6 ways how I measure if my tweets are good enough

It is very uncommon for me presenting daily to a room full of 1000 people. On the other hand, it really has become daily business for me with Twitter, since I have more thousand followers. And with so many people who are willing to invest a possible amount of time in your tweets, you’d better make sure your tweets are of a proper quality. Here are my six ways I use to check if my tweets are good enough.

1. Asking my followers what they think

The easiest way that I check if my tweets add any value to my audience is by asking them individually. Every now and than I receive a @reply or a DM from somebody who asking something about a specific subject or who wants to thank me. This is the best opportunity for me to ask them what they think of my tweets and if they miss certain pieces of content.

2. Favstar

A tool I use daily is Favstar. Favstar provides an overview of which of my tweets are favorited and who favorited them. I try to get one tweet favorited every day.  For me it is indication that somebody liked the particular tweet in a way he or she thought it was worth the extra action to favorite it.

3. Friend or follow

If people who I follow back, decide to unfollow me after a while, I always wonder why they decided to unfollow me. Of course it depends on who it is, however if it is somebody who I also know via another medium and who I speak with regular I sometimes drop the question why they unfollowed me.

4. Number of mentions

Besides getting favorited, I like the interaction with people who follow me and with the people I follow. I do not have a fixed numbers of mentions I would like to get on a day. However without any interaction I have the feeling that I am not adding value. I have the same thing with presentations: if there is no interaction, it is not good enough.

5. Number of followers

The number of followers does not really matter to me. However as long as it is growing in a steady pace, I am quite satisfied with it. Twitter isn’t a competitive sport on who can get the most followers, although it is nice to discover new and interesting people when they start following me.

6. Numbers of clicks on my links

For most of my links I use bit.ly and with that service I am able to track the number of clicks on my links. If certain topics don’t get so many clicks I sometimes stop tweeting about them, since my followers seem to have no interest in them.

i (Apple’s new social network)

Apple is moving slowly towards embracing the social media market. They introduced Genius a long time, which enables to give you advice what music might be interested for you in relation to the music you already listened. With the upgrade van de iPhone OS they introduced Genius for apps, which gives you advice on what apps you might want to use based on the already installed apps on your iPhone.

Genius

It is hardly unthinkable that Apple wouldn’t take Genius to some other levels, besides music and apps there is many more things for which they could do recommendations. They will probably take it to the level of people, not only will Apple suggest with which people you should connect, they might also use your current network to improve their recommendations even more: “ten of your friends use app Y, you might want to use it too”, or “five of your friends spend $30 dollars on Snow Leopard and think it is worth their money, do you want to buy Snow Leopard right now?” What should the name be of the social network of Apple? Pretty simple just “i”, we got the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iMac, iPhoto and many more, but a social network is always centered around “I”, so just “i” would be very stylish and sufficient.

Apple has a unique link with both the offline and the online world. Offline with its hardware and online with iTunes, which will become the center of their social network. Based on input from both offline and online Apple is one of the few players in the market that can create recommendations based on experiences instead of on data input. Also Apple is very successfull in rolling out products and services people want to pay for either it is based on atoms (their hardware line) or bits (mobile.me) they have a loyal user (or should I say: fan) base of people who are very willing to give Apple money in exchange for hardware and services.

You won’t need that friend

Of course that is great, that Apple will help you in making decisions, even when it comes to a simple friendship. However there could be a downside, Apple is not the most transparent company in the world and Apple is very well known about their mentality of “we know what is best for you” (for example: no cut and paste on the iPhone and for the app store there a dozens of app that were not approved because of vague reasons). Apple could be the first social network that defriends people in your network automatically since Apple knows that you are no longer a match based on your hardware, music or applications. You would only mind for a second or two, then you realize that Apple is just helping you like it is helping you by selecting the only the apps they think are best for you in the appstore. You only deserve the best, if it is music, apps or friends, Apple knows that and Apple will help you with making these hard decisions.

The empty restaurant

Did you ever walk down a street looking for a good place to eat and end up in an empty restaurant? No you probably didn’t, why? Nobody will go and eat in an empty restaurant, because people think there is something wrong and that there is a reason nobody is eating there. If you end up in an empty restaurant you either like to take a risk (will the food be really good, will it be worth my time) or you know the place and you’ll know what to expect and you’ll know how much value you will get for your money.

Same goes for your high-end-enterprise-like-software-product you bought to enable collaboration in your enterprise. If there are no discussions present and no other activities. Why should people join? Why should put their effort in it? Some will do it, but many more will not.

How to overcome this?

It is simple, it is just like the restaurant: start exclusively for your friends. Only invite the people you know and of who you know they are willing to invest some time to create value. Let those people create content, let them invite other people (for example 5 at the time) and let the community grow member by member. Listen to their feedback and make changes that they need to have a better experience. Create enough buzz that people are longing for invites to participate. After time enough people can participate and you’ll have plenty of content. This might be the moment to open up for all others that did not have an invite. They are more likely to participate since there is already an active community.

So if you want a successful internal community, you should not open it up for everybody at first, but start with just a small selection of people. Grow it one member at the time and before you’ll know it people are stalking you to get an invite for the community.

facebook://

Having 250 million members, Facebook is huge. If it was a country it would be the fourth country in the world measured on population size (US is third with 300 million, India and China are the numbers 2 and 1 with more than one billion people). It is an immense number and it is just a matter of time before Facebook will separate itself from the traditional Web.  With 250 million active members, one out of approximately every six people who can be online is a member of Facebook.

Leaving the Web behind

Why should Facebook want to leave the traditional web? Because they can? Facebook has an immense userbase and this userbase contributes immense numbers of data (which can be information and knowledge) to the platform. Every day five billion minutes are spend on Facebook, every week one billion pieces of content are added and shared. Most of this content is not shared with the outside world, is not indexable by for example Google and is thus only available within the great wall of Facebook. So Facebook already left the Web by keeping most if its content inside its network.

Facebook does not need other sites on the Web, other sites need Facebook. Why would Facebook still hinde its members with the rather old-fashioned WorldWideWeb (which is slow, since you first have to resolve the URL into an IP address via DNS, then do the HTTP request to the web server, than receive the HTML and other files and than render the page) and why wouldn’t they introduce their own implementation (facebook:// instead of http://) which could do more than just the aforementioned process?

The new Facebook Web

Facebook has the size to introduce its own browser-like platform, its own operating systems and perhaps even its own hardware line. Facebook could disrupt the Web and create a new (proprietary?) standard on how the new Web could be. They can, because one out of every six people that is online, has a Facebook account. They can because they have got such immense amount of data and people who are spending so much time on it, people will miss it when it is gone.

Facebook can, however will they do it?

The fundamental design flaw in Twitter and Friendfeed

Both in Twitter and Friendfeed (and probably an awful lot of other applications) there is a design flaw regarding users protecting their updates. As you might know you can only read updates of users that protect their updates after they gave you permission for it.

However if you do not protect you updates (and give it a thought, why would you want to protect your updates, or are you talking about homeland security? Then you should not use these tools at all), the users that protect their updates are free to add you to follow you. However if you want to follow them back, you have to do a request…

Is it technical?

I understand the technical decision why you have to do a request: the user protected his updates and to see them, he has to approve you. However it does not feel right and it feels morally wrong to me, also there is an inequality created in the relationship of the users . Especially since if you want to get to know that person, or if you want to know what subjects this person is talking/ tweeting about, you first have to request and then you can decide whether if you want to follow back or would rather like to block this person since his content is objectionable.

The correct design for these kind of systems should be that if an user that protects his updates starts following somebody, he automatically grants that person access to his updates. With this method you create transparency between follower and followed one, and also you create an equal starting position for both parties. They both can see what the other one is talking about and decide whether the relation that is started by the one is worth to be mutual or should be ended as soon as possible.

Stalkers and voyeurs

Why would you want to keep your updates protected for a person if you follow that person? It would be like wearing a ski mask: the person wearing the mask can see you, and even follow you around, while you have no clue who that person is, and why you are so interesting to him. You won’t even have the opportunity to ask him!

So: if you would like to follow someone, take of your mask, or let the network do it for you.

Get millions of followers on Twitter (for free!)

Followers, followers, everything seems to be about followers on Twitter. Although that is wrong statement, since it is not about followers, but about the attention you are able to get from your followers. However there are quite some obscure pyramid schemes to get more followers on Twitter. Which, as every pyramid scheme, promise to most immense results: 20k followers in a day, 1k followers per day, the only thing you have to for it is… and so on. Since I am still interested in how Twitter can work better for me, I decided to give it go, not get the immense numbers, but to see how much value / attention you could get by these services.

Twitter train

I decided to use a service which called itself the Twitter train: ‘get onboard with the Twitter train’ was the fancy slogan. And onboard I went, I had to give them my username and password (sadly they did not had an Oauth implementation) and the next thing I had to do was first follow some VIP members (people who pay to be a member of this service and gain some privileges in that) and the next I had to do was to follow at least 20 other people that were already ‘on the train’. The first issue was already there for me: why would I want to follow these people while they do not add any value for me? I do not mind to follow 40 extra people, however I do mind to follow extra people that are only talking about medicines, mortgages and how you can mystically enlarge some parts of the male body. Alas, i was in this experiment, so I decided to go on with.

In the next few hours I got at least one hundred new followers, so the service did what it promised. However it did more: it tweeted on my behalf, every few hours some promotional tweet was send suggesting that all people should get on this Twitter train. They didn’t told me that before signing up. However, getting more and more followers every hour, it could be worth it. However there wasn’t really any normal new follower that I gained. Not a single one was looking for adding value to Twitter, they were al fixating at numbers or in selling meds, mortgages or some other obscure things.

I decided to remove myself from the service, since it didn’t add any value at all. However removing myself from it was hard to do. Even after I removed myself twice, the thing was still tweeting on my behalf. So I changed my password and that tweeting was solved.

Results

Yes my number of followers are increased, although I removed an awful lot of the new followers by blocking them, since they were not on Twitter to interact, to share or to do any other thing than just playing with numbers, or just selling their stuff. They were not doing things I thought off as valuable for me.

So is it worth to use these kind of services? No not at all, you have to follow random people, and random people follow you back. The value you get out of this is absolutely zero, yes the number of your followers will increase, however how much is that worth, if you cannot capture anyones attention and while you are spamming some kind of Twitter train site to your ‘normal’ followers.

For the sake of being social

Have you ever been commuting or been in a elevator for a few floors? Not a very lively and social environment is it? In the Netherlands there seems to be a rule that while commuting you are not allowed to talk to others that you do not know and the same goes for elevators. Which is weird behavior, since when you would see the same people online on a social network, they are all talking and sharing some of their deepest secrets, even to people they have not met in real life.

Will human interaction disappear?

Often when I do a presentation about social media and how to apply it in your daily work I get the question if there is still space for real life human interaction or that it will be replaced by social media. Well if you read the first paragraph than it might the basis of a very spooky future where people interact via screen and keyboards.

However, interaction between people is something that every human being wants and needs, it just seems like the barrier online is so much lower than in real life. Online you have got a reason to talk to someone, or to an entire group (for example Twitter is about what you are thinking / doing at this moment). In a bus of elevator, there is no reason to interact or to start a conversation. Well actually there are enough resons to interact with your fellow commuters since you will not get killed by interaction and although you are taught that you should never talk to strangers, it won’t hurt you, it could add value and gain you some insights. However, starting a conversation with somebody you don’t know seems to feel a bit clunky in real life.

Akoha and Springboard; social reality games

With a spooky future ahead it is a good thing we have social media. A service like  Akoha offers a social reality game where you can earn points by playing real-world missions with your friends. Missions might include giving someone your favorite book, inviting a friend for drinks, or buying a friend some chocolate. Something that you will not do just to make you feel good, however if you have got a reason (like a social reality game that has cards with missions on it), than you have a reason to do so. It does not feel clunky anymore, and the one you are helping could be still a bit surprised, however he will not be suspicious, since he knows why you are doing this.

Cristina Matei created something similair called Springboard. That is exactly what Akoho and Springboard do: offering a springboard to real life interaction via social media that removes the barrier we perceive when starting up real life interaction. Using social media just for the sake of being social in real life, I sure hope that is not our future, however still better than only talking with each other via screens and keyboards.

Building a community

This presentation contains an overview about things to keep in mind when trying to build a community. As one of the first slides already states: you cannot create a community, it is already there. However you can help the community better in several ways. Therefore a model of the different phases of a member in a community is used. Based on this model several actions are defined which a community manager could take to help the community. The last few slides contain an overview of several well known social media cases.

The basis for each community is to get to the outsiders (and at the start of each community platform everybody is an outsider) and to facilitate them to progress through several phases to go from passive to active membership and some of them might even progress to passionate members.

Twitter is a competitive sport

Last month I noticed an interesting Tweet by Dave Winer about Jason Calacanis not being #1 on Twitter any more. After giving some thought I decided to respond to Dave that I wasn’t aware of the fact that Twitter was a competitive sport. Dave replied clearly, that Twitter is competitive, like everything is. He is right, Twitter is a competitive sport, however is there a way to become #1? Is the ranking based on followers, following, number of Tweets, number of Retweets, number of replies, a mixed of all those indicators.

For example this a graph created via Twittercounter:

twitterCompetition

This graph shows the number of followers Ron Tolido, Lee Provoost and I have at the moment of writing this blog. Is there way to say who is#1? Clearly Ron is number one in the most followers, however is he winning or is winning based on something harder to measure, such as attention? With Twitter and social media being a competitive sport it is hard to identify when you score (assuming that social media is a competitive game based on scoring) and when you are being scored at. One thing is very clear and that is if you are not participating, you are certainly not scoring and certainly not winning. It doesn’t mean that if you participate you will win, however it will mean that you have an opportunity to win.

Is your best good enough

While participating in social media you will win some, you will lose some and sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. However not participating at will definitely result in losing. Not only losing in social media, but also losing customers, losing business, losing market share, losing revenue and perhaps even losing your business in the end. You have to be in this game, otherwise you will definitively lose.

Collaborative library

I live in a little village (Spijkenisse)  in the Netherlands that used to be quite average and was not really adopting 2.0 concepts. However this is changing, that itself is not very surprising, since it is not a question if you adopt 2.0 concepts, but more when you adopt them. The new library in my city will not only have a very innovative design, it will offer next to the regular space for books, also an extra space for 75.000 books. This space for 75.000 books is intended for the residents of Spijkenisse. Each resident is allowed to contribute one book to the library.

The community defines the content

This is a really great concept, since you have approximately 75.000 books in your library that a resident would recommend to others to read. Instead for going only the standard collections approach Spijkenisse is partly outsourcing / crowd sourcing the building of its collection. An easy way to collect the books that matter to the community. Also a nice way for writers to promote their own books though. On the other hand, people living in a certain place have a lot in common, therefore it might happen that you have some books that will occur multiple times in the crowdsourced selection. This isn’t a bad thing, especially since the crowd sourced collection also shows the interests of the residents. Based on the interests the library can extend its collection with books that will have fit with their residents.

Just by simply creating some shelf space, on which residents can put their books they think that are worth reading ,does the library of Spijkenisse create an immensive value. Not only will the crowd sourced collection be read by other residents (and probably more than the conventional collections), it also provided an enormous ammount of information about the (potential) clients for the library. The only thing the library did was to inviting people to give something to them for free.