my6sense Still Makes Sense

Last year I talked about why services like my6sense make sense. Nothing has really changed except that my6sense has gotten bigger and badder than before. I still use the Android app on a regular basis to keep up with what’s going on. It automatically figures out what I want to read based on my behavior using a technology called Digital Intuition.

When you create an account with my6sense through Twitter or one of our mobile apps, we start building your personal preference model, your ‘Digital Intuition’. Constructing an accurate graph of your preferences & interests takes time, and your ‘Digital Intuition’ will only start growing after a few interactions with your content. So please be patient – it may take a while to kick in, but we assure you that once it does, the results will be jaw-dropping.

With my6sense, I see a lot of content about Android, social media, and technology with a smattering of random postings from people I find interesting. The Android app incorporates a number of RSS feeds and sites as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, when Louis Gray hit me up to try out the my6sense Chrome extension for Twitter beta, I was pretty excited. Twitter is probably the most difficult service to keep up with because I don’t have enough attention to pay to all the people I actually find interesting.

I’m currently following over 3,000 people and my6sense uses their magic Digital Intuition algorithm to dig through them all and pick out the updates I would most like to see. Rather than creating yet another Twitter List to help me keep up, I just let my6sense do the hard work.

There are currently apps for Android, iPhone, in Chrome, and a Firefox add-on on the way. One thing I do wonder is if the my6sense team could implement their Twitter interface as a Twitter List. This way, any Twitter user on just about any Twitter client would be supported.

In any case, the web should be about what you want to see. With many of us interacting in so many different places and sharing so much of ourselves, it’s about time a service started using that information to do something more interesting and useful than serve ads.

How To Update All Your Social Networks Using Google Voice Actions #teamandroid

A while back, Lifehacker reminded us that Google Voice Actions can be used with any web service that supports SMS or Email. You can easily send SMS and Email messages by speaking into your phone, so any service that lets you interact via SMS and/or Email is fair game. Keep in mind that most of this also applies to Vlingo or any other voice command software.

Simple Scenario

One primary example would be Twitter. By activating your mobile phone on the Twitter home page, you can send a tweet by texting it to 40404. Combined with Google Voice Actions, you would be able to say something like “SMS Twitter, That Rahsheen guy is some kind of awesome” and GV handles the rest. Of course, this assumes you have a contact in your address book named “Twitter” with a phone number of 40404.

Kicking It Up 10 Notches

If you want to be a Social Media Mogul, you will immediately recognize that this just isn’t powerful enough. There are other worlds than Twitter and you need to be able to update them all on the go using GV. Most of you already know where I’m going with this: Both a blessing and a curse, is a powerful tool for updating all of your social networks simultaneously.

Once logged into (you do have an account, right?), navigate to and save the number in your contacts as something simple like “Ping.” You want to make sure you pick a name that will be easily recognized when you say it and “Ping” works pretty well. While you’re at it, go to and add your unique posting address to this contact as well.

Now, you can long-press your search button, say what you want, and broadcast to everyone everywhere. As always, feel free to leave a comment here or hit me up on Twitter (@rahsheen) if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

Simple Examples:

  • “SMS Ping, I just ate a mango”
  • “Send Email to Ping, Flipmode is the greatest”

Lifehacker Post: Use Google Voice Actions with Any Web Service that Supports SMS or Email

Getting Started with TweetDeck for Android

TweetDeck for Android is awesome so far. Not only is it extremely nice to look at, but it carries much of the burden of your social media life. It covers Twitter (and multiple Twitter accounts), Facebook, Google Buzz, and Foursquare. It’s one thing to say that an application covers multiple services and completely another when that application does a good job of it. TweetDeck, even in it’s beta state, handles everything surprisingly well.

Many things that you will need to get set up are not immediately clear. One major stumbling block for me was the lack of a Settings menu. It looks like TweetDeck opts to integrate the settings into the user interface.

Adding Accounts

If you already have a TweetDeck account, sign in with that and it pulls in all your other accounts.

If not, go ahead and add your Twitter account. It doesn’t matter if you hate Twitter or don’t even want to use Twitter, you can’t activate TweetDeck for Android without a Twitter account. Not sure why this is.

Once you’re done adding accounts… Uh… Hit Done.

One thing I didn’t like about the setup process is that I had to specify usernames and passwords for Foursquare and Twitter. Facebook and Buzz pop-up login windows to those sites and do seem to do some type of OAuth action.

Basics of Columns

This section is of utmost importance. Your columns are your primary method of interaction and tie into your notifications settings. Initially, you have 3 columns:

  • Home – This is everything from every service you’ve plugged into TweetDeck. The whole shebang.
  • Me – These are the posts from all your services that have something to do with you: Twitter @mentions, comments on Facebook items, etc.
  • Direct Messages – These are private messages to you from Twitter. If private messages from other services are supported, I haven’t seen any.

Each column has the relevant messages from all of your services. Instead of giving each service its own column, they’re blended together. This is a blessing and a curse. If you follow a decent number of people on Twitter, your Home stream will pretty much be useless because Twitter will bury everything else.

Hopefully, an option to create separate columns for each service is coming.

Managing Columns

Until then, you can simply use Twitter lists. I was already using Twitter lists to keep an eye on a few interesting folks, but didn’t know how to manage lists in TweetDeck for Android until @jbrotherlove gave me the heads up and directed me to the tutorial video embedded below.

If you look in Manage Columns, you won’t see an option to add anything. The only actions you can do here are to delete columns.

To add a column, you need to first find/create a column you want to add. This could be based on a search, someone’s Twitter stream, or a list. For instance, to add a column for one of my own lists, I did the following:

  • Opened a tweet with my name in it, then clicked my name. You could also just click the Contacts button (looks like a grid) and search for your Twitter username.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of your profile and you’ll see the lists you’ve created. Pick one.
  • You should see a huge button across the bottom of the screen that says “Add Column.”

Managing Notifications

TweetDeck for Android has the most basic of notifications systems. Each column will notify you when it has new tweets in it. This drove me crazy at first because I don’t need notifications on my Home feed. If you go back to Manage Columns from the main menu, you will see that each column you’ve created has an On/Off button. This button toggles notifications.

Are you using TweetDeck for Android? Sign up for the beta and share your thoughts in the comments. Just Keeps Getting Better: Redesign and Feature Updates

The team is staying on the grind and actively responding to feedback from their growing community. This has resulted in a complete redesign of the user interface, implementation of OAuth, and an upcoming iPhone application. I have to say, the UI update is a big difference from what they were working with a couple of weeks ago and OAuth makes it that much easier to jump in and see what can do.

Here is before the redesign:

And here is the new interface:

The new interface is a lot easier on the eyes, but also makes more efficient use of space and is a little more intuitive for new users.

OAuth means you don’t have to give up your username and password for Buzz, Twitter, or Facebook. Just click a button and you authorize from the original site. This is a much more secure option and I applaud for getting it done about a day after my original post on no longer depends on third-party services like TweetPhoto, TwitVid, and TweetAudio to do rich media. They have moved to a simpler system where the handle media directly, eliminating the need for users to have a Twitter account. This is an important step in changing the perception from a Twitter or Facebook interface into a messaging platform in its own right.

Next up for is better integration of your Facebook account, much like what they’ve done with Twitter. There is also an iPhone app coming fast over the horizon, so keep an eye out for that. is definitely an advanced tool with a lot of power under the hood, but you really have to try it out to see what it can really do.

You can find me there.

How to Connect Google Reader Shares to Facebook via Hootsuite

I have a Facebook Fan page, but I rarely post there because they make it so difficult to do so. There is no bookmarklet that facilitates this action. I’m sure there is some obscure Facebook application that might help with this, but I haven’t found it yet. My only recourse has been to actually visit the page and cut/paste a link. Very time consuming and inefficient if you’re working at the level I am when it comes to social media.

I came across a discussion on piping reader shares into Twitter using Reader2Twitter. This got me thinking about Hootsuite‘s RSS/Atom feature, which lets you pipe a feed through Hootsuite and out to the social networks you choose. Rather than have to deal with yet another 3rd party web application, why not just use an existing feature in an application I already use daily?

Adding Your Facebook Fan Page to Hootsuite

The first step is to connect your Facebook Fan Page to Hootsuite. I actually stumbled across this by accident in simply trying to get my GReader shares into Twitter. Note that once you have done this, you can easily post updates to your Fan Page from within Hootsuite on a per-update basis, making it simple to keep your page updated with fresh content for your fans.

  • Click Settings at the bottom of Hootsuite
  • Click the Social Networks tab and then Add Social Network  on the right
  • In the popup, choose Pages under Facebook to connect your page to Hootsuite


Adding Your Google Reader Shared Items Feed

Adding your Shared Items feed is simple. The hardest part is finding the actual feed link. I found my Shares page from my Google Profile (your Google Profile is here). It should be listed as one of your websites. You should see the actual feed link on the right side of that page, just copy it. Alternately, you can go into Google Reader, click Shared Items on the left, and then show details on the right. The feed URL should appear, right-click and copy it.




Back in Hootsuite and under Settings choose the RSS/Atom tab and Add New Feed. Paste your shared items feed URL into the first text box and decide how often you want the feed checked and how many tweets you want Hootsuite to send out each time. Be conservative here. If you send any more than a couple of tweets out at a time, you will look like a spammer or a n00b. Make sure you choose which accounts you want updates from this feed sent to at the bottom. Check the screenshot below to see how I have mine setup.


If you need any further assistance or clarification, please comment here. I would appreciate your feedback and would be happy to help. Also, if you have a better or alternate way of doing this, I’d love to hear it.

One-to-Many Posting Options Still Lacking

I just recently (today) started using a service called Amplify that I learned about on Twitter. It’s supposed to let you easily share things across your social networks and provides a central place for discussion. I won’t get into too much detail about the specifics, but there is one major thing that instantly bothered me. Here is a screenshot of a post on my Ampblog regarding the RPM Challenge:


Looks good, right? The bookmarklet is excellent. Let’s you select regions of the page and intelligently pieces them together into a baby blog post. I was impressed, until I took a look at how Amplify posted to my other services.


Ok, fair enough. Twitter doesn’t do images and is limited to 140 characters. This is good. I believe the URL is only that long because I hadn’t connected yet.


Uh, what’s this? It looks just like the tweet. I’m quite sure Facebook is capable of handling images and including thumbnails of stuff when you share it, so why is this Facebook share so bland?


Here is the Amplify post on my Posterous blog. Again, no images. Why is the good stuff being stripped away?

As you all may know, I’m a It’s my go-to service when I want to speak to everyone everywhere. My problem with has always been that it doesn’t really do video and images (well, it does photos to flickr). I can’t be mad at that because wasn’t created that way. It’s all about status updates.

The other tool I use a lot for posting one-to-many is Posterous itself. It actually does do a better job of carrying over video and photos, but it has the same problem that Amplify does when it comes to Facebook. No Media!


Well, sometimes photos show up, but videos don’t embed. Oh, I also have to run it through Feed-buster to get images in FriendFeed (yes, I still FriendFeed).

I am well aware that there are probably technological, underlying issues with getting media into Facebook and getting it to display nicely. I’m also aware that there may be issues with trying to get external images and video to show up on a 3rd party service. As a user, though, none of that matters. The point is still that I can’t share stuff the way I want. I have to settle for less…and that kinda sucks.

Are You The Crazy Person On The Train?

image via

A little while ago, I had a job interview downtown and decided to take the train. As I sat there looking out the window and listening to Day 26 on my iPod, I caught some erratic movement from the corner of my eye.

It was some poor soul who may have been begging for change, but was definitely making a lot of noise and carrying a pretty strong scent about him. I couldn’t really understand what he was saying as I promptly turned up my music, but I did notice how everyone else reacted.

Many people took a sudden interest in the stained and somewhat tattered carpeting. Others, forgetting this was the route they took daily, began staring out of the nearest window as if the train had suddenly taken flight into the stratosphere.

This man’s appearance immediately made me think of how some people treat social media. I’m sure that if any of these people could have immediately unfollowed this man and silenced his babbling, they would have. You can’t unfollow people in real life, though. This man had interrupted the normal flow of things. It made people feel uncomfortable and those he approached probably felt violated.

How many people have you seen on Twitter that produce just such a reaction from others? How often have you been scanning your Twitter stream and noticed an update that just stood out from the others? Maybe even one that made you wrinkle your nose in disgust and start hunting for the UNFOLLOW button. Maybe you’ve never noticed a tweet like that.

Maybe the crazy person on the train is You.

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12 Reasons Why Google Wave will Change the Web

Cross-posted from my other home at Black Web 2.0 where I write about technology from a different perspective.

Google Wave is the shiniest new thing that everyone is talking about. It’s not even out yet, but I watched the entire video from the Google I/O demo and I have to admit I’m impressed. I honestly think it will change the web, even if it only serves to show others what’s possible and sparks innovation. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Real-time

Just about every service out there is striving to reach real-time status. We have come to a point where waiting to see the information we need is not acceptable. FriendFeed is a good example of this. New items drop in and slide down the screen right before your eyes.
Google Wave is definitely real-time. You thought Instant Messaging was fast? Wave shows you each character as it is typed. No more waiting for the other person to finally hit SEND. Just about anything anyone does to a wave shows up to all who can see it immediately and in real-time.

2. Document Collaboration

Services like Google Docs let you collaborate, but Google Wave takes this a step further. Multiple participants can edit the same wave simultaneously and in real-time. You can literally watch the changes happen and differentiate via color coding who is doing what.

3. Document Management

In addition to editing documents simultaneously, you also have the ability to sync and manage documents between individuals or groups. Those familiar with systems like CVS and SVN for collaborating on development projects will feel right at home. Changes made to a copy of a document or wave can be synced back to the parent, which can sync up with all the other copies of that document or wave.

4. Drag And Drop

I love sharing photos and files on the web, but the process for doing so can sometimes be a huge pain. Whether you have to upload via a web form or send the file to a specific email address, I’ve always felt like there was a better way. Google Wave gives us that with Drag and Drop file sharing. Simply drag a bunch of photos from your computer to a wave and have an instant photo gallery.

5. Embeddable

You can embed a Wave on any blog or website. This isn’t just a view of the wave, but a completely interactive interface to the wave. You could use this as a chat room on your website or maybe even to replace your commenting system on a blog.

6. Private Messages

Each wave can have multiple participants who can see everything that’s going on. You can send a private message to any one of these participants that will appear right inside the conversation thread. Only you and the person you sent the private message to will see it. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to go check yet-another-inbox to see it.

7. Spelly

Haven’t you ever wondered why spellcheck is so brain dead? Sometimes, it marks things wrong that you know are right or doesn’t catch things it should. Spelly is an extension built on Google Wave that makes spell check much smarter. Instead of being based on a simple dictionary, it’s based on the entire web. Not only will it correct your spelling mistakes, but it also looks at the context of words to fix things in real time. For example, “Icland is an icland” becomes “Iceland is an island”.

8. Playback History

Have you ever jumped into the middle of a conversation and wished you could turn back the hands of time? Google Wave’s history playback feature gives you that power. Each change in a Wave is recorded and you can play back that history, step-by-step, to see exactly how a wave developed. This could be useful in following a conversation, changes to a document, or even seeing exactly how you got beat in that last game of chess.

9. Rosy

This is a robot created for wave that will translate your conversation in real-time, it could possibly have the same functions as the Botpress chatbots, but with an extra language added to it. Just add Rosy to the wave and you suddenly speak any language you’d like. Your comments or blips will be translated into the native language of whoever you’re talking to. This is a feature that many of us have been hoping FriendFeed would add as there is a pretty large community of people there who don’t speak English.

10. Open Source

Anyone can look at the actual code for Google Wave in order to contribute to it or build an application based on it. Besides the technical advantages for the community, this shows that Google might be more interested in pushing web innovation forward than simply making a dollar off of their web dominance.

11. Federation

Anyone can run their own custom version of the Wave software on their own server. This custom version will be able to communicate across all other instances of Wave running on other servers, in addition to the primary server at Google. This is the same type of configuration offered by the microblogging software, which is based on. The Twit Army shows us an example of a customized version of the server.
Any company, brand, or individual could run their own Wave server primarily for communicating and interacting with their audience, friends, and family. It could be customized and branded, but still seamlessly integrated with other Wave instances. Not that Google really has problems keeping their servers up and running, but federation also helps in balancing load.

12. Robots and Extensions

Google will provide a rich API with Wave that will allow developers to build on top of it and extend it’s functionality. Rosy is one example of a robot, which basically takes actions on your behalf. This is similar to how IM and Twitter robots work. As you type your responses, Rosy re-types it in another language. Spelly is an example of an extension. It runs at the server level, intercepting the content and fixing the errors.
Twitter has already shown us how a basic service with an open API can be extended and expanded into something much more. We won’t have to wait for the Google developers to implement new features and functionality.


Google Wave is not available yet, but should be released later this year. I’m really excited to see what, exactly, this shiny new thing will be able to do for us. The Google team is even still finding out new ways to use what they’ve created for fun and productivity. This will either be one of the greatest things that’s happened to the web, or an epic fail. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

For more details, check out the comprehensive Google Wave guide.

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The Key to Closing the Social Media Sale

Photo of the reverse side of the Key to the Ci...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently caught a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Steven Hodson over on Winextra Shooting Bubbles (gratz on the rebrand!). He was talking about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of SEO and Marketers and how good white hat seo link building services are. The post basically covers how marketers jump into the social media space and flail around with no clue what they’re doing, all the while claiming to be “ninjas” and “experts.”

One particular section stood out to me because it’s the same exact line of thinking I’ve formed about marketing as it relates to social media:

You know who a successful marketer is?

It’s the person who you can talk with on Twitter or Friendfeed or by email and feel like you are having an actual conversation – not the target of a sales pitch or that you are riding trapped with them on an elevator. Sure you could be talking about product or service but the moment you throw out a buzzword or two you have crossed the line from being an interesting person to talk with to being just another marketing dreck.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Steven just gave you the key to the city if you’re trying to make money using social media. As a matter of fact, this same mentality works everywhere else.

I believe that every conversation ends in a sale. Problem is, nobody likes being sold or pressured. They would rather evaluate the situation and make a decision on their own.

How do you get someone to make the decision you need them to make?

This is such basic stuff that I’m surprised so few actually get it. You have to convince a potential client or customer that your product or service will benefit them or otherwise provide value. With standard sales, you’d go through a process like:

  • Engage – make an initial pleasant connection
  • Build Rapport – small-talk to make your target feel comfortable
  • Discovery – at this point, you are trying to find out how your product will benefit this specific person
  • Close – by the time you get here, you and your target are buddies. You know exactly how your product or service fits into their life and they feel like you are doing them a huge favor.

For some reason, marketers in social media just keep trying to close the sale, skipping all the important steps necessary before that. This may still work with email marketing (maybe), but it does not work in social media. These are real people you’re talking to and if you don’t treat them as such, you will never succeed.

You have to put the work in if you want this to work for you. This means being real and genuine. Trying to be a part of the community for the purpose of making money won’t work. You have to just be a part of the community. With the web heading towards real-time, it’s all too easy to spot a fake and I or someone else will point you out. If you’re not here to provide value to the community, you may as well pack your things and move along.

Oh, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out…

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Did You Get Caught Trying to Boost Your Follower Count?

punkdTwitter is gaining popularity, attracting people of all types. They talked about Twitter on The View. George Stephanopoulos interviewed twitterviewed John McCain. P. Diddy has jumped in with both feet, keeping us updated and motivated (Let’s Go!!!). As always, with great power comes great responsibility…wait…I mean when a social service’s numbers blow up, most of them are probably just spammers and other types of marketers.

There is nothing wrong with marketing in social media. It’s a good place to establish your brand and make connections. The problems arise when the marketers start Doing It Wrong(tm). It’s almost disrespectful. Maybe I’m just sensitive.

Twitter Isn’t a Mailing List

We could go back and forth on this point all day long, but you’d still be wrong. Twitter is not your own personal mailing list. Let me restrict the parameters to make this more clear:

  • A standard network or Internet marketer sets up a mailing list attached to some kind of auto-responder.
  • The auto-responder is stuffed with a bunch of emails scheduled to fire off at specified intervals.
  • The goal here is to move your target to action without you lifting a finger.

Problem with that is, when someone subscribes to your mailing list, they usually expect this will be the case. When someone follows you on Twitter, they expect to see you updating your status. Not pitching them on your product.

The proliferation of services that will schedule tweets and shoot out automated messages to Twitter just illustrates my point here. We all know how I feel about social media automation.

Your Followers Aren’t Following You

Many network marketers and “small-business” owners have purchased leads before. The selling point on these always mentions something like “pre-qualified” or “targetted.” Anything that makes you think the the people on these lists are interested in what you have.

Once you start contacting these leads, you quickly realize that these people mostly want nothing to do with you. They were probably careless with their email address, or filled out some survey where one of the questions asked them if they had an interest in making money from home. Who doesn’t want to make money from home?

There are a bunch of services popping up which allow you to build your followers list automatically. Now, anyone can have thousands of followers without investing any time in Twitter at all. All they have to do is signup or opt-in and all the other people that have signed up and opted-in follow you just as you follow them.

Am I the only one that sees a pattern here? Nobody who signs up for these follower-generation services cares what you have to say. They don’t want to buy your crap or join your business. Just like you, they’re trying to get a bunch of followers on their “list” so that they can pitch their crap.

You Just Got Punk’d

So, you’ve signed up with this service, probably given up your Twitter credentials and the whole nine, and the only connections you’re going to make are with people who want to sell you something. Not only that, guess who makes out like a bandit? The service you signed up for. They played on your greed and now they have your contact info and twitter credentials. Not only that, but I bet they will turn around and sell you out to the highest bidder.

You might as well start looking around for Ashton, cuz you have definitely been had. Is that a camera hidden in the corner there?

There are people who just don’t know any better. They just wanted a bunch of followers because that’s supposed to be the thing to do in social media. It’s supposed to increase your status and make you somebody. Well, it doesn’t and I’m sorry you were misinformed.

For you marketer-types, you need to step your game up and start doing things the right way. If you’re going to be lazy about it and try to take shortcuts, you may as well quit now. You’ll never last. Also, you won’t make any money.

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I got an email from the other day about their new Tweetbox feature. 12seconds is basically the Twitter of video, allowing you to post quick 12s videos via web or mobile. Their Tweetbox feature grabs the latest tweet about your 12seconds video and displays it on your profile.

Oh how we love Twitter!  We love it so much that we’ve decided to create a special feature that allows your Twitter friends to publicly comment on your videos.  All they have to do is include the Tiny12 link from your video in their tweet and we’ll automatically pull it in and put it right into your TweetBox.  You can find your TweetBox sitting right on your home and channel page.

12seconds Gets It Right

You can probably think of a million services that post to Twitter for you. Why do they always make this the priority? I can think of a few reasons:

  • From a developer stand-point, posting to Twitter is easy once I have your credentials
  • Posting a link to my service in your Twitter stream helps my service gain popularity
  • Some integration with Twitter, however half-assed, leads users to believe your service is on the bleeding edge

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing any service that makes an effort to integrate with other services, but there is a piece missing here that always bothers me. This is especially true of services like FriendFeed and Pikchur, where comments enrich the value of the service.

Discussion Fragmentation…Again

Let’s talk about FriendFeed. I import my updates from Twitter. People that see my item in FriendFeed have the option to comment on it. They also have the option to have that comment sent to me as a reply on Twitter.

What ends up happening is I get the reply in Twitter and continue the discussion on Twitter. Meanwhile, back on FriendFeed, there is a bunch of discussion going on that doesn’t get sent through Twitter. Not only that, but the discussion I’m having on Twitter doesn’t go back through FriendFeed. So, I’ve created two separate discusion threads from the same FriendFeed item.

What would be great is for FriendFeed to grab items from Twitter that are in-reply-to FriendFeed items. I’m not sure of the technical details here, but I think it’s possible. I also think it’s possibly difficult, but I have my blogger hat on right now, so I’ll leave the technical discussion alone for now.

12seconds Could Do It Better

As it stands, 12seconds only grabs the single latest tweet about your videos and displays it on your channel page. There is no Tweetbox on the individual video pages. The context of the comment is pretty much stripped away as it’s unclear which video the tweet is about. The remedy for this would be to grab all tweets about a specific video and display them as comments on that video’s page.

12seconds has set themselves up for success here because they can simply (again, speaking as just a blogger) grab any tweets that mention their URL’s and correlate them to their user’s and videos using their own database.

FriendFeed also has it’s own URL shortening service and could possible do something similar. I believe the Twitter API also includes a method to find out what tweets are in-reply-to other tweets, so there should be a way to grab entire threads of tweets that correspond to FriendFeed items and apply them as comments for those items.

Obviously, this is mostly speculation, but if we don’t attempt to do what might seem impossible,  all this will get boring real quick.

Twitter Users Cling to It Like a Safety Blanket

image by Rivka5

I recently wrote a post on Blackweb 2.0 which discussed one of the many services and content management systems that aim to extend the usefulness of Twitter. I briefly touched on something that has been in the back of my mind for a while, so I figured I should elaborate. In the post I explained the reluctance of Twitterers to actually branch out and use other micro-blogging services:

Hardcore Twitter users do not like to leave Twitter. Most of them do not feel like exploring other services. Twitter is just too simple to use, too familiar, and all their followers are there. No matter how awesome another service might be, these people are not moving.

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Automation Defeats the Purpose of Social Media

An example of a social network diagram.
Image via Wikipedia

The fact that Twitter is so simple and so revered makes it a perfect example to use when talking about social media in general. It provides the most basic framework for what more complicated networking sites like Facebook and Myspace are built upon. You find people and connect with them based on the value they have to offer you. That is the most basic action that occurs and everything else builds from that simple choice of “following” someone.


When you follow someone, that’s supposed to mean that you’re interested in what they have to say. Remember, this action is the basis of a social network. This alone will make sure that your network is valuable to you, so what happens when you automatically follow everyone that follows you? As time goes on, the quality of your network approaches zero.

The proliferation of spammers and marketers is just one single variable that ensures this to be true. There are many other reasons you shouldn’t use auto-follow. There are a large number of people on Twitter who you would view as “noise” if you took a look at their Twitter time-line and those same people are going to follow you at some point during the growth of your network.

Let’s use a real-world example. You and I are both content creators. I happen to write about a subject that you could care less about, but I think your content is the bee’s knees. Do you subscribe to me just because I subscribed to you? Isn’t that being dishonest? Fronting? Perpetrating? Patronizing? You don’t care about what I have to say, why pretend?


Why? What is the usefulness here within the context of a social network? We keep forgetting the fact that “social” means interactions with real people. That is what makes it different from everything else. When you replace that interaction with a robot, you are telling me that I’m not important enough for your attention. You’re telling me that you’re not there. You’re telling me that you’re kinda rude.

What you’re actually telling me is that you don’t really have time to interact. You are not really interested in all this socal media stuff, but you know that it’s supposed to be good at building your brand or making you money, so you’re making a half-assed attempt at it. Keep in mind, these things may not be totally true, but it’s the impression I get.

Remember when you could call a company and a human would pick up? Wasn’t that nice? Now, you have to speak to an automated system that doesn’t even understand what you’re saying. You probably end up using foul language to get to an actual person. How does that make you feel about that company or brand? Do you feel valuable? Do you feel as if they care at all about you or what you have to say?

“Tweet” or Get Off the Pot

Don’t get me wrong, there are certain specific cases where automation is acceptable within social media. Some entities in this area are known bots and we are simply using social tools to get information from them (@rtm, @timer, etc). There are even cases where you may want to follow everyone who follows you for the sheer purpose of growing your network and kick-starting your ability to interact. Conversations regarding these are all over FriendFeed.

There is also a danger here. We may render our social networks completely useless because of the sheer number of people auto-following, auto-replying, pushing RSS feeds as messages, and sending out automated updates. This is not social. This is spam. This is getting ridiculous.

If you are not willing to put in the time and effort it takes to really be active in social media and to actually interact with real people, please delete your account. If you don’t feel that you have time to build real relationships and you need a robot to speak for you, please delete your account. If the majority of your social interactions are actually automated, you may need to rethink your strategy. Social media may not be for you. I hear mailing lists are all the rage.

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TwitterFeed: Yer Doin It Wrong

There are many different uses of Twitter that I find somewhat disturbing and annoying. At the heart of it is the fact that I don’t believe Twitter should be your personal billboard. It’s one thing to be highly active and engaged in the community, but it’s quite another to flood your followers with automated Tweets. One of the primary culprits of this is TwitterFeed. TwitterFeed is a way to pipe an RSS feed directly into Twitter. It checks your feed at an interval that you specify, grabs the newest items, and posts them to Twitter.

I’m quite positive that the person who developed this tool (@mario) did not intend for it to be a problem. I’m sure it was created to add value to the Twitter experience, but mostly it just gets on my nerves. After a heads up from @isthisstupid (her blog is here), I decided to check and see if there were actually some settings that could make Twitterfeed less…uh…evil. No matter how great a tool is, there is usually some training that needs to be done on the part of the user to make sure everything goes as planned.

Now, this is Chewbaca a screenshot of the Twitterfeed settings page for creating a new feed. As you can see here, you have the option to specify how often Twitterfeed is checking to see if there is anything new from your feed. Every hour seems pretty reasonable.

This is the other setting you can change on that same page. Twitterfeed also gives you the option to specify how many updates it will spit out at a time. I think this is where most of us are messing up.

These are the default settings, which means that Twitterfeed will check my feed every hour. If there are 5 new posts at that time, Twitterfeed is going to dump all of them into Twitter. All of them.

Take another look at the pic at the top of this post. Do you think your followers are interested in seeing 5 back-to-back, automated updates from you? What would you think if you saw 5 updates in a row from someone you followed? How about if you and a friend are talking and someone just busts into the conversation and talks nonstop for 5 minutes? I’m quite positive you’d both walk away.

So, in the interest of making yourself more valuable to your followers, check your settings. I would change that 5 to, at most, a 2. What you’re doing here is spreading your content over a longer period of time. This gives your audience a chance to actually digest what you’re posting at a normal pace, rather than seeing a huge set of links and just ignoring it entirely.

Are there any services that you think people are abusing or misusing? How do you feel about people pulling in automated Tweets? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.