Episode 3: Plus

Episode 3: Plus

This week on the Scatterbrain podcast, I talk about my first impressions of Google+ and how it compares to Facebook and Twitter, I consider what I like about it and where I think they need to make changes discussing the design, privacy and integration with other services. I also talk about how I foresee it fitting into my social graph.

Why Google+ Looks Good: Original Macintosh Team Member Andy Hertzfeld
This Week In Google 101: Inside Google+
This Week In Google 102: Relatively Awesome
This is my next Podcast 014 – 07.09.2011

+Huw Martin

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Twitter is looking to start placing ads into users timelines, reports the Financial Times. The publication cites ‘people with direct knowledge’ of Twitter’s plans that the company will begin placing “promoted tweets” into the main stream of user’s Twitter accounts.

In addition to placing ads right into the stream, other options that are being considered include a local deals option that would rival Groupon. This would pull information from user conversations and trends to offer limited-time offers. Twitter is also looking at introducing enhanced profile pages for brands and giving advertisers the ability to pre-schedule Tweets, a feature that many Twitter clients already feature.

Adam Bain, Twitter’s head of revenue, and other executives, have been meeting with potential client firms at the Cannes Lions event this week.

Hopefully Twitter have finally figured stuff out, and it sounds like they’re doing it in a fresh new way by integrating deals right into the service, leveraging all the geo-tags and information we post about ourselves every day to provide relevant offers and valuable information. Not only will it help pay for the service, but I think it might actually improve upon it. It’s also rumored Twitter will start adding sponsored tweets into the timeline, probably the most popular suggested method of monetization from people. It does feel slightly hypocritical to start including sponsored tweets in the timeline when they made the move last year to ban app’s from injecting paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API, although they did say from the start that promoted tweets were to be included right in the timeline eventually and of course they have to make money somehow.

We have announced Promoted Tweets. These tweets will exist primarily in search and then in the timeline, but in a manner that preserves the integrity and relevance of the timeline. As we have announced, we will use innovative metrics like Resonance so that Promoted Tweets are only shown when they make sense for users and enhance the user experience.

The mention of Resonance is also interesting, I think it would be interesting and conceivable for the aforementioned ‘local deals’ to be the sole ad’s featured in the timeline as they’re about as relevant as you could get and would actually build on the user experience rather than being an annoyance. I’m actually interested to see what Twitter come up with as their big monetization plan, because damn it they need one. If all else fails I guess they could try a lemonade stand.

In a new study done by the Pew Research Center, collections of data from thousands of participants showed that people who use social networking services are now not only likely to have larger networks than those who don’t, but also have more close friends. The authors of the study don’t cite technology as the cause of our newfound friendliness, but those inclined toward social connections are now more likely to be online and networking than not.

I can vouch for that.

(via Practical Opacity)

The grand screw

In my humble opinion, one of the best features announced for iOS 5 was Twitter integration: making it “easier to tweet from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch”. You sign in once in Settings, and can then tweet directly from Safari, Photos etc. as well as Twitter integrating with Contacts allowing for quick @ messaging. It’s also the most worrying feature as well though, I would bet good money Twitter approached Apple to incorporate the functionality, not the other way around - and i’m thankful that they’ve taught Apple to do social - but I also that it’s also intended to stifle to Twitter client community on iOS.

iOS has produced some of the best Twitter clients out there: Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Weet, Tweetie, I could go on, but Twitter obviously feel threatened for some reason I don’t understand by third parties and have told them they plan to own the client space and that it would be a better idea for developers to focus their resources on plug-in’s to Twitter rather than clients. Twitter baked in is a move which shows they’re serious about this.

Admittedly the Twitter integration is as separate from other clients as the official Twitter app is and the integration will never really be shoved in your face unless you’re looking for it, but I would guess a lot of new users new users (and a lot of average ones) will probably use the baked in Twitter functionality and not much beyond it to share content when they’re on the go, removing the need for any Twitter app at all. You don’t have to go into your Twitter client for anything, just double tap, select ‘Send to Twitter’ and your done. Rather than going into the client, imputing the photo or URL you want to link, tweeting, and going back to what you were doing. Although your not using Twitters client, you are using the Twitter experience. And that’s what they want.

If these people did feel the need for a true client though, I’d assume the large majority of these average users would get the free official app and not pay for one of the other offerings. People will trust the interface (and the branding) and go straight to it before any other. Twitter have managed to work their way into the default system and will earn the users trust. Third part clients will now have to do really phenomenal stuff in UI and features (Tweetmarks maybe?) to stand out above the default.

I’m ever the optimist though, I am hopeful it will benefit the third parties somehow, the new integration could cause something similar to the Starbucks effect1 and actually make people aware or Twitter for the first time and cause people to look further for a better client once they outgrow the functionality of the baked in services. I’m also hopeful that authorizing Twitter when you first set up the phone might rid the OAuth woes third parties are having to go through at the moment, if clients could access the date in the Twitter settings you could conceivably authorize once and never have to again, making it a better experience for users and developers.

Update: There’s a silver lining for developers, and it’s rock solid.

  1. See Marco Arment’s post about what Safari Reading List means for Instapaper, the ‘Starbucks effect’ is why he’s so confident Instapaper wont be effected by the new feature Reading List and that sales might actually improve for him.

Managing Twitter Via Lists

A little while ago Shawn Blanc published a post on how he manages Twitter with lists, I thought it would be interesting to share my setup for using lists with Twitter. Although it’s probably the most common setup I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, there is a reason why things are common, they’re awesome, and this lists setup works great for me removing a lot of the noise from my actual Twitter feed. So, for the grand reveal, I have two lists which I created which I follow regularly:

So let’s talk the software list first, I get great value out of following app’s and software companies on Twitter. The information found in the Twitter feed is often more interesting than on the app’ website or application blog because it’s a lot of responses to user questions about upcoming features/bugs (which is always nice to see developers respond to) and announcements, which brings me onto reason number two for why following app’s on Twitter is awesome: the instancy of an app’s Twitter account is great as you find out straight away when a new update is available, something which is always pretty thrilling for me as i’m an app addict and love to play with new features. So, thats why following app’s on Twitter is a good idea, admittedly though, as interesting as it can be, it also creates a lot of noise which you don’t actually want to see if you subscribe to an app account in your actual feed. Thats where the software list comes in, although I still follow app’s I show a keen interest forA, all other app’s i’m slightly interested in get thrown into the software list. This way I get all the value of following app Twitter feed’s but only when I want to, I can dip in as and when instead of it flooding my actual feed 24/7.

As for the people list, the use case is quite similar, I follow writers, podcasters etc. on Twitter, anyone who I show interest for in their true line of work, I also try to follow on Twitter, it’s like a little extra - because Twitter is a live feed. You hear from these people more frequently throughout the week on Twitter rather than just when they are live on a podcast of have published a new article. With the people list, I haven’t stopped following those people though, I’ve added them to the people list as well. The people list allows me to read what those people are saying without the noise from other people I follow on Twitter, this has been pretty effective for meB: it acts like a filter, but rather than filtering select things, it just filers everything that isn’t in the list. I think the reason using lists works so well for me is because i’ve got a short attention span - I could be reading what someone is saying and notice a tweet with a link above it and switch my attention to that instead, this method cuts a lot of the crap out.

One issue Shawn acknowledged with using lists is that if you aren’t following the person but you have got them in a list, then you are unable to DM them:

The disadvantage (if you could call it that) is that you cannot exchange DMs with people or brands whom you follow only through a Twitter list. But right now the brands and bots I follow through lists are not real people. They’re impersonal and the exist almost exclusively to give one-way updates news.

I haven’t really encountered this issue at all, namely because I almost never use direct messages on TwitterC. Also, like Shawn says, some of the app accounts I follow in my software list are not real people, although not that many (like I said, one of my main motives for following app accounts is the responses to user questions) and any app accounts I really care about i’m following as well.

Shifting to use lists more has slimmed down my actual news feed a lot, which I’m very thankful for since I always felt guilty like I was reading too much and wasting my time, but also when I didn’t read at all as I was worried I was missing out. Now rather than systematically reading through everything so i’m up to date, I just dip into my software and people lists every once and a while and get roughly the same gist I would if I was to read everything because all the distracting stuff in-between has been removed.

  1. Such as Sparrow and Tweetbot. These also tend to be app’s which are updated on a frequent basis.

  2. I’ve been thinking of taking this idea further to create a ‘friends’ list as well so that I can focus on what they are saying as well without all the other noise.

  3. I can recall two times in the past year when I have had to use it, and both of those could have been done with email easily.

Twitter has been completely emphatic about where developers should stake a claim, with Twitter Platform Lead Ryan Sarver warning the ecosystem to stay away from building “client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.”

Well if Sarver stays true to his word the Twitpics and Yfrogs of the world can just give it up now. According to multiple sources, Twitter is on the verge of announcing its own built in Twitpic competitor. Like tomorrow, if things go according to plan (naturally this post might change that).

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone, as photosharing is the next logical step of Twitter expanding its in app experience. It’s basically grabbing at low hanging fruit.

One word: finally.

I thought Twitter were crazy for not getting into this space already. Intergrating it right into the web interface and official apps would make things a lot easier, and i’d like to thing third parties would follow suit as well. It should be a nice addition to the site, as long as they aren’t going to want to sell our photos like TwitPic.

This might be the funniest thing I’ve read this week!

Tweed presents you with a list of links to new articles, blog posts or anything else posted by your friends and people you follow on Twitter as well as our own curated lists of people we read and follow.

I’m admittedly late to the party with Tweed. But I just thought i’d chime in and say I think it looks really interesting. The app connects to your Twitter feed and shows all of the tweets with links, anything that then catches your eye you just drag over to the right and all of the articles get stacked in a good looking interface reminiscent of Twitter for iPad but vertical rather than horizontal.

Tweed really seems to speak to the way I use Twitter and how I consume news - I have a handful of blogs and news websites I follow and everything else I read is typically found through Twitter, be it writers linking to their own content or suggesting something really good they’ve just read, then I forward the stuff I really like the look of to Instapaper (which Tweed also supports might I add). The most intriguing feature of Tweed though is the ‘Suggested’ content, it’s not clear how this content is determined - whether it’s the best from people you’re already following, whether is the most popular content in certain categories (determined by re-tweets, favorites and @replies) or if the content is actually edited by someone, regardless though it looks immensely compelling again as it builds on the idea of finding good content through social media.

The creator of the app obviously created Tweed to scratch his own itch as it’s already so well fitted to the way I and many others consume news now; turning Twitter into a curated RSS feed.

A Better Communication Network

Dialoggs is not Twitter. Though it does have some of the same features, Dialoggs is about discussions with multiple people and therefore has a different vision and expanded feature set. Dialoggs is not chat. Dialoggs is social and sharable. Picking up where chat left off. Dialoggs is not Tumblr. Though each post can have media attached to it and it’s own unique page, Dialoggs goes much further in communicating with others on the network. Dialoggs is not Google Wave, It’s closer to Twitter or Tumblr than it is to Wave.

I posted a couple of days ago about Twitters competition with UberMedia and how they shouldn’t be worried, and now here comes along another sortof Twitter competitor, although it clearly states that it’s not like Twitter, it’s called Dialoggs, and I think it sounds pretty cool.

I don’t think Twitter needs to be worried about Dialoggs though, they’re obviously for different audiences, the average user will stay with Twitter becuase they don’t even know Dialoggs exists, and those who use Dialoggs I could imagine will use it alongside Twitter. Nevertheless though, i’m really excided about Dialoggs, it looks to have a great UI and I love the fact that all posts and conversations will be saved and have their own page. It’s also going to be a lot more content aware than Twitter, with Twitter you can share photos or video using a third party service like TwitPic or TwitVid1. With Dialoggs you will be able to attach and share multiple photos, videos and code snippets to a post natively, similar to the way it works here on Tumblr apparently. I think the fact that everything is saved and that you can share any kind of content on there will actually make it a great tool for small businesses to communicate with in a more social way, we’ll have to see how that pans out though or if Dialoggs ever even gets off the ground.

The project has fifteen days left on Kickstarter to raise another $11250, and i’d love to see this thing succeed, so to anyone in my miniscule readership if you’ve got some money lying around chip in to help out the project - if you contribute $50 you’ll even get to be one of Dialoggs first beta testers!

  1. Something I think Twitter are crazy not to get into doing themselves natively.

Twitter has acquired TweetDeck, we’ve heard from a source with knowledge of the deal, and the transaction will be announced in the next few days. The $40 million – $50 million purchase price includes both cash and Twitter stock, says our source.

In February we reported that an acquisition of TweetDeck by Bill Gross’ UberMedia was all but done, in the $25 – $30 million range. And that deal was in fact all but done. But Twitter quickly provided an unsolicited counter offer, and TweetDeck was in play again.

Really not too sure what I think about this really, still not sure if I believe it or not. Lets pretend for a second though, thats it’s 100% true. Twitter are obviously on the defensive, trying to defend they’re market share against UberMedia, but let’s just do some basic math:

Last time I checked1 the total market share of all of UberMedia’s Twitter clients lumped together totaled 27.4, and as of June 2009 TweetDeck’s was 19%, that was a couple of months ago, so it may be a little off but… give me a second while I load up Soulver…


Now, 46.4% of Twitter, that’s a lot, but i’m going to refer to the whole domino effect: one domino goes, every over domino goes, people are only online because their friends are online, now if I think about that, I really don’t see the people who contribute on Twitter a lot bailing, even for a few extra characters - they’re already online, their friends are already online, and if you’ve just joined the internet, which website are you going join or ubermedia.com2? Well, to be honest, i’m not sure, the average Joe and Lady GaGa might abandon ship and go to UberMedia, and maybe even take their friends with them, and that would be a blow to Twitter, but Twitter will still be left with a userbase, a more active, less spammy, more devoted userbase, one it could re-build. Now it might not work out that way, but even if it didn’t, I really don’t think Twitter needs to get defensive to the point where its throwing wads of cash at companies just to defend itself.

Remember though, were still in the bizzaro world where Twitter buying TweetDeck is 100% true, could they make it a valid move by either killing it with fire (my personal preference) or overhauling it and making it the fancy paid Twitter for pro users with all the extra bells and whistles. I’m not enough of an intellectual to predict what’s going to happen, so i’m just going to say lets wait and see.

  1. Just before writing this.

  2. Or whatever it may be rebranded as.

Really sad to see this die, Tweetmate looks like an insane app and would have blown Twitter for Mac out the water. It’s funny as well reading the comments - looks like loads of people have only found Tapmates because of Tweetmate. I’d like to think they’ll come back to it eventually and make it a reality, I bloody well hope so or I might just die a little inside…