that have some value, filters will be used to narrow the stream of information. Then recommendation systems, which have some insight into our past behavior, will be able to narrow the focus even further by taking the information output by these filters and funnel it to us based on our interests. This means that we’ll all be giving up some privacy on the web but it’s a trade off we’ll need to make to keep up with the barrage of information.

Why Micro Filters are the Future of the Web

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

In 2010, we need to find a better way to filter the web. It’s growing exponentially every day to the point that only the largest server farms can keep up.

Twitter’s API can’t keep up with it’s own traffic. Soon this will change when the firehouse is opened up to everyone but it will just push the problem further downstream. Developers are eager to have access to the firehouse of data but they won’t be able to process it all, nor should they try. And this is only for one piece of the real-time web puzzle. Factor in Facebook, Google Wave, Linked-In’s upcoming API, many more, and it becomes next to impossible for one company to filter and analyze everything.

To resolve this problem, we need micro filters.

What is a Micro Filter?

A micro filter is a filter that has a unique purpose and is reusable and available to anyone.

One example of a micro filter is a Twitter list. These lists are filters that web applications can use to narrow the firehouse and make information gathering manageable. But there’s one problem. Twitter lists don’t filter the information in a meaningful way. You can’t grab every Twitter list on marketing and gather all the marketing tweets. A marketing twitter list can be as diverse as Twitter itself and can overlap with many other lists outside of marketing.

This is why we need multiple micro filters to get the information we want. A series of filters – when put together – would narrow the focus of information to the data you need for your web application or research project. Running your marketing twitter lists through a marketing filter would narrow the focus and give you the marketing information you need.

Creating Micro Filters

Creating micro filters is very complex. I used Twitter lists as an example but this is one of the easier filters to build. The complexity increases when you try to create the “marketing” filter in the example above. How do you know what information in a Tweet is related to marketing?

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Hash Tags: Hash tags are great identifiers but they’re not popular enough to filter on. Too much information would be lost.
  2. Open API’s: Take the links from each Tweet, convert the URL to it’s long format, reference it in Delicious, and look for marketing tags. This works but it has a couple of downsides. First, it requires a lot of processing time. Second, the link may not be tagged in Delicious yet.

There isn’t a perfect solution but it’s clear that a combination of tactics are needed to build this “marketing” filter – tactics that go well beyond individuals categorizing other individuals in a social networking platform such as Twitter lists.

Further, several micro filters could be  put together to keep narrowing the focus. You could add a third filter to the example above that shows all marketing information shared within 5 miles of you. This location filter would be the third micro filter and it could be used an many different situations.

In 2010, I expect to see more filters become available to help people focus on the topics that interest them most. Looking at Twitter, it’s clear that filtering is going to become the next big development as people gather more followers, share more information, and expand their presence across more social media platforms.

Currently, Twitter is an unreliable platform for contacting people as the API can’t handle the streams of information going to its most popular residents. Further, at close to 300 million Tweets per week, there’s a lot of great information getting lost in the noise and this isn’t just an issue on Twitter. It’s happening everywhere which is why micro filters are the future of the web.

Automatically Receive Recommended Content from Twitter

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

One of the problems I have with Twitter is staying up-to-date on the latest information being shared. You can’t stay connected 24 hours a day but you don’t want to miss anything either. This is what got me started on the ReStream project.

ReStream is all about finding the best information on Twitter without having to constantly stay connected.

But there is one problem.

I want to be notified when exceptionally great content that highly matches my interests is flying around on Twitter. I’m not always connected to ReStream either which is why I’ve added discovery alerts that send tweets to inform you of this great content.

ReStream Discovery Alerts

Tweets are sent from @restream once an hour – no more than 2 tweets – to inform you of the great content that you may have missed. If you’ve added tags to your profile, then there is no need to set anything up. These updates will come to you automatically.

If you don’t want to receive these updates, I’ll be adding a opt-out check box to the profile page where you can turn it off.

Feedback

Please add your comments below. I’m interested to hear about what you think of this new feature.

Twitter Bookmarklets: Send and Favorite Tweets

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I’ve created two new bookmarklets to help you send and favorite pages to Twitter without ever leaving the page you’re on. I built them because they fit how I like to use Twitter and I’d like to share them with you as you may have similar tastes.

There are two things that have always frustrated me when publishing to Twitter.

  1. If a page doesn’t have a share or Tweet button on it, there’s a series of steps you need to take to share the page on Twitter. Although it isn’t very time consuming, it’s more work than it should be.
  2. I like to favorite a lot of pages so I can reference or share them in the future. Favoriting a page on Twitter is difficult if you didn’t find it from another Tweet. delicious is great for this (and I do use it http://delicious.com/cwills) but I like to have my favorites available in Twitter so they’re easier to share. I also don’t like having them spread out all over place (Twitter, delicious, Google Reader, etc.). Storing all of my favorites in Twitter helps me narrow this down to 2 places.

To use these two bookmarklets all you have to do is the following:

  • Firefox: Go to View -> Toolbars -> Bookmarks Toolbar. Drag the link to the toolbar.
  • Internet Explore: Right click on the link and save it as a favorite
  • Safari: View -> Show bookmarks bar. Drag the link to the toolbar

That’s it. Just click on the favorite or bookmark in your browser to use them.

There are 2 different bookmarklets. One for favoriting a page to Twitter and one for posting a tweet. When you favorite a page using Fav-to-Twitter, a tweet is sent from your account and that tweet is also favorited in Twitter.

Please add your comments below with your feedback. Additional features will be coming soon.

ReStream: Redesigned and Refined for a Better Twitter Experience

Friday, December 11th, 2009

ReStream has undergone several new changes this week starting with a completely new design. When ReStream launched a few weeks ago, the focus was on building a solid foundation. Unfortunately, this meant the design was neglected. Over the past 2 weeks we’ve focused our attention on the design and usability of the site. It is much easier to navigate, filter lists, view your stream, and share information. But we didn’t stop there.

New Features

  • Tag Integration: You can filter on individual tags to see what the most popular links are over the past 4, 8, 16, and 24 hours. A simple tag search has also been added.
  • Find People to Follow: Twitter is only as good as people who use it. That’s why we’re taking every opportunity that we can to show off the top publishers for each topic, list, and tag. Tag pages also recommend people to follow so you can stay informed on a particular tag.
  • More Lists: We’ve added several more lists along with a new “developer” topic.

Better Performance

Several performance enhancements have been made to the site to provide faster page loads. If you’ve used ReStream in the past you should notice a significant difference after this update.

If you like the new feature, have suggestions for change, or having trouble please let us know. As always you’re welcome to add your comments below.

ReStream Update: Favoriting Twitter Users, Detailed Recommendations, & More Control

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Today we pushed out another update for ReStream and this one is significant. Not only does it take our recommendation system to another level but it also provides more detailed information on the content that we recommend. Here’s a list of the new features before I get into the details.

  • Recommendation System Phase 2: You can now favorite your Twitter friends and the people you follow using ReStream. If there are people using Twitter that you like and respect, favorite them, and the content we recommend to you will be influenced by these favorites.
  • Detailed Recommended Reading: Each link that we recommend to you now shows the comments made about them in Twitter.
  • More Control: ReTweet and Favorite Twitter comments from the Recommended Reading column.

Favorite Twitter Users

Our goal is to build a recommendation system that truely understands your interests. ReStream helps  you retrieve the lost diamonds from the real-time river and knowing what people you enjoy listening to, following, and learning from will significantly impact the content that we recommend to you.

When we began designing the new favorites system, we wanted to do it in a way that was open and reusable for you. I love to use many different Twitter clients but it frustrates me to no end when I need to setup the same things in each system. With our new favorites system, we’ve made it open by adding all of your favorites to a private Twitter list in your Twitter account called ReStreamFavs. When you favorite someone in ReStream, they are also added to this list so you can follow and reuse the list in other applications.

One benefit of tracking your ReStream favorites in a Twitter list is that you can add and remove people from this list from any application. When you go back into ReStream, simply go to your profile page and sync your ReStreamFavs list and our database will be updated with the changes and our recommendation system will automatically leverage your updated list.

The Phase 2 update is a huge step for ReStream but we’ve got a long way to go. It will only be through your support and feedback that we can continue to make this application better. Please provide your comments below and let us know how we can help you to further explore the real-time web.

Twitter Filtering App, ReStream, Updated With New Recommendation System

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

ReStream has received several updates since it became available in the Marketing for Mavens Lab a few weeks ago. Today’s update is the biggest since that launch. A new recommendation system based on Web Maven has been added. To take advantage of this new feature, go to your profile page and add the keywords (tags) that interest you. Based on these tags we’ll recommend content to you on the  “your stream” page.

The new recommendation system is in beta and we have several new features that will be integrated over the next few weeks to provide better recommendations and more content of interest. I am very excited by these new features and can’t wait to show them off.

There are also a couple of other features that are part of this update.

  • Two more news topics were to the home page for Marketing and Sports.
  • A larger number of lists have been integrated into our content results
  • Several bug fixes where made to improve retweets, page load times, and backend performance.

ReStream Receives Twitter List Integration

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Today, ReStream was updated to include Twitter list integration. The first phase of this integration displays Technology News from 4 of the most popular Twitter Tech lists. This will soon expand to other topics. Each list shows the most popular shared links from the previous 4, 8, 16, and 24 hours. We’ve also combined all of links into one grouping to give you an overview of what’s popular across all of the lists.

ReStream is currently in open beta.

Please comment below on what you think of these new features.

New Features:

  • New Home Page displays Tech News – The is the first integration of lists. More coming soon.
    • Display news for past 4, 8, 16, and 24 hours
    • Shows most popular links across all Tech lists
  • The “Your Stream” pages show the most popular links.

ReStream: Update Tonight

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Tonight, ReStream will be updated.  The database and some back-end code will be changed to lay the ground work for future enhancements.

I’m currently working on a few changes that will incorporate Twitter lists into ReStream. I expect that these new features will be available in the coming weeks. Twitter lists have the potential to dramatically impact how we all use Twitter. Adding them into ReStream will help you to find the URL’s that are trending beyond your friends and into different niches across Twitter.