Twannabe – Who do You Follow?

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: twitter | Tags: , , |

There are several follower finders for Twitter available. Mr. Tweet has received a lot of attention but it also has its critics mainly because there is no justification for why you should follow the individuals that are recommended.

twannabe1A newer tool – Twannabe comes closer to making more personal recommendations. Basically you enter your account details and the Twitter username of the person you want to “recommend” followers.

Unfortunately the tool uses terms like “Hero” which makes it seem a little High School-ish but it does perform well.

Having entered your details and that of your “Hero” you are shown a list of Twitter users that your “Hero” folllows that you don’t. They are ordered by the last time they updated Twitter, so it gives you a sense of relevance.

It tells you where the Twitter user lives and how many followers they have.

Following them involves two steps – first clicking on the Follow button doesn’t, what it does do is take you to the users profile page and you can follow them from there – its a shame this step is there but it only detracts a little.twannabe2

I have been using the tool for a few weeks now and personally find it a great way to find new and interesting people to follow. Its not exactly the same as getting a personal recommendation but it is very close, and a lot closer than Mr. Tweet.

How do you find new Twitter users to follow?

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Mr Tweet: Virtual Networking Assistant?

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , |

This week saw another rising star in the Twitter apps, Mr. Tweet. Still in Alpha, Mr Tweet offers to scour your Twitter network and make recommendations for two different groups of people for you to follow.

  1. Influencers beyond my network
  2. Which of my followers I should be following back

This is an interesting concept, better executed than the auto-follow model used by Twollow, which was based on keywords that you specified.

Influencer?

Option one is to find “Influencers” beyond my network. A few people have already asked Mr. Tweet on Twitter what the definition is of “Influencer”, I haven’t seen a response as yet. When I examine who is recommended to me the top 5 are all the usual suspects. They are people I would expect to see in any list of top Twitter users. Under each name are the list of people that I am following that are also following the recommended user. The feature that I really like though, is the “Characteristics” information. This gives you the avg number of Tweets, and perhaps, at least for me, the reciprocity of the user, whether they follow back or at least respond to non-follows. If I am going to follow someone it is because I believe they have something informative to say, not because they made the top of a list somewhere. I also want to know how engaged they are with their followers and the Twitter community as a whole. These numbers give me a reasonable insight into that and help me make a decision about who to follow.

mr-tweet1

Follow Back

Option two gives you a list of people that are following you that you should follow back. This presents an interesting situation. The reasoning for following your followers varies from user to user. Tim Ferris, author of the 4-day work week, is famed for not following people. He explains his rational in this video, basically he only follows those people he has a connection with in real life. At the other end of the spectrum is Guy Kawasaki, who auto-follows anyone who follows him.

These two users would have wildly different results on their pages, Guy’s page would be blank, one would assume. While Tim’s page would be extensive. The difference is in the manner in which a user chooses to engage or use Twitter. Everyone has an opinion about how Twitter “should” be used. The point of Twitter is there are no rules. Twitter is different for every user.

The Review

I have been using Mr. Tweet daily for almost a week. My initial impressions are that it is a useful tool for both new and more experienced Twitter users. It has one of the ugliest UI’s I have seen, but the functionality is there. I would like to see the ability to mark recommendations as “viewed” so that they don’t maintain their position in the recommendations list.

For me what has really set Mr. Tweet apart is the use of Twitter itself. When they lost service due to a server issue, they immediately tweeted about it. They have continued to ask for feedback, and to acknowledge comments, observations and praise for the tool.

Have you used Mr. Tweet? What was your experience, did your list contain any surprises?

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Twollow: SOLD

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Sales, Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

twollowlogoLast week I posted a review of the Twitter tool Twollow. I was interested to see that it almost immediately went under the auction hammer. The tool that took 24 hours to build, took only 7 hours to sell. Bidding started at $25, with the tool finally being sold for $1,750.00. I am surprised by for two reasons, one, it was developed in 24 hours which means the developer realized $72 per hour. Second, it was obviously built for sale. This is an interesting trend. Almost akin to the House flipping market and I wonder if it will follow the same pattern.

Tools for Sale

Will we now see a rush of tools for Twitter brought out simply for resale? I will be interested to see what happens to Twollow – there is no disclosure of who bought the tool. Considering it was really a work in progress and needed quite a bit of remodeling it might not have been the bargain that someone thought.

The model that was used was very interesting. Build & launch a tool. Garner blog coverage for it, on the auction site there were 6 different blog sites with articles about the tool, including this one. Then put it on an auction site like Sitepoint.

Facebook reportedly offered $500m for Twitter this week. An offer that was turned down by the Twitter team. $500m is not a bad offer for a company that is barely 2 years old with a tool that has really only started to gain popularity in the later half of 2008. If we take the interest by Facebook as an indication, tools that support Twitter and extend its functionality and usefulness, will ultimately attract the same type of attention. Tools that support business functionality are already starting to appear, last week I posted on Mashable a HOW TO using the Xpenser tool, which utilizes Twitter functionality to track business expenses.

Twollow had none of these to offer. There was no business functionality, no extension of existing Twitter use and yet it managed to attract both publicity and bids. One can only imagine the interest that a tool with both business and personal functionality might attract.

Tweetlater is a good example of one such tool, and one to watch.  It has been extending its functionality over the past couple of weeks.  Going from its original one trick of allowing you to schedule Tweets to adding Keyword tracking and @replies digests so that you don’t miss important replies.  I think that Tweetlater would raise a lot more than $1,750.00 if it came under the hammer.

Twitter Tool Realtor

Perhaps there is an opening for a Twitter Tool Realtor? After all Twollow was a single function tool, the software equivalent of a Shotgun Shack, and that sold in 7 hours. A Twitter Tool Realtor could bring together developers with purchasers who could then take the tools to the next level.

What Twitter tools would you buy, and how much would you be willing to pay for them?

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Twollow: The 24 Hour Tool

Posted on November 21, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

twollowlogoAnother new Twitter tool appeared this week. It was reviewed on Mashable.com. According to the overview the application was created in just 24 hours. The point of the tool is to auto-follow users who use certain words in Twitter. I love testing out new Twitter tools, but I have to admit I was confused as to what the point of this tool was.

I decided to take for a test drive. The first thing you notice is that it is incredibly easy to use. No doubt about it, it was designed as a simple tool, and the interface supports that. There is even a “How To” video on the home page, in case you are confused. The idea is to setup keywords that interest you, with certain limitations, generic words are excluded.

There are several tools that will perform keyword tracking in the Twitterverse – Tweetlater added that functionality this week, Tweetbeep has had it for a while. Where Twollow differs from these other tools is that instead of reporting the use of these keywords, it auto-follows the user that Tweeted the keyword.

I tested it with a few keywords that I felt would provide very limited results and not mean I ended up following thousands of new users overnight. I used Austin, Expedia & IncSlinger. I selected these based on location, Brand name and Personal Brand. Over a two day period I “auto-followed” less than 10 people. A few of them have actually turned out to be very informative and useful people to follow that I probably would not have found.

Who Would Use It?

I can see this tool being useful for people who have very specific, very focused interests or who want to follow people who are commenting on a particular event or news situation. I can also that the tool could be used by fake marketers – spammers, to find their next 10,000 targets. By setting up keywords that ensure the people they follow are talking about something relevant to them, could be Vacations, could used cars, hair products, it would be fairly easy for people sending out this type of Tweet to locate their next group of targets.

What It Needs

If this tool were expanded it could have a much greater use. Some features that would make it useful to both personal and business Twitter users include presenting the Twitter users who have used the particular word in columns – similar to TweetDeck’s columns. Then rank them by the number of times they used that keyword. The user that Tweeted it most at the top and so on down. Including the “in reply to” functionality would allow a user to then further review the use of the word for context sensitivity. Then allowing multiple selection of users to follow.

That functionality would make this tool much more useful, would appeal to both personal and business users and would limit its effectiveness for Spammers. Of course I am sure all that functionality would take a lot more than 24 hours to produce.

What would you build into this tool?

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Tweetlater adds new features

Posted on November 17, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , |

twlogoTweetlater is a Twitter integrated tool that allows users to do exactly what the name implies, Tweet Later. Other features include the ability to auto-follow other Twitter users and to Post blog articles later.

There is much written about auto-responders and their place in Twitter. Some people feel they are very useful, some feel that they are so un-human that it takes the Social completely out of Social Networking. Guy Kawasaki admits that he autofollows everyone on Twitter that follows him. Others send an auto-response with a link to a welcome video (an idea I quite like) but it isn’t for everyone. Some users feel it is rather like going to a mixer and having a taped message that you play to people who come up to you and say hi.

Now the developers of Tweetlater have expanded their offering, taking their tool from being a one-trick pony to something that has real potential. Twitter used to have a feature that allowed you to track particular topics and be alerted via email or IM. This functionality doesn’t exist in the main Twitter.com tool anymore but others have provided it Tweetbeep has had this functionality for a while. This is all it does and it does it well. Allowing a user to define alerts, how often the Twitter stream should be scanned and whether @replies, specific users and even location specific information should be excluded or not.

Tweetlater’s keyword alerts has a less friendly UI than TweetBeep’s. It basically allows for the same functionality but only if you are familiar with Boolean operators – the standard in advanced searches. While they do provide a link to a how-to for people who aren’t used to using these it would be nicer if they simply built the functionality into the UI.

The other new feature that Tweetlater has built which is interesting is the @replies digest. This allows you to have an email sent to you with all the @replies to your account at user specified intervals. This is a great feature for people who get a lot of replies to their tweets and who don’t get the opportunity to be logged into Twitter all day scanning for replies.

With an option to have the digest sent at intervals ranging from once an hour to once a day its flexible enough to keep up with most users. I can see this feature being really useful for users who are travelling and don’t want to arrive at their destination and have to scroll through pages of @replies looking for specific Tweets.

I think the addition of features to the Tweetlater toolbox is a good move. There have been many cases of one trick ponies in the Twitterverse that have already ceased functioning. Like any new offering there is still some work to be done on the UI, especially for the Twitter alerts, but if they keep adding to the tools, Tweetlater could become the ultimate one stop shop for serious Twitter users.

What do you think? Do you want a one-stop shop for Twitter tools?

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Twitters New Hatchlings

Posted on October 28, 2008. Filed under: Business, Social Media, Technology | Tags: , , , , |

As an avid Twitter user I was extremely thankful to see the release of Twhirl the application that let me post to Twitter without being logged into the website, then I found TweetDeck, to which I am addicted, mainly because it allows me to create interest groups in columns and read the Tweets I want to read, while still allowing me to keep an eye on the general stream of Tweets.

It seems that there is not a week that goes by without the release of a new Twitter application.  I am currently writing a series of articles about some that are still in Alpha development and some that are now released and are targeting the Enterprise market.   Only today I came across two new ones: Flockup and Phweet.  Some of the applications offer new functionality, some offer a very limited functionality or target only one part of the Twitter data set. Qwitter for example simply notifies you of when someone unfollows you and sends you an email of who and after which tweet they unfollowed you, of course there is some doubt about the correlation of those two events but nonetheless its somewhat interesting data.  Brian Solis maintains what is arguably the most comprehensive list of Twitter applications available.

With an estimated 3 million users Twitter is still a long way behind the giants of social media like Facebook, but like Facebook it has spawned an industry of its own in the application development world.  As I mentioned some of the applications are aimed more at the individual user, they provide an element of fun, or extend the functionality of the original site.

Others are now venturing into the corporate user space.  I wrote an article this week for Mashable on a new tool called Tweeple Twak that is currently in development.  It is going to provide corporate users with the type of metrics that they can’t easily generate on their own using Twitter.  Yet others, like the application provided by Visible Technologies, the Seattle based Brand management company, allow large organizations like Dell & Microsoft to monitor social media platforms for conversations, blogs, micro-blogs and even videos that mention their brand or products.

The Twitter data set is limited in its exploitation only by the imagination of the developers producing applications that utilize it.  I have no doubt we will continue to see the birth of new Twitter hatchlings in the coming months and I would certainly expect that they will start to enter the consciousness of mainstream marketers who will in turn promote the development of newer applications once they understand what can be achieved with the data. 

Given that we are seeing a reported down turn in the global economy and the scepticsm with which Social Media is still viewed by traditional marketers, you have to wonder at the future of these applications.  Twitter itself has yet to figure out its own monetization path, it may just be that its hatchlings work out the path to monetization before Twitter does.

Know of a Twitter based application that is making money for its developers?  Share it here.

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