Tag Archives: twitter

Understanding Twitter’s Discovery Problem

I like many of you, am an internet junkie i.e I spend more waking hours of my day on it than off. I started using Twitter in 2007, a few months after it’s launch and have happened to stuck with it for FIVE long years with steady unswerving loyalty. Not just this, thanks to the tweetdeck (a twitter client) I have it open on my system all the time. Among other things Tweetdeck allows me to manage multiple accounts(my personal acc @mayankdhingra and the @dialabook account), track keywords/hashtags among other things.

So via these 2 accounts I follow close to 2,000 people and have access to at least 3 keywords which I track. As you can imagine, it makes for enormous amount of data in my TL’s (Twitter Timelines) and as expected it gets overwhelming at times. But, that’s not the worst part for me. The worst part is that I like some other information/content junkie can’t have enough of sites/blogposts/news etc and thus I feel bad about not being able to fish out interesting/useful content from my timeline.

Yesterday after coming back home at  3:30 AM or so when I logged on twitter and tried to skim the TL, I found this interesting(thought not much useful yet) website  for tracking multiple couriers, given my business it will come in quite handy. Similarly while checking TL of someone I found this gem for indian indie music.

Think about it, if I weren’t to go and proactively check out past tweets, I wouldn’t have been able to find these, not in the near future at least and this is what pains me.

Discovery(content or otherwise) can happen in two ways

  1. Planned  (Organized/Structured)
  2. Accidental (Random)

If I log onto a particular blog/site everyday for news it is a planned way to discover content (applicable offline too), if I have subscribed to a newsletter it’s planned discovery. However, if someone whom I follow on twitter, RT’s an interesting link and I am online and it appears in my TL it is accidental or random. The major reason I have stuck on twitter despite all the weird ADSD people and their antics is Content and Twitter is by far the best place to get the content dope.

While we all try our best to plan to get the content we’d like to read, it’s the accidental discovery that interests me more. Though by nature this is random and in a way that’s it’s beauty. Out of nowhere you get something that could have an impact. For sake of perspective

  1. Scope for Planned Discovery:
    Source : 1- 100 (upper limit) blogs/sites
    Average Posts/Day on these sources: 5-20(upper limit)
    Total posts/stories accessible: 2,000

  2. Scope for Unplanned Discovery:
    Number of people I follow(from my personal account): 500 or so
    Number of people they follow: 300 or so
    Number of weblinks that a person shares in a day: 5
    Total posts/stories accessible: 500*300*5 = 75,00,00

Depending on my usage(or active usage) of Twitter, I discover less than 0.01% of all content available (Think of the stuff I am missing while I type this sentence)

However, like in other aspects of life I want to be able to control this discovery and try to  bring some method to the madness. I mean, why should I miss really interesting stuff just because I wasn’t scanning my TL and writing this blogpost when somebody tweeted it or how can I increase my chances of finding out stuff about my areas of interest? This is precisely the  Twitter’s Discovery Problem  I am talking about. It’s like a river stream in which I can swim anytime and come out anytime, but what happens when I am not swimming or even when I am there.

How does the relevant content find you and not the other way around?

One of the ideas which a Tarun had was to have an app that rates various links being shared in one’s Timeline based on the number of RT’s it got, so that we get to see what’s popular (weblinks) in our TL’s. Interestingly, before he could find time to built the app, twitter started doing this themselves in their daily newsletters

The problem is twin fold

  1. How to get access to a bigger source of content
  2. How to filter the content for quality and personal preferences

Some top of the head ideas

  1. Further simplify the process of sharing content both on and off twitter. I see a post on iPhone app design and I know 5 people in my network would love it but how to share this with them?  (Think email, think tagging,
    think hashtagging etc)
  2. Sticky tweets: I find something interesting and want most people who read my tweets to be able to see it not just when I tweeted but also for the entire day. How about having that tweet appear on top of my TL and not get hidden in my stream. Sometweets could also appear differently visually/design wise
  3. A hashtag discovery engine: There are tonnes of hashtags people create daily, a smaller subset of this happens in our timelines too. What if people were to use hashtags more and then there’s a page which has a hashtag cloud. The most popular hashtags appear BIGGER AND BOLDERwhile less popular ones  not so. That’s a brand new way to discover content based on how people in my network(or otherwise) tag it.PS: No, this is not the same as twitter trends you genius.
  4. Favorite Tweets: This is undeniably one of the most underused and undervalued feature of twitter, what if we could also share stuff people favourite more prominently? If 50 people in my TL have favourited I might as well would want to check it out

These are just some of the ideas I could think of while writing this blog post but I am sure there’s a lot of value that can be unlocked here.

You could have just missed this post, had it not been for accidental/random discovery. Think about it…

Twspotting

Choose Life. Choose a Job. Choose a
Career. Choose a family. Choose a
Fucking sleek handheld device. Choose
a GPRS connection. Choose a Handle.
Choose a Bio. Choose a DP. Choose
complete strangers to follow. Choose to
be followed by loser lurkers.Choose to
update every tiny fucking bit about
yourself. Choose to Twitpic. Choose to
mention. Choose to DM.Choose
Tweetdeck.  Choose Hootsuite. Choose
Twitter for iPhone,  Blackberry,
Android and Mac. Choose to  flood
other’s timelines with Pinterest,Instagram,
Foursquare updates. Choose not to
google before coming up with grade 6
questions and asking people to RT it.
Choose no  passion. Choose no sleep.
Choose followers over real friends. Choose
Follower Count. Choose tweeting over
blogging. Choose talking over listening.
Choose Klout  Score  over IQ,EQ. Choose
Mentions. Choose RTs. Choose to thank for RTs.
Choose FFs. Choose DIY and wondering who
the fuck are you on a Friday night. Choose
sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing,
spirit-crushing tweets in your TL, stuffing
fucking junk food into your mouth.
Choose Trends, Choose Hashtags. Choose an
almost-fanatical devotion to sharing,
pruning your following list, checking
every tweet made while you were away.
Choose five year old DPs that make
you look appealing. Choose to change DPs
every 2 days. Choose to suck up to
Celebs & Achievers. Choose to Follow
and then Unfollow. Choose to Block and
Report Spam.  Choose to add people to a
random list.Choose to snoop into who is
talking to whom. Choose rotting away at
the end of it all, pishing your last in a
miserable home, nothing more than an
embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up
brats you spawned to replace yourself.

Choose your future. Choose life…

But why would I want to do a thing like that?

I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else.

I chose Twitter

(Inspired from Trainspotting, Adminspotting, Pyspotting and my Love and Hate for Twitter)

Get Rich or Die Tweeting!!

It’s been a long while since I last wrote a blog post and that’s precisely the reason why I am here. Suddenly realized that I(too) have a blog which despite me hating it, has been neglected for a long while. While making a comeback, what’s easier than a rant :D.

I’ve been using twitter for a fairly long time now, almost from the month(or so) it was launched. Despite being using it for that long a period and having my twitter stream open most of the day I’ve never  tweeted a lot, and by ‘a lot’ i mean excess of a dozen fairly distributed tweets a day. Different people have different definitions and clearly for some 10-12 tweets isn’t much. At times I wonder about people who tweet a lot(say 25-35 times a day or more) and mostly end up judging them(not the best thing to do but). What are they like in professional life, in real life(assuming they have one)?

I see lots of wannabe entrepreneurs using twitter heavily to network, RT others tweets, sharing links etc or asking for things which Google could answer better and faster. Then there’s a bunch of what I call “Micro Celebs”, the celebrities of the world of 140 characters whose only claim to fame is there number of followers on twitter or how many achievers or real life celebrities follow them back there. What’s amazing is that these people continue to Tweet/RT the same old things, they used to when they started an year or two back. But luckily what works for them is the fact like search traffic on the internet, there’s always enough audience for them on Twitter, which probably explains why the ones who tweet a lot tend to have more followers.

Most people in my TL who tweet a lot work for some or other company and start tweeting almost the minute they reach their office and continue till the time they head back home. I wonder if they tweet this much and this frequently, how do they get any work done at all. But then,as I’ve seen and experienced myself, you don’t need to get a lot of work done in a big MNC to survive.

Anyways I feel some people(ambitious ones at least) should spend a little less time tweeting about what they are eating/drinking/feeling and instead think how addicted they have become and the things they can get done in that time..

You Social, We Social

With more and more people from India jumping the Social Media bandwagon, local brands are not standing on the edges anymore and have slowly started to test the Social Media waters. Reliance  Mutual Fund seems to be a new kid on the block. I happened to get the following mail from them yesterday

“Accept Button”?
Curious, I tried to check out what they had to offer and here’s what how things stand. The link takes you to their MF site that has the same icons in the tiniest size possible in the most invisible place possible


And here’s what you get when you click the icons

Facebook:

Twitter:

Orkut:

These screenshots pretty much tell the Social Media story for Reliance MF, which is so typical for most companies that are trying to be there but are no where near the optimum experience. It will take them some time and effort to understand there’s more to Social Media than reposting links and hopefully they’ll get hang of things before they run into a Nestle Like crisis

Twitter and The Irony of Social Media

Amongst all this hype of Twitter and how tons of companies use it for customer service etc it never really occured to me that how Twitter isn’t doing anything noteworthy to interact with its customers and offer them support/help.

Though there is an account http://twitter.com/twitter, people using it never talk to Twitter users.

Random Tweets Bug

It started a while back when I noticed a couple people in my timeline complaining about getting tweets(appear in their timeline) from people they don’t follow.

Twitter Haunted

Those must me RT’s I thought and dismissed it but then I saw this tweet,

Tweet Error

Refusing at first to admit that it must a bug in Twitter, I thought it just might have got something to do with list feature but on further inquiry, that too turned out to be not the case.

As it turns out there’s a bug in Twitter due to which people are seeing random tweets from people they aren’t following. Let’s see how long does it take people to realize this and for Twitter to fix it

Random Tweets

Twitter Bug

Also, apparently there’s another even more irritating part of this bug in which some people are getting these tweets from people they aren’t following via SMS.

Twitter SMS bug

A look around the public timeline confirms the existence of the “Random Tweets” bug.

Timeline

and a look at this tweet tells us that this has been going on for a couple of days now

random tweets bug

Designing Notification Emails: What you can learn from Friendfeed and others

Email notifications for various actions(like new friend request, new follower) play an important role in getting a user back to the site and making them perform an action (accept/deny or follow back). Also, given the huge size of various social networks and thinking of these emails as a customer touch point it’s helpful to have a nicely designed notification email template. I’ve written a couple of posts on the same earlier too.

In this post I’ll try to compare the notification email by various popular platforms for the basic action of getting a new friend,follower, subscriber etc and see whose doing what and what could they do to make things better.

1) Twitter:


Format: HTML; Display Pic: Included; Call to Action: Visit profile; Direct Action: Block

This template is mostly good enough to decide if a user wants to follow back another user of not but by having a direct follow button would have helped.

2) Slideshare


Format: HTML; Display Pic: Not Included; Call to Action: Visit profileDirect Action: None

This template is plain and simple but it doesn’t have a display pic for new follower and it doesn’t have a direct button for an action. Also, it has two links which point to the same page, which isn’t the best thing .

3) LinkedIn

Format: HTML; Display Pic: Not Included; Call to Action: View InvitationDirect Action: Accept Invitation.

While Linkedin has a direct action button they don’t have any detail about the user in question. Here again a picture or some more description will be helpful.

4) FriendFeed:

Format: HTML; Display Pic: Included; Call to Action: NoneDirect Action: Subscribe back

Friendfeed has by far the best designed email notification template in which they have the display pic, last few updates and just one link to get direct action(subscribe back) from the user

5) Facebook:


Format: HTML; Display Pic: Included; Call to Action: Visit request Direct Action: Accept Request.

Facebook has changed it’s notification from the older one (active till 14th september 09). While they have definitely gone the Friendfeed way, the name  of direct action button is Login which doesn’t kinda look right.

Format: Text; Display Pic: Not Included; Call to Action: View RequestDirect Action: None

6) Orkut:


Format: HTML; Display Pic: Included; Call to Action: Visit profile and Visit friends pageDirect Action: None

Orkut too like slideshare has two links to the user’s profile and a third link which reads ‘visit friends page’ but it takes you to a separate ‘add friends’ page ala facebook.  Also there is no direct call to action here too.

While there could be reasons for not having a direct action button for Facebook and  Orkut(because they need to group friends into categories for example) some sites like Slideshare and Twitter can easily pick this.{Tip 1}

Having two links to the same profile page is definitely not wise and needs to be taken care off {Tip 2}. Other tips like having some profile info and a display picture can help {Tip 3} in a direct call to action(button etc) {Tip 4} if there is.

As you might have noticed eventually every notification email has moved to HTML format as it has more options like better looks and including a direct action call. {Tip 5}

What do you think about these email notifications?

Twitter Search: No Looking Back ?

Have a look at the Twitter search result page below.

twitter search result page

Can you see something missing ?

Ever since we had search.twitter.com ( I think after the summize acquisition) I’ve always wondered how come there isn’t a link to go back to the Twitter home page from the search result page. Though it makes PERFECT sense that there should be a visible link to the main page on the top section of the result page or at least the Twitter logo should redirect to the main page , none of them exists.

Instead they have a inconscpicous little “Twitter Home” link at the page footer which I bet would be hardly used.

twitter home link on page bottom

Thinking aloud, could it be that ever since Twitter acquired Summize they never really thought of putting the Twitter homepage link which was missing in Summize(it didn’t need a home page link as it was just a search tool and search can be done the search result page too).

For those of you who joined the Social Media bandwagon late, here’s what  Summize looked like.


summize (Image credits http://www.flickr.com/photos/toprankblog/)

familiar to the F? 🙂

What do you think about this, a missing chunk of usability resulting from oversight or something else ?