Follow to be followed on Twitter

A Hotspot report “State of the Twittersphere” (pdf) has revealed some interesting insight into the popular micro blogging site.

With massive growth in the last year (600% according to compete.com) 70% of users joined in the last year.

With 35% of Twitter users having 10 or fewer followers and 9% of Twitter users not following anyone at all, many of the new followers may not understand how social networking works.

Many attempting to access this rapidly growing network often seem to expect the masses come rushing to hear their messages, however this environment is not for one way discussion – to be successful you’ve got to either have some real hot property that twitter users are going to be eager to follow or actively engage with the community.

Some simple rules for starting with Twitter:

  • Post at least a message a day to show people who visit your page you’re twitter account is active
  • Find others who have similar interests and follow them (don’t follow just anyone)
  • Only follow those who are active users – active users are more likely to follow you
  • Follow others in small chunks, keeping the gap between followers and followed no more than 200
  • Use friendorfollow to discover who you follow who does not follow you back
  • Re-post messages of interest, giving credit to the originator
    • to do this precede message with RT or Retweet ‘@theirtwittername’
  • Reply to messages of interest
    • to do this precede message with ‘@theirtwittername’
  • Send messages to those who follow you thanking them for their follow*
  • Follow those who follow you*

* Auto follow and auto notes to new followers can be done via SocialToo.

And of course follow my twitter (I promise to follow you)

Should Facebook have a Death Wish list?

How was you told that the last person that you were very close to died?

When a work colleague died I remember receiving a group email, shocking but at least there were others around in the office to look to for support. In the age of social networking there is every possibility that you could discover that someone close died via a profile update. With the rapid growth of mobile internet you could be in the middle of a meeting, stood in the queue at the supermarket, out for a meal with friends or picking up the kids from school.

Whilst you could be in all these scenarios to discover the death of a friend via a telephone call, the ‘accidental’ impact of discovering of someones death from a wall post or status update on a social profile seems to have an added loneliness and depth of shock.

So what happens next?

Some friends may wish to post messages of their shock and sadness on the profile of the deceased. Others may feel this inappropriate, feel that such public displays of grief are inappropriate. 

Who should decide if and when a profile is removed?

Should relatives be given control?

At funerals I have always disliked the saying ‘they would have wanted…’ said so many a time by people who have no idea what the deceased wanted at all.

A solution to this would be a ‘living will’ on social networks – a ‘death wishlist’ or ‘social network after life’. At some point after signing up to a social network you should be given the option to select what you would like to happen to your account after you die. I would imagine that most will not bother, but for those of us who do not want others to speak in their name, this could be a way of securing that our wishes are met. 

A ‘passed on’ option or ‘dead’, if you would prefer to be more blunt, could be useful – this would enable friends to stay friends but not have the deceased pop up every time an application wants you to choose friends to invite. Pre-programmable options after the ‘dead’ option is activated could include a series of status updates – spooky but could also provide some comfort (or hilarity). 

In the absence of a ‘Facebook Death List’ I’d like to let my wishes be known:

  • Post away on my profile after I’ve gone, for me death has traditionally been a social event. At least on-line there wont be any stale sandwiches 
  • My profile can stay, but if you’re a friend don’t feel embarrassed to delete me as a friend if seeing me in your friends list makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Take photos at my funeral (no one ever does this which is a shame when everyone made such an effort to look good – and of course look gorgeous in black). A HD video stream would be even better.  
  • Make sure the coffin and later pictures of my gravestone are tagged just to make sure anyone who might stumble by my profile understands why I haven’t updated my status in a while.
  • If someone can post messages each year to a newspaper on the anniversary of a death then I cant see why you can’t make it easier for people by keeping your profile open so they can post messages there.

Social networks have become such a major part of our lives, for me, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be a major part of death. I just hope that my last profile picture is a good one as I hopeit will be around for a lot longer than I was.

So what would you’re ‘Death Wish List’ be? Should Facebook let you decide what happens to your profile after you’re death or is this for you’re family to decide? Will last.fm discover new meaning? What happens to your last tweet when you are no longer able to twitter?

Show it Qik.com

Qik is (from their site) ‘Qik enables you to share moments of your life with your friends, family and the world – directly from your cell phone!’

Qik offers opportunities for both businesses and politicians. So your having a store opening, product or policy launch, wanting to highlight a key local issue. With Qik.com you can get your message straight on-line from your mobile phone.

Currently the number of phone models supported is extremely limited, however the ability to live stream from your mobile offers huge possibilities to marketers and politicians to launch their campaigns and share messages.

Currently the site is being very sensible, like many web 2.0 sites they are controlling the numbers that sign up and you have to apply for access, however its clear that a site of this type will be hugely popular in a world increasingly wanting to stream what they are up to. No doubt this or other similar site will capture the imagination of millions of users if not some very interesting content (!!).

By adding live video to a service such as this you further extend the audience for your messages and give further opportunities to influence search results.

Controlling your privacy on Facebook

A simple and easy guide to how to set up your privacy settings on Facebook.

I mainly use Facebook to communicate with my friends, facilities like sharing photos of fun nights out are great. But what do you do when someone you would not want access to this asks to become your friend. It could be your boss or work colleague, or if you are a politician a constituent. You don’t want to seem rude by saying no whilst at the same time wanting to keep your personal and political life separate.

By setting up privacy settings you can say yes to your constituent and become there online friend, whilst protecting your Facebook privacy.

There are also some ‘dodgy’ profiles out there. People who are not who they seem to be and may be fishing your profile for a story. Here you may want to create a privacy setting which means they can still add you as a friend but will find nothing of interest (or of use to them) on your profile.

Here is how to create a profile that would allow them to add you as a friend but would show them nothing.

Click the friends link at the top of the Facebook navigation

Facebook privacy

Click ‘Make a new list’ and enter a name for your list

Facebook privacy

I created a group called ‘see nothing’ and after pressing enter was prompted to enter names for whom I wanted to be part of this group

Facebook privacy

Now if you know me this was only a test – so the names here were removed afterwards. Enter a list of people you wish to include. When people ask to become your friends in future you will be able to add them to a list as you accept them.

Facebook privacy

Removing someone from the list is very easy, just click the x by the persons details.

Facebook profile

So you have created your list of people. This list can also be used as a mailing list, enabling you to email a group of friends without entering their names separately. For the purpose of this we want to restrict their access. To do this now click the ‘Privacy’ link in the Facebook navigation.

Facebook privacy

Here I have selected ‘Profile’. You then need select to ‘customise’ access for each element that you wish to restrict access to.

Facebook privacy

This will then provide the ability to ‘Edit Custom Settings’. Click the ‘Edit Custom Settings’ link for each item

Facebook privacy

Click ‘Edit Custom Settings’ for each element you wish to restrict access to and enter the name of your list.

Facebook Privacy

Members of these lists will now no longer have access to this content.

Facebook privacy

Make sure you save those changes then also customise settings for your applications. To do this click the applications link in the left hand navigation then select each item that you wish to restrict access to on Facebook.

Facebook privacy

Are you a twit or a twitter?

Many politicians are familiar with being called a twit, as would be some front line staff of many organisations large and small. Not many would be familiar with the term ‘Twitter’.

So what is twitter, and should you be twittering?

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service allowing members to send updates which are text-based posts, which can be up to 140 characters long, to the Twitter website. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

Updates can be added to a twitter by a wide variety of ways including via the Twitter website, short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific.

Those wanting to keep up-to-date with your twitter can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. Your twitter alerts can either be open to anyone to subscribe or you can create a closed group of approved subscribers.

You may think that this is pointless, or great fun. The majority of twitters so far are people just wanting to keep up-to-date with what their friends – but does Twitter offer opportunities to politicians or businesses.

For politicians there are several opportunities, twitter could be used to keep voters updated on what they are doing or update supporters on their campaign. Twitter alerts could be used to alert voters to the need to vote, and which party to vote for.

For businesses twitter could be used to alert subscribers to special offers, new products or updates to their website.

For a charity this could alert supporters to new campaigns or updates on fund raising efforts.

For a television company they could remind fans of a particular programme to alert fans to when their favourite programme is going to air.

For music artists they could tell their fans where they are playing or highlight a new release for downloading online.

Twitter could be used to alert members or employees of internal messages, though if you have a closed list you will need processes to identify and remove those who move to another organisation.

As with all subscriber services those setting up twitters for either political or business purposes need to remember that if you spam your audience they can and will unsubscribe. As with email marketing you must ensure that a message goes out soon after your subscribers come on board, if you do not send an update for several months after they joined the subscriber may have forgotten that they subscribed and see the message as spam.

140 characters gives similar challenges that those writing for Google Adwords, especially in German language where the words are typically a lot longer.

So why use Twitter as opposed to an SMS delivery service? Twitter is a social network with, if your updates are open, others able to discover and subscribe to your updates from their Twitter account. Adding a Twitter button on your site will attract your visitors that are already Twitter users to subscribe to your alerts.

You can monitor how many ‘followers’ you have, send direct messages to individual followers and followers can send direct messages to you.

How to create a Twitter account
This is very easy – simply visit the Twitter website and register. Think about your username as this will be associated with the messages on your feed.

Twitter to your Facebook
Often when I advise politicians on how to best use the web to communicate with their constituence they tell me how they have no time to maintain so many sites and to communicate in so many different ways. One of the great developments of Web 2.0 sites is the convergence of features from many different websites as they allow each other to feed into them. With the Twitter Sync application you will not only send out messages to your ‘followers’ but update your Status Profile on Facebook at the same time.

How to add your Twitter to your WordPress page
You can see my twitter on the left hand side of this blog. To do this yourself after setting up a twitter account go to the WordPress dashboard, select presentation, widgets, drag RSS 1, click within RSS 1 to configure, from the bottom of your Twitter page right click on the RSS button and copy shortcut, put this shortcut in the configuration box for RRS 1, you need to save changes and then should see this in your WordPress page. If it doesn’t work check you’ve saved at every stage and that you see the confirmation that your blog has been updated. Other blog services also have widgets that enable this.

Should you really twitter?
Many years ago in the United Kingdom the telecommunications company ran a campaign featuring a character a chatty bird called Buzby. If Buzby was still around today I am sure he would be twittering away – if you don’t other’s will be twittering louder, and reaching those you need to twitter to.