How clients are adapting to Twitter expansion: new HootSuite app

Since Twitter acquired Tweetie to become the official Twitter iPhone application, worked with RIM to release an app for BlackBerry, and now released an official app for Android, the developers of existing applications are being forced to raise their game even more quickly than before.

One example is HootSuite, who just released their new iPhone application.

Probably the biggest addition is Facebook (Like Tweetdeck and Seesmic) – you can update your status, shedule updates and track your friends and pages. Going multiplatform seems to be one obvious step to go beyond an official single platform application.

You also get translation from, and into, over 50 languages. And there’s geo-location, HootSuite Labs (including ‘Bump to Follow’), a new landscape view, a new drag and refresh option, and a handy ‘reply to all’ feature to save time and typing.

Here’s a handy video guide:

Taiwan police ask Plurk for IP addresses of users

Microblogging service Plurk has been pretty successful outside the U.S, but having already been the victim of a ban in China (followed by MSN China cloning the site with their own product), the service has now been asked by Taiwan police to provide the IP addresses of some Plurk users, without being supplied with a court order by police.

As reported on Global Voices, Alvin Woon, one of the founders of Plurk, posted a message saying he’d been asked by police for the information.

Unless a court deems it necessary, what the police are asking is technically illegal. But it turns out that it appears to be usual practice for the police, who have confirmed that they would make around 10 such requests to Plurk every month. Since Woon is not located in Taiwan, and the Plurk servers are in America, he hasn’t complied with the request.

But obviously Plurk isn’t the only website being asked for user details and IP addresses, and other companies are being more cooperative with police enquiries. Given current laws being proposed and implemented in the UK, U.S and Australia, along with the approach of China to internet freedom, it’s more important than ever to have an understanding of your rights, your privacy, and the attititude of any social network/blog/hosting company/ISP that you use. One book I’d recommend for a greater understanding of the nature of law on the internet and how it can be changed by Governments would be Code: Version 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig

Google uses Twitter in Chinese search results

Twitter search results are now being indexed and displayed by Google to Chinese users, as reported in the Los Angeles Times.

It effectively gets around the nine-month block of Twitter in China, and the timing is no accident as Google has stopped censoring Chinese search results and redirects users from mainland China to Google.com.hk.

It means that tweets can now appear in Google search results for terms which are popular on Twitter. The LA Times reports that on Thursday morning, it included ‘how to circumvent China’s Internet firewall, why Google decided to exit China and a vaccine scandal unfolding in central China’

Although Twitter results are now part of Google search in the rest of the world, the introduction at this time seems to be a further attempt to strengthen Google’s case against the Chinese government. But given that China has the most effective attempt at a repressive, censored internet, it will be interesting to see whether any technology is introduced to strip the content back out before users can see it – it’s already managing to block uncensored searches for terms such as ‘Amnesty’ or ‘Dalai’ in just a day after the redirect to google.com.hk took place.

Google has claimed that the Twitter results had already been available for a week as part of a global rollout, and the release is unrelated to other events.

Despite the original cyber attacks on Google and fallout which has followed, the search company has said it will continue research and development work and its advertising sales team in China.

This use of Twitter feels like a small move in a game of chess between the search giant and an ideology which isn’t going to back down easily.

Twitter turns 4 years old today!

At 8.50pm on March 21st, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent his first Tweet to start the microblogging service which currently defines all others.

Twitter started by first tweet by Jack Dorsey

The first Twitter message by Jack Dorsey

Along with Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and tens of million people worldwide, Twitter has grown into one the most notable social networks on the planet. Recent stats have pegged online visits at 75 million, content at 1.2 billion tweets per month, and mobile usage up 347% since 2009 with 4.7 million mobile users in January 2010.

We’ve seen Tweets from space and from the American President. Brands have used it to communicate in different ways, and to make money. And as a news and information source, first-hand accounts  have included plane crashes, the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and natural disasters including Haiti and numerous earthquakes around the world.

American forst fires gave rise to the use of hashtags, whilst users also began the now widespread practice of @ messages. Customs have become established such as #followfriday, a huge ecosystem of third-party clients and developers have grown, and third party advertising systems have been allowing users to monetise their content.

Individual users now have millions of followers and have posted tens of thousands of messages.

For a more indepth look at the start of Twitter, check out this post from co-creator Dom Sagolla – How Twitter Was Born. Or check out this post from Jack Dorsey on Flickr.

Got any plans to celebrate #twitterday ?

Posterous adds post scheduling feature

The team behind microblogging service Posterous seem to be constantly rolling out new features – they’ve just announced you can now schedule posts anytime in the future.

image

Posterous allows you to post to your microblog via a bookmarklet, which now includes scheduling options, or via email. If you’re posting via the email method, you just need to add a tag to the subject line of the email to have it automatically scheduled.

They’ve provided four examples, all of which will work:

((delay: in 3 hours))

((delay: in 1337 minutes))

((publish: on 3/12/2011))

((publish: on March 12, 2011))

Not only does this help normal users, but it’ll also be extremely useful for the new business customers which Posterous is courting as one new revenue stream.

Tumblr: Stats, the ability to add pages, and revenue on the way

I’m a big fan of both Tumblr and Posterous, despite not really having the time/project to make the best use of them at the moment. So the fact that Tumblr has released a new feature, some interesting statistics and signs of new revenue streams launching soon has reignited my thoughts on how I could use the service effectively.

The new feature is the ability to add static pages – which will aid companies and bloggers looking to keep content highlighted. Adding a page is simple, with three layouts to choose from.

And it will only build on some pretty impressive statistics released today – 1 billion page views in February 2010 for starters. It also has 2 million posts every day, 15,000 new posts daily, and 18 new posts and reblogs every second.

Incidentally, 1 billion page views in February equals 36 million page views per day, 25,000 page views per minute, or 400 per second. And Tumblr has put together a nice infographic to show off the info:

Tumblr statistics February 2010

And if that isn’t enough, apparently there are also plans to unveil two new revenue generating features next month, powered by the widget mysteriously pictured below:

For a personal or simple company blog, I’d definitely recommend checking out Tumblr or Posterous. They’re easier to update than a traditional hosted blog platform (whether Blogger or WordPress), and offer as many design options etc. Ultimately a full self-hosted blog platform such as WordPress (Which this site uses) offers some additional advantages, but if you don’t want the hassle or advertising, then go with the microblogging platforms.

Monetising your blogging rather than your microblogging

Sponsored Post

Having spent some time running advertising with Twitter, I know how divisive it can be – and seeing as I know there’s a big group who split their time between microblogging and full-length blogging, I thought it was worthwhile accepting an offer for a sponsored post on the UK launch of blogging monetisation service Ebuzzing.

It’s fast and simple to register, and the main benefit is that you can achieve a good rate of reward for recommending or allowing services to advertise or pay for a post – but the choice of topics etc is entirely down to you. There’s no obligation to post anything you don’t agree with.

I’ve used Ebuzzing for a post on TheWayoftheWeb, and found it easy to use. There are three options to pick from – sponsored articles, videos served by a dedicated player, or videos and banners served in a syndicated player.

An Ebuzzing video campaign via the dedicated video player

All posts are “no follow” within articles, and full disclosure and advertiser names have to be displayed, meaning no room for any shenanigans, and no risk of search engine penalties. And over 600 brands have used the service to propose campaigns including Coca-Cola, MTV, MasterCard, Toyota, etc.

An Ebuzzing campaign via the syndicated videos and banners

So if you’d rather monetise your blog than your microblogging, then Ebuzzing is a simple and effective way to discover opportunities to do it for a decent reward, rather than struggling to optimise affiliate links for what might be small audiences, or having to go and attract direct advertising. And having seen an increasing amount of content providers beginning to use in-Twitter advertising, I’d hazard a guess that microblogging-related advertisers will be looking to place content via Ebuzzing in the future.

Register on ebuzzing.com

Another round of spam phishing hits Twitter

Twitter has become one of the prime targets for phishing and spam attacks, due to both it’s huge growth in user numbers, but also the each with which messages can spread (partly due to the inherent weakness in using short urls).

The latest example is the BZPharma ‘LOL this is funny’ attack, as detailed by security firm Sophos. Messages include ‘Lol. this is me??’, ‘lol , this is funny’ and ‘Lol. this you??’, and include a link which looks like ‘http://example.com/?rid=http://twitter.verify.bzpharma.net/login’ –

with the example.com element varying between a number of addresses.

There’s a handy Youtube video with details of the problem. Links are appearing in both private Direct Messages, and in public feeds – plus some third party services allow DMs to be made public, sharing the phishing attack more widely.

Click on the dodgy link and you’ll go to a fake Twitter login page, which replicates the Fail Whale when you attempt to login, and then redirects you back to the real Twitter page to make you believe your account hasn’t been hit. The same technique is also being used to phish Bebo accounts.

And after the first wave of attacks compromised accounts, there’s now a wave of spam selling herbal viagra, with messages including “Get bigger and have sex longer. go here”

So besides double-checking you’re on the real Twitter site before logging in, keep an eye on your sent messages for any clue your account has been compromised, and also watch out for messages being sent by even trusted friends.

You can also take a look at the full Sophos update on the attack.

From Twitter account to TV show pilot episode

With news that William Shatner is to star in the first TV show to be created from a Twitter account, it appears that microblogging is now the source of choice for media content.

It wasn’t so long ago that traditional blogs were all the rage as a source for book and TV deals – probably the most notable was Belle du Jour (who recently had her real identity revealed), whose Secret Diary of a Call Girl became first a book, and then a popular TV Show.

But now Shit My Dad Says has not only landed a TV deal which was signed last November, but with William Shatner reportedly set to star it’s been greenlit for a pilot episode on CBS, with the creators of Will & Grace on board as executive producers.

With over 1.1 million followers, there’s definitely a fanbase for the show – but will any of the humour survive considering how much adult language is involved?

What’s in store for microblogging in 2010?

A guest post by Lauren Fisher, who specialises in online PR and social media at Simply Zesty – and can be found on Twitter at @laurenfisher.
As we look forward to a brand new year, I’m sure the burning question on everyone’s lips is – what’s going to happen to microblogging in 2010? In a year that saw Ashton Kutcher reach 1 million followers on Twitter and MSN launch their own microblogging service (and MSN China clone Plurk – Dan), the next year certainly has a lot to live up to. Here, I offer a few of my own predictions for microblogging in 2010, with Dan’s thoughts below.

Increased use in organisations

I’m talking here about internal use of microblogging, as a way for colleagues to collaborate and communicate with each other. We’ve seen Google Wave emerge as a tool for professional, organisational use and I think this is the path that microblogging will take in 2010. I’ve already written on here about my thoughts on Yammer (which I still stand by) and I think we will see microblogging tools play a bigger role in internal corporate communications, as an easy and efficient way to communicate with each other. The benefits of realtime will be no more paramount than for businesses.

Dan: Totally agree, although I’m not sure I’d pick Yammer out as the key product in this area – the move is towards integrating microblogging as part of a collaborative and project management toolset – e.g. Salesforce Chatter. The novelty of an ‘internal Twitter’ is fine, but doesn’t convert those who don’t like Twitter, or those happy to DM via Twitter already. Integrated tools give reasons for people to get involved.

Twitter Declining

I won’t be the first, or last, person to say this but I think Twitter may have reached its height of popularity and I think numbers will start to dwindle, albeit slowly. The love affair with Twitter has been exciting, but it might just be over. The avalanche of spam accounts has a part to play here, but I think that when Twitter reaches its highest point of saturation, is conversely when you start to lose value in the site. It has become incredibly noisy and I am beginning to question the real use of it.

Dan: I agree to some extent. I think some of the expansion already has been down to a huge number of spam accounts, and it’s something Twitter has started to tackle, but will always be a huge problem. The lesson here is to learn from the most popular 3rd party apps – Tweetdeck and Seesmic for example, which allow far better filtering than Twitter itself. The noise levels don’t bother me too much because I’m fairly selective about who I follow (Hard to believe when I’m following almost 2k people!)

Microblogging as customer service

I think that more and more companies will embrace microblogging in 2010, beyond the extent we’re seeing now. Businesses will realise the potential of microblogging as a customer service platform though, rather than a place for sexy social media campaigns. I don’t think there will be many more hashtag competitions, we’ve had pretty much every variation of these! I hope that more companies will realise the value of microblogging to source and, most importantly, solve issues for customers. As consumers, we are expecting everything to be solved in real-time and this is what we’ll expect businesses to cater to. The power of crowdsourcing will also be recognised more and we’ll see more companies opening up product development to the masses.

Dan: Totally agree that almost every company should be using Twitter as an integral part of overall improvements to customer service. I expect to reach any tech company via Twitter, and those that do have an active role tend to respond quickly and get my repeat business!

No to video microblogging

It’s not an area that’s really taken off and I don’t think 2010 will be the year for video microblogging. Some sites have made a good attempt, such as Vidly, but once the initial shine wears off the uptake is slow. I simply don’t think that microblogging lends itself to video. A quick text update is one thing : shooting, uploading and tagging a short video is another. We’re still not as comfortable in front of the camera as we are in front of the keyboard and I don’t think this will change any time soon.

Dan: Damn it – this is an area that comes back to haunt me after I made a prediction on video at a conference that Seesmic’s original video blogging platform would take off in 2009. And I was wrong for exactly the reasons above. I’d say for the over 20s, audio blogging such as Audioboo is more accessible. However, I think there’s a huge group of teenagers who are very accustomed to broadcasting themselves on Justin.tv and Ustream. If someone taps into that market and can lure them away from sites which are heavily integrating with Facebook, Twitter etc, then we may see video microblogging take off in a couple of years. It’s also likely to be primarily mobile, and the odds are people will still video other people rather than themselves…

Location –based microblogging

If Twitter is to continue growing in 2010, I think the answer could be in location-based services. As mobile internet usage rapidly increases, we’re all going to be using location services more. If we can make real connections on Twitter with those that are physically close to us, as a more integrated part of the whole microblogging experience, this could prove incredibly popular. Integrating tweets at real-world events such as concerts and sport events will also become more popular, bringing people physically together.

Dan: Totally. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more integration between location, microblogging and special offers, but that’s definitely going to arrive this year – look at mobile social location games like Foursquare, or Google stepping up their location-based efforts. And events are a huge influence on bringing people together on Twitter – the FA Cup, the Superbowl, Eurovision etc as examples…

Integration with sites

As more people will be moving away from Twitter itself, I think microblogging will play a bigger part in existing sites. The new redesign of LinkedIn sees the now familiar stream of status updates with more prominence and I think this is probably the way many sites will go, including email services, encouraging even further interaction between people through short updates. As we become increasingly productive online in 2010, we’ll expect the microblogging functionality to feature more heavily in sites we’re already visiting, than having to go to a separate site.

Dan: Twitter, Facebook and Google are the three services that you should expect to seemlessly be integrated into almost every site you visit in the next 6 months. Each one is becoming very close to the single unified ID many people have talked about…

Microblogging in 2010 – what do you think?