“Oft ist die Twitter-Tatort-Gemeinde zwiegespalten”

Click here for the English version!

Der Tatort ist die in der deutschen Twittersphäre am meisten und intensivsten diskutierte Fernsehsendung. Stefanie Aßmann und Nicole Greiner haben vor einiger Zeit in einem Blog damit begonnen, die Twitter-Resonanz auf einzelne Episoden auszuwerten und zu analysieren. Im Interview erzählt Stefanie, wie es dazu kam, was twitternde Tatort-Fans bewegt und was als nächstes kommen könnte.

Wer bist du wieso bewegt dich das Thema Social-Media-Monitoring?
Meine Name ist Stefanie Aßmann, bei Twitter @miss_assmann. Ich arbeite bei VICO Research & Consulting als Consultant und beschäftige mich dort beruflich mit dem Thema Monitoring und Social Media. Vor zwei Jahren habe ich mich im Rahmen meiner Masterarbeit das erste Mal mit Social Media Monitoring auseinander gesetzt. Damals gab es nur wenig Literatur zum Thema. Für mich war das ein Grund, dies zu ändern und das Blog zum Thema ins Leben zu rufen. Außerdem finde ich es sehr spannend, wie die Nutzer online über Produkte und Marken diskutieren. Analysen zur Social Media Kommunikation ergeben immer sehr interessante Erkenntnisse.

Du befasst dich seit einiger Zeit damit, die Twitter-Reaktionen zum Tatort zu analysieren. Wie kam es dazu?
Wir haben auf der Arbeit montags über den Tatort gesprochen und uns darüber unterhalten, wie viele Leute doch auf Twitter darüber diskutieren. Da kam uns die Idee, das es lustig wäre, den Tatort anhand von Tweets nachzuerzählen. Mit Nicole habe ich die Idee einige Zeit später wieder aufgegriffen. Leider schaffen wir es zeitlich nur selten, den Tatort zu analysieren.

Wieso sorgt gerade der Tatort für ein derartig großes Echo bei Twitter?
Das ist eine gute Frage und ein gutes Thema für eine Analyse. In meinem Freundeskreis schauen sehr viele Leute sonntags Tatort. Da viele Freunde der Social-Media-Welt beim Fernsehen das Smartphone nicht aus der Hand legen können, haben sie wohl angefangen, den Tatort zu kommentieren. Das Ganze hat sich irgendwann verselbstständigt. In meiner Timeline ist mir der Tatort jedenfalls als erstes TV Format aufgefallen.

Welche Tools und Verfahren verwendest du für deine Analyse?
Angefangen haben wir mit der Twitter-Suche. Zwischendurch habe ich auch das Tool von VICO eingesetzt, um eine Tag Cloud zu erstellen. Anja von Twingly war nun so nett und hat mir ein Liveboard zum Tatort eingerichtet. Damit erhält man einen guten Überblick, wie viele User zu welchen Schlagworten zum Tatort twittern. Um die Tweets zu sammeln, nutzen wir aktuell die Twittersuche und Live von Twingly. Ideen für weitere Analysen habe ich genug. Mir fehlt nur die Zeit für die Umsetzung.

Welche Folge war bisher die mit den insgesamt positivsten Twitter-Kritiken und welche die mit den negativsten? 
Da wir nicht jeden Tatort analysieren, kann ich das gar nicht so genau sagen. Oft ist die Twitter-Tatort-Gemeinde zwiegespalten. Gerade der Tatort von Justus von Dohnanyi hat für viel Gesprächsstoff bei Twitter gesorgt. Entweder wurde der Tatort als Meisterstück gelobt, oder er wurde verrissen. Prinzipiell kann man auch sagen, dass bei manchen Tatorten der eigentlich Inhalt bei Twitter gar keine Rolle spielt. Manchmal sind gewisse Details im Tatort spannender als die Handlung selbst. Gerade wenn bestimmte Details im Film nicht logisch sind, wird gerne gemeckert.

Glaubst du, der Tatort wird immer eher eine Ausnahme bleiben, was das Social-Web-Engagement der Nutzer angeht? Oder werden künftig viele weitere Sendungen ähnlich viel Resonanz in den Social-Media-Kanälen erhalten?
Der Tatort war die erste Sendung mit so viel Resonanz bei Twitter. Mittlerweile wird alles mögliche – bespielsweise “Bauer sucht Frau” oder “The Voice of Germany” – bei Twitter diskutiert. In meinen Augen birgt Twitter bei der Analyse von TV-Formaten noch sehr viel Potential. Anbieter wie Couchfunk haben schon erkannt, dass man das klassische Fernsehen mit der Internetnutzung verknüpfen sollte.

Denkst du darüber nach, deine Analysen auf andere Sendungen auszuweiten?
Ja, da denke ich schon länger drüber nach. Allerdings habe ich noch kein Format gefunden, dass mich inhaltlich auch so interessiert. Mich würden hier generell amerikanische Serien reizen. Dort werden die verschiedenen Social-Media-Kanäle bereits jetzt schon verstärkt von den Sendern eingesetzt.

“Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion”

Hier könnt ihr das Interview auf Deutsch lesen.

The German crime drama series Tatort (German for “crime scene”) is the most discussed TV show among Twitter users in Germany. A while ago Stefanie Assmann and Nicole Greiner started to analyse the Twitter feedback on a couple of episodes. In our interview, Stefanie explains how that happened, what it is that gets the tweeting audience excited as well as what the next step could look like.

Tell us a bit about you.
My name is Stefanie Assmann, @miss_assmann on Twitter. I’m working as a consultant at Vico Research, a German full-service agency for social media, dealing mainly with monitoring and social media. About two years ago I learned about social media monitoring for the first time while writing my Master thesis. Back then there wasn’t too much literature on that topic, which made me eventually launch a blog about it. It’s fascinating to see how users discuss brands and products. Analysing their comments always leads to interesting insights.

You have started to look closer at what Twitter users say about Tatort episodes and to publish the results on your blog. Why?
On Mondays at the office we usually discuss the latest episode of Tatort (which is always broadcasted on Sunday evenings), and we found it impressive how many people were doing the same on Twitter during the show. Nicole and I thought it might be fun to use those tweets by people watching Tatort to re-tell the story of the episode. Eventually, that led to a couple of blog posts where we evaluated the Tatort-buzz on Twitter. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do that regularly.

Why is Tatort the single regular TV show in Germany getting that much attention on Twitter?
Good question and food for another analysis. Many of my friends usually watch Tatort on Sunday evenings. It’s quite a popular series. And as it is the case for many social media enthusiasts, they can’t stop using their smartphone, even while doing something else like watching TV. So they started to tweet about Tatort. Now that has become some kind of “tradition” on Twitter. I remember that Tatort was the first TV show that appeared in my Twitter timeline.

Which tools do you use for your analysis?
We started with the Twitter search, and we also used a tool from VICO, my employer, to create a tag cloud. Recently Twingly was so kind to provide us with a Liveboard that helps to get a quick overview about the amount and type of Tatort tweets.

Are there any typical patterns or reactions that you observe?
Since we don’t cover each Tatort episode it’s a bit hard to say. But my impression is that usually the feedback is rather varied, with both positive and negative comments. So some people love an episode while others hate it. Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion. Instead it’s specific details that make people tweet. If the audience perceives a detail as unrealistic or absurd, that would usually lead to a lot of complaining on Twitter.

You think Tatort will be an exception regarding its Twitter buzz, or will other German TV shows become equally popular on Twitter?
Tatort was definitely the first show in Germany to create this kind of engagement among Twitter users. But nowadays there are other TV shows as well that get lots of tweets. I think there is a lot of potential in “social tv”, and specific web services are popping up to build on that and to connect traditional TV with the web.

Do you plan to extend your analysis to other shows?
I would love to, but I have yet to find a show which excites me enough to invest the time. A US show would be fun, since there the stations themselves already actively use social media.

3 cool features of Twingly Live

At Twingly we always have been big fans of the real time web. Thus, as soon as we realized that Twitter would become a real hit, we decided to develop a tool that shows a real time stream of tweets containing any hashtag or keyword. We called it Twingly Live and launched it in the end of 2009.

Twingly Live doesn’t only come handy when trying to understand the volume of tweets about a specific topic. It’s also a good way to introduce others to a specific meme or hot trend on Twitter.

Today we want to show you three cool features of Twingly Live that you maybe haven’t paid attention to yet:

Embed a Twingly Live widget into your blog or website

You can embed any Twingly Live stream into your blog or website, for instance to illustrate how popular something you have blogged about is on Twitter. Simply go to http://live.twingly.com, choose the Stream you want to embed (e.g. a stream you have just created; use ctrl + f to search the list) and click on the “embed” link in the right column.

In the following window you find some options to customize the widget. After you are done, copy the code shown and paste it into your website.

Embed the Twingly Live widget into your wesite

See the most popular tweets for a Twingly Live stream

For an increasing number of Twingly Live streams we provide a toplist tab called “Top 20”, which lists the most popular tweets for that specific keyword within a given time period (last half hour, last 2 hours, last 24 hours, last week).

The Twingly Live streams which don’t have the toplist link simply don’t get enough tweets.

Twingly Live toplist

Embed a toplist widget

This is a little hiden feature that for now only those of you get to know who read the Twingly blog : ) In the same way as you can embed a Twingly Live stream you also can embed a toplist.

For that, find the desired keyword in the list on http://live.twingly.com, click on the “embed” link in the right column. Now when you see the embed code, copy it and paste it into your website. After that is done, remove the link from the code (which starts with http://static.twingly….) and enter the following: http://live.twingly.com/toplist/** Instead of **, add the name of the stream (which you see when opening the stream in your browser).

And if you are totally new to Twingly Live, simply create your own stream to try it: http://live.twingly.com (then click “Create Twingly Live” and follow the instructions)

We love Data and we attend #NEXT11 in Berlin!

Anton and I will have the great honour to be part of a group of almost 80 official bloggers from all over Europe and we will be helping covering NEXT Conference with blog posts and tweets.

We already started our personal blogging, Anton’s posts you find here and mine here. And we do not mind you following our updates on Twitter at all….

We look forward to a great program and listening to a whole bunch of awesome speakers. Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, Mike Butcher from Techcrunch Europe, Amanda Rose of Twestival, David Rowan from Wired UK and Markus “Videopunk” Hündgen from Blinkenlichten and one of the organisers of VideoCamp only being a few of the many highlights.

Last but certainly not least it will be exciting to follow who wins the Elevator Pitch! The Jury already chose the 12 finalists, and I already chose my 3 favourites , and I think Anton cannot decide really… 😉 . Am excited to see how they all will be doing!

Since it is two Twinglians taking part in the blog- and tweet-buzz  around NEXT, we of course didn’t miss setting up a Liveboard  already some time ago.

Check it out on your iPad, Safari, Chrome or (good news!) now even on IE9+ and FF4.0+ !

Already over 2000 tweets! Let’s see if we get #next11 as trending topic onto Twitter during next Tuesday and Wednesday – would be nice!

By the way should you be one of the people who decide last minute to attend the conference there are still a few tickets available – with 30% discount!

Now you know where to find us – and we’d love to meet you there!

How to get started with the new Twingly Channels

Last week we launched a new version of Twingly Channels, which more than every focuses on group communication and microblogging. We received a lot positive and encouraging feedback and got even covered on The Next Web, one of the leading tech blogs out there.

In this post we will give you an overview about the core functionality of Twingly Channels.

Before we get started, one important note: You don’t need to have a Twingly account in order to view Channels, but being logged in to Twingly will enhance your experience with Twingly since it enables you to share links or status updates, comment and like items, subscribe to existing Channels or create new ones.

In this tutorial we show you how Twingly Channel works when being logged in with your Twingly account. If you don’t have one yet, head over to this site to quickly create one.

The Channels homepage

This is the first page you see after having signed in to Twingly – the Twingly Channels homepage. It shows you a recent stream of user comments and likes across the Channels you’re subscribed to. The new version of Channels puts the user activity at the heart of the service, and this stream shows you how Twingly users in different Channels are engaging with the content that is being pulled into a particular Channel.

When you see an item that you are interested in, click on it and you will be send to a profile page for the item, showing you the source and blog reactions from across the web as well as comments and likes from Twingly users. Another option is to click on a user’s profile photo next to an item, which brings you to the user’s public page highlighting his/her latest activity on Twingly.

You can add content to any Channel you are subscribed to directly from the homepage. Simply type or copy your comment (and/or link) in the field titled “What do you want to share” and choose the Channel you would like to publish it to. Voilà!

The activity stream and the sharing feature on the homepage are great ways to discover new conversations, discussions, links, Channels and to quickly share your opinion or content. Below the activity stream on the homepage you find a list of your current subscriptions to Channels (if you are new to Twingly you won’t have any yet) as well as a couple of featured Channels that we recommend you to check out! You can click on any of those icons to access the Channel, or directly enter them through the unique link, e.g. http://www.twingly.com/ipad.

On the right to the activity stream we present you with the option to create a new Channel (here is a tutorial explaining how to do that) or to view the Top 100 most Subscribed Channels.

Now let’s say you enter a Channel of your choice:

The conversation view


Each Channel offers two different options to view it: The conversation view and the links view. When entering a new Channel, the default is the conversation view. This is one of the main features of the new Channels release. As on the Twingly Channels homepage the Channel-specific conversation view shows you posts, comments and likes by users who are subscribed to that Channel. If a conversation item is connected to an incoming piece of content clicking on it will get you to the item’s detailed profile page. Each item can be commented or liked. Comments and likes appear in realtime.

The links view


With the two tabs “Conversation” and “Links” on the top of each Channel page you can easily switch between the two different views. As in the older versions of the Channels tool, the links view allows you to either see a selection of the most popular content during the past 24 hours or a stream of the latest incoming links. Every piece of content you find in the links view is imported either through a feed or a keyword-based blog search. The admin of a Channel can add or remove feeds or search terms. Even in the link view you are able to like and comment on items – your activity is naturally also shown in the conversation view.

Give it a try!
The homepage with the activity stream as well as lots of Channels each consisting of a conversation and a link view – that’s what the new Twingly Channels is about. And at the centre of everything: Your posts, comments, conversations, links and likes. Share and discuss, like and enjoy.

Go to www.twingly.com and give the new Twingly Channels a try!

Twingly predictions for 2011

We at Twingly hope you had a good start into 2011!

To kick of the new year we will present you a few predictions from the Twingly team about what could happen in the next 12 month on the web. We did the same last year so Twingly predictions are slowly becoming an actual tradition.

But before we jump into what might happen in 2011 let’s have a look at how we performed with our 2010 predictions. This is what we expected to witness during the past year:

1. Facebook will continue their path towards social and realtime search:
Yes, Facebook did in fact put more effort into offering search features based on your friends and your friends likes. And US users of Microsoft search engine Bing can get their search experience enhanced by what friends have liked through Facebook.

2. Twitter clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic will open up to other services than Twitter
We nailed it: Seesmic for example opened up their desktop client to more than 40 applications in order to be less depended on Twitter, and even TweetDeck added other services such as Google Buzz, LinkedIn and foursquare.

3. It will become valuable for users to be at the scene of events and to publish visual footage
Kind of. Certainly media has picked up eye witness reports from Twitter (for example when the Quantas A380 flight had to make an emergency landing in Singapore and one passenger used Twitter to report about it from inside the plane), but we are still waiting for success stories of tools dedicated to eye witness reports.

4. In the end of 2010 it will not only be Twitter and Facebook to represent the realtime web towards a larger audience.
Here we have to admit that we weren’t right. It’s still those two sites that get most of the realtime audience, and both are stronger than ever.

That makes 2 correct predictions, 1 false and 1 that can be counted as both. Let’s see if we can reach a similar hit ratio for our 2011 predictions. Here they are:

Google buys MySpace
The demise of MySpace has been going on for a while, and one has to question if the recent relaunch will be able to save the “entertainment network”. It has been reported that Rupert Murdoch has plans to sell MySpace. It’s not impossible that Google which is desperately looking for a social product to use against Facebook will come and save MySpace from the digital death.

Everything goes mobile and local
We admit that the first prediction involves a high risk of failing. So here is a more secure outlook: mobile and local will be the two big themes for many startups in 2011, both existing and new ones. Millions of people are carrying GPS-enabled smartphones and tablets around, and an increasing number of web companies will try to capitalize on that.

Tablet newspapers will find success if they include content from several newspapers
The “old media” won’t stop experimenting with the iPad and other upcoming tablets. While there are many reasons for questioning the potential of selling a single newspaper as an app (if not the price is very convincing), combining several tablet optimized newspapers into one app will prove successful.

Facebook launches Facebook phone
There have been rumours about a Facebook smartphone before, and the company has denied such plans. We still believe that Facebook will figure out a way to release a Facebook phone which heavily integrates with the Facebook universe.

Facebook watches LinkedIn IPO
Not really a prediction, rather a safe bet: LinkedIn has said to do an IPO in 2011. Facebook will watch carefully and learn from LinkedIn’s mistakes.

Realtime commenting will be everywhere
If you today comment on an item on Facebook, it appears in realtime for you and anybody else who can see the initial item. 2011 is the year when commenting will go realtime anywhere on the web, even on blogs and news sites, opening up for a new, more dynamic, more interactive way of commenting.

Gowalla pivots like crazy to try to catch up with Foursquare
Gowalla was really popular for a while in the Nordics and some parts of Europe. The reason? Foursquare simply wasn’t available here. There is something in the 4sq recipe that has allowed them run in circles around their hipster little brother, Gowalla. Gowallas tactic will be to add meaning to check-ins. Let’s watch them closely and see if they succeed. With the advent of Facebook Places here in Europe as well, things are looking harsh for them. But always be rooting for the underdog!

These are our predictions for 2011. What do you think? Are we crazy or could these things happen?

This post was a collaborative effort by @martinweigert@martinkallstrom and @agaton.

 

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwl/CC BY 2.0

RSS won’t die, but news readers are evolving and becoming more social

For years, there has been talk about the death of RSS. While RSS has been the most common way for bloggers and information workers to gather and collect information from lots of sources, it has never really caught the attention of the mainstream users. There might be many reasons for that, but the rather “unsexy” name of the format, the relatively complicated way of subscribing to a RSS feed (for less experienced users) and the little efforts from publishers to market RSS (with the exception of blogs) definitely contributed to the slow adoption of RSS outside of the web geek sphere (imagine if subscribing to a RSS feed would have been as easy as “liking” something with Facebook…).

In recent times, the number of people claiming RSS will die has increased due to the emergence of the realtime web, mainly pushed by Twitter, which increasingly is becoming a news distribution service (also thanks to innovative, Twitter based news readers like Flipboard or Pulse). Even though RSS has become realtime capable thanks to protocols such as PubSubHubbub or RSS Cloud, it is still (incorrectly) being perceived as a slower way of accessing news and information than Twitter.

The recently announced end of web-based RSS reader Bloglines is grist for the mill of those who see RSS dying. Even though Bloglines has fallen into oblivion already years ago, it was still one of the two big browser-based full-fledged RSS readers out there. Now with Bloglines disappearing, only Google Reader is left, leaving not many alternatives to those that are trying to not become too depended on Google services (which can happen easily when using Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Reader).

Well, for all those people, we might have the solution: Twingly Channels, our social and collaborative news tool which one can use to import both RSS feeds and articles from blogs based around specific keywords.

But wait, didn’t I just describe how some think RSS seems to be dying? Well, I did, but in fact, it isn’t. Even though it is pretty clear that RSS won’t become a big mainstream phenomenon due to the reasons mentioned above, the number of RSS subscribers to many of the big tech blogs is still increasing, and ironically, many of the articles being shared on Twitter come from RSS feeds – either from users who find them in their RSS reader, or via Twitter accounts that belong to big news sites, which usually are fed with the site’s RSS feed.

So while it is possible that some former RSS hardcore users are giving up on the format and solely rely on Twitter and social news aggregators such as Techmeme in the future, there are no indications of a broader trend of people totally abandoning RSS.

Nevertheless, conventional web-based RSS readers (such as Bloglines or Google Reader) but even Desktop RSS clients have their drawbacks: They usually don’t allow for collaboration, they focus only on RSS and they are not really sharable. Having that in mind, let’s get back to Twingly Channels!

Twingly Channels is made for several people contributing together to one social news stream, where they monitor, “like” and comment on news items imported from both RSS feeds but also via keywords. To each item, the number of linking posts and retweets is shown. And of course you can share the Channel with other Twingly users!

We are aware that Twingly Channels doesn’t replace classic RSS Readers. But that’s not our intention either. In Fact, Twingly Channels is taking the concept of RSS to the next level, making it more social, and combining it with a keyword centric way of importing content. In the end, RSS will definitely stay for good (especially because of the realtime boost the format got thanks to PubSubHubBub and RSS Cloud), but conventional, unsocial RSS readers might disappear.

So if you have been using Bloglines and are looking for a new tool to manage your news and information, or if you are using another RSS client but are in the need of something more social, or if you don’t even use RSS but would like to try a social reader which simply brings you all the blog content regarding specific keywords, you should try Twingly Channels.

We wrote this guide to help you getting started. It’s easy, so give it a whirl! And if you want us to import your complete list of subscribed RSS feeds from Bloglines, Google Reader or any other RSS client, send us an email with the OPML-file (containing your subscriptions – you get this file by using the export function in your RSS reader) and the URL of your Twingly Channel (e.g. www.twingly.com/channelname) to support@twingly.com and we’ll take care of it!

/Martin Weigert

Follow events on your mobile!

Last week we got some really positive feedback about Twingly Live. And no, this came not as you might expect from people having seen it on walls at conferences, integrated on websites or elsewhere.

No, people using Live on their iPhones or Android-mobiles told us. “The best tool to use when following an event online on Twitter on your mobile”, one said. Now, that flatters us. And the next suggestion we got was “I think you should advertise that a bit more.” OK, that might be a good idea then.

What lots of people don’t know is that we developed a mobile version of Live. So when you enter Live via the browser of your mobile phone, you get redirected automatically to the mobile version.

This is how Twingly Live works on your mobile.

Go to the Twingly Live directory , see which streams exist and follow the one you like. For setting up your own Live-stream, please enter the directory from your computer – the mobile version cannot cater for this yet.

No worries, setting up a Live-stream is pretty easy. We put this video together to help you:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgaU9AKwmiM&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Open the URL in your mobile’s browser, and off you go.

I actually used it during the football world championship in summer, and that’s how I learned on the train home that Switzerland defeated Spain in one of the first matches.

There are numerous other opportunities to use Live. Follow your favourite football team, the Superbike World Championship , Pop Idol, X-factor or DSDS 2011 in Germany, the European Song Contest – endless possibilities. Or you are at a conference and want to follow the hash-tag used there, like i.e. Likeminds.

Now – enjoy, and don’t forget to share the stream you follow with your friends!


//Anja Rauch

Do you think before you tweet?

When you publish your ordinary 140 character messages on Twitter, it’s easy to forget who your total audience is. No, not only your followers on Twitter and those users who might have subscribed to your stream via RSS. In fact, it’s everyone on the Internet. Almost 2 billion people, who have access to your daily Twitter updates, if you didn’t set your account to private (which hardly anybody does on Twitter).

That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? I hear you saying “Well, that’s the same for any public web page and blog”. Correct. But the difference is that it takes much longer and more effort to publish content on regular websites/blogs, and since you are not limited to those 140 characters, you write longer texts, and you have more time to think through what you have written before you press publish.

From my personal Twitter experience I can say that this is totally different on Twitter. Twitter is the leading tool of the real time web, and as such a communication channel where everything is about speed. Twitter is the place where news break first, and as we explained last week, the way Twitter works even helps spreading less important information to a lot of people within a very short amount of time.

But the nature of Twitter with quick messages that are being tweeted and retweeted in (near) real time comes at a price: quality and trustworthiness. While there are tweets that give the impression of being well thought through – especially of users who focus on humorous or ironic Twitter updates – the majority of tweets and retweets have been put together in a few seconds.

So because of that, and because everyone on the Internet can see your tweets, it really makes sense to always think twice before pushing something to Twitter – or at least to think once.

I would guess that every regular Twitter user knows the uncomfortable feeling of having sent a tweet that she/he regretted afterwards.

Since there is no way to edit a tweet, the only thing you can do is to delete it. Some Twitter clients offer a useful option to do that, but I also have used apps that didn’t. Instead, I had to rush to Twitter’s website, log-in to my account (when you are in a hurry, you might mistype your password twice before you succeed in loging in), and then delete the tweet. With a bit of luck, I was fast enough so that nobody of my Twitter followers did see my weird/stupid/incorrect tweet. Sometimes, I wasn’t.

Recently, Twitter has launched the new User Streams API and is now step by step rolling out access to it. If the API is enabled for your Twitter client, all the tweets are appearing in real ‘real time’. Before, it could take 30 seconds or longer for your personal stream to update with new tweets. It was rather a bulk updating process than a real time updating.

What that means is that it will soon become completely impossible to hide a tweet from your followers by deleting it. Because when everyone has access to the new API, your followers will see your tweet in the very second you sent it.

That means that thinking before twittering will be even more important in the future than it has been so far.

Because of this, I personally try to stick to some ground rules when sending a tweet. It doesn’t always work, sometimes the temptation of being first out with a specific information/news is just too big. Still, I think it is good to have some criteria in the back of your head while using Twitter. It could help you to avoid embarrassing situations.

These are my suggestions. Feel free to add a comment with your input:

  • Is there a link I can attach to my tweet to show the source of my information?
  • Does the information sound reasonable and realistic? What does my intuition say?
  • Do I offend people with the tweet (more than necessary)?
  • Have I been twittering about the same thing too many times?
  • Is the spelling/grammar correct?
  • Does this tweet fit together with my opinion in earlier tweets/blog articles, or do I contradict myself?
  • Could the information in my tweet be something that everyone already knows?
  • If I’m about to retweet somebody else, do I know this person (from Twitter)? How much do I know about her/his credibility?
  • Should I add a personal comment to my retweet in order to explain to my followers why I thought this information/link was valuable?

Of course the process of thinking through these points is something that happens within the fraction of a second, in best multitasking tradition. And as I said – it’s not always working, we are all humans and act like them. Nevertheless it has helped me to establish a basic quality assurance for my tweets. If I would stand in front of almost two billion people, I probably would be very careful with what I’m saying. So I think it can’t be too wrong if Twitter user’s think a second before they tweet.

/Martin Weigert

(Photo: stock.xchng)

The age of transparency

The web is making people and companies more transparent. Even though some users are concerned about losing the anonymity that they enjoyed so much during the past 20 years of online existence, the increased transparency of today’s digital world can help our society become better. And it forces people to tell the truth, since lying without getting revealed is increasingly difficult.

When I studied Business Communication from 2003 to 2006 the (marketing) world was still pretty much like in the old days. One of the basic rules we learned was that every product or service can be positioned on the market in the way you want, you just need to find the right way of communicating it. I don’t remember “transparency” being part of the curriculum, at least not as a major factor to consider when working with business communication. Apparently transparency was something Marketers and PR people didn’t need to care about too much, even though Google of course already existed – but Social Networks were still in their early days, the blogosphere just started to grow, and the rise of real time web was still a few years away.

But now, five years later, everything has changed. Every promise about a product or service can be verified or disproved online. A quick search gives consumers access to product reviews in online stores and on specific review sites, blog postings from people having used the product/service (via Twingly Blog Search for example), and of course shorter feedback like tweets or status updates (via Twingly Microblog Search). You could even use a search engine for sentiment analysis to get a quick input whether people on Twitter like the product/service or not.

Product characteristics are more transparent than every before and each company that sells poor quality products but tells everybody they are the best you can get will eventually be exposed and fail.

But transparency does not only change the way marketing and advertising work. Transparency also affects politics, on the one hand due to a new class of observers such as blogs that follow and analyse the actions taken by politicians, and on the other hand because of the wide access to information which enables everyone to make a quick fact check of things being said by politicians. Even whistle-blower sites like Wikileaks or video platforms like YouTube improve people’s access to information, both by revealing secret documents like Wikileaks did yesterday and by providing everybody with visual witness reports and other videos to past events that otherwise might have been forgotten.

Even those whose mission it is to create transparency around government’s and companies’ actions are now becoming more transparent: Journalists and Bloggers. Thanks to news aggregators and search engines like Google News, it takes a few seconds to compare what different newspapers and content sites have written about a specific topic. One can find out at a glance who published what, who quoted whom, and who didn’t correct a detail or accusation that already has been revealed as being incorrect.

Transparency forces each of us to question our own actions and behaviour. Politicians who made a big mistake, companies who praised products that turned out to be faulty and news outlets that created their own truth just to sell more papers or to get more page impressions. In the digital age they all have to fear being exposed. Everyone makes mistakes, and most people are willing to forgive – if there is a confession. But if the one responsible tries to cover up the problem, things can get ugly very quickly these days. Because there will be always someone who stumbles upon inconsistencies. And after that has happened, the documentation of it will be everywhere on the web – forever.

Sometimes the phrase “The Internet never forgets” is used to criticize the web’s capability of finding content published year’s or even decades ago. While people’s memories slowly fade away, the Internet can tell you those old memories in a detailed way is if was yesterday they happened. But even though this might become an issue for people who find photos from their wild teenage days online, in many other situations the Internet’s inability to forget is a strength.

Because the human brain also forgets things that it actually needs for making the right judgements, for evaluating people’s or companies’ actions and statements. A politician that is about to get an important role in the parliament or a company that receives a lot of positive attention for a successful CSR campaign might have a dark, flawed past. A past that both individuals and mainstream media are often good at forgetting. But Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs and other sites don’t forget.

There is a flip-side to transparency, yes. But while our attitude towards questionable photos from teenage days has to change anyway, the pros of transparency might have a much bigger impact on our society than people realize. The web does not only increase the transparency of companies and public individuals with power, but it helps us to remember this kind of information that we should not but very likely would forget. And this is something that could help our society to grow and to get better.

What do you think: Is the age of transparency something rather positive or negative?

/Martin Weigert

Photo: stock.xchng