Steve Woods

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Why Twitter’s Gonna Eat FourSquare’s Lunch

In Social Media on November 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Will FourSquare be the Next Twitter? Will it? Will it?

Has some version of this cluttered up your Twitter stream lately?

Pete Cashmore, Social Media Maven, founder and CEO of @Mashable, and new blogger at, wrote a very interesting article recently.  In it he carefully makes the case for FourSquare as possibly the next big thing in Social Media since Twitter.  I heard of FourSquare a long time ago, but thought I was too cool for things like Twitter back then, and never considered giving it a shot.

I’ve read through the article twice now, was a bit intrigued, and before hitting the road yesterday after work, tried to download the application for my iPhone.

I can’t. Well, that’s not entirely true.  I can download the app if I want to, but I’d have to lie about where I live, in order to finish signing in, and to participate in the game.  You see, there’s a very limited drop-down menu of what I am sure are exciting cities to live in. I just don’t live in one of them.  Or even near one of them.

Not really a menu, but it sure felt that way... :0(

Oh, I am sure that Amsterdam has a lot of great cafes I could sip a nice latté in.  I have no doubt I could find a banging nightclub in Bangkok, and could bust a move until people laughed at me in unison.  I hear that Dubai is pretty hot these days (no pun intended.) Hell, I’d even down shots with the cool people in Hong Kong if I could…

FourSquare is Limited in Geographical Scope, Guys

I just wanted to play too...

So there I was, sitting in my now idling car, with a new download that I’ll eventually delete from my iPhone before the next sync.  Why couldn’t I just find and add my little city, or even one of the small-to-medium ones a short drive away?  How about that nice Cajun restaurant/nightclub 25 miles away, where I am sure I’ll never run into one of Mashable’s tech-savvy folks?  Thanks, Pete...

Out of a possible 10,016 big and little cities in the United States alone, FourSquare works with 48 of them (I am assuming when they listed Rome, they didn’t mean Rome, N.Y…..)  So 1/2 of 1% U.S. coverage by an Internet-based application meant to bring people together in fellowship. Wow.  I’d help spread that further, but I can’t, because FourSquare won’t let me

Is FourSquare’s Concept Unique?

On the drive home, I thought about what a great concept FourSquare was.  Then I realized I wasn’t thinking about FourSquare at all anymore.  I was thinking about the Concept.  Were there other applications that exceeded the 0.5% reach already, and could be used in the same way that FourSquare bills itself?

Read Pete’s article all the way through.  He’s a brilliant guy, and I have to give him credit where due, because he alludes to the precarious position that FourSquare holds as possible contender for next year’s Social Media Superstar….

Twitter’s Users Already Use the Concept of FourSquare

Meet @RadarDog. He's laughing at you.

For most of us, when we log off and head out the door, we don’t tend to include in the trip or where we go the people we met on Twitter.  But I have seen on Twitter more signs of Tweet-ups, or groups of Twitter friends/followers from one area or city, meeting up and enjoying each other’s company.  And by the way, Twitter is everywhere.  Even dogs have twitter accounts, guys.  Betcha they tweetup and hookup all the time now because of it.  They’re laughing at you FourSquare lovers with your fancy, opposing thumbs.

Geolocation is King

Geolocation is a big word for “Where you are, right now.”  This sort of information is typically hidden from those people we know in Social Media, because the concept sounds too much like we are inviting everyone to follow us home at night.   When we do allow an application to turn this on, it can find us based on our computer’s IP (Internet Protocol) Address, or using the GPS emitter on our phone.  And it’s pretty darn accurate.

The use of Geolocation information has been recently made available by Twitter to third-party applications.  So expect applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Twitpic, and others soon to ask you if you want to share this.  If you say yes, when you send out tweets or photos, people will know from a marker on a map exactly where you are.  In other words, Twitter just shot a big hole in FourSquare’s boat…  Didn’t that sound cool? Makes me sound all Social Media Maven-ish.

Fun is Queen

Queen. Ha. I’m running with the whole card concept… Pete’s article refers to FourSquare as “highly addictive gameplay” and I am sure it is, if you live in a city that is cooler than mine.  And go out often. And go to the same places over and over.  How about trying out that Thai place for once, before your girlfriend dumps you…

Yes, they will find you in all languages...

Social Media games are growing rapidly, both in MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter.  We all see the automated status updates, tweets and even Direct Messages from those we follow, slipping in because they think others want to know if they killed someone in Mafia Wars or baked a pizza in Cafe World. Those that fail to turn off the clutter play with us a Social Media equivalent of Whack-a-Mole.  DM. Block. Tweet. Block. Status Update. Block.

There goes the horn. Work day's over. Sorry, guys!

In order to move up in FourSquare, you have to work at it.  You need to frequent your favorite places often, checking in to them using your phone’s app.  Sort of like the alcoholic equivalent of the Looney Tunes Wolf and Sheepdog. You gain points for showing up, for leaving your two cents about the place, and for bringing others with you (who you talked into having the app on their phones, too.)  The more points you receive, the more pretty badges you get, on display for all to see.  And you get to tweet those earned badges out to everyone.  Tweet. Block.  That’s right, during my silence perhaps you can create some paper equivalents of those badges in bright colors to actually wear around your very cool city…

The Benefits of Being Mayor

Play FourSquare loyally, and you move up through the chain established at a particular joint, becoming quite the authority on it.  People might recognize your face and say hello when they show up.  The love abounds. Visit more than anyone else, and you can become “Mayor,” receiving free drinks, entrees and sexual favors. I made up that last one.

Twitter Tweetups, Anywhere

Note the first one. Another dog Tweetup!

Okay, in Twitter you don’t get any badges, earn any points, and don’t get to be Mayor, Councilman, President or Prime Minister of anything.  Unless you already are one of those in real life, or are pretending to be.  But you can schedule and attend those Tweet-ups I mentioned earlier, letting trusted friends know via DM where you’re going, and inviting them.  And with the new Geolocation feature, you can use an iPhone app that tells them exactly how to get there.  And you know what? You can do this anywhere in the World with Internet access and your phone.  Even in my small town, or the one next door we all like to laugh at, because they don’t even have a McDonald’s yet…  That’s right, we are laughing at you again.

Twitter Will Eat FourSquare’s Lunch. Pete and I will go have Sushi

Pete and I takin' off for Bangkok. Tweetup, anyone?

I know I’m not a Social Media Superstar, like Pete Cashmore.  He’s worked hard to achieve that status, and he deserves it.  I love reading the very cool articles his team finds and tweets out.  He writes great pieces himself.  And I am sure he would be a lot of fun on that dance floor in Bangkok. I’m willing to go next time you want to take me…

I think Twitter has incorporated many of the best features of FourSquare, and we tweeters will make it fun on our own.  It will grow on its own, be supported by Twitter’s great team, and 3rd party apps will figure out ways to capitalize on Twitter’s API to support Tweetups.  Businesses will use our exposed Geolocations (Exposed Geolocations. Ha.) to find us nearby and offer up coupons or savings to entice us into their stores or restaurants.  And we’ll do it in the little backwoods corners of the Earth, without those stinkin’ badges.

Just stop following me home already, okay?  It’s really creeping me out…

If you liked this tongue-in-cheek post, you can Retweet it in 2 easy clicks!

AFTERTHOUGHT: I was contacted today by the makers of an application called Flook, which allows its users to create “cards” about a location anywhere they have an Internet connection, simply by taking a photo with their iPhone and providing a commentary.  This can be then tweeted out.  When another person gets near a “Flooked” location, they are alerted, and can see all of the previous “cards” made about it by others.  They can flip through the cards to learn more, or comment back…

How to Retweet, Old-School

In Social Media on November 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Was NOT looking forward to this invitation...

I received the beta invitation (or warning) for the new Retweet feature at Twitter yesterday.  Igotta say, it’s one “improvement” that I had not been looking forward to, and I’ll likely work diligently around it for awhile.  I’ve been using the “Old School” retweet method of forwarding those nuggets of information I like to my followers, and it works just fine for me.

Negative sentiment on RT abounds

I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. There are a number of people on Twitter who’ve voiced their disappointment with this untweaking of a valuable communication tool that already works when done properly.  A few of them are pretty heavy hitters in the Social Media world, who have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and have happily helped Twitter in its growth by providing interesting commentary and multimedia.  They ought to be listened to…

This morning, I came across a comment on Twitter from someone I follow, stating that she was often confused by retweets, trying to figure out who had made the original comment, and what was added by the retweeter.  I realized that if many of us are banding together to push Twitter to unhinge and remove the new feature (or improve it quickly,) we need to ensure others know how to properly retweet, Old School style.

“Old School” Retweet Methods

There are a number of methods people use to retweet information on Twitter, and not all of them are easy to parse.  So I thought I would share a few techniques I have witnesses, and demonstrate what I believe is best.

The Special Character Separator – This form of RT simply resends the message, but places a /, ~,::: or other special character or set at the end followed by the commentary by the retweeter.  Works well for most if you have it obvious, but sometimes the chosen separator doesn’t hit everyone over the head equally.

Use of special character to separate the information

Use of arrows to "point" your comment at the original tweet

The @Sender Put at the End – This form of RT places the @sender name at the end of the commentary, often in parentheses, and sometimes with the word “via”.  Commentary is normally placed after the parentheses.  This format is often constructed by mobile phone apps like Tweetie. The parenthetical separation is typically good enough for people to get who said what.  The person below, however, seems to have sandwiched the RT by commentary before and after…

Putting the (via @sender in parentheses) technique

The Pre-Comment This is my favorite, and I’ll explain why.  In this type of retweet, it kind of feels at first NOT like a retweet, because it doesn’t start out with RT at all. The commentary by the retweeter comes first, drawing more readers in, because it doesn’t feel addressed to anyone in particular.  Then the RT follows the comment, and we can sort of reverse-engineer the conversation.  Here’s an example…

Comment back is placed in front of the RT'd message

You get the commentary first, which seems interesting in itself, and then see that it is a retweet to @Alyssa_Milano  The RT letter set is enough of a visual cue to see the separation between the comments.  Alyssa will see all of the retweets she gets on her messages because like any good user, she is checking her @Mentions often.

The Pre-Comment method is elegant, interesting and if followed by everyone consistently, would be a model for Twitter to use when reworking that new feature I am so diligently ignoring…

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The Follow Friday Primer

In Social Media on November 13, 2009 at 1:33 am

twitter_logo_what_doingYou just wrapped up your first week of Twitter, said hello to the world, quietly squeaking inside over your very first follower, discovered the joys of that reply button, and publicly thanked each and every new follow you received.

As the week progressed, you discovered the naughty Britney Bots and how to block and/or report them.  Depending on what you said, a variety of businesses showed up in your Follower tally.

As you gained confidence, you formulated pithy hellos to celebrities and pranced all over the power-user’s pages to see who they followed.  You marvelled at the sharing of music, photos and links to everything, everywhere.  Twitter was really starting to get exciting and cool, as the endless stream of information, emotions, laughter, love, angst and more went steadily by on your screen.

Just as things seemed to fall into a gentle rhythm, Friday rolled around, and after logging in you now find yourself surrounded in a sea of endless @ and # symbols. It’s Follow Friday on Twitter.  Now what do you do?


You are likely seeing a whole bunch of these...

There are a variety of resources that describe and help guide you through the process of providing shoutouts to those you love on Twitter.  I know, I’ve read a bunch of them, and have done my best to pull all of the hints and ideas together in one place.  If you landed here, I hope I can make this whole thing easier.

So start me off by explaining this Follow Friday thing to me.


Micah Baldwin, Founder of #FollowFriday

Follow Friday has been around on Twitter since January of 2009, when Micah Baldwin @micah suggested it.  People agreed that it would be nice if everyone took at least part of one day a week to let others know which of those they followed they really like, for reasons left up to them.  Everyone would provide the name of their favs including the @ symbol so it became a clickable link, along with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday to let everyone know it was their Friday Favorites.  To keep from overwhelming a stream, people began putting a list of people on each #FF tweet, rather than one tweet for each person.

I’m just starting out and am still figuring out who I like to follow.

There’s nothing wrong with simply opting out of the whole Follow Friday thing until you get a handle on it.  Simply watch those you follow share their favorites.  Check out the names that jump out at you by clicking on their usernames to get to their profiles.  Read the new profiles and their recent tweets, and decide for yourself if you wish to follow them too.  One of the wonderful benefits of this is you could likely receive some follows in return.

Introduce yourself to your favorite new people you followed, the ones that show the greatest promise for meaningful interaction. You can even let the person who recommended them know in the same tweet! Here’s how…


She included the new follow and who recommended it all in one!

People love to know that their hard work sending #FFs out have caused someone, somewhere to follow their favorites too!

I’ve seen how this works, and I want to jump on the Follow Friday love train too...

Once you are ready to begin sharing your favorites with the Twitter world, there are a few techniques to consider, to make your follows most impactful.  By no means do you have to follow these rules, but they help….

Follow Friday Do’s:

  1. twitter_alancolmes_ff

    Alan Colmes' Follow Fridays

    Spend some time thinking about who you will provide a #FF shoutout for.  There is nothing wrong with typing up the list on a Word document in order to keep things straight and save time later.

  2. Space your #FF tweets out, providing at least a 15 second period of time between each.  Even if you decided to use the Word document technique listed above, take your time…
  3. Don’t put more than 3 people in a #FF tweet and include a comment such as “Funny people, always there to make me laugh.”  This means you will have to come up with categories for your #FF tweets, and will need to pick the top 3 people in that group.  Challenge yourself to only send one tweet in that category.
  4. If you keep your tweet down to 120 characters, it will make it easier to “retweet” or RT it, as it leaves space for the additional @ symbol, username and RT. Yes, people do often RT Follow Fridays…
  5. Some like to send out #FFs for their new recent followers, as a weekly welcoming message. This is especially nice for those people that have immediately engaged with you and shared often.  Fox news commentator @AlanColmes did this for me, and I was impressed by it greatly.
  6. Perhaps you’d like to limit your #FFs to those of your followers that interacted with you the most in the preceding week, or were the most consistent in responding to your information.  This can include commenting on your photos, talked to you about favorite articles, listened to your music links, or read a recent blog post.  It can also mean those that shared their own information with you.
  7. For fairly new users, you can provide a #FF shoutout for those individuals that have helped you the most, introducing you to Twitter and encouraging you along the way.  Hint.

Follow Friday Don’ts:

  1. ff_thank_yous

    Don't forget to say Thank You!

    Don’t send out more than 10 #FF tweets at once.  Remember you are only one voice among potentially hundreds or even thousands of people someone is following.

  2. Don’t send your #FF tweets in rapid-fire succession.  You just become background noise, easy to ignore (or worse, to unfollow or block.)
  3. Don’t send #FF tweets chock-full of usernames with no reason as to why we should follow them.  C’mon, throw us a bone on this one, so we can at least make a quick decision about whether we want more information from “great fishermen” or “funny accountants” in our stream.  People rarely follow ANYONE on a list of names without a reason…
  4. Don’t forget to thank people for including you in their #FFs.  Check your @YourName mentions link to see them rolling in…
  5. Don’t recommend anyone you are not following yourself. Go ahead, check and make sure.

Other #FF methods being recently utilized

Twitter Lists – You can create Twitter lists and then tweet out the link with a description of its purpose. This will lead people to follow your list vice your followers, something slowly gaining favor as the new Twitter List feature finishes its rollout.

tweepmlTweepML – With many thanks to @BuzzEdition for introducing me to this great site.   Like Twitter’s List feature, in TweepML you can create a list of favorites in a variety of categories and tweet out the list.  I love that interested people can follow everyone on your TweepML list with just one click.  This saves tons of time! TweepML has recently added Twitter Lists support so you can type in the address of a Twitter list to follow everyone on it, but it is still buggy…  NOTE: Using this too much will cause Twitter to suspend interactions with TweepML for awhile, so be judicious.

Thinking outside of the box

With a bit of creativity and a lot of time, you can take your Follow Fridays to a whole new level.  Here is one such example from one of my favorite Tweeps, Gary Arbaugh (@Gary1980Arb):

The Twitter Love Boat

If you have found this post to be of help to you in navigating the vagaries of Follow Friday, please feel free to follow me at @_stevewoods and/or Retweet this article!