The Twitterization of Facebook

March 16, 2009 by  

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Kicking & Screaming
: It seems like Facebook is going
to compete with Twitter whether it’s 100’s of millions of
users want it or not!

@joelcomm: 8 million Twitter users is nothing compared to 160 million Facebook users. Yes, it’s big. But you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.

Facebook has made some curious moves lately:

– Facebook homepage redesigned with statuses front & center.
– Facebook opening up option to display profiles publicly.

Twitter: The Little Site that Could

Why are they doing this? Answer: Twitter. Joel Comm calls it “the water cooler of the 21st century.” Gary Vaynerchuck calls it “the little site that could.” Many have viewed these moves as a way for Facebook to compete with Twitter. With Twitter on the rise, it seems like an obvious and necessary move for Facebook. The two sites are very similar and have emerged as the two heavy hitters in the social media landscape. But is it really necessary for Facebook to become Twitter?

Integrating Facebook & Twitter

Many Twitter users have been looking for ways to integrate the two for a long time. Services like and Twitter’s own Facebook app have been used to sync across both networks. More recently, third party Twitter apps like Seesmic (Twhirl) and the newest TweetDeck release have added Facebook integration. Generally, Twitter users don’t have issues with using both!

I guess there are some Twitter loyalists out there:

@johnmorgan: Best way for Facebook to be more like twitter? Stop sucking.

Even Demi Moore prefers Tweeting:

@mrskutcher:Facebook is cool but Twitter is the sh*t!

A friend of mine, Jordan Brown, says that, “LinkedIn is for people that I’ve worked with. Facebook is for people I knew in school and growing up. Twitter is for people that I want to know.” That’s how I use it. I don’t necessarily think Facebook needs to make a play at edging out Twitter.

The Shiny New Toy

The problem I see is with Facebook users. Facebook is a great place to connect, to share and to keep up. For some users, Facebook is all they use: no more emailing, no more blogging, no more instant messaging outside of it! Even with all that functionality being overwhelming for some, it’s been a winning formula and Facebook has grown to 160+ million users. 

In comes Twitter, with its explosion of users, both everyday and celebrity. It’s the newest, shiniest toy for many people.

Jimmy Fallon is trying to get one of his audience members followers than Barack Obama Twitter account.

Ellen Degeneres overtook Levar Burton and now has her sights on MC Hammer.

But there’s a problem assuming everyone wants the same thing. Facebook serves a certain need and it has done it very well. Is it worth disenchanting Facebook’s established user-base to edge out Twitter? I’ve already seen numerous complaints about the new design. Just search for “keep the old design” in Facebook and look how many Facebook groups there are!

Here are some questions I’ve been asking:

Is Facebook looking to capitalize on an “inevitable” collapse of the revenue-less Twitter?

Will Facebook users warm to the new functionality or will there be another exodus (like the one over the recently discarded TOS revison)?

What do you think?

Here’s a great post on the same idea by Rachel Levy: Does Facebook have Twitter-envy?

Photo by hyperscholar

Influence: The Holy Grail of Twitter

March 13, 2009 by  

Wife: Have you got anything without spam?
Waitress: Well, there’s spam egg sausage and spam, that’s not got much spam in it. 
Wife: I don’t want ANY spam! 
Man: Why can’t she have egg bacon spam and sausage? 
Wife: THAT’S got spam in it! 
Man: Hasn’t got as much spam in it as spam egg sausage and spam, has it? 
Vikings: Spam spam spam spam…
Wife: Could you do the egg bacon spam and sausage without the spam then? 
Waitress: Urgghh! 
Wife: What do you mean ‘Urgghh’? I don’t like spam!

-Monty Python’s Spam Skit

I have read, listened to, and watched at least a dozen people talk about “how to game Twitter” to get large numbers of followers.  What flabbergasts me is they walk you through the steps to explode your followers, while in the same breath talk about how disingenuous and spammy the strategy is!

The Holy Grail of Twitter

Marketers are drooling over Twitter and other social media sites because of the potential they have to drive sales! They see Twitter accounts with massive follower numbers and their eyes turn into dollar signs.  It makes sense why they see things that way.  On TV, you pay the most for advertising when there are the most viewers. In print, you pay the most for the publication with this highest circulation numbers. Same with the internet! You pay the most to advertise on the site with the highest traffic. These people bring their previous experience and assume that it’s only about eyeballs. 

I’m pretty sure Kami Huyse was in one of these discussions with me on BlogTalkRadio. She makes a great point

You can have thousands of followers and be completely unable to drive the traffic or interest that someone with only a few thousand followers can.

So why bother getting a bunch followers that could care less about who you are or what you do? Followers who in fact are only following you so that you will follow them.

What is the real Holy Grail of Twitter? It’s influence! Companies, entrepreneurs and marketers search far and wide trying to figure out how to obtain influence to grow their business. The problem is, with Twitter, having followers does not equal having influence! Kami agrees:

If your goal is to be truly influential, or to drive sales, interest and attention, then gaming is pointless. Having thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of followers will not ensure success on Twitter.

The Great Twitter Debate

Purists argue it’s not about the numbers, it’s about relationships. Meanwhile, everyone else still pursues building their numbers! I can see both sides. Rob McNealy puts it best in his Twitter Policy and Philosophy:

There is a debate in social networking about quality versus quantity of connections, followers and friends.  I think there is quality in quantity and therefore like to grow my online networks.  The more people I can connect with, the greater the content will be and more varied the prospective I learn from.

I generally follow everyone that follows me.  I agree with Rob that having more followers adds to the richness of the community and the discussion. Another personal reason I think people should follow back is the ability to Direct Message (DM) and make asides to individuals. Why pollute the Twitter-stream with comments or questions that would be better as DM’s?

I also genuinely want to connect with people! I review their profile. I click on their link. I read their tweets. I also make notes to myself of why I added them, and what I want to connect with them about with DM Notes.

My Twitter Influence Formula

Relationships matter. Numbers matter. But there is more that goes into the influence you have on Twitter. Here’s my attempt at a formula:

Followers ? Influence

Followers = Reach

Influence = Engagement x Followers

Your follower number is the reach that your message has and a multiplier for influence. If you only have 50 followers, it is harder to get your message out than if you have 5,000 followers. But where I think influence is really measured is in engagement:  How engaged are you with your followers? How do you quantify that? I may have gotten too into this but hopefully this makes sense:

Engagement = Interaction + Compliance

Interaction = Replies + DMs

Compliance = Clickthroughs + Retweets + Followfridays

Interaction is pretty easy: how much are you chatting with people? It’s a common criticism of Guy Kawasaki. Critics say he never interacts with his followers, he just pushes his Alltop content (even though I’ve seen him respond to friends of mine). I think it’s important to respond to every reply.

Next in my equation is “compliance.” Simply put, how often are you able to get people to do something! This is harder to track, but I have boiled it down to how often do people click on your links and how often do you get retweeted. I added how often are you mentioned in #followfriday. I definitely think #followfriday can get gimmicky, “I’ll mention you if you mention me,” but there is value there. When done sincerely, what is that really saying? It’s saying this person influences me! I try to limit my mentions and add comments as to why I am mentioning the people. Here’s an example (and a little shameless self-promotion):

@robert_brady: #followfriday @ryansmiller for doing social media right (ie learning, sharing and engaging)

Is there anything I am missing that contributes to a tweep’s influence?

UPDATE: Here are some great posts from others that I think go well with what I’ve written:

Twitter & the Law of Reciprocity

Person, Functional or Social: 3 Ways to Play on Twitter

Is “Twitter for business” ruining it for the rest of us?

Photo by andyrob

Never “Tweet” Alone

March 11, 2009 by  


Social Media Club, Salt Lake City: @intheblack, @jordanbrown,
@jyl_momif & @tmcconnon all checking if they are already
following each other. (Photo by @carysnowden)

You want to know how to use Twitter?

Read Never Eat Alone.

The book predates Twitter and probably most of social networking and is primarily based on old-school, business-card-passing networking, but it covers some of the most effective and overlooked strategies for new-school social networking.

I’m not going to draw all the parallels between the book and Twitter: partly because it would be very long, partly because my copy is currently lent out, and partly because you really should read the book! Instead, I’m going to use a few chapter headings as a framework for this discussion.

Chapter 1: Becoming a Member of the Club

I feel like I’ve moved to New York City or Silicon Valley, where the people I want to meet are right in my neighborhood. Now I live in a community where I mingle with likeminded individuals, all willing to share and help each other. I feel a buzz and an energy from my contacts on Twitter. How can you not get pumped when @garyvee tells you to “go out there and crush it!?” 

Take advantage of that new connectedness! Follow lots of people! Build a community!

Chapter 5: The Genius of Audacity

Twitter changes the access I have to major technology innovators, thought leaders, celebrities, writers & directors, atheletes, etc. But even though the big names are now a mere reply away, there is still hesitation to contact them.

Be bold! Be audacious! If there is someone out there you want to talk to, do it! You never know what kind of relationship you could start! I’ve seen business deals, joint ventures,mentoring and companies come out of Twitter connections. As The Big Aristotle said:

To all twitterers , if u c me n public come say hi, we r not the same we r from twitteronia, we connect

Chapter 11: Never Eat Alone

There are times when I am literally sitting up at night, way too late, wife is asleep, and I’m tweeting! One of the changing moments with Twitter for me was my first TweetUp. I was able to put faces to the Twitter IDs and tiny avatars. I was able to shake hands and laugh with people I knew through 140 character messages.

TweetUps bring life to Twitter. They bond you to new friends. They reintroduce the human aspect of social networking. Find one near you and go! Organize one yourself! Do it for a cause! Do it for fun!

Chapter 8: Take Names

If I meet someone or follow someone that poses a particular opportunity for me, it’s important that I track my interactions with that individual. One way is to add those details in DM Notes to yourself.

Chapter 2: Don’t Keep Score

Suddenly, these names aren’t just names anymore, they’re people. They’re friends and I help my friends. I have tried to make my mantra to help anyone and everyone I can. I want to connect people. I want to be a catalyst for success. And I try to do it without expectation. 

Call it the “Golden Rule.” Call it karma. Be generous and helpful. You don’t lose anything by doing it!

Chapter 27: Build It and They Will Come

Today Jessica Smith from was interviewed on BlogTalkRadio. She was the guest expert brought on demystify social media for a couple of uninitiated & “terrified” hosts. Jessica definitely understands the potential of Twitter and that it doesn’t come free:

“I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is the expectation of instant gratification…Social media is called social media because it requires a social investment.”

What other traditional networking tips apply to Twitter?

How to Create a Makeshift Twitter Address Book

March 4, 2009 by  

Twitter is an amazing tool for reaching out and connecting with people. It is so much more than the vacant prompt, “What are you doing?” Ideas are spread. Information is shared. Connections are made.

The networking I’ve done on Twitter has been worth the time and effort I’ve invested. I’ve opened up career opportunities, business deals, and made real-life friendships. It’s become an indispensible tool in my life and in the lives of many others.

Connecting With Large Numbers on Twitter

There is no right way to use Twitter, but waiting for a dozen people to say something is somewhat pointless. There are better tools to use on that scale.

My attitude is, with so many remarkable people available, why not connect with them? I’ve recently passed the 2,000 follower mark, and a common criticism would be, “It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the connections.” That’s absolutely true. Increased numbers has increased the challenge of making real connections. But it’s worth it the instant you see your first real-life deal or friendship!

DM Notes on Twitter

With 2,000+ followers it can get a tad overwhelming. I’ve come across individuals that would be great contacts for entrepreneurial projects I have in mind, for business deals, for friends’ businesses. How do I remember why I added all these people? Until some programmer builds a Twitter Address Book App (which I’ve heard rumblings of) I had an idea for a solution that is usable, accessible and searchable:

Step 1: After Following Someone, Direct Message Yourself

I use TweetDeck and I have DM’d myself several times accidentally while carrying on a conversation, but here you do it intentionally. Include the new person’s Twitter ID and note the reason why you added them.

D ryansmiller @jimmyfallon New host of Late Night. Try and work it so you get on as a guest!

Step 2: Direct Message Yourself Anytime You Want To Add Important Notes

Don’t stop with the initial note! Make notes about how your relationship has progressed. Have you pitched your idea? Did you meet them at a TweetUp? Do you need to save their other contact info? Do it here.

D ryansmiller @jimmyfallon Sent a reply sucking up. No response…yet.

Step 3: Setup A Email Filter To Organize You DM Notes

Of course you all use Gmail, if you don’t…I’m sorry…I need a second…Suggestion: Switch!

Add an email rule filtering messages titled: “Direct message from [Your Name as it appears on your Twitter Profile].” Add to the rule that these messages will Skip the Inbox, Mark As Read and Apply the Tag: DM Notes. Include, alter or exclude any of these steps as you see fit.

Step 4: Search Your DM Notes

You have a conference call tomorrow with a potential client and you need to remember where things left off. Use Gmail’s search capabilities to access all of your notes for any specific contact OR search for specific text in any of your DM Notes to know who you promised lunch to.

While it’s rough, it’s makeshift, I think it’s straightforward, and it works. It’s a method that you can employ IN Twitter, no new app, no extension needed.  My favorite part is using the email messages you receive from DMs. Leveraging the search capabilities of Gmail makes it powerful and very useful.

I’d love to hear any of your thoughts. Any improvements or extensions of the idea, any experience using “DM Noting”, and any invitations to appear on Late Night…I’m open!

Follow me on Twitter here @ryansmiller

Photo by TOKY Branding and Design