Category Archives: Twitter

Pointless Babble?

Branching Veins

According to recent research carried out by Pear Analytics, 40.5% of all tweets are classifiable as ‘pointless babble,’ which the researchers defined as  ‘the “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets’.  You can read their full report which is downloadable as a white paper from their website; however, the BBC sum up the percentages here stating that:

it found that 40.5% could be classified as pointless babble, 37.5% as conversational and 8.7% as having pass-along value. Self promotion and spam stood at 5.85% and 3.75% respectively.

To be honest, I am dissatisfied with the classification of certain tweets as ‘pointless babble’.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it is those tweets which inform us about your choice of sandwich, the weather in your area, your indecision over which shoes to wear or your confession to treating yourself to a sneaky glass of rosé that brings the necessary level of humanity to your twitterstream.

It’s these small insights into the ordinary everyday that offer necessary points of connection; they offer a degree of commonality which others can relate to and respond to.  Following the sharing of the quotidian, conversation naturally flows, and it is from here that one can then go on to self-promote or offer those tweets defined as having a ‘pass-along’ value.  By offering up small, seemingly insignificant details, communication is sparked and friendships are born.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t follow bots.  I’m not interested in the firing out of information regardless of how relevant it may be to my interests.  I would much rather follow those that tweet about their everyday triumphs, struggles, decisions, disappointments, appetites.  I would much rather follow human beings with all their wonderful foibles, idiosyncrasies, oddities and failings.

For me the ‘babble’ is far from pointless – it’s the glue that sticks a community together; it’s the unapologetic celebration of human conversation.

How about you?  How do you feel about the classification ‘pointless babble’?  Do you think there’s too much of it on Twitter, or are you like me & revel in these invitations to connect?

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Landing Tweets Results

Floating Feather 3

Living life in the fast lane recently has resulted in a delay in sharing the fabulous landing pages that were created & improved throughout the month of May.

Take a look at those who contributed!

A quick recap of posts on Twitter landing pages in case you missed out on the writing project, but would still like to produce your own landing page:

Thanks to all who contributed – your participation was much appreciated.  And to all those who didn’t manage to get round to it in May, if you leave a comment along with a link, I’ll update this post to include your new landing page.

Also, would love feedback on this group writing project – did you find it useful/inspirational/motivational?  What writing projects would you like to see here in the future?  Do get in touch!

Interview With Tweetup Organiser: Baxter Tocher

Bird Silhouette

One of the main uses for Twitter is for networking – it allows you to contact a whole range of different people from a vast array of different professions.   As a virtual meeting place, nowhere on the web currently comes close to providing the opportunities for such diverse interactions that Twitter does.  And yet, I often find myself wanting more – I want to connect with my Twitter friends offline.  Sometimes this takes place over the phone, over Skype, or over coffee, but more and more frequently it’s happening at tweetups.

To explain the value of tweetups and to give you some tips on attending and organising one, I’ve asked Baxter Tocher, organiser of the popular Edinburgh Tweetups, to share with you his thoughts on how you can get the most out of tweetups. He’s been involved in social networking since “Web 2.0” first appeared and loves connecting people and finding patterns.  His generous responses will give you an idea of why he’s such a natural at organising these events – as a host he really excells himself.  I’m sure after reading what he has to say you’ll be checking out when your next local tweetup will be, or even organising one yourself!

So without further ado, here’s the interview:

Q1. What is a tweetup and why should we go along to one?

A1. Well, a tweetup is a real life gathering of folks who are somehow connected via Twitter. A few may be friends in real life who already share their experiences using Twitter, some will never have met before but will be already have discovered each other on Twitter, and others will be completely unrelated strangers who happen to find themselves in the same place at the same time, on different threads of the spiders web created by Twitter. Some will not know each other at all but will have Twitter friends or followers in common, even though they may not know it. They are connected via a web of contacts, some close and some distant. Oh, and some will have met perhaps once before, at a previous tweetup, or at a twestival, or even an unrelated event.

It’s very much a social night which gives everyone an opportunity to get to know others, to find out whether others share common interests, and perhaps to end up following each other on Twitter too. You should come along to a tweetup to meet the people that you regularly converse with on Twitter, to make new personal and business connections, to find new people to follow and be followed by, but in the main to simply have a good informal night out in a friendly environment where everyone there has at least one thing in common.

Q2. Why did you decide to organise the recent Edinburgh tweetups?

A2. Hey, I know this one! Pick me! Pick me!

Seriously, though. The Edinburgh Twestival was an utterly magical event. All of the hard work done by @jimwolffman, @tanepiper, @andrewburnett, @bureauista and @davelaw00 fitted together at very short notice to create a fabulous experience for charity: water. It gave all of those attending a superb opportunity to meet lots of other Twitter users for the first time, while ensuring that an essential cause was aided by all of the musical and fund-raising events of the evening.

From those I spoke to during that night, it became evident that there was an appetite for Twitter users to meet up more often, not necessarily for charity, but to allow folks to keep in fairly regular contact, to be able to talk informally, and importantly outwith the constraints of Twitter’s 140 character message limit.

I already had some experience of arranging social events, albeit on a much smaller scale than the Twestival! I organize the Edinburgh Diners group on Meetup, and I also host the Edinburgh Lunch Bunch there, though the latter events are jointly run by my good friends @jehollin and @blitzmiz.

So I thought I’d go ahead and book a venue, and see what happened. Everyone said they enjoyed it, and some folks asked me to organize another. So here we are already with the second Edinburgh Tweetup.

Q3. What has the response to the tweetups been?

A3. To be honest, it’s been knockout. Around 40 of us attended the first one, and it’s looking like there may be nearly 70 of us the second one. It’s been way more successful than I’d hoped.

In terms of feedback, everyone has been very positive. For anyone wanting to check what folks have said, have a look on Twitter for the hashtag #edtweetup.

Q4. What are your top tips for someone attending their first tweetup?

A4. I’d say try and speak to as many people as you can. Four hours or so is a limited time. Not everyone has a list of who’s expected to arrive, and there may very well be people there that you already follow on Twitter that you haven’t yet met. If you’re looking to do business, it may happen in the sidelines, though that’s not the main purpose. So if you’re going to do that, please do it subtly. And for the record, I don’t want to buy, or sell, anything!

If you’re looking for someone with particular hobbies or skills, don’t be afraid to ask the organizer. They’ll be trying their best to keep a handle on who has arrived or is running late, and what specific interests or skills they might have. They’ll likely be able to connect you with web designers, musicians, promoters, authors, bloggers and even bathroom fitters, if that’s what you need. If you want to discuss films, books or music, the organizer may be able to point you towards others with whom you have a common interest. And most importantly, if you just want to meet people and have a few drinks, that’s just fine.

Oh,and if you’ve a poken*, please take in with you!

Q5. What are your top tips for someone organising a tweetup?

A5. If you can find a private venue or a function room that’s the right size, and it’s very central for buses and trains, make that your starting point. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you don’t want to be out of pocket in arranging a tweetup.

One thing that became clear after the first Edinburgh tweetup was completely counterintuitive – being in a room with limited connectivity to Twitter is a bonus. Yes, you heard that right! Tweetups are about talking to others face to face. If there’s somewhere nearby with wifi and/or a great 3G signal (say a bar upstairs or next door), that’ll do just fine. There’s no value in folks spending the entire evening typing into a mobile Twitter client at a tweetup. That’s what a lot of us do on a daily basis already.

Finally, as an organizer you need to try and ensure that everything is running smoothly. And finally, don’t forget that you’re allowed to enjoy yourself too. Organizing and having fun are not mutually exclusive!

Thanks Baxter!!

Have you attended or organised a tweetup?  What advice would you give to someone who was attending or organising one for the first time?  If you haven’t been to one yet, what’s holding you back?  Oh, and if you’re coming along to tonight’s tweetup in Edinburgh, I’ll see you there!

*Poken – I’ll be writing a review of how my new poken fares tonight.  Expect it on Thursday!

The Peacock Guide to Landing Pages

Peacock Feather Study 9

It’s springtime and all the animals are twitterpated.  They’re putting on their best displays to attract, communicate, connect.  Out of all the animals, however, the peacock’s display is perhaps one of the most dramatic.  That full sweep of gloriously iridescent feathers fanned out to frame its brilliant azure blue head and neck.  If ever there was a bird that was not shy to showcase, it’s the peacock.

As I bring this magnificent display to mind, I can’t help but see its relevance to the process of writing a landing page.  After all, your landing page needs to be the place where you put on your most impressive show – the stage upon which you need to perform your most attractive self.

Like Twitter itself, there is no right way to compose your landing page – this guide is not going to give you a definitive outline with a list of necessary components.  Rather its aim is to provide you with a few key ideas of how to construct a landing page to show you off to your full potential.

One of the most important of these is the fanning of your feathers.  In your Twitter bio you are given 140 characters in which to sum yourself up.  No easy task!  I’m pretty sure most of us feel as though we’ve had to compromise in our description of ourselves – how do we differentiate ourselves from the rest?  How do we define what we do?  How do we make our values clear & passions vibrant with such a limited quota of words?  The good news is that, no matter how confined your bio is on your Twitter profile, your landing page gives you the space to fan those feathers wide; it gives you the space to expand on your 140 characters and make your case for why others should want to follow & connect with you.

One of the ways you can do this is to share the words of others.  When I was putting together my own landing page I let my followers know what I was doing and I asked for their assistance.  I asked if they could tell me why they follow me and if I could include their responses on my landing page.  As you’ll have seen, I got some great responses to my request and, in some ways, their words of endorsement do more than any of my self-promoting words could do.  Now if someone clicks through from my profile they’re (hopefully!) persuaded by the recommendations from those who already follow me.

Lastly, you need to capitalise upon the attention that your landing page has received.  You need to alert your potential followers to where else you can be found on the net.  You can do this by listing your other social media profiles, sharing the urls of your blog/s, any collaborative projects you are working on or online examples of your work.  The whole point of the landing page is to attract & direct.  Once you’ve attracted the attention, make the most of it and channel that attention towards the places where you most want to connect with like-minded others.

In short, don’t be afraid to put your best self forwards – tell us why we should want to connect with you, why we should follow you and where we can do that. Write it with confidence and don’t be afraid to set aside your self-deprecation.

In other words, create a display to rival that of the twitterpated peacock 😉

Landing Tweets – Group Writing Project Announcement

Bird Footprints

This is a bit of an experiment which I hope you’ll be just as excited about as I am.  If you look up at the top of my site you’ll see a tab called @amypalko.  Now some of you may be familiar with it already, because that’s where you arrived upon clicking through from my Twitter homepage, as this is my Twitter Landing Page.

Landing pages are a great idea to implement on your blog.  As I’ve mentioned once before, it’s important to direct traffic towards your online home(s), and one easy and effective way to do this is by creating a landing page.  So, over the next month I would like to challenge you to produce your own landing page.  It doesn’t, in fact, need to be specifically aimed at Twitter; you could create a landing page which all of your social media homepages point to.  What it does need to do, however, is to give your visitors an idea of who you are, what you’re about, why they should follow you and where else they can connect with you.

Over the month of May, I would like to see an explosion of landing pages!

If you’re looking for advice, or have a question about landing pages, get in touch either by leaving a comment or send me an @ or dm  on Twitter, and next Monday I’ll be sharing a brief guide to writing a landing page in which I’ll do my best to answer any of your queries.  Over the coming month, I’ll be showcasing some of my favourites, so if you’re in need of some inspiration before you have a go at writing your own, hopefully you’ll find it here.  Once you have your landing page (or if you already have one), leave a comment here, I’ll come & check it out, and then I’ll share it with my Twitter followers & the readers of this blog.

At the end of May, I’ll compile a post with links to the landing pages of all who have participated.

So what do you say? Are you in?

The Outward Gaze

Hands Aloft

Daily reminder: reply/retweet others for 5 mins. Nothing about u. Interact, engage, build.

@unmarketing (Scott Stratten)
Whenever this daily reminder from Scott (@unmarketing) appears in my twitterstream it makes me smile.  Scott’s new tagline is ‘Stop Marketing, Start Engaging’ and businesses and individuals would do well to take both this daily reminder and Scott’s tagline directive to heart.  While I completely accept that Twitter is open to be used by anyone in any way that they so choose, the simple fact is that the majority of twitter users would benefit from directing their gaze outwards rather than in.

When I’m informed of a new follower one of the first things that I do is to check their twitterstream.  Primarily, I’m checking out their content to see if I’m interested in what they have to say, but what I’m also very conscious of, and will often dictate whether I follow back, is their level of engagement with their community.  I’m scanning for altruism.

So how do you tweet in such a way that you engage with your followers?
  • Retweet often – If you discover a tweet that you think your followers will find interesting/relevant/funny/informative, don’t keep it to yourself. Pass it on!  Most twitter desktop clients provide a retweet function, but if you’re tweeting from the web, simply write RT @username before copying & pasting the tweet you want to share into the update.  A retweet should look like this: RT @btocher: Edinburgh Tweetup! Edinburgh Tweetup! Please RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/jqus8r However, you can also write out a retweet like this: How Friends are Born: Stranger > follow > @ > DM > FB > phone > meet > Friend (via @lisahickey).
  • Connect using @ – Twitter is, of course, a platform from which you can promote your blog, your business, your brand; however, if you ensure you take the time to send replies you’ll find that a lot more people are willing to listen.  Twitter isn’t a soapbox; it’s a space that facilitates communication, and as with all successful communication there has to be give & take. No one likes to talk to the person who is so focused on themselves that they refuse to engage with the other participants in the conversation.  In fact, it’s a surefire way to alienate yourself and block your message.
  • Answer questions – A frequent tweet that you’ll see often in the twittersphere is the  open question.  Twitter is a fantastic resources for information and others have claimed that the way in which it harnesses the knowledge of the crowd has the potential to compete with Google as a dynamic search engine.  Now I’m not looking for a discussion on the wisdom of the crowds – that’s a post in itself! However, there is value in responding to questions looking for feedback, information, news or opinion as it strengthens original connections and promotes new ones.
  • Attract attention for others – One of the most popular memes on Twitter currently is #followfriday.  You can find out all about it here, but all you really need to know is that it’s a way of promoting some of your favourite tweeple.  Now, there are as many ways to phrase your #followfriday tweet as there are ways to use Twitter itself, but the #followfriday tweets that I find the most effective are the kind where only one person is promoted, and it is accompanied with a few words explaining why others should follow that individual.  For me, this appeals more than the #followfriday tweet that includes a whole raft of Twitter usernames.  In fact, I prefer these kind of meme tweets so much that I’m going to be making a conscious attempt to only participate in #followfriday with those personalised tweets.  I’ll report back to let you know how it goes!
  • Become a connecter – If you’re anything like me, then you probably spend far too many hours surfing the net.  Turn this to the advantage of your Twitter community by sending links to content that you think will be of direct interest to your followers.  For example, if you are following someone who works in education and is interested in social media, send them a link to that post you just read about Twitter & Facebook in the classroom.  Another way of performing this role is by connecting twitter users  to each other.  Know two poets that have yet to find each other on Twitter? Introduce them!  By becoming a connecter you show others the value in connecting with you!
I’m sure these are just a few of the ways that we can turn our gaze outwards towards our online communities, and I would love to hear your thoughts on whether you think this is important/relevant to your use of Twitter & if it is, what tips can you offer to help others to engage and connect.

Blog Update – This is the first post of my new writing schedule – from now on I’ll be posting every Monday and Thursday.  I’m really looking forward to sharing more of my ideas about social media, but if there’s anything in particular that you would like me to cover, please do get in touch, either here or on Twitter: @amypalko

Amy on Tweetabix

Curving Path

A wee while ago I answered some questions on my use of Twitter for the blog, Tweetabix, which features a number of interviews with those who tweet.  Now that I’ve defended my thesis, I have finally got around to sending in my answers, and I thought you might be interested to read the results.  Here’s a quick excerpt:

What aspects of Twitter do you love?

I love the immediacy of it – I love the fast-paced exuberance of information passing through finger-tips: the staccato beat of keyboards across the globe conveying information, sharing stories, linking to posts, images, tools, news.

If you would like to read more, please do head over to check it out, and if you want to submit an interview yourself, here’s how.

Please feel free to leave comments either here or over at Tweetabix & I’ll do my best to respond to you.

Enjoy!