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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Real-time search – the missing piece

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Shifting the problem from finding content to finding people for search, discovery and filtering is not enough.

The evolution of finding new and engaging content:

Step 1: We started by searching for engaging content using search engine like Google or blog search engine/directory such as Technorati. These search engines operates web crawlers scanning the web for new information, then index (categorize) and rank web pages using different algorithms. As time went by we started adding blogs  feeds (using the RSS and ATOM protocols) to our feed reader of choice like Google Reader.
Results: with some effort we managed to find great bloggers to follow, but new content was slow to arrive, it was slow to discover, and even after awhile we ended up with not enough variety. No wonder it was a dead-end!
Step 2: step #1, plus finding the people behind the content, following their feeds on social media tools (twitter, FriendFeed, facebook etc.).
Results: initially, we got faster and richer content , but it got messy very quickly (especially when we auto follow back), it was also overwhelming at times, and lots of people share the same content (whether it is lame or great).  Add to the feed stream cacophonies the fact that people are using these channels for chatting with their peers, sharing thoughts and feeling, promoting their business/products/services and we end up with yet another dead-end!
Step 3: step #2, plus lists. Now we can group people into categorized twitter lists, and follow their tweets.
Results: Now, the content is a little less messy because we have more control over the data filtering. The process for building your own list is very slow and tedious at the moment, but you can use other’s lists via listorious or tweepml. On the flip side it requires coming up with a new process for scanning the lists timelines (how frequently? whom to give more attention? adding/removing tweeps), and you can easily end up with too many lists. The worse part is that the people on the list not always share just about the subject that matches the list category.  Bottom-line, it is somehow better than step #2 but not by much – another dead-end?

Content by people

In steps #1 we let the crawler to find and categorize the content and it was up to us to find it. In step #2 and #3 we shifted to people search and then we let them drive content to us. This time the crowd took care of the categorization tasks; finding and matching people to domains of knowledge. People categorized themselves and others, built many great lists, follow other lists (indication of popularity) and shared them for us to grab.

The shift

imageIn the process from #1 to #2 we shifted the content discovery problem to people discovery problem.  Due to this shift we gained big time in scale, arming the entire web community to search for new content. We accelerated discovery and knowledge gain. We also gained speed over RSS or the web crawler. Among the changes, going from steps #1 to step #3, the focus shifted from filtering content to filtering people (lists).

Small pause to recap: we have categorized content thanks to search engines and tags, we have people grouped by categories thanks to the people, but we still have a lot of noise.

The missing step

In my opinion, we are missing a step.  I think that we ought to get back to the computerized categorization. We need a crawler, to categorize and rank the data in the context of the list.
I would like to be able to filter list timeline view by: links only, discussion threads only, and even more important by content that matches the list’s definition in the first place.
If I follow a list that discuss mobile phone technology I want to see only mobile phone technology related content.

Picture credit orangeacid

Twitter lists feature – do you see what that I see?

October 30, 2009 2 comments

image

This week, Twitter opened the new twitter lists features to the public. I had a chance to play with lists for some time now (I was fortunate to see it a little early). In my opinion, it will take some time to fully understand the true meaning and implications of this new feature, the same way that it took us time to understand twitter. Basically, twitter added another level of abstraction between users and their following timelines (now, it is one to many) and that made things a little more interesting. Here are some of my initial thoughts.

What lists show us?

  1. Now we can see what the others see. Before lists, no two twitter users shared the same timeline view. This new capability opens the possibilities to do remote, join tweeting looking at the very same timline.
  2. Now we can see how our tweets are seen by others – maybe we over tweet? or a misfit? try following a list containing your twitter user name.
  3. The list name shows how people categorize us (how are they thinking about us).  Check the lists that you are listed on: Authors/readers/reviewers, thought leaders/journalist/bloggers, funny.

Other observations about Twitter lists:

  1. Lists value depreciate with their size -  a small focused list will provide better content than a long list ( a long one is not much better than your timeline)
  2. Counter intuitive to item #1 – for some reason bigger lists gain more followers
  3. If you spent the time building a great focused list then upload it to Listorious (kudos for the quick turnaround of this website). It could help to promote your username adding to your twitter presence. Tag it appropriately to be found.
  4. Lists are another great example for the huge power of crowdsourcing when it comes to organizing large amount of data (the grid computing paradigm). In comparison think about the TweetDeck twitter groups creating feature. Creating a list is a tedious process, keeping those private is a waste. Thanks to Twitter lists and Listorious we have a kind of new and organized real-time search engine in under a week.
  5. Are we going to see #ListFollowFriday meme soon? E.g #ListFollowFriday @ravenme/iphone The best iPhone app developers
  6. The next step is making list creation easier. I like to see a merge list option. The merge will create a new list that is a set of users from the original two lists.
  7. Another next step is adding to the best twitter desktop clients out there the option to upload lists.
  8. Getting a little wild here: in Twitter Search Advance Options, add search by lists, and search with the option to exclude list or lists.

All in all I think that the twitter lists feature is great. Lists will help getting rid of spammers, finding new communities, getting better content quality, and will introduce an infinite tweets timelines to follow.

Your thoughts?

Picture credit to Irargerich

GO LISTS

Thanks to Twitter we are buying the future!

October 20, 2009 1 comment

I was recently amazed to see how many books on the Top 100 bestsellers list are ready for pre-order!

What is the twitter connection?

Just search on Twitter Search for pre-order+amazon+book. By the way, books are just one of the many items that are available for pre-order on Amazon. Apparently twitter helps to close the sale cycle faster, even before the product is actually available. Twitter helps to quickly raise awareness to the upcoming products. I also think that Amazon is doing a great job sharing this information here.

I wonder how that list looked few years ago in the pre-twitter era.

So maybe the real-time web is not just about the present but includes the near future too?!

image

picture credit: aussiegall

I’m also proud to have a book on Amazon Kindle store! My new eBook is available in Kindle version here:  Timing the tweet

Twitter tip: treat yourself to a tweet

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

orancecupjpg I want to follow more people on twitter so I can see more interesting tweets or gain more influence (if they follow me back) but I need to be patient!

Robert T. Kiyosaki wrote in his bestselling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad (not an affiliate link), “Pay yourself first”. In some way, what that he meant was the opposite of treat yourself first. Basically, it was about saving money first, and after making sure that this money is invested and yields more profit, then it is OK to spoil yourself buying luxury things. There are few other good lessons in this book but lately this one resonate in my mind when I think about following others on twitter.

In order to be twitscally (fiscally) responsible I’ll need to earn new followers first before I can go and follow more.

Why do I recommend this network building approach?

  • It make you motivated to come up with better content so you can get more followers and then follow more great resources.
  • It helps you to build a more reliable and sustainable twitter account. I find it hard to follow twitter accounts with high follow/following ratio (i.e. way more following than followers).
  • It can help you to put a value for great twitter users. Example: I tell myself that if I’ll get two more followers I could follow one more (maybe an upcoming new thoughts leader in my niche).

And, yes, it takes more time in the same way as it takes to grow your saving account, but this is the way in my mind to build valuable network. A trustworthy network that can be leveraged for influence, community building, and revenue generating. Treat your followers following spread like your equity and build it overtime. Alternatively, having a twitter account that is follows lots of people, and very few followers is like having an over extended credit card account.

Does it make sense to you? Do you follow blindly? Do you have process for deciding whom to follow?

If you like this tip and want to learn more about building high value twitter accounts for marketing, selling, networking, influence or any other purposes please consider reading my eBook: Timing the tweet

And, yes, I know that it is almost Halloween: so treat yourself to a great tweet!

Four ways to deliver value in your short tweets

October 7, 2009 1 comment

charged Here are four simple ways to create tweets charged with valuable information.

Valuable tweets

  1. Share news
    1. New tool, addon, web-site – like the mini launch of a new online real-time community, cliqset, or the re-launch of Pijoo as a purely content-driven service.
    2. New book, movie, album– the new Dan Brown The Lost Symbol (the bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code).
    3. Stats – up, down, on top – for blogs, for book, movie, album. Maybe how much a movie made in its first week.
    4. New Trending Topics – this is another way to break the news. Just look at TwitScoop tag cloud or Twitter Search Trending topics.
    5. Winning a prize – like announcing Hilary Mantel as the Man Booker Fiction 2009 winner
  2. Connect the dots
    1. For new book, movie, album – add link to previous work done by the same creator. Example: similar to the way I just did with the Dan Brown’s example above. I made the connection to his previous work (it is not that obvious in many other cases).
    2. For a person add link to multiple places where she has presence on the web. If we take the Hilary Mantel as an example point to her Facebook page
    3. For a book, movie, album add link to coming event – something that take a little longer than Book Signing, The Dan Brown Way
    4. For news – add other items that can help understanding the context better. This is especially useful for sport event. Having the context make it a lot more interesting.
  3. Connect people/Introduce
    1. For new band, author, producer, or actor, provide their twitter username (include the @). Example: The book the Lost Symbol has a twitter account @lostsymbolbook (administered by his US publisher, Doubleday)
    2. Point to hot discussion. Example: If you like book talks check #litchat
    3. Active #hashtag – not just the most active (and some times abused) from the Trending Topics. Find others from one of your twitter timelines or twubs.
    4. Engaging blog – blogs with lots of comments activity – use BackType. Example: I found this blog post Kiss “Sonic Boom” Review with 45 comments (the last one I saw was from October 6, 2009 at 10:25 pm). I searched BackType for CD review.
    5. Popular item: bestseller, popular on Glue, Amzon, B&N. Example: This is fairly trivial. Here is Amazon Bestsellers in Book page (hint: check how many days the book is in the top 100 – look for the more recent additions).
  4. Compress (encode/decode) greater knowledge into short messages
    1. The best example that I could find is @cookbook – tweeting tiny recipes condensed by @Maureen. The owner of this twitter account built a @cookbook glossary that helps to convert the encoded recipes to real one.
    2. The second best example is StockTwits – here too, people found a way to communicate more than what the 140 characters allows.

Why?

  • Because delivering value can really help you to get more followers on twitter
  • Because if you use Affiliate Marketing links you can truly assist in the buying decision.
  • Because it is a little more interesting than seeing the same 5 or 10 top bloggers being retweeted over and over again.

The secret for building valuable tweets

Closely examining my examples above, there are three key value drivers:

  1. Search – finding the data. Access to great and trusted content sources is value.
  2. Tying a couple or more data points together into a single piece of information (tweet).  Association is value.
  3. Timing. Relevancy is value.

Additional ideas for building valuable tweets: attention, and help.

What other ways do you see for charging tweets with value?

If you liked this post please consider buying my eBook on Scribd: Timing the tweet

On a blogging break – playing with Google App Engine

April 7, 2009 1 comment

GoogleAppEngine I took my head out of Twitter and I’m taking a short break from blogging. I’m playing with Google App Engine. So far Google‘s documentation is very helpful so getting started was fairly strait forward.

Here are my ramp-up tasks:

  • Read through the Getting Started section
  • Ramped up on Python – very cool and easy to use scripting language
  • I learned to JSON using simplejson- it works nicely with python
  • I’m now adopting new Web Framework django for Python
  • And I’m getting up to speed with a new data storage concept

All are great technologies.

I’m also testing the PyDev plugin for using eclipse IDE to develop for Google App engine – here are the instructions – so far so good.

Useful links:

Google App Engine and misc

Python

If you have additional useful links relevant to the technologies listed above please let me know.

*I plan to update the additional useful sources from time to time as I find more content

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3 things to check before you retweet!

March 21, 2009 3 comments

Quickly after I started using real-time conversational search engines it becomes apparent that the crowd sourcing is sometime more like a herd sourcing. People retweet (re-share items on Twitter) blindly and carelessly. Here are the three things to consider before you retweet.

The short retweet checklist:

retweet

  1. How close you are to the news origin? Search the tweet or link using Twitter Search, MicroPlazza or any other microblogging search engine to see how many times it was retweeted before yours. In the case from the picture above it was “only” 972 times. If the link was shorten by bit.ly you can also see link’s statistics such as the time line and clicks count. Between these three tools you can tell how old this “news” is.
  2. Check if it is not a hoax – some people takes advantage of the fact that so many other people are eager to be among the first one to break the news. This one is tricky and everyone cal fall for it but I follow my father’s advice – “if there is a doubt there is not doubt”. Some news really sounds fishy:) I also noticed that people were still retweeting the false story even way after others were retweeting that it was a hoax.
  3. Will it waste people’s time – this is something that I’m struggling with lately.  As the number of people that follow me on Twitter grows, I feel more and more responsible for not wasting their time. I find myself checking and rechecking if the link, tweet or retweet delivers any value. I’m asking myself if I learned anything from the blog’s post or article that I just read or if the twitter fellow I’m about to recommend to others is really that good.

It is OK to retweet, it is the bridge between twitter’s remote social branches for passing content through. I only suggest to run this short retweet checklist prior. It will help you to become a better social media broadcaster and appreciated by your followers.

Do you have more items to add to this retweet checklist?

I wonder if I’ll ever see any retweet of my content after this post:)

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Twitter killed the RSS reader

March 20, 2009 1 comment

First, I stopped using my favorites, then Digg, Delicious and other social rating/bookmarking websites,  now I found myself using less and less the RSS reader, Google or Netvibe. I find great content on Twitter, Twitter search Trending Topics and recently even greater quality content using Twitter based search tools. These are services that mine links from Twitter updates, using different algorithms and post them in an organized fashion. I will refer to these as real-time news search services like Feedly, Microplaza and others.

RSS readers limitations:

Limited selection – it takes time to find and build selection of great blogs.  What if the selected blog did not produce any good content lately?

Scalability – it requires the time to organize feeds into tabs or folders. Also some readers, after adding more content grew slower (some more than others).

Social rating/bookmarking websites

I do use delicious for bookmarking of great information and some time for search but I rarely visit the Popular Bookmark page. Submitting content to Digg is too slow and I think that rating is not as powerful as retweeting.

Email subscription

There are some blogs that I follow constantly and I find the email subscription option to work best. This way I know for sure that I’m not missing new content on a daily basis.

The new feed

I now count on Twitter and a growing number of real-time news search websites to feed my curiosity with links.

Feedly – the irony is that Feedly is actually taping into your Google Reader feeds and tags, but it also brings content from other sources including Twitter. You can even see Hot topics via Twitter i.e. trending tags and hashtags. Read more here

MicroPlaza – this service looks at popular links posted on Twitter by the people I’m following (my timeline view). You can also see popular links posted on the public timeline. There is a new feature called Tribe, it is in the work but this option allows me to filter/organize popular links by grouping (enrolling) different people whom I follow on Twitter, into different Tribes. I wish I could use Twellow or WeFollow to speed up organizing my personal list into categories and use them as Tribes in MicroPlaza but this is still better filter than TweetDeck grouping option. In MicroPlaza I only see the popular links from the tribe and not other useless chatty noise – this is a great filter . There are more features and I do plan to cover this service more thoroughly in another post but here I want to focus on the new Trend.

MicroPlaza

There are growing number of similar services out there. I’m monitoring an additional one but I won’t mention the name yet (giving them a chance to improve). The key feature for me is the quality of the links. How good is the information that the service successfully managed to mine from all the noise on Twitter. The speed is important too. So far the two mentioned above are doing fantastic job.

Using Twitter timeline for the content source pool, employing millions of human web crawlers, filtered by the people I trust (follow) and other mining technics seems like an improved method for finding the best content out there. It truely gives me an edge over RSS feed reader.

Did you stop using your RSS reader too?

I owe it to Sagee Ben-Zedeff for helping me to become aware of this change in my habits and the new Trend. This is another great thing about Twitter – I now reflect more rapidly:)

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10 practical questions about Social Media

March 15, 2009 5 comments

Social media may sounds too simple: sharing, caring, and link love. It is tempting to jump right in, getting on-board without planing. Although  that might work well for the individual, I don’t recommend it to the business. The company should think about goals, content, expectations, and strategy, before making the leap in. Here are 10 questions that the company may start with.

10 practical questions about Social Media

  1. What should an established company blog about?
  2. What should a start-up company blog about?
  3. What should both company types avoid writing about?
  4. Should you be on Twitter (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
  5. Should you have a personal Twitter account in addition to the venture account? Should you use both in conjunction (a question for the CEO/Founder)?
  6. Whom should the corporate invite to write on its blog ( from within and the outside)?
  7. How does a thought leader looks like?
  8. How do you project an Executive Presence on social media channels?
  9. Assuming value using Social Media, how long do you expect till it materialized (a question for the venture leaders)?
  10. What do you expect to drive using social media tools: leads generation/traffic, brand marketing/monitoring/web presence, relationship building/corporate development, else?

thought leader?

Is this how a thought leader looks like?

In order to come up with the right strategy for an effective use of social media, these questions, among others, should be discussed. Participation in Social digital media is an on-going effort, one that requires an investment of company time and resources. It is a cross-functional effort with multiple stakeholders. Having clear expectations for the effort level required from each organizational function, is crucial.

I think that it is possible to come up with  good answers to most of the questions  above (and I don’t claim to be a Social Media expert).

Other questions are still open and will require more research:

Are social media values quantifiable? How? What are the measures?

Large corporation should invest time searching for social media measures and ROI. A large corporate, with Marketing budget that could be allocated across multiple channels, will have to identify and monitor different indicators  in order to justify an investment in social media. Even prior to adding social media channels and tools, the company must evaluates its commitment level for participation in social media.

For a small start-up company where Social Media is, by large, the cheapest way around for building presence in the market (for both targeting investments and market penetration) the ROI question is almost irrelevant. The investment is small in compare to other means of branding and the results are potentially dramatic. A single lead can make a critical difference to the start-up survival chances. Being reviewed by an influencing blogger can drive traffic and product adoption. Getting feedback or advice from fans and followers may get the company/product on the right track.

Prior to adding social media to the mix, no matter what type of organization you run, think about the 10 questions above (and some more). There are great resources out there that can help you to start on the right foot. The best advice I should give you is to start reading blogs.

What other questions about social media should be asked?

Btw, the picture above was taken by me while visiting the Sidney Zoo in Australia (2005).

The new cool mom is a social media maven!

March 6, 2009 4 comments

The new cool moms

cool-mom  If you are in the blogsphere long enough it is hard not to notice cool mom’s blogs, blogs networks, and twitter streams.  Sometime employed and other times staying at home moms are sharing their stories, knowledge and life using social networks and tools. Whenever I land on a cool mom blog (oftentimes, thanks to Twitter) I never leave it before reading the About page. This page usually tell me about the mom author’s past education, employment and the current family status. In most cases it reflects well how talented, smart and driven that blogger is. In some cases it shouts – I’m a very cool mom! 

Finding cool moms

On Twitter

I did a search on Twellow crossing moms with social media (@bio mom & @bio “social media”) and my query returned 174 moms. The top mom on that list was Jessica Smith (@JessicaKnows) who has more than 10,000 followers. Recently Twellow added a powerful new feature that enable to limit searches to the scope of your personal Twitter network i.e. friends and followers. I tried it searching for moms/mother and found a total of 21 twitter moms amongst my twittership. One of them is Nansen Malin, a mom of 4 who has more than 43k followers. I found two additional cool moms searching for both mom and “social media”. Btw, searching the entire Twellow directory for @bio SAHM yielded 675 people. Here are three cool moms on Twitter: GeekMommy(10k+ followers),  MommyBrain(2.8k+ followers), BargainMama(878 followers). If you want to find influential moms on Twitter, search TwittterGrader.

The blogsphere

The first stop for looking at cool mom blogs authority is Technorati.  I also did a quick search using IceRocket for the term SAHM and here is one interesting page that I found The Obnoxious SAHM’s Page, then my Firefox addon Headup window poped-up and suggested Mom-101 blog (in the top 10K on Technorati). Another tool that helped me to find active moms and bloggers was backtype. Sifting thorough blog comments (the heartbeat of the blogsphere) I found many more interesting social media blogs like social media mom and Holistic Mama.

Communities and networks

I Googled women’s/mom’s blog networks – here are some of the top ranked results:

I’m sure that there are many more. I’m yet to see a tool that rank blog networks (as a whole) or a search engine that focus on finding what mom does in her very little spare time. Yet, this is beside the point of this blogs.

Cool moms are social media mavens

Some moms are cooler than others

What that make some moms cooler than others is how skilled they are executing the essential social media activities such as writing interesting and useful content, selfless sharing, and leveraging the technology. If you are a newbe mom and want to learn how to become a social media maven follow the Cool mom guide (on Twitter CoolMomGuide – 3k+ followers). Even of you are not a mom, or a women at all but interested in learning about social media I recommend following some of the cool moms out there.

Cool mom is a business

Some moms blogs or network seems to be a real business. It is easy to see ads, banners, affiliated links on many SAHM blogs. Others become social media consultants that offer from their experience. If you have any doubt, if what that looks like a hobby, but is actually a real business just read TechCrunch-  BlogHer Inks Deal With NBC Universal, Raises $5 Million.

Summary

I think that it is great to see how social media helps people to find the way to channel their energy, talent and skills using blogging and microblogging no matter where they are physically (@home) or  in life (raising kids).  The new mom or the new cool mom is a social media maven – an expert in building networks and tribes, delivering her message to the world, becoming a leader and influencer.

What do you think? Are cool mom behind fueling the social media buzz?

Picture taken by sean dreilinger

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