Twitter Lists - 16 Ways To Use Lists To Improve Your Twitter Experience

A few days ago we looked at the new lists feature that has recently been added to Twitter. We covered most of the frequently asked questions about how to create and manage new lists, why lists have been introduced and discovered a few of the problems with this new feature.

Different Ways To Use Twitter Lists

However, we deliberately omitted one important question; How Can I Use The New Lists Feature To Improve My Twitter Experience?

At present, there are several ways to use Twitter lists and even more will evolve over time, so here are the most popular uses for Twitter lists;

Most of these ideas are from the perspective of creating your own list, however, they can also be used to gain benefit from using the lists created by other Twitter users.

1. The Group List

The Group List

For more than a year, third party apps have provided the ability to create groups of Twitter users. The new lists feature now allows you to create the same effect without relying upon a third party service.

Just create a new list and start adding people, preferably based around a specific subject or topic such as friends, colleagues, location, subject etc.

All their tweet streams will be combined into a common timeline allowing you to keep up to date with everything that’s happening in the new micro-community that you’ve just created.

2. The Recommend List

Lists also allow you to recommend other Twitter users that people should follow.

For example, you could create a public list of the best entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. People who know you and trust your recommendations will then have a list of relevant people to follow.

Alternatively, instead of following the people in your list, they could follow your list and rely upon your judgment to maintain a list of the best people who are related to the topic in question.

This development has already altered the way the Follow Friday works. Many people are creating #FollowFriday lists and linking to them in their #FollowFriday tweets.

This approach carries several potential advantages;

a. It makes it easier for people to constantly manage the people that they recommend within their list

b. It is likely to make the recommendations topic specific rather than an endless string of “good people to follow”

c. It will be easier to recommend a larger number of people without creating excessive noise within the network

d. The recommendations will remain visible (within the lists) for longer than the traditional follow friday tweets which rapidly slip down the timeline into obscurity. This will provide more exposure for people who are recommended.

However, it also carries certain disadvantages;

a. Creating a list for #FollowFriday could encourage people to follow your list rather than the individuals on it

b. Tweeting a list rather than individual user names, creates an extra step for people who are interested in following the people that you recommend. One click to reach your list, then another click to visit the profile of the person that you have recommended.

c. It loses the personal touch. Many people will never know that they have been recommended, especially if they don’t check the lists that they have been added to.

Lists are also a great way to find new people to follow, especially if you trust the editorial judgment of the people who manage the lists.

Likewise, the type and calibre of lists that people appear on is also another indication of whether it will be worthwhile to follow them.

3. The List Calibration Process

The List Calibration Process

Lists can also provide you with a broad overview of the way that you are perceived by others on Twitter.

For example, if you’re included on 100 lists and 75 are related to marketing, that’s a strong indication that the general twitter community sees you as someone who provides marketing related information and insight. Using this technique, you may find that other people see you differently from the way you see yourself.

4. The Not Following List

When you follow a Twitter list, it’s the list that you follow rather than all the people on it. So it allows you to see all the messages posted by these people in the list timeline without them appearing in your main timeline.

This can be useful when there are people in whom you have a passing interest, but don’t want to follow. For example, those who tweet dozens of times a day, those who tweet on a wide range of subjects (only some of which interest you) or those who post a long string of irrelevant rubbish along with an occasional diamond.

So while you may read your main timeline every day, you may only scan through your Not Following list once or twice a week.

Alternatively, you could create a probation list where you add new users who seem promising, watch the quality of their tweets for a period of time, then follow the people who add most to your Twitter experience.

5. The Location List

The Location List

You could create a list of the best tweeters within a certain geographical area, such as a specific town, city or state. Many people have already create geographical Twitter groups using 3rd party services, but this gives you a chance to integrate the spirit of these groups within the main Twitter interface.

6. The Organization List

Alternatively, you could create lists of people connected by a specific organization, such as a workplace, school, college, etc. Use the lists feature to create a resource for other people within the organization.

7. The Company List

The Company List

If you’re part of a company that has a number of team members who use Twitter, consider creating a company list. Include everyone within the organization who uses Twitter in a business capacity.

Once you’ve done that, share the list internally throughout the company. This will help everyone on your team keep up to date with all the messages posted by everyone else in the company.

The company list will also make it easier to monitor the official Twitter activity of the entire team and identify areas where interaction with customers and potential customers can be improved.

Next, share the list externally with other Twitter users and promote it on the company website, email sigs etc. This will help to keep the business in front of your target market. It will also improve the level of customer service by making it easier to find the right person to contact within the company.

8. The Industry List

Keep up to date with all the thought leaders within a specific industry.

Just create your list around a certain industry, add the people who will provide most value then you will be able to read all their messages in one self-contained stream.

For added exposure, share your industry list with others. Provide them with a valuable resource that will add to their Twitter experience. And as this lists feature is still relatively new, there’s a greater chance that your list could become the industry standard that all Twitter users within the industry refer to. In turn, this will provide you with added visibility within the industry. To promote your list, add it to a list directory such as Listorious.

9. The Experts List

You can use the lists feature to recognize other experts within certain areas. For example, If you run an online business, you could create a list with all the experts that are required to run your business. For example, copywriter, graphic artist, programmer, virtual assistant etc.

This allows you to provide value for others by recommending relevant members of the Twitter community. At the same time, managing popular lists will also boost your own credibility.

Alternatively, you could create a list of experts who provide the best news, commentary, tools, resources on certain subjects. For example, those who share the best photoshop tips and tutorials.

10. The Website List

If you need content for your website or blog, just create a list based around a specific topic, fill it with people who provide good posts, then add the feed to your site.

In effect, this allows you to use the list feature to aggregate the messages of certain people and display the real-time results on your site.

It’s a good alternative to displaying your own tweets on your site, especially if you don’t tweet that often.

Just make sure that you select the people on your list carefully, as their output will be published straight to your site.

11. The Campaign List

If you have a cause such as a charity, idea or political campaign that you want to promote, why not create a list that all your supporters can use to communicate with each other. It will also provide a means to gain increased recognition through promotion. Include everyone who actively supports or endorses the cause.

If raising money for a specific cause or charity, you could even create a list to recognize everyone who has contributed more than a certain amount to the fund.

12. The Reporters List

The Reporters List

If you’re a reporter or a blogger, private lists can be a great research tool. Just collect together a list of the people that you want to research and keep track of what they’re saying on Twitter. They may even lead you to other online resources such as articles, blogs etc that are related to the subject of your research.

For example, if you’re a political/economic/celebrity/sports editor for a news company, you may want to create list of all the leading politicians/economists/celebrities/athletes etc.

In order to build credibility and avoid a conflict of interest, journalists and bloggers could also create a list to disclose people and companies with whom they are affiliated. This will help people to draw their own conclusions about the weight and level of impartiality to assign to both their tweets and their work in general.

13. The Event List

The Events List

If you will be hosting a live event, make sure that you create a list and get people to add their Twitter username when they register.

This technique will help to create a sense of anticipation as it will allow everyone to track what everyone else is saying about the event before it happens. It will also make it easier to communicate any last minute changes.

An event list will also make it easier for people to meet each other during the event and exchange ideas, opinions etc (this is a great way for you to collect feedback about the event and make alterations to meet the expectations of the attendees).

Finally, it also makes it easier for those who can’t attend to keep up to date with what happens at the event.

14. The Inventive List

It’s possible to create a list of almost any combination of Twitter users. It’s the topic that links all of the people within the list that allows you to create meaningful value for others. So get inventive. How about places to eat in Boston, stores with the best ipod discounts or people that share the best videos about the NFL.

If you can find the right audience and provide them with information of value, your public list could attract significant attention.

15. The Private List

It’s possible to use private lists to help you achieve various results, including;

If you’re looking for a job, you could create a private list of recruiters and potential employers in order to monitor job listings and other career opportunities.

If you’re looking for a new computer or TV you could create a private list of all the electrical retailers who post special offers and deals on Twitter.

16. The Alumni List

Lists are a good way for universities, colleges and other organizations to keep former students and employees engaged.

So how do you use Twitter lists? If you have any new ideas that we haven’t mentioned here, let us know in the comments section below.

Twitter Lists - The Complete Guide

Twitter’s new lists feature was rolled out towards the end of October 2009 and millions of lists have already been created. However, many people are still trying to work out how this new feature will enhance their Twitter experience.

So here’s our attempt to answer the most frequently asked question about Twitter lists.

Twitter Lists - The Complete Guide

What Are Twitter Lists?

The Twitter lists feature is a new way to organize the flow of messages through your account. The concept is similar to the group feature that various third party services provide.

It allows you to group the stream of messages from a specific set of users and isolate them in a separate timeline. This makes it easier to follow the messages that flow through your account by categorizing them into various topics that you choose.

For example, you may follow people who tweet about golf, reading and internet marketing. Instead of mixing all of this information into your main timeline, the lists feature allows you to separate the strands to enhance your Twitter experience.

It allows you to create your own portfolio of different tribes within the same account, so that you can tell at a glance what the people are talking about in each distinct community at any time.

How Do I Create A New List?

It’s quick and easy to create a new list. Once you’ve logged into your account, you should see a new Lists section in the right hand panel just below the search box. Below that you should see a link that reads “New List”.

Create A New Twitter List

A new window will appear giving you the options to create your new list. First, name your list, for example, top online marketers. The name you select will determine your list’s address, using the following structure twitter.com/username/your-list-name

Twitter List Creation Form

You can also add a short description which will help people determine the theme of your list.

Next, you have to select whether you want your list to be public or private. A public list means that anyone can view or subscribe to the list, while a private list can only be accessed by you. Not even the people on your private list will be able to see your list.

If you want to create a list of Twitter users that you recommend to other people, remember to make the list public. On the other hand, if you want to create a list of your competitors, your best customers or your family, you may want to keep it private.

Finally, click the Create List button and you’re ready to start adding people to your new list. The site will prompt you to search for people to add to your new list.

You can add users from their profile page by clicking the lists button at the top right then using the drop down menu to select which of your lists you want to add them to. This allows you to add a user to multiple lists at the same time.

Add New Users To Your Twitter List - Method 1

Alternatively, clicking on either the Followers or Following links in your profile will display the people that are following you or those that you are following. These pages now contain a new button next to every user that allows you to manage the lists on which they appear. [managelist.jpg]

Add New Users To Your Twitter List - Method 2

You can also add yourself to your lists by clicking the Profile link in the navigation bar at the top right of the screen, then clicking the Lists button that appears to the left of your bio. Just select which of your lists you want to add yourself to.

Add Yourself To Your Own List

Are There Any Limits?

At present each list is limited to a maximum of 500 people and each user is limited to creating a maximum of 20 lists.

These limits may change as this new feature develops, however there is a suggestion that these limits have been imposed in order to encourage people to refine their lists (only including the best, most relevant users) thus increasing the power of the marketing data that Twitter can crowd-source.

How Can I Find Lists To Follow?

Check out the lists created by your friends and other Twitter users that you respect. Take a look at the lists that other people have added them to.

Tweetdeck Directory, contains a rapidly growing database of Twitter lists that are categorized into a wide range of popular topics.

Listorious, is an independent site that maintains a categorized directory of Twitter lists. They allow you to browse lists by category or by popularity. Go to All Tags under the top tags column and look for tags that describe the type of list you’d like to follow. It’s also possible to use their search function to find lists according to keyword or the creator of the list.

Twitter List Directory - Listorious

Tweetmeme, the service that powers the green retweet buttons on many blogs, now provides the ability to find the most Tweeted about Twitter lists.

Twitter List Directory - Tweetmeme

How Do I Manage My Lists?

Lists I’m On

Click the “Listed” link on the right hand side of the page just below your bio. This will take you to the list control center.

List Of Lists

The first tab “Lists Following You” shows all the lists that other people have added you to.

Clicking on one of the lists will take you to the list page, which allows you to view the stream of messages posted by list members. You can also select to follow the list and as mentioned below you can also leave the list by blocking the person who created it.

Example List Page

If you find that you’ve been added to a list that you don’t want to be associated with, such as “The Biggest Losers”, you have two options.

First, if you want to be removed from the list but still want to follow the list creator, you could contact them and ask to be removed from the list.

Second, you can remove yourself from that list by blocking the person who created it. To achieve this just visit the list page that you want to leave (click “Listed” on the right side of the page below your bio, click the “Lists Following You” tab, then click the name of the list), then click “Block [username]” under the actions section on the right hand side of the page.

Just remember that blocking another user means that they can’t follow you until you unblock them.

This is one feature that should be made easier to understand. The words “Leave List” would be much easier to understand, rather than the rather derivative process of having to block the list creator.

Lists I Follow

The second tab “Lists You Follow” allows you to view the lists that you follow then click through to the specific page for each list. This allows you to keep up to date with the messages posted by people on the list and gives you the option to stop following certain lists.

Lists I Have Created

Once you create your own list, the name of every list will appear in the lists section on the right hand of the page below the search box. Clicking on the icon to the right of the list name will take you to the main page for the list.

This page shows the main timeline containing all the messages posted by people on the list. It also shows other details such as the number of people that the list is following and the number of people who are following the list. If your list is public this is exactly what everyone else will see when they visit the page.

The only exceptions are the two links at the top right of the page, which allow you to edit the name, description and public/private nature of the list. The other link allows you to delete the list. However, at the time of writing, some people were having problems deleting their lists and deleting people from their lists.

And please bear in mind that if you turn a public list private, everyone who followed it will no longer be able to view it. Likewise, if you turn it back to a public list, these people will have to re-follow it.

You can delete people from your list by clicking the “Following” link on the right hand of the main list page. This will display the details of all the people on your list. Just click the button to the right of their username and use the drop down box to uncheck the lists from which you want to remove them.

If your list is private, it will be shown with a small closed padlock icon.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Twitter Lists?

At present, the list feature has developed three main uses. They can be used to;

1. Organize the messages from flow through your account,

2. Recommend the best people to follow or find the best people to follow, and

3. Measure the amount of influence of the people who manage the lists or the people who appear on them.

However, other valuable uses are appearing every day.

Some people use the lists to gain a broad overview of how the Twitter community perceives them. For example, if you appear on 150 lists about business, marketing, entrepreneurs etc, that’s how the community views your contribution to the network.

Lists can also be a way to show your appreciation for the content that certain people add to their messages. If people who provide the most value get the greatest recognition, it will improve the quality of the whole network.

If you follow more than 500-1000 people, lists are a powerful way to organize the flow of information through your account so that it can be consumed quickly without missing anything important.

Lists also provide you with a number of ways to consume the information produced by other Twitter users. You can;

1. Follow them in the traditional manner

2. Put them on a list

3. Follow them and put them on a list

If you find that you’re following too many people, you now have the option to unfollow them from your main account and move them to a public or private list. This gives you continued access to their messages, without making your main account unmanageable.

This is also a useful way to follow the messages of more people if you reach the stage where you have followed 2,000 people and can’t follow any more until the number of people following you moves above 1820.

As you can create up to 20 lists that each follow up to 500 people it’s possible to keep track of an additional 10,000 accounts beyond the initial 2,000 limit of your main account. Whether this leads to a proliferation of useless lists created by spammers that add nothing to the network remains to be seen.

And finally, as there doesn’t appear to be any limit to the number of lists you can follow, so you can consume the messages in as many different lists as you want.

How Do I Promote My New Public Lists?

First, make sure that you add a good description to your list, that contains plenty of keywords to describe the category of people who are included within your list.

Second, tweet out a link to your new list’s main page.

Third, add your list to the Twitter list directories that are appearing such as Listorious and Tweetdeck Directory. This will provide your new list with greater visibility. Just make sure to include the most relevant tags to describe your list and include a short description.

Fourth, consider tweeting about your list on #followfriday with a short note explaining why others should follow these people.

Fifth, use all the traditional internet marketing routes, such as adding the list address to your site/blog, email signatures, articles, videos, PR etc.

What Else Should I Bear In Mind About Lists?

1. It’s important to know what you want to achieve using the lists feature. Do you want to find great people to follow, do you want to build categorized mini communities to share with others or do you want to organize the way info passes through your account?

2. You can use lists for whatever purposes you choose. Lists are just a feature like favorites or saved searches, so if they improve your Twitter experience, go for it.

3. Lists are not a popularity contest. Sure it’s nice to be recognized by other Twitter users, especially those who are well respected, but ultimately it doesn’t matter how many lists contain your name. The quality of lists that you appear on is much more important than the quantity.

Likewise, it’s more important for your name to appear in lists that are more specific. Surely it’s better to be included in a list of the “Top 100 flash programmers” than a list of “Good People To Follow”.

But beyond that, lists are just a tool to help you get more value out of the information that passes through the Twitter platform.

4. If a great list has already been created by another user, instead of duplicating most of their effort, consider following it instead. At present, each account is limited to creating just 20 lists, so use them wisely. Aim to create value for the network by creating a list based around a new angle.

5. The most valuable public lists are medium sized. For example, if your list contains only two or three people, it would be just as quick to visit their profiles individually. Likewise, once you have more than 100-200 people on a list, it becomes much harder to keep up to date with the flow of data through the timeline.

6. When someone includes you on a list, feel free to thank them, but don’t feel obliged to reciprocate by adding them to one of your lists. The public lists that carry the most value are those that contain the best collection of users (in your opinion) based around a particular subject, rather than a list of people who have added you to one of their lists.

Why Has Twitter Created The Lists Feature?

There has been plenty of speculation about why Twitter has added this new feature, especially at the same time as it rolled out the new retweet feature. Here are the most plausible reasons;

Option 1: In response to demands from the Twitter community. Many Twitter users have been asking for a way to separate their timelines for several months.

Option 2: In response to the features provided by third party apps such as Tweetdeck. These applications have provided the ability to group the messages of the people that you follow into different categories for more than a year.

Option 3: To further enhance the data that’s generated by the Twitter community. For example, this development could be used to rank the quality of lists and in turn refine the weighting given to each user account.

This ranking could then give relevant weighting to the information contained within their posts and the retweets they make.

All this data would then be extremely useful to search engines such as Google for improving the accuracy of their real time search.

Are There Any Problems With The Lists Feature?

Here are some of the list related complaints and feature requests that people have mentioned;

1. I can’t delete my Twitter lists.

2. I can’t remove people from my list.

3. I wish I could send a post to a list only and not to my general Twitter account.

And here are three potential trends that could cause problems for the new list feature;

4. Unlike the new retweet feature, most of the Twitter community welcome the introduction of lists. However, a few people have claimed that it breaks the core concept of the platform, makes it too complex and will only amplify the problem of irrelevant noise that surrounds the core communication function of Twitter.

This could turn out to be an accurate assessment as history shows that networking sites become more complex as their popularity rises, which in turn leads to the early adopters leaving to pursue the latest trend. Will this happen to Twitter? Only time will tell.

5. Over time, the best public lists in the most popular categories will become the benchmark, so eventually as far as most people are concerned, creating their own lists of recommended people will become almost redundant. The social interaction function of lists will cease to have as much importance.

So in effect the lists feature could become nothing more than a series of private address books for users to split the flow of information through their Twitter account.

6. It’s also possible to envisage the situation where higher profile twitter users are added into hundreds or thousands of pointless lists by spammers trying to gain attention.

Under normal circumstances this isn’t too much of an irritation, but it could reach the stage where people get tired of monitoring the lists they have been added to, in order to remove themselves from any lists that could damage their reputation.

At present it’s too early to say whether this could happen, so watch this space.

However, given time these problems will be ironed out and the value of the list feature should continue to grow. Ultimately, the value of any Twitter feature is only as great as the community of users makes it.

What do you think if the new lists feature? How are you using it to improve your Twitter experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Twitter’s New Retweet System - All Your Questions Answered

Twitter has recently made some controversial changes to the retweet feature. So here’s a selection of answers to the most urgent questions that are being asked by the Twitter community.

Twitter's New Retweet System - All Your Questions Answered

How Did The Retweet Develop?

If we had to select just one reason for the rapid growth in the popularity of Twitter, it would be the Retweet feature.

It is this feature that has allowed the Twitter community to discover the things that are of most importance to them at any moment.

However, when the Twitter platform was initially designed, it’s highly unlikely that the founders envisaged the Retweet concept.

The Retweet custom (adding RT then the @username before the original message, possibly followed by a short comment) was developed over time by the early Twitter users, then embraced by several third party applications until it become one of the cultural icons of the internet age.

It was something that the community worked out for itself and evolved over time, rather than a business strategy that was designed from the beginning, and that’s a major part of its charm. People like to believe that they’ve discovered something rather than being told what to do.

Twitter gave us a simple platform and we developed customs and traditions so that we could use it in the way that brought most value to our lives.

What Were The Problems With The Original Retweet Convention?

However, the ad-hoc retweet system developed by the early Twitter users is not perfect.

First, as you have to include both the @username of the original tweeter plus the designation RT, there are situations where you have to edit the original message to comply with the 140 character limit. Apart from being more time consuming, this can lead to a loss of context in some retweeted messages.

Second, if several of your followers retweet the same message, this can lead to significant repetition of content in your timeline.

So towards the end of November 2009, Twitter rolled out a completely new Retweet system in an attempt to fix these issues.

What Is Twitter’s Solution?

They have added a new Retweet icon to the website interface. So instead of having to cut and paste messages then add RT and the @username all you have to do is click the icon.

When you retweet a message using this new icon, your followers will see the message in their timeline alongside the avatar of the Twitter user who posted the original message. This happens regardless of whether they are following that person.

Twitter also claims to have fixed the repetition of repeated messages in the timeline by grouping together identical retweets. So from now on, you’ll only see a repeated message once within your timeline. There will also be info under the message letting you know the two or more of your followers who have retweeted the message.

If you want to manage your retweets, clicking on the retweets link on the right hand side of the main interface will bring up a page with 3 options;

a. Retweets by others - This is a list of all the retweets made by the people you follow. The appear in largely in chronological order although the most popular retweets tend to appear near the top of the list. This gives you the option to reply to any of them or retweet them to your followers.

b. Retweets by you - A list of all the messages that you have retweeted. This gives you the option to reply to tweets or to cancel your retweet using the undo link.

c. Your Tweets, Retweeted - See which of your tweets have been retweeted by your followers.

Finally, it’s also possible to block retweets from appearing on your timeline on a user by user basis. Just visit their profile page, click the green circular retweet button (next to the following message at the top of their page) until it turns grey. Their tweets will no longer appear in your timeline. To unblock them, just reverse the process.

What Do Twitter Want To Accomplish With The New Retweet Feature?

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has stated that the new Retweet feature is designed to;

a. Avoid attribution confusion when people retweet messages,

b. Prevent retweeted messages that are broken or lose the original context, and

c. Reduce the amount of noise in the timeline.

The ultimate aim is to make the Twitter network a more powerful tool for “helping people find out what’s happening now that they care about.”

That’s all very noble, but still seems rather superficial. A business team as talented as the one running Twitter always have a deeper, more profound strategic reason for everything that they do.

So What Could Be The Real Reason Behind These Changes?

Several theories (both plausible and ridiculous) have been advanced, including;

1. The grouping of retweets may be necessary to reduce the strain on bandwidth. This is plausible given that there is no option to modify the original message which will significantly reduce the number of different retweet messages that stem from the same original source.

2. To encourage people to use the main website (rather than third party apps) so that they can make more money if they introduce ads in the future.

3. To encourage people to use apps rather than the main website to save bandwidth.

However, in light of the recent announcement from NewsCorp (where the NewsCorp content will be removed from the Google index in favour of an exclusive deal with Bing) this could be a way for Twitter to leverage the power of their network to turn a profit without having to resort to charging users or displaying ads within the network.

If Twitter could reach a deal with one of the search engines, such as Google, to provide the data required to improve their real-time search engine results, it could help them to generate significant revenue.

And unlike the situation with NewsCorp, which appears to be commercial suicide, this option could be a viable alternative for Twitter as all the content is user generated.

What Are The Positives?

a. The retweet system is much quicker and easier to use

b. Your timeline will contain less noise

c. The new API means that third party apps will be able to support the new Retweet function more efficiently (or so the programmers claim)

d. As you can’t edit the original message there is no risk of annoying the original author by changing the context of their message or using the wrong attribution.

e. You can retweet messages up to the full 140 character limit without using some of the allowance including the letters RT and the original author’s @username.

f. Perhaps the best news is that you can still use the original manual retweet system, although they will not appear in the section showing who has Retweeted your tweets. And in time it may not be picked up by the various apps and services once they’ve been updated to support the new retweet feature.

And that’s the high point of the new official retweet system. It all starts to break down from this point.

What Are The Negatives?

There are several negatives and a large number of irritated users. According to one poll, only 6% of respondents like the new retweet feature as it currently stands. Even worse, thousands of users are using the Twitter network to spread their grievances.

Here are just a few of the complaints advanced by the Twitter community;

a. It puts strangers in my stream

b. They have changed the definition of retweeting

c. Social media is all about trust. Using someone else’s avatar in my timeline loses that trust factor. When I used to see a retweet by one of the people I follow, I immediately knew 3 things; (i) it’s a retweet, (ii) it’s worthy of my attention and (iii) it will probably link me to someone I may like to consider following. Now I see an unfamiliar face.

d. It removes my ability to add my own commentary. From now on, Retweeting something means that you agree with it. So it has become a vote for that tweet rather than an opportunity to add my own editorial judgement that my followers trust me to deliver.

e. I no longer had the chance to add value through my retweets because the new system simply attaches my meta data to something that already exists.

f. It takes away my visibility in my own network. It does me no good to find good content and retweet it if I’m not getting credit for it.

g. Why can’t they concentrate on reliability of service?

h. It makes it too easy to retweet, meaning that people will no longer be selective when seeking out the best messages and content to share.

i. Grouping the retweeted message makes it easier for me to miss popular messages within my timeline.

j. As many apps don’t support the new Retweet feature yet, anyone who uses a third party app may miss out on messages that have been retweeted.

k. When the new retweet system is used, deleting the original message now deletes all the retweets, making it much easier to remove information from the system.

l. If you @reply, it goes to the tweet originator, rather than the person who retweeted it. If you want to reply to the retweeter, you have to visit their profile and reply to another of their regular tweets or manually enter their @username. In both cases, the “in reply to…” function is rendered useless.

m. The retweet function doesn’t show up if you are reading tweets via a list.

n. As you can now add someone to a list without following them, their retweets using the new system won’t show up on your list.

o. If people are following a list that you are on, but they aren’t following you personally, they won’t see your retweets.

p. It’s almost like they sat around asking, “What would Microsoft do?”

The overall feeling seems to be that the Twitter should let the users develop the way that they like to use the service then modify it to reflect the conventions that the crowd have developed.

Only time will tell whether the developers at Twitter listen to the people who have helped the site to reach its current level of popularity.

Who Will Like The Changes?

If you generally use the main Twitter.com site to retweet messages, you rarely add comments and you don’t mind unfamiliar avatar images appearing in your timeline, you will probably prefer the new system. It’s quicker, cleaner and more compact.

Who Will Dislike The Changes?

If you like to add comments to your Retweets, if you like to get exposure among your followers for highlighting valuable tweets or if you prefer to see familiar thumbnails within your timeline, you’ll be sorely disappointed by the recent changes to the Twitter network.

What Should You Do?

At present, many of the existing Twitter apps don’t support the new Retweet feature. So if you like the new Retweet feature, use the main Twitter.com site until your favorite app supports the latest changes.

If you don’t like the changes, continue using one of the third party apps to operate your Twitter account, continue using the old manual RT @username method, then cross your fingers that the app you use doesn’t adopt the new Retweet feature.

If you still use the interface on the main Twitter site, there’s a Firefox Greasemonkey script created by Leonard Lin that modifies the way the new retweet function works within your browser.

Download The Retweet Greasemonkey Script Here

Once you’ve got the addon installed, retweeted messages that show up in your timeline will display the avatar of the person who posted the original message and the avatar of the person who retweeted it (one of your followers). This layered avatar makes it clear that the message is a retweet and reduces the shock of finding an unfamiliar image in your timeline.

However, please bear in mind that this script only affects the avatars that you see in your browser. It will not affect the way that your use of the new Retweet system affects other people. Several people have stated that they will unfollow anyone who uses the new system. So if you use the new Retweet function, be prepared for some of your followers to leave you.

What do you think of Twitter’s new retweet feature? Let us know in the comments below.

Twitter, Employees And The Controversial Social Media Policy

Further evidence of Twitter’s growing power and influence emerged this week with a flurry of announcements from well known organizations.

Twitter, Employees And The Controversial Social Media Policy

The U.S. military, the NFL, the U.S. Open, the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal have all issued statements that attempt to control the way their employees use social media sites, including Twitter.

Loss Of Control

There’s a growing sense among these organizations that they’re losing control of the information flow that surrounds their activities. These statements are an attempt to regain some of the control that has been lost thanks to the democratization of the web. Further evidence of this trend is provided by the 20% increase in the number of firms blocking social media sites in the workplace.

The growing number of companies that have issued social media policies that explicitly proscribe certain behavior has generated a heated debate on the use of social media by employees. For example, a recent post on the Mashable website regarding the social media policy used by Associated Press has led to a range of diverse opinions.

Blurring Of The Divide

Due to the blurring of the divide between private and professional caused by social media, this is an extremely difficult issue to address.

From the viewpoint of the company, if nothing is done, there is the potential for damage to the organization’s reputation and trade secrets. On the other hand, if their social media policy is regarded as being overly intrusive, it has the potential to create a PR disaster.

Social Media Policy

As the social media policy produced by Associated Press has been described as moderate, let’s examine what it covers.

The memo begins by stating that they don’t want to prevent the use of social media “as a personal and professional tool, but expects employees to bear in mind how their actions might reflect on the AP.”

This gives a strong indication that the underlying aim of this policy is to protect the reputation of the AP brand.

The general AP social media policy requires that “Employees must identify themselves as being from the AP if they are using the networks for work in any way.”

It continues by stating that “Posting material about the AP’s internal operations is prohibited on employees’ personal pages”. This part of the policy is perfectly understandable and most people would agree with it.

However, the first part could be seen as objectionable. Don’t AP employees have the right to network online in their own time for the sake of their professional development and future employment prospects? Isn’t that a right of all employees in all industries?

But this AP policy requires employees to identify themselves as such when they use social media for the purposes of work. And once they state that they work for AP, the policy requirements become even more onerous.

Another area that the AP policy seeks to control is the information that employees allow to be posted on their social media page. The policy reads “It’s a good idea to monitor your profile page to make sure material posted by others doesn’t violate AP standards; any such material should be deleted.”

It’s one thing for AP to believe that they have the right to tell their employees what they can post on their social networking pages, but telling employees that they’re responsible for the things that other people post is a step too far.

Take Twitter for example, what does an AP employee do if someone sends them an @ reply containing content that violates AP standards?

It’s not possible to delete tweets posted by other Twitter users, so this part of the policy directly conflicts with the general aim of not preventing the use of social media.

Is AP suggesting that their employees don’t use Twitter?

By extending their policy into the realms of holding employees liable for the actions of other people, AP has shown the world that it doesn’t understand social media. And it could be argued that this does more damage to their reputation than any unsolicited comment by a faceless user of a social network.

Taking the point further, let’s assume that an AP employee has a Facebook page. On that page they mention that they work for AP. Someone else posts a message that violates AP standards.

The AP rules require that such content is removed by the employee, presumably because it could tarnish the reputation of either the employee or the company.

But compare this situation with a live networking event that an AP employee attends. A scene develops and it ends with the other person making a comment that violates the AP standards. It is overheard by most of the room (who may then subsequently spread the experience across their online social accounts).

Is AP suggesting that employees avoid live social networking events in case someone says something to them that the company doesn’t like?

In the real world, most right-thinking people will assess the comment and promptly dismiss it as having been made by a crank. Why should it be any different when the comments appear online?

The difference? Too many people still appear to hold an “it’s on the internet so it must be true” attitude. But removal suggests censorship, which suggests that they have something to hide, which lowers the reputation and integrity of both employee and company.

If AP wants to maintain the integrity of both their company and their employees, shouldn’t it also require positive, supportive posts to be removed, because equally that may not be true?

And surely it’s impossible to maintain your integrity as a journalist while being so biased when selecting which comments to allow.

One suspects that AP has conveniently overlooked this issue due to their desire to gain the enormous advantages of fast, direct communication with millions of people and all the associated promotional benefits.

Perhaps it would be better to leave all comments (which will probably be cached and available from Google before the employee has a chance to delete them), post an appropriate response and trust the rest of the internet community to apply some real-world perspective to the comments. Crank comments will be seen for what they are; lacking in any real credibility. For anything worse than a negative opinion, the existing laws of libel, slander and defamation are still available to AP.

Do you agree with the Associated Press policy on the use of social media by employees? How far do you think these policies should extend? Should employers have the right to control the way that their employees use social media? Let us know what you think below.

What Are People Using Twitter For?

Recently, you may have noticed that Twitter has undergone a subtle shift in emphasis. The homepage has been altered and now displays the latest trending topics. Instead of focusing on what people are doing, it encourages you to “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world.” and “join the conversation”.

What Are People Using Twitter For?

This may be a long-term strategic plan by Twitter to shift towards a real-time source of world news by millions of citizen journalists. But whatever the ultimate intention behind these changes, it got us thinking about the reason why people use Twitter.

Then we found the recent Pear Analytics Twitter study, which studied 2,000 tweets to identify how people are using Twitter.

The Test

Over the course of two weeks, during the hours of 11am and 5pm, 2,000 tweets were taken from the main Twitter timeline and divided into one of six categories. The results were then collated to reveal the most popular use of Twitter.

The Factors

a. Sample Size - Based on an estimated 3 million tweets per day in the U.S., the sample size of 2,000 tweets was deemed to be sufficient to provide the potential for statistically meaningful results.

b. Categories - Tweets were categorized into one of these groups;

  • News - Mainstream news of the type you might find on the major news stations, not including tech news or social media news
  • Spam - For example, “See how I got 2,000 followers overnight”
  • Self-Promotion - Tweets that specifically try to sell a product or service
  • Pointless Babble - I’m eating a sandwich, My cat has just… etc Tweets with no “@”, “RT”, “Via” or Short URL which did not appear to be useful to more than 50% of that person’s followers
  • Conversational - Back and forth tweets between people and tweets designed to engage conversation such as questions and polls
  • Pass-Along Value - Tweets that include the letters RT

Of the few tweets that could be included in more than one category, they were classified as conversation if they included an @ symbol.

c. Public Timeline - The tweets were sampled from the main public timeline every 30 minutes from 11:00am till 5:00pm over the course of 10 week days.

The Results

Of the 2,000 tweets studied, the results were as follows;

  • News - 72 Tweets - 3.6%
  • Spam - 75 Tweets - 3.75%
  • Self Promotion - 117 - 5.85%
  • Pointless Babble - 811 - 40.55%
  • Conversational - 751 - 37.55%
  • Pass Along Value - 174 - 8.70%

Delving deeper into the results there are several points worth noting;

a. The most popular time for pass along value tweets was at 11:30am CST every morning with another mini spike between 4:00pm and 4:30pm CST every afternoon. For maximum impact, Monday exhibited a higher proportion of these pass along tweets than any other day of the week, which makes this a good time to post information if you want it re-tweeted for maximum coverage.

b. News based tweets were most common at 2:00pm CST on Tuesday.

c. Conversational tweets peaked between 2:00pm and 4:00pm CST every day, with the heaviest flow on Tuesday.

d. Spam continued to appear at the same broad rate all day, every day.

e. Despite appearances to the contrary, the overall level of self-promotion (5.85%) and spam (3.75%) was much lower than many people expected.

Although in the case of spam, people have widely varying definitions of what constitutes spam. One person’s meat is another person’s spam.

And as far as self-promotion is concerned, it would be almost impossible for their study to include people who promote their own websites, so the actual figure for this category is likely to be much higher.

However, the general perception that self-promotion is more prevalent than it actually is, indicates that many people are disproportionately annoyed by it. This tends to indicate that Twitter is best used as a way of building relationships with potential customers rather than blatant selling.

The Criticisms

Several people have criticized the contents of this report. Many people have claimed that the categories could be more relevant, while others have pointed out that taking the sample of tweets from the public timeline is not an accurate representation of the kind of tweets any user would elect to receive.

Obviously the composition of tweets that any one user receives is dictated by the Twitter users that they follow. For example, if you follow the Twitter accounts managed by all the main news channels, you would receive a higher proportion of news tweets etc.

But that wouldn’t show how people were using Twitter in general, just how the selected users have chosen to use their account.

The Conclusion

As a result of the coverage achieved by this report a vigorous debate developed about the real meaning of Twitter. Many people claim that they don’t use it because of all the pointless chatter, while others complain about the developing commercialization of the network.

One of the top Twitter users Stephen Fry even weighed into the debate in his usual eloquent style, claiming that Twitter was never promoted as anything other than a communication tool and that he was disappointed in the 60% of tweets that weren’t irrelevant chatter.

“The clue’s in the name of the service: Twitter. It’s not called Roar, Assert, Debate or Reason, it’s called Twitter. As in the chirruping of birds.”

Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to use Twitter. Twitter is a communication tool, but beyond that it’s up to the individual to decide what they think it should be used for.

And one of the best ways to keep control of the tweets that appear in your main timeline (beyond careful selection of the people that you follow) is to use Philtro. Through a process of giving messages in your Twitter stream thumbs up or down, this clever service learns the type of tweets that you want to read and filters the rest. So if you follow people who post interesting tweets some of the time and irrelevant rubbish the rest, you can keep the good stuff without having to unfollow them.

Twitter To Introduce Location Based Tweets

Within the last few days Twitter has announced plans to roll out Location-Based Tweeting as part of their service. According to the owners of the microblogging site, Twitter is going to become “location aware”.

Twitter Is About To Become Location Aware

The basic idea is nothing new as several Twitter platform developers (apps such as Ubertwitter) have been experimenting with location based Tweets for some time, despite the limited amount of support from the existing Twitter API. Most of these experiments have been based on the information that Twitter users can enter in the location field of their profile, so it’s hardly accurate or reliable.

When this feature is launched (date still to be announced), the new enhanced Twitter API will give users the option to automatically add latitude and longitude location to their tweets.

The Big Question

Which raises the big question - Do you really want people to know where you’re tweeting from?

To allay the legitimate privacy-related fears of many Twitter users, the new geo-location system will be off by default and will have to be activated on a tweet by tweet basis.

Additionally, the exact location data won’t be stored for an extended period of time, presumably to prevent other people building up a detailed profile as you move from location to location. However, this won’t stop unscrupulous people mining, storing and compiling your location data over time.

It’s possible to see how people who use this system and tweet dozens of times per day could have their security compromised by allowing people to forecast where they’re likely to be at any given time.

Rather than using the exact long-lat references, some people have suggested using a more human-friendly alternative, that allows you to tag each tweet with a location relative to the context of your life, such as “Office”, “Home”, “Car”, “Starbucks” etc.

This would give people who know you all the information they need and provide everyone else with some context of the location from where you’re tweeting without threatening your safety.

Other Issues

First, it’s estimated that 65% of tweets are still posted from the web. This will cause many misleading tweet locations to be posted. For example, the location of my ISP would register as being almost 500 miles from the location of my computer.

However, given the growth of the mobile web, this situation will become less of an issue at the months and years pass.

Second, even when mobile devices are used, many people have claimed that geo-targeting is less than accurate.

Potential Benefits

These issues aside, it’s possible to see the benefits of location based Tweets in certain circumstances.

In addition to reading the tweets of people you follow, you will also be able read tweets based on a specific location, which will make it easier to follow local news stories including earthquakes, accidents, concerts, tweetups, conferences etc without the need to resort to the use of hashtags.

Various street sellers like the Waffle Truck who tweet their location at various times throughout the day will find this feature invaluable.

It’s even possible to imagine the development of a powerful traffic status service that uses a combination of location based tweets and Google street view to provide people with real-time street based traffic reports.

At present Twitter plan to release the geolocation details to developers before the official launch, giving the programmers time to update their apps and platforms to include support for the new features. So by the time Twitter becomes location aware, your favorite Twitter platform should be able to cope with this new feature.

What do you think of this development? Do you like the idea of people knowing where you tweet from, or do you find the idea creepy?

How do you think this additional API data will be used? What innovative new geo-location ideas will appear?

Do you think this new feature will become popular, or does it signal the beginning of Twitter moving away from the simplicity that made it so popular?

As always, we’d like to hear what you think using the comments below.

What Will You Do When Twitter Falls Off Its Perch?

At present, Twitter is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world.

But will things be the same in 2 years, 5 years or 10 years?

Prepare For The Day When Twitter Falls Off Its Perch

Who knows!

Twitter might remain at the top or it may have been superseded by newer, fresher rivals.

But after the distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) last week, we reckon a few Twitter users will have considered (or worried about) what would happen if Twitter suddenly disappeared.

What would you do if Twitter suddenly disappeared or suffered from a dramatic fall in popularity?

Okay, that might be rather drastic, but nobody knows what will happen in the future and it’s best to be prepared for any unforeseen developments.

  • What if spammers swamp the network?
  • What if the network shifts emphasis away from the reason that you originally joined?
  • What if the network starts charging users?
  • What if people get bored with it and just drift away from the network?

The internet moves rapidly. Several generations of the latest, hottest sites have appeared from nowhere, grown rapidly, then peaked and been overtaken just as quickly (Geocities, LiveJournal, MySpace etc).

So here are a few important considerations to help you future-proof the time and effort you spend on Twitter.

1) Use other networks

It’s essential that you don’t tie the long-term success of your social networking to the long-term survival of Twitter. So make sure that you spread your social networking effort over a few different sites.

Ironically, given all the bird references relating to Twitter, the most important piece of advice is summed up by the well-known saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

2) Don’t confuse the medium with the purpose

Ultimately, the most important part of your time spent on Twitter is the network of contacts that you develop with like-minded people, rather than the fact that you’ve got a well developed Twitter account.

Twitter is just the medium, your network of contacts is the purpose.

Twitter is great for meeting new people, it’s also good for quick communication as you build relationships, but over the long term your email address book or skype contacts list are more secure methods for communicating with and storing your best contacts.

So make sure that you take steps to transfer your network of contacts to at least one other communication platform. For example, you could encourage all your followers to join you on another social networking site, such as Facebook, while your closest group of contacts could be transferred to email, another instant messaging platform or even your Skype account.

Then, if anything happens to one of these platforms (either temporarily or permanently) your network of contacts won’t be destroyed. It also means that you “own” your network of contacts rather than any one networking site.

3) Strengthen your network

When you begin to build a group of contacts, your network consists of a number of relationships that are independent of each other. In a visual sense it represents the wheel of a bicycle with numerous spokes radiating out from your position at the hub.

However, the major weakness of this situation is that all of the relationships that create your network rely upon you.

  • What if you lose the contact information of some of your network?
  • What if you aren’t able to work for several weeks or months?

In certain cases, there is a major risk that your group of contacts will deteriorate unless you continue to maintain these relationships.

So as you develop your network, take every opportunity to strengthen your network by connecting people within your group of contacts. Bring people together who can help each other.

If these connections are successful, it will increase the goodwill that both parties feel towards you, but more importantly, it will allow your network to exist independently of you. If you lose contact with someone in your network, you’ll be able to reconnect through one of your mutual contacts.

Take action to secure the long-term future of your social network now, so that when Twitter falls off its perch you won’t suffer.

As always, use the comments below to let us know the steps you’ve taken to protect your network of contacts against the unexpected.

Your Own Twitter Based TV Channel

Last week we looked at the best tools to share your video clips using Twitter.

As a natural progression, this week we’re going to look at the tools that will allow you to start your own Twitter based live TV channel.

Live video streaming has been around for a while, but in recent months a number of these services have started to integrate with Twitter to create a powerful broadcasting platform.

So here are the leading services that will allow you to combine the promotional power of Twitter with live video streaming.

Twitcam.com

Create Your Own Twitter Based Tv Channel Using TwitCam

The first service is Twitcam which is owned by Livestream (formerly known as Mogulus). In essence they’ve taken their Livestream service and streamlined it to work with Twitter.

Just sign into Twitcam using your Twitter login details, then your webcam can capture the live video stream while Twitcam broadcasts it to the world and automatically tweets out the link to your followers.

But it gets even better…

When people view your live video stream, they can login to Twitcam with their own Twitter details and interact with other viewers using an integrated chat function which simultaneously updates their own Twitter account.

As you can imagine, when more people get used to the concept of Twitter based streaming, quality live video content has the potential to go viral and reach a significant number of viewers around the world.

At present, TwitCam doesn’t provide any options to customize the chat room of your new TV channel either in terms of looks or the urls that it uses. However, these issues are likely to be solved in the future as Twitter based video streaming continues to grow in popularity.

Another notable absence for such a high quality Twitter related service is the lack of support for the OAuth login system.

CamTweet.com

Create Your Own Twitter Based Tv Channel Using CamTweet

The second main competitor in the live Twitter streaming arena is CamTweet. Owned by Justin.tv this service has just emerged from private beta and provides substantially the same service as Twitcam.

Once you login to CamTweet using your Twitter details, a couple of clicks and the system will stream your video content live to the web and let your followers know that you’re live on air. Your viewers can then take part in the Twitter based chat which will help to promote your live show to an even wider audience.

Ustream.tv

Create Your Own Tv Channel Using Ustream

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that the other major live streaming service provided by Ustream provides a Twitter chat function in addition to its own social networking features.

This is an exciting area to watch as it effectively allows you to launch your own live TV channel, using the Twitter network to record the interaction between your viewers at the same time as promoting it to their followers.

Provided the content of your video stream is relevant and of good quality, the connection between video streaming and Twitter will allow your live TV channel to develop a significant number of viewers within a short period.

In fact, within a few short months, the best shows will have more viewers than some of the minor television channels in certain countries.

The other interesting thing related to all these developments is what they say about the way the market feels about the future prospects for Twitter.

Despite having cutting edge technology and a powerful business model in a rapidly growing sector, these video streaming businesses have chosen to spend significant amounts of time and money releasing major Twitter based versions of their core product.

If they’re correct, the Twitter phenomenon will continue to grow and remain one of the leading communication platforms for many years to come.

Have you used any of these live video streaming services? Have you used Twitter to promote your own TV channel? Share your experiences and your predictions for the future development of this technology using the comment system below.

How To Share Video Using Twitter

At present, one of the fastest growing Twitter trends is video messages. The great attraction is that it’s quick, more personal and allows you to convey more information more accurately for people who feel rather restricted by the 140 character limit.

And due to the relentless growth in the popularity of Twitter, this has been supported by an explosion in the number of Twitter enabled video sharing services.

Many of these services have been specifically designed to support Twitter video sharing, nearly all social networks allow you to tweet out your content and several well-established video sharing sites have added Twitter functionality to their box of tricks.

However, due to the sheer number of options, it can take a long time to work out the best service to meet your needs. So here is a quick summary of the different services that will allow you to share video using Twitter.

At the time of writing, there are a large number of Twitter video services but none of these services dominate their market. However, as these services reach agreements with leading Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck, Twhirl and Seesmic Desktop a few of them will achieve much greater recognition and develop a significant number of users.

1. TwitVid

Using TwitVid To Share Your Videos On Twitter

TwitVid, which is one of the leading Twitter video sites, hopes to emulate the success of TwitPic, both in terms of publicity and user base.

And thanks to the ease of use, Twitvid has every chance of achieving these objectives. Just login using your Twitter details, select the video file that you want to upload, add a short message of up to 117 characters (the remaining 23 characters are used to post the link to your video) and click the tweet button.

You can also upload your videos to TwitVid using email, your mobile phone or straight from your webcam.

One of the major advantages of this service is the file size limit, which allows you to upload up to 1 GB or 20 minutes of video.

TwitVid extends the social element of the service by allowing you to retweet, share and reply to videos direct from the site.

2. Twitc

Using Twitc To Share Your Videos On Twitter

If you want a high quality professional application to showcase your video on Twitter, look no further than Twitc. This excellent site allows you to host and share both videos and photos in a wide range of different file types.

You can upload multiple files at the same time, use high resolution HD videos and perform all the regular activities such as searching, commenting and updating your Twitter status (whether or not you include a video). In addition to uploading your own content directly, you can also import videos direct from a website address, which means you can use videos from YouTube and any other video sharing site.

However, all this extra functionality means that it takes longer to share your videos with the world. Before you can upload any content, you need to create an album. Then as you upload your videos you have to specify the album which will store your video. Once uploaded, you have to select the album and the appropriate video within the album then create your tweet.

Twitc takes a few moments longer to use, but if you’re looking for professional results, it’s the best option.

3. Twiddeo

Using Twiddeo To Share Your Videos On Twitter

Although the Twiddeo site looks rather plain, it provides all the basic video sharing functions. You can upload your video using the web, email or record it live using your webcam.

The site also allows you to comment on other videos using the Disqus platform and view all of the videos shared by every user.

However, there is one aspect of this service that deserves special credit. If you use the FireFox browser (and we always recommend that you do), there’s a neat greasemonkey script [http://beta.twiddeo.com/tools] that allows you to play Twiddeo videos from your Twitter profile.

Other Alternatives

Tweetube is a service that has gradually evolved from a simple device to share YouTube videos into a complete video hosting and sharing service. Tweetube now offers multiple photo uploads using the web or email, commenting, webcam uploading and multiple link sharing. However, webcam videos are limited to 25 seconds in length and the only other way to share videos through your Twitter account is using a YouTube url.

TwitLens covers Twitter based video and photo sharing. It also allows multiple uploads, mobile uploads and commenting. Videos are limited to a maximum file size of 50mb which is the equivalent of a few minutes depending upon the level of video quality used.

There are three features that make Twitlens stand out from the rest of the competition. First, it makes use of the Twitter OAuth system which means you can login to this site using your Twitter details without worrying that the security of your account will be compromised. Second, you can upload videos anonymously (well, as anonymously as the internet allows), which will attract numerous embarrassing videos and a few in the public interest.

Third, Twitlens provides a great way to notify specific people about your latest video. Once you’ve uploaded your content, just select the Twitter usernames that you want to inform and they will receive a tweet from you about your new post.

Bubble Tweet is a really smart looking site that allows you to record or upload a short video of up to 30 seconds. When people click on your Bubble Tweet page your regular Twitter profile will appear followed by a circular video bubble that will play your welcome message. This is a really fun way to introduce yourself to new followers and begin to build a relationship in a way that’s impossible with traditional text.

Twibeo allows you to connect with your friends through the exchange of photos, videos, links, and posts up to 500 characters long.

VidTweeter is an easy to use service that allows you to display videos from YouTube, Hulu, Metacafe, Vimeo and DailyMotion. Just enter your Twitter username, select the service you want to play a video from, enter the video url and it will give you a link to tweet out to your followers. When they click the link, they will see your Twitter page with the video of your choice floating in front.

12 Seconds remains true to the original idea behind Twitter by allowing you to share video message of up to 12 seconds in length.

Status Adder allows you to update your Twitter account with text, pictures or video from your mobile phone.

MobyPicture offers a complete service that allows you to update all your social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, Flickr with text, photos, audio and video. You can use the web, email, desktop clients or your cell phone.

TinyCast is quick and easy to use. Just record audio or video from your webcam then post it direct to your Twitter account.

Tinyvid.io allows you to share your favorite videos on Twitter. Just paste the video url, comment on it, then post it to your Twitter account.

How To Keep Your Twitter Stream Under Control

Most Twitter users follow less than a few hundred people, which means that they’re able to keep track of all the tweets that pass through their account.

How To Keep Your Twitter Stream Under Control

However, once you follow more than a thousand Twitter users, the stream of messages flowing through your account really starts to speed up.

Eventually it reaches the stage where you can’t keep track of all the tweets posted by the people that you follow.

Your first instinct may be to unfollow certain Twitter users whose tweets are less relevant to your interests.

And in some cases, this is a good idea.

However, this won’t help you much if you follow a number of people who post a combination of amazing tweets and complete rubbish.

So here are a few of the best Twitter filtering techniques that you can use to separate the good from the bad in your Twitter stream.

Link Filtering

According to recent stats, approximately 19% of all tweets contain a link, so this provides another way to filter your Twitter stream.

Introducing MicroPlazza, a useful service that allows you to organize the messages in your Twitter stream that contain links according to either the recency or the popularity. The system takes into account the number of times that each link has been (re)tweeted and more specifically, the number of times that these links have been tweeted by the people that you’re following.

This method of filtering is based on the idea that you’re more likely to be interested in the links tweeted by the people that you’ve chosen to follow.

MicroPlazza also allows you to sort the Twitter stream of any other Twitter user, so you can see the popularity of the links that the people they follow are posting. This is extremely useful if you follow people with a specific interest and you want to keep up to date with relevant links that are circulating within these micro communities.

Group Filtering

Another way to filter your Twitter stream is to organize the people that you follow into specific groups.

Splitting the Twitter users that you follow into different groups means that there will be fewer people in each group which will slow down the rate at which new messages flow through each group making them easier to track.

There are several different ways to sub-divide your Twitter stream. One of the best ways is to use a Twitter client that supports grouping, such as the desktop programs Destroy Twitter, Tweetdeck and Seesmic or a Twitter web-based application such as PeopleBrowsr.

Some of these options also allow you to filter your groups even further. For example, Tweetdeck allows you to filter the tweets in each group according to specific keywords.

In general, creating Twitter sub-groups is a good way to regain an element of control over your Twitter stream. However, as it only allows you to sort users at an account level, the results aren’t perfect.

For example, if you follow 500 people in the PR industry who tweet about general items in addition to their work, filtering these users into a specific group will help to concentrate the number of PR related tweets in the stream, but it will still contain a significant amount of trivia that is of little interest to you.

Grouping will make it easier to keep up to date with each individual category, but ultimately, you’ll still have the same number of tweets flowing through the selection of categories that you create.

Keyword Filtering

The third way to keep your Twitter stream under control is to filter the tweets according to specific keywords.

Philtro is an interesting Twitter filtering service with great potential. Once you sign up and link it to your Twitter account, you can give any tweet that flows through your Twitter account the thumbs up or the thumbs down. Over time Philtro learns the type of tweets that you like and the ones that you dislike. This data is then used to filter the messages that flow through your Twitter account so that you only see the posts that are likely to be of interest to you. The more tweets you rate, the better the system works.

Likewise, Filttr is a web-based application that allows you to apply keyword filtering to your Twitter account. It allows you to blacklist and whitelist keywords which are then specifically displayed or prevented from appearing in your Twitter stream. However, due to the number of filtering options available, it can take some time to work out how to get the best from this service.

Do you find it difficult to keep up with all the tweets flowing through your Twitter account? How do you keep your account under control? What method of filtering do you use? Have you discovered a better way to keep up to date with your Twitter stream? Let us know using the comments below.

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