Friday, June 29, 2012

Is it trending? Probably not....

From Blog-Blond
I get the logic behind Twitter's latest tweak to Trending but it's making me the official assassin of joy at work.  Here's what happens:

Every few days we get a phone call from someone who has recently run a campaign that has included some kind of activity on Twitter, normally with a hashtag. Through tears of pure happiness they announce that their chosen hashtag is trending on Twitter. Visions of the countless millions who have seen, understood and passed on their message dance before their eyes. Screw you Justin Beiber, a worthy cause has finally triumphed in the twitterverse

And that's when we have to kill the joy. Stone dead.

Taking a deep breath, I or my trusty sidekick have to say "No, it's not"
"But how can you say that??" they blub "I'm looking at it on my screen. It's TRENDING I tell you!!"
"On your screen it is - but that's because a lot of the people you follow have been talking about it, not because everyone on Twitter has. Twitter's started customising trend reports"

And then we sit back and listen for the distant sound of dreams exploding or the high pitched squeal of an ego as it deflates. Neither one is pretty.

Twitter's logic is OK. They've realised that global or even local trending topics may not be of much interest to some people.  Personally I find them useful - admittedly I couldn't care less about which footballer is transferring to what new club but I'm willing to put up with that - it's handy to know if David Cameron is getting crucified in PMQs. Furthermore deceased celebs pop up on Twitter a lot faster than in the Times obituary column.

However not everyone is the same. We're getting very cosy with being able to control or filter every bit of information coming our way. The idea of generic data being imposed upon us from above is increasingly resented.

So this month Twitter introduced "Tailored Trends". The algorithm isn't clear but now users chiefly see what is trending based on their location and the people they follow. For a lot of users that might be a good thing but then Twitter tripped up. It made Tailored Trends the default setting and not everyone noticed.

And that's when our phone started ringing....

So how can you fix this?

The quick solution is via your feed on the Twitter site rather than any twitter clients like Tweetdeck. At the top of the list of currently trending items there's an option to Change them.

Clicking on that will get you this:

Click on Change (I know, it's a no-brainer) which gets you this:

You can go as global or local as you like. Below are the contrasting lists of trending topics for London and the world taken about 2 minutes apart. They have nothing in common apart from the promoted trend which everyone ignores anyway). Looks like the cricket is on in the UK....

And finally, in case you were wondering what trending really means - here's a video clip from Tweetdeck showing a topic that is trending worldwide (watch the column on the right)

Good luck.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What makes a good tweet? Part 1

OK, I'm pretty sure there is no such thing as "The ultimate tweet". Someone will probably Google that and prove me wrong but until they do, the best way to work out how to tweet well is sometimes by looking at times when someone tweets poorly. We learn from our mistakes

So sit back, get comfortable and check out Carol's Hall of Shame (you mawkish little ghouls)

We'll start off with an easy one

Be interesting
Just been out for a great meal

Yeah, I'm real happy for you but your tweet is about as useful as a chocolate teapot and significantly less interesting. If you must tell everyone about your night out then tell them properly Why was it such a great meal? - Where did you go? Who were you with? What did you eat?

Whenever possible give your followers somewhere to go or something to look at. How about including a link to the restaurant's website or Facebook page? (the owners may even thank you for that). Failing that, what about a photo of that hilarious moment when the flaming sambuca torched the waiter's moustache?

Don’t make them work for it
@MacXXXX check my tweets for an event worth RT'ing guys. All profits going to @macmillancancer

This is basically asking people to go trawling back through the writer's tweets for some unspecified nugget of information.  No-one has the time to do that kind of detective work. Make it easy for your followers - put the important stuff up front every time.

And here's another from the mystery meat department
I posted a new photo to Facebook

Someone has posted a photo on Facebook (bet that was hard to guess) but not bothered to give the image a caption. They have their Facebook account set up to cross-post to Twitter and - in the absence of a caption - you're seeing the default text that Facebook uses for the tweet.

My usual reaction to this kind of tweet is not gleefully rushing over to Facebook to see this photographic wonder. I'm more likely to mutter "well goody for you!" and ignore it.

But then I'm more curmudgeonly than most.

However, I 'm not unique - c'mon people, tell me WHY I should be doing this for you, or don't act surprised when I do nothing at all.

And they say size doesn't count...
Doing a stand up comedy night for Macmillan Cancer Support. You can get tickets here Please RT + add your favourite joke

Nothing wrong with this surely? It does what it says on the tin, provides a call to action with the link and even gets imaginative by engaging readers with their favourite jokes.

There's only one wee problem - this tweet is exactly 132 characters. In a retweet this leaves just enough space to add "RT @..." and your username for the credit. So unless your reader's favourite joke is about one character long, he's pretty much screwed without having to edit your original tweet. A lot of tweeters don't like doing that.

Do your retweeters a favour - leave them some space to comment.

So, to recap
  • Make it interesting, be of value
  • Give your followers something to do or to look at (that they will be interested in)
  • Make responding easy for them
And finally here's a link to an audacious example of getting it right - more of those next time