How Twitter Failed Me: Thoughts of a Facebook Convert

“I love Twitter.”

I smirked.  I’ve heard this so many times by 20-something year old girls I meet around campus.  These creatures, however, are the type who have visited the site once – to set up their account and link to phone.  They tweet rarely, and always about weird occurances in their day.  They follow close friends, and if they ever use an @reply, it’s to tell a friend (always a friend who has an account but has sent <5 updates) something they should have just texted – or link that they are having lunch with said person.

textually_active_ijustine

Nothing about that experience screams “I love Twitter!”  In fact, to me, it screams “I can’t stand this nuissance – I’ll text my friends instead!”.  But texting your friends doesn’t make your thoughts visible to the world.  That is, of course, the appeal of the micro blogging site.  Quick updates that appeal to our diminished attention spans and a platform that requires no logging in, no thought process, drafts or publishing issues.  Type up a text, hit send and you’re done.  Confused about the picture to your right?  Read on…there is a point.  If not, it’s always good practice to put pictures of hot girls in your posts – smaller bounce rate and longer page times.

The truth is, while NO ONE cares how your assistant principle was flirting with your mom while suspending you (or what “#WhereDeyDoDatAt” means), someone is reading.  Heck, I just linked you up on a blog – a blog that a few people actually read, no less.  All you link-sharing Twitter snobs think I’m stretching the truth?  Try protecting your tweets for a week.  I did, and the results were quite surprising.  Turns out, not as many friends were reading my stuff as I thought.

I shared 2 tech-related links – one on August 26th while my Twitter account was protected, and one September 10th while it was open.  The result?  A 300% increase in clicks when the account was open for all as opposed to it being protected to just approved followers.  Now, a lot of factors weigh heavily on statistics.  August 26th was a Thursday, September 10th a Friday.  Research shows that, while more updates are posted on Thursdays, more re-tweets are performed on Fridays.  You also have to consider the fact that more people may have been genuinely more interested in the September 10th tweet.  Regardless, a 300% increase is significant, and speaks volumes (especially when combined with similar data I gathered with the rest of my updates) about the visibility of unprotected accounts.

So what does all that mean?  Well, if you’re like me, it means you’re not as important as you thought.  It also means that your Twitter relevance is much lower than you probably guessed.  Try this out:  post a link, story or funny encounter on Twitter and Facebook.  Be sure to post it word for word at the same time of day.  Where do you receive the most (let alone relevant) feedback?  Chances are, 9 out of 10 times it’s going to be Facebook.  Even if you only receive a few likes, you at least know a few people who have watched and appreciated your video.  True, Twitter reply’s may be more in depth, but you’re not going to get near the amount of talk back that you do on Facebook.

Now, as this is a blog post, you should know that I’m just conjecturing on most of this.  I have a hypothesis (Facebook is more relevant, reliable and informative than Twitter) and I’m trying to persuade you.  Instead of taking the time to find solid arguments, I’m going to be lazy and give you my reasons.  Namely, Facebook makes stuff prettier and people spend more time on it.  Quickly (I’m imaging only 2 people make it this far in the post – if you’re one of them, leave a comment to prove my point), I’ll explain why I think this.

Facebook really does understand link sharing like no other.  That’s why things go viral on Big Blue.  Would Bon Qui Qui or the Bill Cosby Southern video be so popular without Facebook?  Not a chance.  As humans, we’re visual creatures.  Men included.  Really – you thought iJustine was famous for her tech thoughts? (checkout picture above if you’re not sure who I’m talking about).  When you share a link on Facebook, you get the option to include a photo or embed the video from the site – right onto your post.  Facebook single handedly turned the internet beeper (link SHARING), into an iPhone (link EMBEDDING).  Forget clicking off-site…you can watch the video with even scrolling down the page!  The result is a smorgasbord of funny videos and philosopher-wanna-be’s – not to mention all of the Facebook-specific posts (pictures, updates, relationship updates, etc).

(via The Oatmeal – click image for post)

As a result, people spend an unholy amount of time on the site.  Scrolling through my phone contacts (which are linked to Facebook profiles), I rarely come across an entry that does not have a Facebook.  My grandparents are on Facebook (and I’m beginning to think they are on more than I am).  Last year, my self-righteous history professor ripped the 100+ person class for not protecting our Facebook accounts.  Later that day, I looked him up and read all of his updates from the past 2 weeks.  Not interesting (he’s a jerk on Facebook, too), but still something that needed to be done.

My point is this: people love Facebook, and that bright red notification icon makes us feel good.  Twitter is great (heck, I wouldn’t have my current job if it weren’t for the site), but it doesn’t compare.  Short or long run.  To borrow geek speak, it fails hard in comparison – which is why, I believe, it’s on it’s way out.  In the past few months, it’s become nothing but a delayed instant messaging account and story teller.  I, Ryan Bowen, have become  a TwitterTween.  All hope is not lost, though.  I’m still clinging to the fact that I don’t know a single top 40 song.  Seriously.  I looked it up.

Rybo’s Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook De-Friended

We all have them – those Facebook friends who just don’t seem to get it.  Whether it’s posting pictures of their drunken vomitting or sending you 50,000 Mafia Wars requests, we all know a guilty party.  With a little peer pressure and embarrassment, maybe we can get them to stop.

So without further ado, here are (in no particular order), the 10 best ways to get defriended (at least by me) on Facebook.

Checking in EVERYWHERE.

I honestly don’t mind the occasional check-in update from FourSquare or Gowalla.  However, when I log in and am greeted by every place you have visited in the last 3 days, we have a problem.

‘Sentences’ like: “m3 & g0D boUt 2 giT tIgHt liK3 cRediT cArD dWn $tRiPPa b00Ty”.

True story.  Really happened.  Honestly, though, we’re still friends because her statuses are so entertaining.

Tagging me in “which one of your friends this best describes” pictures.

I’m not a Pokemon.  I’m not an Amstel Lite.  I swear, the next person to tag me as an alcoholic beverage, cartoon character, or sex position gets blacklisted.

Posting garbage on my wall.

I treat my Facebook wall like I treat my car (I can stick whatever I want on it) and like you should treat my fireplace mantle – don’t post anything you wouldn’t want Grandma and the family to see when they come over.

This also applies to Mafia Wars, Farmville and Restaurant City requests.  It’s bad enough I have to deal with those stupid requests – don’t post that ish to my wall.

Excessive swearing.

I strongly believe there is a time for harsh words.  Dropping 10 F-bombs per status not only makes you sound like an internet 9th grader who just got his heart broken, but it drains you of any respect and credibility I may have once granted you.  Refer to previous item when contemplating this nonsense on my wall.

Religious Views:  “God.  2Pac.  Lil Wayne.”

We get it – you have no morals, you’re an internet thug, and you just made it to high school.  Stop being an idiot.  On a related note, I’d love to sit down and discuss how you can serve both God and Weezy F Baby at the same time.

Self-Taken Pictures.

There are a few reasons as to why anyone in their right mind would post dozens of self-taken mirror shots to Facebook.  Political correctness would restrict me from detailing any of these…but when have I ever adhered to that anyway?

  1. You are vain.  This applies to 90% of the shots.  If you have…um…assets and want to show them off, please do so in the privacy of your own home and not via a self-taken shot from above.  Don’t forget we can still make out your muffin top.
  2. You are trying to create an online identity.  The sad fact is that by taking a picture of yourself in a flat-brimmed hat holding stacks of money and a toy AK-47, you’re actually negating the very imaging you’re trying to put off.
  3. You’re in 7th grade.
  4. You’re in 8th grade.
  5. You’re in 9th grade.

Please keep in mind that one or two self-taken shots is OK.  However, if you have an album entitled “ME (t00 pRe$H! <3)” that contains 55 photos of yourself…it’s time to quit.

Druuuuuuuuunken picturessssssssssssssss.

Rule:  If you were too drunk to remember it, we don’t want to either.

Liking every page you see.

If a page’s title is a conversation or full-out thought, please do not clog up my wall.  You’re not as deep as you think you are.

Changing your name every 3 days (or having a ridiculously stupid middle name phrase).

I know “Swaggalicious” ain’t the middle name yo’ momma gave you.

*Honorable Mention:  Calling me an ape.

Yes, this has happened to me before.  Tip:  if you want to stay fake-Facebook friends with someone, don’t publicly refer to them “picking bugs out of [their] hair”.

As an afterthought, I’d like to say that I love writing posts like this for a few reasons. First, they don’t require too much thought, and the research/work done to publish is usually pretty entertaining. Also, these posts generally get the most traffic, and they look like they took a lot of effort (due to pictures or formatting, they’re usually a lot longer).

Lastly, I’m a pretty sarcastic and cynical person.  Posts like this, while they might not gain me much tech credibility, allow an outlet for that type of unhealthy thinking.

The Last.fm Good Radio Station

As is my bad habit with many social networking sites, I signed up for a Last.fm account some time ago and never really used the service.  I tend to just plug in my iPod or pop in an audiobook if I’m sitting at a computer for a while, so I thought the whole internet radio thing wasn’t for me.  I was wrong.

Before going any further, let me say that I realize I’m behind the times.  Like 90% of the posts I write, I’m bringing old news, reviews and haikus.  I have actually yet to bring a single haiku to the blog – but that will change.  Anyway, I know there are people who have yet to discover some of the cooler things the internet has to offer.  And that is why I write.

For those that don’t know, Last.fm is a website that allows you to listen to customized internet radio stations.  Simply pick a band, song or genre tag and you’re good to go.  From there, you can fast forward, love or ban tracks from your station.  Every artist you play is automatically added to your library, and Last.fm tracks how many times you have played each artist and song, as well as how many playlists and “loved” songs you have.

profile

If it sounds a lot like Pandora up to now, this is where it really takes off.  First, Last.fm is much more user-friendly and user-fueled than Pandora is.  Users are much more interactive, thanks to things like tagging artists and songs, voting on band photos and analyzing friends listening compatibility.  Sure, knowing who listens to the same music as you isn’t a huge deal.  But it is cool.  Take Lucy, a local friend who is a Last.fm junkie.  Upon adding her as a friend, I saw this:

lovesongssuck

Incredibly useful?  Maybe not.  But still neat.

If you’re not sold just yet, I’ve saved the best for last.  Thanks to my friend (and past guest blogger) Jimmy,  I’m now scrobbling.  With a few clicks and a little piece of software, you can start scrobbling too.

Scrobbling is what makes Last.fm so great.  Basically, it crawls through your iTunes library (or Windows Media Player library) and your iPod to gather information on your listening habits.  Check out a list of supported devices here.  Once completed, it adds this information to your online Last.fm account.  It’s a great way for new users to quickly build a large library.  If you use the Audioscrobbling software, you can synchronize your listening with your account automatically, so as you listen your songs are displayed in your online account and immediately added to your library.

To sum up, you should try it.  It’s real swell.  Check out a few more screenshots below or get up some courage and dive right in.

library audioscrobbling

My Columbia Twitter Revolution

cae

Several weeks ago at Social Media Club Columbia, SC, Dan Conover (@xarker) spoke about the potential for standardized Twitter hashtags for cities.

For example,  Charlotte and Charleston have been trying to adopt localized hashtags for news, traffic, etc.  For more on this, read this post.  Thanks to search lists, Charleston natives can simply add “#chs” to their tweets to be seen by other .  Here’s a wonderful example of it’s usefulness:

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Obviously, one hashtag for an entire cities worth of tweeting can get crowded.  That’s why the proposed plan adds includes tags for traffic, news, breaking stories, weather, the election, etc.  Genius.

Well, I’m ready to do the same in Columbia.  We have lots of people who use Twitter on a day-to-day basis, and our local news stations are getting into the game.  I keep up with weather updates and breaking news throughout the day by following the Twitter accounts of local papers and TV stations.  If we had standardized hashtags, it would be much, much easier.

So here’s my plan.  I’ve tweeted with a few local Columbia people and I’ve decided to try and start something.  Thanks for your help @cophotog, @mandiengram, @hollybounds!  The “base hash” for this is #cae.  This is the airport code for Columbia – just like Charlotte uses #clt and Charleston uses #chs.

  • #cae – A bit long, but #csc and #cola are already taken.  Add this if you need the quick attention of other locals.
  • #caenews – Pretty self explanatory – used for local news.
  • #caebrk – Breaking news.  Again, it’s longer but…oh well.  🙂
  • #caewthr – Weather updates and alerts.
  • #caetrfk – Columbia traffic updates.
  • #caefood – Local food tweets.
  • #caetech – Blogs, social sites, web contest, etc from Columbia.

Got any suggestions, additions, or proposed revisions?  Leave me a comment below.

Now here’s the important part.  I’m one person.  I can’t do this alone.  For this to catch on, I’m going to need lots of help.  It’s going to take getting used to, but I think if it ever does take off it could serve very useful.  Think about it – a live list of tweets to keep you constantly informed on traffic problems, breaking news, local food deals, and weather alerts.  All for free.

Let’s face it – this is long overdue.  People want news, and they want it right now wherever they are, right when it happens.  The great thing is that it’s a collaborative effort.  Everyone in Columbia (or Charlotte, or Charleston, or wherever you introduce these standardized hashtags) can contribute to a constantly updated stream of news and traffic updates.

Twitter Marketing Done Right – @HowiesIrmo

Often, businesses and organizations are such a nuissance on Twitter.  Let’s face it – we all get spammed by followers who only wish to promote their own business, sending out only formal updates with their advertisements.  Every now and then, however, a business gets it right.    Enter Hungry Howies Pizza in Irmo, SC.

howies_irmo

HowiesIrmo is a pizza place – an unlikely type of business to get involved in social networking.  However, if you’re a Columbia Twitter user (especially one active in link-sharing and everyday discussion on the site), chances are you’re familiar with Howies – you would probably even recognize the bright yellow logo.  What’s different about this, compared to other businesses on Twitter, many of whose logo’s you may be familiar with?  Howies is personal.

Howies engages in everyday discussion.  They participate in Follow Friday,  they help out my blog, they help me think of crazy Halloween costumes, and they help spread the word about Joupes.  In short, Howies uses Twitter for casual conversation – having 2-sided conversations and creating a quirky and fun personality that’s always fun to interact with.  And at the end of the day, their business is still advertised.  I’ve been out to Irmo for some Hungry Howies pizza and cinnamon bread – have you?

To all the businesses out there – study HowiesIrmo.  Be more personal, easily able to chat about things that aren’t your product.  Have fun with other users.  To all the South Carolina people – head out to Irmo.  Tell them you’re there because of Twitter.  Enjoy the pizza.  I know I will as soon as I can find another date to go (and some time that I’m not studying!).

Get More Traffic with Su.pr!

For the past few days, I’ve been trying out Su.pr – the new URL shortener from StumbleUpon.  When I first heard StumbleUpon released a link shortener, I couldn’t care less.  Honestly.  I’m really, really happy with bit.ly – why change?

This is why:

supr

Now, the click counts aren’t all that impressive – I generally get between 20-40 clicks per link I post to Twitter.  The important number is what’s in the little blue box.  This, my friend, is the number of people who viewed your link through StumbleUpon.  See, when you shorten a URL using Su.pr, you have the option to “Thumbs Up” your link by reviewing, categorizing, and ensuring that it’s family friendly.  Once that’s done, it’s ready to be stumbled and is made available to other StumbleUpon users.

So the obvious reason for using su.pr is more traffic.  In the past 3 days alone I’ve received a few hundred StumbleUpon views from the few links I’ve posted.  For a small, part-time blogger, this is a big deal.

Apart from that, Su.pr offers some other great tools for link management.

Thumbnail Previews

Sure, it’s not all that useful, but I like it.  It let’s me know at a glance whether or not my link has been reviewed and it lets me know what I’m clicking on without reading the title.  This sounds incredibly lazy, but…well…yeah, it’s lazy.  But I like it.

Statistics

Su.pr offers a variety of statistics – retweets, reviews, stumbles and clicks.  They also offer the option to download your link statistics in CSV form.

Post to Twitter, Facebook

Like bit.ly, Su.pr offers the option of posting your link to Twitter, along with your message.  However, Su.pr also allows you to post to Facebook – or both!  On top of that, it allows for scheduled updates (like HootSuite).

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Promoted Websites

Once you add your domains to your Su.pr settings, you will start to see click report graphs in your sidebar.  This is useful because it shows your most popular websites and posting times at a glance.

Suggested Posting Times

Su.pr analyzes your updates and link counts to provide you with a nice visual graph of the best times to post.  For me, I tend to drive more traffic in the early morning.

2009-10-13_2331

Text to Joupes

joupes

Yep, I’m doing it. Joupes is my baby and I’m going to do everything I can do advertise it. It’s my blog. Get over it.

Hopefully you’re already a user, and hopefully you’re subscribed to the Joupes blog. If so, you can ignore this post. Right now, we’re still only accepting users by invitation. However, in the next week or two, we will be removing this and making it open registration. Until then, request an invite and we’ll get you an account!

On October 3rd we were happy to announce the new text-to-Joupes feature. We know that you might not have time to always log into your Joupes account just to add a task or goal. Thanks to TTJ, you can simply text-message or email us your tasks and we’ll add it for you! Below is a re-post from the official release explaining how TTJ works (from the Joupes Blog).

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Here is the list of the letter combinations you’ll want to remember when you text Joupes. As of right this second, we’re offering 3 options for remotely handling your account.

Send a text to 88147. While this is certainly the easiest option, there are a few things you need to know. First off, this is a shared shortcode. Since we’re poor college kids and don’t have $30,000+ to drop on our own shortcode, we’re experimenting with Zeep Mobile. So, if you decide to use this method, you will need to start each text with “joupes”. So to add a task, you would send “joupes nt pick up the milk”. Also, you will get a short advertisement on the confirmation text. To use the shortcode, click here to confirm your phone and get started (sorry for the bad formatting :-/).

Send an SMS (text-message) to joupes@joupes.com. This is exactly like using the shortcode, but you won’t have to deal with advertisements or appending ‘joupes’ to the beginning of your texts. If your service provider does not allow texting to email addresses, you can sometimes find SMS gateways to get around this.

Send an email to joupes@joupes.com. This option is great for people at work who don’t have time to keep checking online accounts. You can easily manage your lists and add tasks/goals without ever visiting the site.

Your confidence is important to us. Every time you add a goal or task, we’ll send you a confirmation message letting you know it’s been added to your account.

confirmation

Use the letter combinations below to start Jouping remotely:

  • nt : adds a new task – eg. “nt pick up the milk”
  • ng : adds a new goal – eg. “ng retire by the age of 40”
  • due : sets the time this task is due – eg. “nt pick up the milk due today 3pm”
  • lt : lists all tasks – eg. “lt” (returns a list of all tasks)
  • lg : lists all goals – eg. “lg” (returns a list of all goals)
  • help : returns a list of all letter combinations in case you forget
  • rmdr : sets the time that you will receive a text reminder – eg. “nt pick up the milk due today 3pm rmdr 5 minutes”* rmdr has not been released yet – however it is almost completed and should be out in the next week

That’s it! We hope this makes Joupes even easier to use and helps you get stuff done. As always, we hope you follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think of the site. If you don’t have an account, register here and we’ll send you an invitation. If you’d like to get in touch with me, find me on Twitter or send an email to ryan@joupes.com.

Enjoy!

The Unofficial Color Reference Pt. 2

This is the second installment of the Color-Reference collection.  You can see the first post here.

This reference was somewhat popular, possibly more due to the neat looking graphic than actual usefulness.  However, I’ve decided to do another one.  This collection lists the main colors for Digg, Technorati, Reddit, and Joupes.

colors2

* Please note that these may not be the “official” colors of the respective sites. I have done my best to double and triple check all of these on their actual sites.

j.mp

About a week ago, the popular URL shortening service announced that they are releasing a new shortener site. Why would arguably the most popular URL shortener release a brand new site? Simple – j.mp is 2 characters shorter than bit.ly. Really, that’s all.

jmp

For those who are currently bit.ly account holders, don’t worry – just login to j.mp using your bit.ly information and your links and statistics will carry over. Now, saving 2 characters isn’t a huge deal to me, but if you are constantly trying to shave letters off of your tweets, making the switch to j.mp might be a good idea.

Social Networking Gone Too Far

I have always considered Facebook as the primary social network.  You can manage photos like Flickr, you can post updates like Twitter, you can show off your cliched profile pictures like MySpace, you can sell things like eBay, and now with Facebook apps, you can add music to your page, embed RSS feeds and play games.

Since all these things are combined into one site, I (and most others, I believe) consider Facebook to be the more private network – for real friends only.  Sure, some people make it their job to collect friends, but for the most part, clicking “Friend Request” is an exciting action that is reserved for people you know – or at least people you have interacted with.

If someone likes the website, I’ll accept their request.  If I’ve emailed back and forth with the author of a favorite blog of mine, I might try and add him/her on Facebook.  Thanks to uSocial, however, all of this is changing.  Well, at least they want it to.

uSocial is a unique advertising service that sells Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  You heard me right.   For around $177, you can ensure yourself 1,000 new Facebook friends (the same prices apply to Facebook Fan Pages).  For $87, you can buy 1,000 Twitter followers.  Plans for both services can cost you as much as $11,000.  Why would anyone pay for friends?  Good question.

friends

Ideally, this service would appeal to businesses and professionals trying to market their services on these fast growing social networking sites.  However, until I see statistics on the amount of friends and followers who want to reach into their pocket and pay for your product because they are your online friend, I’m not buying it.  Why not simply pay for targeted advertising on Facebook?  It can be significantly cheaper, and it ensures that the friends and fans you get will be…well…friends and fans!

“So, how did we do this quarter, Jim?”

“Well sir, we have over 5,000 fans on Facebook!”

“Wonderful!  Now how does that income statement look?  Oh, and what’s this $650 charge?”

“Unimportant.”

To sum up, social networking has brought us around to the point that people are literally paying for friends.  Lovely.