Monthly Archives: October 2011

Mobile Apps Need To Be Deleted And Reinstalled Sometimes

Most of my longest conversations are with people who are reluctant to fix their mobile app by trying a delete and reinstall. I’ve found almost half my conversation time has become devoted to this. I can’t afford the time anymore, sadly :(

So I’ve written this.

Sometimes people ask so many questions instead of just deleting and reinstalling, they forget I have recommended it. The current record is I  had to remind someone five times to give it a try. Many people I have to tell twice.

How to delete and reinstall? You’ll need to know where to download your app from, and how to delete an app on your device. You’ll need to change any settings again.

If I suggest it, feel free to do it or not. I can’t promise it will fix your problem. I can’t promise it won’t cause new problems. However, usually it fixes the problem without causing new problems. In fact, almost always when I suggest it, it fixes the problem without causing new problems.

Sometimes Twitter is having problems and if you wait, the problem you have may go away. Unfortunately, equally frequently Twitter problems may have causes errors in your app, and even after they fix the Twitter error, you may continue to have app errors that deleting and reinstalling will fix. Twitter and all other apps makers have from time to time recommended deleting and reinstalling to fix problems. It’s not just some idea I came up with :)

Realize that no matter what mobile platform you use apps on, sometimes deleting and reinstalling an app can fix it. This is not exclusive to Twitter apps.

But when people say they have problems with this or that Twitter mobile app, and I recommend deleting and reinstalling the latest version, some people are reluctant to do so.

While it is unlikely you will have problems if you delete and reinstall, it is possible. Anything is possible. Some people are reluctant to upgrade.

Another problem can be that sometime the fixes in the latest version (if you are upgrading from an older version) also include loss or change of some features.

I get that it isn’t a guaranteed perfect and risk-free solution. There aren’t a lot of those. And if you want to wait and see if it gets better, I understand.

But if you don’t want to talk to Twitter support, and you don’t want to talk to the app maker (when it isn’t Twitter), and you don’t want to talk to your device makers’ support, and you don’t want to try a delete and reinstall, could we possibly have a shorter conversation about it? Thanks.

 

Thanks for 300,000 followers!

Dave and Sarah=@TweetSmarter Photo by Jassie Kurr

We’ll promote ALL eligible charitable information from comments added in the next 24 hours.

We’ll do that by putting the information into a new blog post and tweeting about it to promote your charities. If you add a short description or appeal I’ll include that too.

Sarah and I will also make a personal donation to all eligible charities from comments added in the the next hour.

Your comment must include a link to  non-religious, non-political charity to be eligible.

Thanks, everyone!

The 3 Stages of Twitter Users and The Best Tools For Each

Whether you’re new to Twitter, an experienced user, or a complete Twitter addict, Twitter tools make everything easier. In this article, I’ll suggest some of my favorite Twitter tools for each type of user, so everyone can find something useful.

But first, let me mention a free tool that should be part of everyone’s toolset…

Something For Everyone: BufferApp

It’s awesomely easy to use, and can be used as your sole means of tweeting or in combination with other tools. But before I tell you about its cool features, let me tell you why I think you should use it: It’s the easiest tool I know of to help you be a better Twitter user.

First, it integrates into tons of places. You can use it right from within Twitter.com, for example, and more apps all the time have begun integrating it. You can use it from your mobile or in most browsers.

So, what is it exactly?

It’s a simple button that just says “Buffer.” Click it and the website you are visiting (or the tweet you are reading, if you use it to retweet) will appear as a pre-written tweet for you. Edit as you wish—or leave it as Buffer wrote it for you—and then simply click “Add to Buffer.” Your tweet will then be automatically sent at the best time to reach people. A recent study showed how people using Buffer for the first time got 200% more engagement (clicks and retweets) on their tweets.

Buffer helps prevent you from over-tweeting by spacing out your tweets, as well helping users who don’t tweet enough to reach more people by sending their tweets at optimal times. It helps both over- and under-tweeters!

Just some of its cool features include:

  1. It tells you how many clicks, retweets and reach you get for every tweet you send!
  2. Super-simple drag-and-drop interface to change when tweets are sent.
  3. Complete customization of tweet times and days.
  4. Tweet recommendation feature when you are looking for something good to tweet.
  5. It has both free and pro versions.
  6. Facebook integration coming soon!

Tools For Newbies

A Place To Read And Organize Your Tweets: MarketMeSuite

Formerly a paid service, now free for everyone!

MarketMeSuite follows many of the same conventions other dashboard apps use, like Twimbow, TweetDeck and HootSuite, so it’s a great app to start with. There are tons of great features. You can

  • Create Reply Campaigns,
  • Pull In Rss Feeds,
  • Track Keywords
  • Collaborate With Others
  • Compare The Klout Score Of The Users You Are Interacting With,

Cool Feature: This social media dashboard also includes great tutorial videos on each feature as soon as you sign up for it to help you start getting results right away.

A Place To Share And Promote Your Tweets: Twylah

As you send out more and more tweets, you’ll want people to see them, and to be able to browse through them yourself.

Twylah is great for that, because it automatically turns all your Tweets into a beautiful website, filled with your tweets organized by category and displayed with rich media. It makes it very easy for your followers to understand what you’re Tweeting about the most and whether you’re a good fit to follow them. It automatically “promotes” you to new people!

At a glance you or anyone can quickly review your past Tweets. Try putting your Twylah page in your Twitter bio, in your email signature, or on your blog.

Cool Feature: All of your Tweets are also indexed in Google via Twylah, which is a great way to get more exposure from your Twitter efforts!

Create Twitter Lists Auto-Efficiently: Formulists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to grow your community, and an easy first step when you begin tweeting and following people. But it can be time-consuming to remember to organize everyone into lists!

Fortunately, with Formulists you can easily automate triggers that put people into the right list. So if someone retweets, mentions or follows you, you can have them in the right list of your network…automatically. And by reviewing lists that show who is retweeting you the most, you can stay engaged with your growing community.

Cool Feature: The most engaged people in your network are always shown in an open tab.

Tools For Experienced Users

Connect Deeper With Your Own Twitter Chat Room: Nurph

Nurph lets you tweet a link to bring your friends & followers together for a real-time chat without taking over your follower’s timelines with long conversations.

What’s great is that all Twitter accounts automatically already have their own Nurph chat room.

It’s great for providing more details than is easy to do in tweets, or for long or involved chats.

Cool Feature: All your tweets can be streamed right into your chat room, so it’s easy to reply right from a tweet.

Participate More Seamlessly In Twitter Chats: TweetChat

Hashtags are words added to tweets that act like topic or event labels. They let you search more easily for tweets by topic. Even before you start tweeting yourself, hashtags are a fun and useful way to get value out of Twitter. To turn a word into a hashtag topic label, all you do is add a “#” to the beginning of it (iPhone becomes  #iPhone, for example).

One of the coolest uses of #hashtags is to create Twitter Chats. To talk about the topic, just add the topic hashtag to your tweet (such as #BlogChat or #ToolsChat). Hashtags are one of the very best ways get started tweeting. You can just listen, or chime in anytime!

Chats let you participate in discussing a particular topic with other Twitter users, and last only an hour or so. There are Twitter chats for web design, blogging tips, Social Media and much, much more. Here is a great list of hundreds of Twitter chats.

TweetChat makes chats easy for you. Set the dashboard to the chat hashtag you want to follow, and it will automatically show you all new chat Tweets as they are sent.

Cool Feature: The interface lets you hide any user that might be over-tweeting or off-topic to keep things focused and useful for you.

Get Advanced Twitter Hashtag Analytics: Hashtracking

Once you have begun to understand the power of hashtags, you’ll want to study more of them.

To see how many people are using a hashtag or for tracking an online or offline Twitter event or chat that you want to start, Hashtracking is a great solution for getting powerful, free reports on any hashtag.

It shows how many Tweets were posted, how many people potentially saw a hashtag, and total retweets. Additionally you will get a display of the top 10 users from the hashtag, which is very helpful to identify key people for any topic, chat or event, as you did with WhoTweetedMe.

Cool Feature: Hashtracking makes it very easy to export all results to be used in a presentation, and will also soon include a geographic analysis option.

Tools For Real Twitter Addicts

Get Control of Troublesome Spammers and Quitters: ManageFlitter

After you’ve been tweeting and following people for awhile, you will sometimes come across people you want to unfollow. The longer you’re on Twitter, the more frequently you’ll encounter this problem. Some people you follow just quit, others simply waste your time and clutter up your stream of tweets. ManageFlitter has a wonderful, easy interface to help you keep your Twitter connections with great people uninterrupted by folks you don’t want to connect with any more.

Cool Feature: ManageFlitter has one of the simplest integrations of Google Plus into Twitter.

Get Great Looking Reports On How You’re Doing: TwitSprout

Once you really get going on Twitter, you’ll want to track how you’re doing in a glance, and maybe have reports you can share and save. TwitSprout makes it easy.

See your follower growth, total retweets, and mentions over time and more on a single page. The app interestingly even overlays them for you to make it easier to understand whether your growth is happening organically.

Cool Feature: TwitSprout lets you export charts of your data to use in presentations or reports.

Get More Information From Tweets In Less Time: ParrotFish

ParrotFish displays all links from Tweets you come across with rich text preview. This means you can see the website or the media from the link, before clicking anything. They automatically display information from tons of sites for you:

What a great way to stay focused on reading news and not get distracted by clicking on posts which aren’t worth your time!

Cool Feature: Save items to Instapaper directly from Twitter.com with the Chrome extension for a big efficiency boost.

Regardless of which kind of Twitter user you are, I think you’ve found something to help you here.

Have you tried any of these? What did you think? Add your comment in the box below. Thanks!

Three Movements That Are Redefining Twitter—And The World

From flash mobs to the Arabs spring, to #OccupyWall Street, using Twitter to promote and organize social and political movements has begun changing the world we all live in.

In fact, Twitter has the power to let any one person anywhere in the world help people everywhere.

But is there a way to make it easier for one person to reach people? And can Twitter overcome it’s spam and hijacked account problems? I think the answer to both questions is”Yes!”

But first, let’s take a look at how Twitter has begun changing the world…by changing us:

1. Social And Political Movements

Yes, Twitter Has The Power To Change People Into Real-Word Activists

Some, such as writer Malcolm Gladwell, have argued that social networks have done nothing to tap into our collective psyche to change a person’s real-world behavior. They have said social networks are only used for organizing people who are already willing to be active.

There are several reasons this is wrong. Here’s my proof that Twitter has developed the power to fundamentally change and connect people in real-world ways.

The first step is becoming aware of events before we can participate in them. No controversy here: Twitter’s power to develop and share event information widely is recognized as unparalleled.

Media Power

Much of the information that starts flowing on Twitter turns into mainstream news later. In fact, a lot of mainstream outlets simply filter and repeat what they are seeing on Twitter.

Of course, new information coming from strangers has rarely been a way to motivate real-world action from people before.

That means the next hurdle is: can Twitter get us to want to connect with people we don’t already know? To seek out and welcome strangers?

People Use Twitter To Connect With People They Don’t Know.

This is a big barrier. As many folks say,

“Whenever a stranger tries to be my friend [on Facebook] I would immediately become guarded and skeptically investigate them.”

But Twitter doesn’t work this way for many of us.

“Just yesterday I had two people I didn’t know start following me on Twitter and I immediately investigated my new followers with a sense of excited curiosity. That has never happened on Facebook.”

Hence, many people have actually learned to seek out and welcome strangers on Twitter…but not on Facebook or anywhere else. As the article ” Twitter, The Social Bridge” points out:

“Twitter has managed to seamlessly bridge the two types of social networks that I assumed were always disparate, (1) personal networks where you connect with people who you already know and (2) interest driven networks where you connect with strangers.”

Or, as one of the most popular Tweets says:

“Facebook is where you lie to your friends. Twitter is where you’re honest with strangers.”

But will we act together with others that (1) we don’t know in ways (2) we haven’t before?

Our Desire To Connect Already Exists

First, the willingness to do something because other people around you are doing it as a group, even if you are unclear on what or why it is being done, has always existed.

This motive is so strong in people that they will even do things that are very questionable when caught up in a group taking action. This is sometimes known as the “mob mentality.”

So people who are NOT activists will get involved in something, even if they have never been involved before.

The question is, has Twitter been able to tap into that desire we all posses to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and cause us to take real-world action? Yes it has, and there is one simple proof for this: flash mobs.

Flash Mobs

At first, people began to be willing to join entertainment event flash mobs. Then they started expanding the kind of events they were willing to participate in.

Of course, this means in many cases people are accepting advice from people they’ve never met or interacted with to “show up at this time for an event.” Sometimes bizarre events, like everyone showing up at a birthday party. We’ve all seen examples such as

“Teen’s Facebook Party Cancelled As 200 Thousand Feared To Show Up”

Most of those people did not know the person whose birthday it was. So we are feeling our connection with one another over Twitter and social media.

Yes, Twitter Does Have The Power To Change Us, And The World

In summary, Twitter:

  1. Focuses us and engages us in event information
  2. Helps us want to connect with strangers
  3. Taps into our desire to be part of something bigger
  4. Gives us exact directions on where to go and what to do that we want to listen to

I predict political and social movements are going to be using Twitter much, more than ever before. In fact, I think Twitter is the future of politics. People have shown they want to be involved. Look for more and more real world involvement to start on Twitter. I think the world is going to be changing more and more rapidly, thanks to the power of people,  and the power of Twitter.

And new tools are making it easier for one person to reach others

2. Optimized Scheduling

Thousands Of People Might Retweet Your Tweet

One of the attractions of Twitter is that everyone can be a star.

Appreciation of praise or recognition is built into us, in fact physiologically it’s been compared to an addiction. People love to be acknowledged.

Getting a response to something we tweet can be addictive. Twitter can be addictive.

And once people start responding to us, we start trying to figure out how to get more people to respond, more often.

Enter The Optimizers

They do two things well: They make sharing and reaching more people simple and powerful.

The leader in this new category of service is the free service BufferApp (paid options also available). Very simple, very powerful.

BufferApp simply adds a button (the “buffer button”) to and and all the places you already like to share things from, such as from your browser, your favorite app, Twitter.com, Google Reader and more places all the time.

When you have something to share, you just click the Buffer button. It automatically writes a tweet you can then edit, and with a click schedules it to be sent when the most people are likely to respond.

200% More Clicks And Retweets Of Your Tweet

A survey showed new users of BufferApp receiving 200% more clicks and retweets on the things they were sharing. Plus, Buffer give you analytics on all your tweets.

And there are many alternative uses of BufferApp.

One thing I like to do is set up Buffer to send a tweet every few minutes in the morning when I get up. Then I simply buffer every reply I’ve received overnight, and go into my Buffer dashboard to edit all my replies. I can even drag and drop to have more urgent replies go out faster, or immediately if I so choose.

Get More For Free

And when you try Buffer, be sure to recommend it to your friends! Everyone who signs up from a recommendation gets a larger number of tweets they can add to their Buffer AND for everyone that signs up, YOU get a larger number of tweets you can add to your Buffer too! So share the love :)

(Once you’ve signed up for BufferApp, go here to refer people.)

Finding The Best Time To Tweet Apps

Many apps have begun integrating Buffer (their API is being tested, and Facebook integration is coming soon). If you want to customize when your tweets go out, take a look at

Apps that show when your followers are active online include Tweriod, TweetWhenTimelyWhen to Tweet ,and 14 Blocks. (Queued.at is a little different, in that it attempts to automatically schedule your tweets for the most likely best times.)

3. Spam And Hijacked Accounts

Hijacked Accounts Are A Problem Shared By Everyone

You have to rely on the kindness of others to find out you have a problem, because if you’ve been hijacked, other people will usually notice first by receiving your spam tweets.

You often get hijacked by clicking a link that takes you to what looks like a Twitter login page. (This can happen from your computer, too, not just in tweets or direct messages.) You assume you just need to login to Twitter, and fail to notice that although the site looks identical to Twitter.com, it does NOT say “twitter.com” anywhere in the website address/URL. Once you type your password into that page, it is stolen, and the hijackers will usually use your account to send their own spam messages. Sometimes they will also change your password, and you will need to request a password reset.

Often the first messages they send from your account try to hijack other accounts.

Why It’s Hard To Prevent

It’s easy to complain that people who have had their accounts hijacked have made some kind of mistake that we ourselves would not have made.

But hijackers get more clever all the time. They often rely on their messages seeming somehow relevant to something that just happened for a few . So for example if you have recently ordered a package, and you get any e-mail saying there is a problem with your package delivery, you might not realize that it is a spam message.

Also, messages that you might not reply to or be interested in yourself, might be relevant to other users.

For example, it’s fairly common for someone to have a problem with another user being abusive of them on social networks. It’s very frustrating, and many of these abusers will open new accounts, start blogs, or spread their comments and abuse where ever they find opportunity to do so.

So if you have an abuser, and a friend of yours sends you a private direct message saying “did you see this bad blog about you?” you might think it’s another attack from the abuser, and click the link.

Also, some homes have children who might open your account, see “did you see these photos of you?” (or something similar) and click the link, then leave the computer at fake login page. You come home, login without checking the page, and bingo! You’re been hijacked. There are many, many scenarios, and you only need to make one mistake to be hijacked.

What Twitter Does

Twitter does block bad links as soon as they become aware of them. But then spammers just change the link

Twitter could block messages that contain bad links from being sent, but preventing the links from working prevents people from being hijacked.

What You Can Do

You have to let people know when you suspect they’ve been hijacked. We have to watch out for each other. And if you help someone who doesn’t respond, and you don’t know them personally, unfollow them. People who don’t check their accounts and won’t fix their problems shouldn’t be followed.

The more people help one another instead of judging one another, the harder it is for the spammers, scammers and hijackers to take advantage of Twitter overall. United we stand, divided we fall. The question is, can we save Twitter from ourselves?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Does Twitter have the power to change people…and the world? Are you using an optimizer like BufferApp yet? Do you help others if you see their account has been hijacked? Leave a comment below!

Will Twitter Pay People To Tweet, Or Won’t They?

Occasionally someone from a large organization tweets me to tell me I have tweeted misinformation.

When the Wall Street Journal reported from the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco:

 Costolo opened the door to sharing revenue with Twitter users that post interesting content on Twitter, though he said Twitter wouldn’t pay such “content producers” for each tweet they post. “Our thoughts are a little more nuanced,” he said, adding that Twitter would have a “narrow set of publishers we would do that with.” He didn’t elaborate further.

In “Twitter’s Thinking About Paying People to Tweet,“ The Atlantic Wire said this about that:

The idea of paying people–pardon, content producers–to tweet isn’t completely outrageous. Various Twitter-based startups have been doing this kind of thing for a while.

But when I tweeted using the phrase “Twitter preparing to pay people to tweet” I received this complaint:

So imagine The New York Times comes to some arrangement with Twitter where they earn revenue from Twitter for being a content producer. Then one day they stop tweeting, and after a bit call Twitter to complain that they aren’t being paid any more. I can only imagine, as part of the call, that the Twitter representative would have to point out “You won’t get paid if you don’t tweet. We’re paying you to tweet.”

What Was Wrong With My Tweet?

I didn’t quote @DickC in my tweet, so Sean saying bringing that up is a bit off the mark. Is Twitter considering paying people who tweet (and not paying them if they don’t tweet) or not?

The “Twitter preparing to pay” part seems absolutely, 100% accurate, so the “ people to tweet” is likely what is at issue here. Perhaps “people” should be “content producers,” but, c’mon, we all get that a Twitter account can be handled by several people and be part of an organization.

And I didn’t say “for each tweet” or imply that. But if they don’t tweet, they won’t get paid, right?

Probably “pay people who do something we’ve established as worth paying for via their tweets” is more accurate. But I think everyone gets that you have to meet some conditions to get paid. Does anyone thing that they can tweet “123xyz” and get paid for it? So perhaps that is not clear, but I doubt there will be any confusion about that.

Maybe “some people” would have been better phrasing. Perhaps what Sean is concerned about is that I am implying that EVERYONE will be able to get paid. But some people right away began tweeting “pick me!” showing clearly that they didn’t think that just anyone would be able to get paid.

So I have left some things to be implied without stating them myself, but only things I don’t think people will be confused about.

Probably people will be disappointed that Twitter selects very few people/accounts to get paid. But in five years, I could imagine a LOT of “content producers” could get paid. Look at how YouTube has done it. They are opening up their paid program very widely, after a couple of years of testing it.

What say you, Sean? Will Twitter pay people who Tweet to Tweet?

UPDATE: Sean replied with a tweet that said “simple answer: No.

My interpretation: “Yes, but it’s complicated.”

 

How I Uncovered Twitter’s Trending Topics “Secrets”

Some people asked where I got my information from for the article “Six Secrets About Whether Twitter Censors Trending Topics” at the Buffer Twitter Tools and Twitter Management blog. I have written this post to address that. (And if you haven’t, you should read that first.)

99% of the “controversy” about Trending Topics that I’ve seen is of two types:

  1. They think it didn’t trend, but it did—they simply missed it when it did;
  2. They don’t understand why popular topics don’t keep trending. If they did, Trends would be mostly things like “love,” “hate,” “Justin Bieber,” etc. Trending is about more than just simple popularity.

(In other words, most “controversies” are based on misinformation.)

I’ve relied on three sources of information for determining how Trending Topics are calculated. By combining information from these three sources, I’ve come to certain conclusions. Some conclusions are clearly true; some are only possibly true.

I’ve then taken the conclusions and looked at the information again, to see if it helps gain further insight into the source information.

My three sources for information about Trending topics are:

1. Info from Twitter explaining how trending topics are calculated.

Some of what they say is clear, some of what they say makes certain conclusions likely, and some is unclear.

To Trend or Not to Trend… Key quotes:

  1. Sometimes a topic doesn’t break into the Trends list because its popularity isn’t as widespread as people believe.
  2. Sometimes, popular terms don’t make the Trends list because the velocity of conversation isn’t increasing quickly enough, relative to the baseline level of conversation happening on an average day.
  3. Topics break into the Trends list when the volume of Tweets about that topic at a given moment dramatically increases.
  4. Twitter Trends are automatically generated by an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about more right now than they were previously.
  5. The Trends list captures the hottest emerging topics, not just what’s most popular.

About Trending Topics. Key quotes:

  1. The following behaviors and others like them could cause your account to be filtered from search or even suspended…Repeatedly Tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher.
  2. The most important thing is to make sure your Tweets are genuine thoughts or impressions and not attempts to insert yourself into a trend. Everyone who clicks on the trending topics should be able to see real people’s ideas and links to further relevant information.

Tweets from Twitter management about Trends (e.g @DickC). Key quotes:

  1. …we don’t block topics from trending, we only remove a few specific obscene terms
  2. …trends are algorithmic, not chosen by us but we edit out any w/ obscenities & I’d like to see clearly offensive out too

An infographic Twitter recommended about Trending Topics. Key quotes:

  1. Twitter Trends favor novelty over popularity.
  2. The…algorithm only accounts for interesting peaks: sudden increases that mark an emerging trend.
  3. Twitter used to rank popularity by volume, but changed the algorithm.
  4. …the Bieber effect; becoming part of the constant background noise like love, hate, Christmas [etc.]

The first three of these sources were linked to in Six Secrets About Whether Twitter Censors Trending Topics, although the links weren’t particularly obvious.

2. Investigating how the volume of tweets affects topics that have trended

Because it’s hard to know what localization data Twitter is using, I’ve only paid much attention to observations about volume vs. trending for topics, that:

  • …would clearly be popular primarily in the U.S., e.g. use slang primarily popular in the U.S.
  • …trend worldwide, so location data is irrelevant.

3. Observations of the differences in Trends when the algorithm was first implemented.

What do we know about Trends, and what can we figure out?

There are potentially several factors that might affect whether a topic trends:

  1. Are there more tweets about it than about other topics that are trending currently?
  2. Has it trended before?
  3. In what geographic area are its tweets coming from?
  4. How much of the tweet volume is from a variety of people, and how much from the same people tweeting the topic repeatedly?

I think some of the key questions are:

  1. Why does a topic of sufficient tweet volume not trend for the first time?
  2. Why does a topic of sufficient tweet volume not continue trending?
  3. Why does a topic of sufficient tweet volume not trend a second time?
  4. Does Twitter minimize “the same people saying the same things” as counting towards trending?

(“Of sufficient tweet volume” means that a topic has a tweet volume in a geographic area that is higher than the topic with the least tweet volume in a geographic area currently trending, e.g. if volume were the only consideration, it would appear to be worthy of trending—though you would have to check other competing, non-trending topics to be sure.)

What conclusions can be drawn?

Twitter does say that trends are affected by the “volume of tweets…dramatically increas[ing]“. So sheer volume is not the only factor. A gradual increase in tweet volume about a topic to a level of “sufficient tweet volume” to trend might then not trend. So that can explain question #1: The topic is not a novelty enough; is not “dramatically increasing” enough.

Question #2 can simply be because at some point, a topic must become “old news.” So maintaining  ”sufficient tweet volume” won’t keep an item trending indefinitely.

Question #3 would seem to be easily explained as “because it’s not a novelty anymore” and yet, significantly, topics have trended a second time in the same area (point #1 below). So this leads us to search for a possible hidden factor.

The most important thing that Twitter does NOT make clear is the answer to question #4. However, my conclusion is that Twitter does minimize people in the same area saying the same things towards contributing to a topics trending again or continuing to trend. Or, more accurately, they weight people in new areas joining the conversation more highly than people in the area where tweet volume originally caused a trend continuing to tweet. Here’s why, with each point leading to the next:

  1. Twitter says that the same person “Repeatedly Tweeting the same topic/hashtag … in an attempt to get the topic trending/trending higher” may be filtered out from counting toward the topic. This indicates there is at least one mechanism for counting volume but eliminating some people. But more importantly, it shows that there is an inherent need for a minimum number of people to be tweeting. For example, a small number of people each “overtweeting” a topic to the point that total tweets could reach a trending volume could ALL be excluded from being counted due to overtweeting.
  2. I have seen topics that trended a second time in the same area, so it is not impossible. Of particular note is that this means there is likely something in addition to volume that is not novelty that can cause a second trend. I think that something is new people tweeting about the topic (in addition to sufficient volume).
  3. When the algorithm was first introduced, Justin Bieber fans made an enormous effort to create a volume of tweets higher than anything they had previously achieved when they saw that their usual efforts didn’t cause trending. Despite having a very organized network that was repeatedly successful in creating high tweet volumes of his name before, they were unsuccessful afterwards. It can’t only be “lack of novelty” that caused the topic to trend, since it is possible. It appears to have been “the same people saying the same thing” not being counted highly.
  4. Twitter says, in the same article, “Topics break into the Trends list when the volume of Tweets about that topic at a given moment dramatically increases.” but also says “Sometimes a topic doesn’t break into the Trends list because its popularity isn’t as widespread as people believe.” The first quote indicates that “volume” is required, the second that “widespread” popularity is required. The implication is that “widespread” does not mean the same thing as “volume.” Volume would be a count of tweets, but “widespreadness” would be a count mainly of people, or variations in geographic area with the same trending area. This is admittedly not definitive, but considering in particular point #2 above, this seems to be the case.

Does Twitter Manually Censor Non-Offensive Trends?

When something looks non-random, in the absence of other explanations, people often suspect there is some kind of force or interference at work. When you see a lot of tweets about something and it isn’t trending, it’s tempting to think that it’s been blocked from trending. But first you have to understand what trends are, and then you have to do some basic research, such as seeing if the topic did trend, but you missed it.

Of course, anything that trends gets more attention put on it, more people involved, etc. But for topics that have a high volume of tweets without officially trending, clearly just being listed as a trend is not a key issue in making the topic popular. That makes the distinction of being a trend pretty minor. To take the example to the extreme, let’s say 100% of all tweets around the world are about a particular topic, and it isn’t trending. In that extreme case, there is no benefit to it trending, since that’s all anyone is talking about anyway.

Although that’s an extreme case, most cases people complain about are similar. Things that are being widely tweeted about…are being widely tweeted about. They have already achieved popularity. Very little would be gained or lost by Twitter manually censoring them from trending.

Also, Twitter has resisted providing many different governments with information on Twitter users. Yet some people in virtually every country believe that Twitter has censored political trends in their country on the request of their government to Twitter, or due to bias on Twitter’s part.

Twitter has demonstrated that they are the most free-speech, anti-government interference large internet company that has ever existed, yet some people still believe they censor political topics from trending, even though to do so would have very little impact.

Summary

I’ve put how I consider Trending topics to work into the aforementioned article “Six Secrets About Whether Twitter Censors Trending Topics,” so I won’t repeat that here.

Why Twitter needs to count more than popularity

Some people say they wish volume counted for more; it bothers them that something that is very popular isn’t trending. But if they got their wish, they would probably still find their chosen topic doesn’t trend.

Why? Because if anything popular trended, things like “love” and “hate,” etc. could be trending. 

Are Twitter’s Trending Topics Broken?

I would say yes, because they confuse almost everyone at some point or other. Twitter could provide an official “data” page, which would include, among other things, the volume of perhaps the top 50 items per trending topic area, and allow people to click on the ones they wish to filter out. Twitter could run ads all over such a site without too much objection, since people would be voluntarily visiting to check the data.

Is My Analysis Any Good?

What Twitter trends are trying to do is pretty simple, and it’s fairly easy to describe in general. I haven’t said anything particularly groundbreaking here, other than extrapolating a bit from pointing out that Twitter has made statements that they can count people and not just tweets, and has provided examples of their ability to do that.

I am open to the criticism that I have no data backing up my own investigations when I say what I personally have observed about Trending Topics, because each case I checked out on someone’s request was so obviously NOT a case of censoring I didn’t bother saving any information. Every time I have checked, it turned out the person bringing the situation to my attention did not understand the basics of what Twitter means by “trending” nor did any simple checks themselves. (Most commonly complaining about something that DID trend but they missed it.)

Cases I checked out for my own curiosity were also very clear cut, and at the time I never expected to be asked about them. I research dozens of things each day (mostly via Google) and like most people, I don’t keep any notes. I just dig in until I’m satisfied.

There are tools that can be used to go back and check trends vs. volume, and so if anyone has saved information, or wants to share research, I will more than happy to include or make mention of it here.

UPDATE: Great analysis of Occupy Wall Street trends across several hashtags by Gilad Lotan, VP of Research and Development at Socia.

How to create “special delivery” tweets that reach more people

Here’s what sucks:

If someone misses your tweet, it will probably never be read or seen again. This is because most people read only primarily current tweets. Since everyone uses Twitter in their own way, there are exceptions, but generally this is a problem that Tweets have that things like email, voicemail, regular mail, etc. don’t have:

Tweet at the wrong time and most of your followers could miss your tweet.

So most of the time if someone starts reading tweets much before or after you send one, they won’t see it, and will never read it.

What You Need Is a Special Delivery Tweet.

This is a tweet that automatically shows up in your followers’ stream when they are most likely to see it.

To create special delivery tweets whenever you want them, choose where you tweet from the most in the list below (you can choose more than one), and add what’s called the “Buffer button” to your browser or app:

Next, sign up for a free BufferApp account by clicking the “Signup for Free” button here. (Sign up is fast, easy and free.)

Auto-magic, one click special delivery

Now, to automatically reach people at the next time they are likely to be online, just use the Buffer button in your browser.

Plus, Buffer gives you cool analytics on all your special delivery tweets, and is working on a feature so that the more you tweet, the smarter Buffer gets about sending your tweets out when people are most likely to see them. (Sign up for free now to be first in line for this special feature.)

If you want to do your own modifications, Buffer allows you to completely customize when your tweets go out. While Buffer is working on building more advanced intelligence into the tool, you might want to check out some of the different strategies people use to find the best times to tweet.

Buffer can also be used in a wide variety of cool ways. I use it to increase my #TweetCred, making it easier for people to check me out and get to know me on Twitter.

Got questions on how best to create special delivery tweets? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!