Tag Archives: Twitter

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Would You Trust Facebook With Your Credit Card?

I recently wrote a guest post at New Media Angels about the future of Facebook. It was sparked by a discussion as to whether Facebook was doomed and what it ought to do to avoid such a fate. I outlined a few steps that I thought would preserve Facebook’s future and one of them was allowing you to buy things via your Facebook account. Since then people have asked a few questions, but the number one question has been this: “why on Earth do you think I’d give Facebook my credit card?”

It’s a fair question, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to respond.

My thinking behind the Facecoin idea was simple. Right now Facebook has one revenue stream: ads. That’s not enough to ensure survival in my book. So they need to diversify. Get a few fingers in a few pies. And micropayments is an emerging pie. The only real contender is Bitcoin. Bitcoin, however, is not a well-known name. Facebook is. And if you’re faced with a name you know and a name you don’t, a lot of people will pick the former without even asking about the latter.

But, of course, Facebook isn’t a name you can trust. That’s why step one of my plan was to rebuild trust. I’m not convinced their reputation is irreparably damaged. And once they’ve changed their image, I think people wouldn’t balk at handing over their details. Especially younger users, who might not have been online when Facebook was so distrusted. After all, we trust PayPal with our credit card. Why not someone else?

Let me put it this way: imagine a new social network, Safebook is unveiled tomorrow. Safebook does everything Facebook does, down to the finest detail. But it makes no claims to your photos or data. It makes it easy to manage your privacy. In fact, it encourages privacy. Privacy might even be a default. And Safebook also lets you pay for things, just like PayPal. Why wouldn’t you dump Facebook?

Now imagine if Facebook turned into Safebook over the next year. Now tell me you wouldn’t hand over your card details.

Twitter Followers Don’t Matter; RRFs Do

Anyone noticing a trend? It’s possible I’ve already written about Facebook in a similar fashion and now I’m banging on about Twitter. But bear with me: it’s worth reading.

Talk to anyone who uses Twitter for five minutes and one word is bound to come up: followers. Twitter users always want more followers. Why? Because the bigger the crowd the further your voice will travel. More followers equals more people who can see your tweets. Makes sense, right? So it may come as a surprise to many to hear that Twitter founder Evan Williams is advocating a move away from the follower count. Surely he’s lost his marbles?

Not at all. He just knows that it’s quality, not quantity, that matters.

Evan Williams is now advocating the importance of the retweet over the follower and he’s absolutely right. In fact I would go further and advocate the RRFs: Retweets, Replies and Favourites. Because a follow means only that someone has clicked a button that says “follow”. It doesn’t mean they like or even read your tweets. It’s literally just the button thing.

An RRF, on the other hand, means that someone has:

• read your tweet;
• enjoyed it enough to click a button that leads to engagement;
• engaged in a public fashion that increases your exposure to other Twitter users;
• opened the door to further and continued engagement with you;
• given you a way of actually measuring which of your tweets are popular and which are not.

In short, the number of followers you have is a false comfort and an unreliable metric. But the number of RRFs your tweets earn? They’re pure gold.

You might agree (I think you should) or you might think I’m talking pure cods wallop. Get opinionated and leave a comment!

Three Great WordPress Tweaks

The more observant of you may have noticed that things looked a little odd over the weekend. You may even have noticed that there’s no more annoying grey line in my header image. Or that my sidebar doesn’t disappear on a mobile device. Or that my Twitter widget doesn’t show replies (when it works). I hope you have because they had me scratching my head for ages! But those problems are solved at last and, to save anyone else’s scalp from unnecessary friction, I thought I’d share the secrets.

First you need a child theme

If you make changes to the coding of your theme, chances are strong that those changes could be wiped by an update. A child theme is a mini theme that takes all the looks from the main theme but allows you to fiddle to your hearts content. But don’t be lazy. I used the One-Click Child Theme plugin because it was quick and easy. I paid for that when WordPress decided to punish me for my laziness and eat it for lunch. Do it properly.

Got a grey line above your header image?

I thought I’d messed up my image dimensions but this is actually down to a little line of code in the style.css file. Open it and find the line that reads margin: 2em auto. Change that to margin: -.2em auto and kiss that grey line goodbye!

Twenty Eleven display problems on a mobile device?

The Twenty Eleven theme adapts itself to the width of the screen and will dump your sidebar(s) underneath your pages if it detects a small screen. You can stop this misbehaving by going into the header.php file and deleting the line including the text:

meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width”

This will mean your website will display on a mobile device just as it does on a computer.

Want to hide replies on the Twitter widget?

Nothing to do with WordPress or themes but this one drove me a little mad! I don’t like to sees replies in a Twitter widget; it’s like listening in on a conversation and it doesn’t tell you if the tweeter is worth following. But hiding replies isn’t an option in the Twitter widget, so you need to get clever.

When creating the widget on the Twitter site, you’ll need to copy some code and paste it into a text widget. Simply edit this text by inserting &exclude_replies=true after your Twitter username. (Using mine as an example, it should look like this:

}).render().setUser(‘realjtk&exclude_replies=true’).start();

And there you have it! I hope sharing that was helpful and, if any of it didn’t make sense, feel free to ask questions.

Jonathan Franzen Hates Twitter

Unable to contain his hatred for all things of the twenty-first century, Jonathan Franzen hates Twitter now. He has dismissed it as “the ultimate irresponsible medium” and, in doing so, dismissed the millions of users who enjoy tweeting. But I think he’s missed the point of tweeting. I think tweeting can actually encourage better writing.

Franzen’s problem is the 140 character limit. He claims that “it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters”. It is hard, because you have a small space in which to convey your meaning. But this encourages Twitter users to be concise. And writers who can be concise are one step ahead.

Our first efforts at expression are often disorganised. We write more than we have to. We add extraneous elements. We track back because we forgot something. Cutting out these extraneous words and ideas makes our prose lean. It removes the deviations and repetitions that can irritate a reader and it makes our prose easier to read.

Being concise also encourages creativity. When you write a tweet and it comes to 150 characters, it requires a creative thought process to lose ten characters without losing the meaning.

In short, Twitter can help train the mind to write well.

Franzen doesn’t have to be a fan of Twitter. He’s free to dislike it if he so wishes. But dismissing it as merely “irritating” demonstrates a short-sighted unwillingness to engage new tools and technology. Using Twitter won’t make a writer better. But it will encourage their thoughts in a more concise direction. Surely that can only be a good thing?

5 Ways to Get More Twitter Followers

Twitter has over 100 million active users. That’s a lot of people and they all want more followers. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Do you need to go wild, wacky and winsome? No, but I think the following will stand you in good stead. It works on me!

Be Interesting

You need to provide great, useful content. Whether you create your own or aggregate others’ (properly credited, of course), providing me with content I want to consume is a sure-fire way of earning a follow.

Be Funny

If you’re not interesting you can always be funny. People like to laugh and they like (and follow) the people who bring the chuckles.

Have a good bio

Speaking for myself, no bio equals no follow. If you can’t be bothered with a bio, it’s not unfair to assume that you can’t be bothered with Twiiter in general. A good bio draws people in and gets them looking at your tweets.

Be Social

It is, after all, a social network. Reach out to people and engage them in conversation. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m on Twitter to meet new people and I think others are too. So engage with their tweets and they’ll probably engage back.

• Be Reasonable

If you haven’t tweeted in weeks, tweeple could be forgiven for thinking you’d abandoned the account. Of course if you tweet too much that’s just as off-putting. I unfollowed Stephen Fry (I know, blasphemy!) because he was drowning out everyone else in my feed and I got sick of seeing him. Don’t be that guy.

Now, if I can just practice what I preach I’ll be set! What do you think? Anything else a Twitter user should be doing to gain followers? Or did you stop reading as soon as I admitted to I following Stephen Fry?