In the world of social media, one of the most viewed pieces of content is the tweet or status update. Updates and photos. Those are the biggest social media traffic builders. In fact, according to a recent PEW Internet study “Some 19% of internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others.” In addition to this stat, at Chirp, a developer conference for Twitter, it was stated that Twitter has over 55M Tweets per day compared to Facebook’s 60M status updates per day. I first saw that stat come from Steve Rubel, a VP at Edelman PR and I immediately replied back what was obvious to me, “but how many of those status updates are really tweets?” And there lies my problem.
For me, I use Twitter distinctly different than Facebook. What I share with these distinct audiences is different, and purposely set up to be different. In fact, I’m more likely to connect my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts than I am Twitter and Facebook. You see, I use Facebook for personal reasons. I don’t have two accounts like many people do (which violate their terms of service, you know that thing you agree to when you create accounts on sites that you most likely never read). I leave my personal / professional network to Twitter and LInkedIn. I often see people using the convenience of tools like Tweetdeck, FriendFeed, or even just built in integrations between Twitter and Facebook (with a Facebook App) to update a status once and let it go to many social networks. I think that is a mistake.
I know I’m not alone when I find a tweet in my news feed on Facebook annoying. Twitter uses different protocols for replies and use of hashtags for topics. While Facebook has attempted to incorporate the @ symbol as well, to be frank, I just think that audience doesn’t get it, and that’s why it isn’t used. I also think the way people tweet, at times linking people to other content, websites, or replies to people is different than how people publish status updates on Facebook. This makes for a very disjointed news feed. It has gotten to the point that I’m about to “unfriend” all my Facebook friends who integrate the two together. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.
Presumably you use your networks differently as well. Maybe not to the same degree I do, but the people you friend on Facebook may not be the same people you follow on Twitter or connect with on LinkedIn. So why send them all the same message? Just like marketers have to segment and target their messages to get the most return on their investment, you too should be conscious about what messages you send to your networks. You will have stronger networks in the end who will pay attention to what you have to say, not ignore you because the last 10 tweets had nothing to do with what you talk to your friends about on Facebook.
I never found out the answer to my question regarding how many Facebook status updates were really Tweets. Maybe someone will publish that stat someday.
Recently the BlackBerry device was delivered two important apps for business users to their app store, Twitter and LinkedIn. For the last year the iPhone has been the dominant device for most major app development with Android becoming a distant second. BlackBerry devices seemed to be falling by the wayside. Which strikes me as odd seeing how BlackBerry devices are very dominant in the business world and growing in the consumer phone world as well. I know the easy answer is that the touch screen and just plain sex appeal of an iPhone is better than owning a BlackBerry (myself included), but I think these two apps will start to change that thinking. The reality is that the BlackBerry codex is more complicated and thus the apps cost more to make. However, as a business user, my BlackBerry rules and I need apps for it. After I recently had my BlackBerry upgraded to the Curve 8900 I started to look at apps not only to see what they looked like and how they worked with an eye to something we might build for my organization, but also just to see what was out there. Not much existed. While there are plenty of apps, nothing was ringing the same way my friends who have iPhones would talk about their apps. Hey, if we “bump” our phones together, we can share contact information. But maybe that was the point – the BlackBerry market is just different than the iPhone market.
I know that BlackBerry is more complex to write an application for. It has a different user interface and that can’t be simple to compensate for a lack of touch screen as an input (well there is the Storm(2). But I’m hoping these two apps start a push; a push for more apps to be developed. The Twitter and LinkedIn apps are important to me because I use them for professional purposes. And while I like looking at Facebook updates on my BlackBerry, I really have ignored my professional network on LinkedIn…until now. This app is a much needed upgrade from their mobile site, allowing me to do much more to monitor or share with my professional network. This is good.
Before upgrading to the new Twitter app I was using Über Twitter. Uber Twitter was nice at the time because it did more than just going to the mobile site of Twitter.com. However, it had ads that I found annoying, even if they were minimal intrusion. Now that Twitter has an official BlackBerry app, I’ve bailed on Über Twitter. I have to try the official app. According to the BlackBerry site, Twitter for BlackBerry features include:
- Get your Direct Messages as soon as they arrive
- Reply to tweets, re-tweet and send Direct Messages
- Post a link from your BlackBerry® Browser
- Take a funny picture and upload it
After a few days of use, I like the interface. I find the integration into my inbox for notifications useful. One of the downsides right now is that you can’t integrate multiple Twitter accounts or access them without logging out. The latter is something I like about Über Twitter. Also, you can’t edit a re-tweet in the official BlackBerry app. I will live with these two cons for the additional pros of accessing trending topics and overall Twitter search. Right now I have to find a balance between monitoring my Twitter accounts when I’m at my desk vs. on the go. Desktop monitoring is done via TweetDeck, which doesn’t have a BlackBerry app yet. The jury is still completely out on the official app, but it is a good first step.
LinkedIn is a different beast in and of itself. Similar to Facebook, but also not. LinkedIn is really the defacto profession network. While specialty networks will still arise, like MH Connected for lawyers, LinkedIn really addresses the business world as a whole, no matter what industry you are in.
Again, according to the LinkedIn blog, the app features:
- Network Updates. View and share crucial business intelligence and updates with your network. Perfect for those spare moments between meetings.
- Search. Search across over 60 million global professionals, and get the answer back in seconds. We’ve implemented a unified search across both your direct connections and the entire LinkedIn network.
- Connections. LinkedIn is your address book in the cloud. Get quick access to any of your connections to get their up-to-date profile information, and the ability to send them a message immediately.
- Invitations. Why wait to get back to your desk? Accept outstanding invitations immediately.
- Messages. Messaging is one of the reasons that BlackBerry owners love their devices, and we’ve worked hard to integrate your LinkedIn Inbox.
- Reconnect. You can’t leverage your network if you don’t build it. This module brings suggestions for new connections to you anytime. Now you can build your network from anywhere, in seconds.
These are great features that I have started to use. It reminds me a lot of the Facebook for BlackBerry app, but better.
Taking Advantage of the Platform
According to the announcement blog post, the LinkedIn app also takes advantage of several native BlackBerry applications. These include:
- Contacts. Integrate your LinkedIn connections with your BlackBerry address book, and view the profile of any contact directly on your BlackBerry.
- Messages. LinkedIn invitations and messages will now appear in your BlackBerry Inbox, just like any other email. You can also view the LinkedIn profile of the sender of any email you receive.
- Calendar. You can now view the LinkedIn profile of any attendee of a meeting on your BlackBerry calendar.
I can’t stress the importance of integration with the native features of BlackBerry OS. If you are going to use these third party networks, integration is key and this is one of the great aspects of the LinkedIn app. Going from the mobile site which was really basic and clunky to this app is like going from a pinto to a corvette. Nice job.
Overall the BlackBerry market needs to get a kick-start. Mobile professionals, while migrating to the iPhone and probably the Droid phones now too need apps for the BlackBerry. I’ll be frank in saying the pure interface of a BlackBerry is one of its biggest challenges. Whether it is the roller ball, the touch pad, or even the touch screen in the Storm(2), developing for the BlackBerry can’t be as easy as the Android and Apple devices. But here is to hoping. Hoping that more business applications come out that support good business use on the BlackBerry device.
Twitter is one of those social media tools that is hard to ignore, but a lot of people are not sure how to use it. Personally, I use Twitter as a resource, a pulse of the industries I follow, and for business. I
try not to use Twitter to update what my kid did today or other mindless
comments. That being said, of course the occasional tweet like that and local news will filter into the stream.
I’ve tried a few strategies on how to use Twitter in 2008 from only following my friends and people I’ve met, to being very selective, to following a ton of people in industries and following almost everyone who follows me (which sometimes I really wonder how they find me). I tried the Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) approach of getting the fire hose and then paying attention to replies and direct messages. I’ve tried to use it as a sounding board with little success. But that may be attributed to how little I tweet in the first
place. I’ve seen Twitter used very successfully as a networking tool from the sorts of Kevin O’Keefe (@kevinokeefe) and Peter Flashner (@flashlight). However, as we enter 2009 I will use a new strategy. This is important to note because it will help you determine if you want to follow me or not as well as if I will follow you in reciprocation.
If you follow me @FredFaulknerIV you will find useful information. Follow me if you like what I tweet/retweet. Follow me if you are into social media, marketing, business, and associations. Don’t follow me solely for where I work. I will occasionally tweet about work I do for my employer. This will be for good reasons, but not a regular occurrence.
I will also use this Twitter account to also network with others (virtually at first, and hopefully in person at some point in the future). I believe the power of tweets can start conversations, first publicly, then privately over direct messages, and then to email.
The concept of Twitter isn’t going away. MovableType is releasing Motion as part of their platform in early 2009, which can make that platform a major player in the social platform market. Businesses are jumping on Twitter and using successfully. See what Shell Israel is doing with Twitterville. But with all things social media, 2009 will be all about moderation.
So look out for the concept of a Tweet, or a short 140 character message. It is changing the way we think about communicating, what we communicate, and can we be effective in what we say.