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10 Ways Your Tweets Continue to Be Seen

June 30, 2013

Tweets can stick around for a while

Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Introduction

Conventional wisdom is that Twitter is the essence of the real-time web: a here and now, in the moment medium. If you’re tweeting when your followers aren’t online, then they won’t see those tweets. That’s how the thinking goes.

In May, I tweeted about the San Jose Sharks. A few times this week, users have “favorited” that tweet. The NHL season is long over. In fact, what’s getting “favorited” was a tweet from May 19th, well over a month ago.

The conclusion? Your tweets can live on for far longer than you think. Let’s consider ten ways that can happen.

1) “Activity” on your tweet from other users.

When you access the “Activity” area on Twitter.com (Home -> Discover -> Activity), you see activities taken by the people you follow: whom they just followed, what tweets they favorited, what tweets they retweeted, etc.

If someone came across your “old” tweet and favorited it, that becomes a form of “re-promotion,” as that activity can be seen by many others. Because of hash tags, search, etc. the “favorite” (and all of the subsequent favorites) may come from users who don’t even follow you.

2) Views of tweets on your profile page.

Active tweeters get noticed, which leads to “views” of their Twitter profile pages. On my Twitter profile page, you can see all of my recent tweets.

When you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you’ll notice an “endless scroll” feature, where the page updates with the next set of tweets – and this continues on and on, the more you scroll. So in this manner, you can find my San Jose Sharks tweets from May, if you’re willing to scroll that much.

3) Twitter Cards.

See what I did (above)? I used a Twitter Card to embed a tweet in this blog post. These cards make it super convenient for writers, bloggers, etc. to re-publish tweet content. And the card makes it easy to reply, retweet, etc., directly from it.

4) Getting a Retweet (RT).

Users who retweet (RT) re-surface your tweet to all of their followers. While the RT will preserve the timestamp of your original tweet, the tweet will appear in timelines based on the time of the retweet. The tweet from last week that you thought was forgotten? It could gain a new life via an RT.

5) Search (and hash tags).

Following the eventprofs hash tag is done via Twitter search

Twitter users will often perform searches. They might be looking for something specific – or, they may like to “follow” a hash tag. To follow the popular #eventprofs hash tag (for meeting and event professionals), you’re actually performing a Twitter search. And people checking out #eventprofs activity may see your tweet from one week ago (or perhaps one month ago).

6) Twitter Ads.

Promoted Tweet from Samsung Mobile

Users (and brands) can buy a form of Twitter Ads called Promoted Tweets. They select from existing tweets and mark them for promotion (advertising). In this way, they’re able to take “old” tweets and can keep them “top of mind” by advertising that tweet. As you can see above, the tweet promoted by Samsung Mobile was posted over a month ago.

7) Screen shots.

Celebrities have been receiving a lot of notoriety lately with their use of Twitter. When a celebrity tweets something controversial or inappropriate, they’ll often delete the tweet or shut down their account altogether.

The “undo button” doesn’t entirely work on Twitter, however, as users can take screen shots of the tweets (for posterity). See this Huffington Post article on Alec Baldwin, which mentions his inappropriate tweets (including a screen shot of them).

8) Being seen in a Twitter List.

You’ve probably been added to one or more Twitter Lists. I have a Twitter List of people I’ve met in real life. As users discover new Lists and peruse the related tweets, they may find tweets (of your’s ) from weeks or months earlier.

9) Being seen in a user’s Interactions list.

If you “mention” other users on Twitter, you’ll appear in their “Interactions” area. Twitter users LOVE to see mentions and interactions. So a tweet you consider old may live on in another user’s “Interactions” area. Don’t be surprised if you receive a reply today from your tweet from last month.

10) The Library of Congress.

Via a partnership with Twitter, the Library of Congress is building a digital archive of tweets. In January 2013, the Library of Congress announced that they had archived 170 billion tweets! So behave yourself: your tweets are now a matter of public record in the annals of the Federal government.

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How Social Networks Facilitate Discovery and Engagement

May 24, 2012

Introduction

Successful social networks rely on a combination of user growth and “stickiness” – discovering users, discovering content, connecting with users, and engaging with users and content. As I study some of the most successful social networks, I find that they use a common set of techniques to create and maintain this stickiness. Let’s take them one by one.

Second Degree Activity

“Second degree activity” refers to actions that your friends take within a social network.

The Quora home feed (pictured above) is a great example. When I login to Quora, my home feed does not display topics I’m interested in. Rather, it takes the set of users that I’m following on Quora and lists the actions they’re taking (e.g. “following a question,” “voted up,” “commented,” etc.).

The concept: if I’m following someone, then I’m interested in what they think and do. If they’ve published a comment, then I may want to read it (“what they think”) and if they’ve voted up an answer, then I may want to check it out (“what they do”).

Other examples of second degree activity include:

  1. Twitter’s Activity tab, which can be found on Twitter.com by visiting Discover -> Activity. For folks you’re following, it lists actions that they’re taking: follows, favorites, addition to lists and more.
  2. LinkedIn’s Home feed, which lists new connections (made by your existing connections), status updates, profile updates and more.
  3. Facebook’s Newsfeed, which lists new friends (made your by your existing friends), Like’s (on friends of friends status updates) and more.

Featuring Popular Content

Pictured: The “Popular” tab in the mobile app Instagram.

Featuring popular content is an excellent stickiness tactic, as it provides proof to users that there’s great content to discover and consume. Popularity is democratic, in that it’s measured by the “votes” of the social network’s users (e.g. views, likes, comments, etc.).

That being said, “popularity begets more popularity,” which means that once content is marked popular, it tends to get more popular, at the (perhaps) disservice of similarly worthy content. You see this same phenomenon with “Most Popular” and “Most Emailed” lists on many online news sites.

Examples of featuring popular content include:

  1. Instagram’s “Popular” tab.
  2. Pinterest has a “Popular” tab that lists popular pins.
  3. Google+ has an “Explore” tab that reads “Explore What’s Hot on Google”.
  4. Facebook posts receiving a high degree of engagement get “pinned” to the top of your Newsfeed.

Recommendations

Pictured: “Who to follow” on Twitter.

Amazon was an innovator in algorithmic recommendations, with its “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” LinkedIn, for some time, has had a similar feature, “People You May Know,” which is listed prominently in the upper right corner of the LinkedIn home page.

In addition to recommending other users, social networks have begun to recommend content. The thought behind this, of course, is the more interesting content you find, the longer you’ll stay.

Examples of User Recommendations

  1. Twitter’s “Who to follow” tab.
  2. Twitter’s “Browse categories” tab, which provides curated lists of Twitter users within particular categories. Here’s the category list for Technology: https://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow/interests/technology
  3. LinkedIn’s “People You May Know.”
  4. Google+ lists people “You Might Like” on its “Explore” page.

Examples of Content Recommendations

  1. Twitter’s Discover tab, which lists a series of “Stories.”
  2. Twitter’s Trending Topics – an innovative feature that is particularly unique to Twitter.
  3. LinkedIn TODAY, “The day’s top news, tailored for you.” – visible in the top area of your LinkedIn home page.
  4. Facebook’s “Recommended Pages.”

Email Notifications

It seems we’ve been writing off email for years. The rise of social media has brought into question whether email is still relevant. Well, it is. Despite claims to the contrary, we continue to be dependent upon our inbox.

In fact, I consider email to be “the glue” that connects (and returns you) to your assorted social networks. Email helps inform you of activities that occurred on a social network – and, it provides reminders for you to return.

Examples of email notifications:

  1. New followers or connections.
  2. A mention (of you) by other user(s).
  3. Getting tagged in an uploaded photo.
  4. A new comment or “like” to a post that you’ve liked.
  5. Follow-up comments to a comment you left – this is particularly useful on blogs, as well as discussions within LinkedIn Groups.
  6. Direct or private communications from a particular user.

Full-Mesh Communities

Pictured: The home feed on Nextdoor.

Nextdoor is a neighborhood-based social network that was recently profiled in The New York Times. There’s a Nextdoor community in my neighborhood (The Highlands in San Mateo), for which I’m a member. Nextdoor uses a “full-mesh model,” (my term) in which everyone “follows” everyone else by default. The newsfeed on your home page, in fact, displays posts from everyone.

There’s an absence of a follow/follower model altogether. If the size of a community is manageable (i.e. the number of members is at or below the Dunbar Number), then this full mesh model is ideal:

  1. It “removes friction” for establishing connections. I don’t have to worry about whom to follow, since the system’s done that for me.
  2. It “removes the risk” of my missing an important post because I’m not following the poster.
  3. It allows for “everyone to know everything,” and I think that’s completely fine in an online community based on your neighborhood.

I think the full mesh model is well suited to the online communities of small to medium sized businesses (i.e. for tools like Chatter, Yammer and Jive).

In a small business, I’d argue that similar to Nextdoor, everyone should know everything – and of course, private groups are always an option for things like compensation and employee reviews.

Conclusion

A quick recap of what we’ve discussed:

  1. The more (and better) social networks can recommend users and content, the stronger they’ll be.
  2. Second degree activity is an effective way to promote both users and content.
  3. Popularity and recommendations are additional avenues for discovering users and content.
  4. Email is the glue that ties your social networks together and keeps you coming back.
  5. Full mesh networks can be effective for particular use cases.

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