Robin Brown

Doing journalism. Teaching journalism.

Archive for the ‘social media’ tag

Twitterrific: Hero to Zero

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In the grand scheme of things, what Twitter client you use on your mobile device is small beer by anyone’s standards, but it’s recently become a big deal to me.

Having taken the plunge with the iPhone, the search was on for a decent Twitter client so I could enjoy sitting in pubs, ignoring my friends and e-wanking away on my shiny new Apple thing (shamefully, one of five products I now have from the company).

Hootsuite, which I use on my computers, was discarded as being rather too clunky and busy: Echofon, used previously, didn’t do it for me either. Having asked on Twitter – where else? – someone suggested I use Twitterrific.

It was by far the simplest and most user-friendly of all the applications. It looked nice; it was simple; you could change the font sizes and themes; you could have multiple accounts; it made a tweeting noise when it updated. I particularly noticed that.

There were problems. The Twitter API seemed to be at lunch half the time, and this became more and more of a problem as Twitter began cutting back on third-party app API use.

Then, without warning, Twitterrific just stopped working completely. It said my login details were incorrect, but I re-entered them several times to no avail. I noticed an update, but that didn’t help either.

So I went to Twitter – where else? – to see what was wrong and learned there was a new version. They’d simply switched the old one off. Pretty poor, I thought to myself, but hey ho.

I downloaded the new version. But it looked confusing: I couldn’t change the font size; I couldn’t add more than one account; and I couldn’t work out how to do anything. It still made the tweeting noise, but that wasn’t quite enough to swing it.

I browsed the reviews on the new application to see a column of one-star reviews. And what made it so frustrating was that everyone, like me, loved the previous version.

The new version costs £2.99 but that doesn’t bother me in itself. If it was as good as the previous version, with a few more bells and whistles, I’d have gladly swallowed the expense.

But the way the previous version was simply turned off annoys me, and I’m not the only one. Have a look at some of these reviews from iTunes.

People who used V2 of Twitterrific loved it. They were classic brand evangelists; people who would recommend an app to someone else simply because they really liked it.

With its cack-handed upgrade and attempts to monetise the new version, Twitterrific has gone from a social media success story to a villain almost overnight. Those evangelists have lost their faith, and they’ll be more than happy to tell you about it.

Written by Robin Brown

September 6th, 2010 at 9:32 am

Facebook to internet: You will become like us

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I’ve spent quite a few months pondering the value of social media for businesses recently, in work and outside of it.

In work I’ve been looking into whether social media, when paired with strong content and multimedia, can work for automotive businesses. Yes and no is the predictable answer I came to.

And, outside, I’ve been ruminating on how social media can help launch SevenStreets, a website about Liverpool I co-edit and is a couple of months old.

Facebook and Twitter are incredibly useful in the latter case, and I expect I can find similar uses for LinkenIn and Foursquare. Flickr and Youtube haven’t really developed beyond simple platforms, so I don’t really take them into account.

I think Twitter is useful for any company of any size. It’s the new email, the new phone number, the new business card. It can be wielded professionally in a way that Facebook cannot, and LinkedIn does not, because not enough people use it.

So I like Twitter for business. And at first I dismissed Facebook for business. But I was wrong.

Facebook will be the ultimate website for business in a few years, in my humble one. I have no stats to call on to back this up. No charts, no graphs, no expert opinions. It’s just obvious to me, as someone who uses the internet every day, that this is the case.

Why? Because Facebook is taking over the internet, conquering everything in its path. I thought of a few naff metaphors for Facebook’s assault on the web. Something about evolution, something about conquest, or maybe some kind of medical simile. I even thought about calling this piece ‘Why Facebook are the Daleks of the internet,’ but I was nearly sick in my mouth.

Facebook and Daleks: Bad comparison

Pick your own. Either way, Facebook is muscling in on every other piece of web real estate you can think of. Flickr? Photos. Digg or Reddit? That Facebook Share button, rolling out across the web. Blogging? Notes. Twitter? Status updates. Youtube? Facebook video. Email? Facebook Messages.

Facebook apps can cover just about anything, including games – one of the biggest uses of the internet globally. Apps also make Facebook a big favourite of PR companies and virals.

Facebook is revamping Pages for business. So that’s business listings and personal websites ticked as well.

Facebook users can follow all their favourite topics and organisations within the site. Why use an RSS reader when you can follow every conceivable topic on the web through Facebook pages, including pages for your favourite media?

I’ve noticed a few pages ranking organically that seem to be for Wiki-like entries on generic topics. The Facebook Encyclopedia. No need for Wikipedia.

Why join a specialist forum, or several fora with all their fiddly login details when you can join a community on Facebook?

Why visit any external sites when you can access it all through Facebook?

Facebook is advancing on all fronts. It’s a frightening, stupefying land grab of the internet in just about every conceivable way, and it’s all prefacing the very reason I was wrong to write off Facebook for business.

Why use different accounts and websites to upload pictures, check-in your location, update your status, read an article, interact online with friends, join a discussion, watch a video, research a topic or play a game when you can do it on Facebook?

Come to think of it, why buy something from a dozen different merchants when you can do it all on Facebook? Just stick your bank details in once and Facebook will do the rest. One-click buying. There’s Amazon and Ebay conquered too.

All that data Facebook is harvesting about its users will make it one of the biggest exporters of CRM data going. Maybe that data could be used to make a new kind of tailored, intelligent search. Sayonara, Google.

I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of using something like Facebook to make significant purchases, and the idea of buying big-ticket items like cars certainly doesn’t appeal. Which is why I initially dismissed Facebook for business.

But the next generation of computer users, the ones coming of age right now, won’t bat an eyelid about buying cars – or anything else – through Facebook, or similar social networks.

Right now, I don’t see a huge ROI – if any, in cash terms – for small-to-medium businesses on Facebook. For larger brands that people can identify, certainly. But is there any point in whacking your used-car inventory on Facebook at present?

Facebook and Cybermen: Better comparison?

Maybe if you do it properly. But it’s worth doing anyway, because pretty soon everyone will be on Facebook. Not to be on Facebook in a decade will be like not having a mobile phone or using the internet now.

Any buying a car, ordering your shopping, booking flight and setting up direct debits will be as prosaic as updating your status. That’s not just conquering the rest of the internet, its making the rest of the internet like Facebook.

Facebook is not a conqueror, it’s an assimilator; cannibalising the best bits of the web and adapting them for use within itself.

Absorbing other bits of the web in this way means Facebook ends up as the default choice for casual WILFers, who may otherwise visit half a dozen sites on their daily trawl around the internet.

And that list of services will only grow as Facebook expands, to the point where pretty much anything that can be done online can be done through Facebook.

Maybe Daleks are a bad comparison. I should have said The Borg.

NB. If you’re English, you may prefer Cybermen.

20 things you shouldn’t do on Twitter

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I do like Twitter. I use it every day to learn, to broadcast, to share and to enjoy.

But Christ it can be annoying. To an extent this is the same with any new platform – familiarity breeds contempt after all – and in these times of decreasing attention spans and tolerances it’s easy to get hacked off by simple, and essentially inoffensive, things.

I think there are a number of things that apply across the board on Twitter that are annoying or inappropriate in most cases – particularly if you blur your social life with your professional life on Twitter, which I’d guess a majority do.


I’ve personally met about ten per cent of the people who follow me, and unless you’ve met someone in person I think you need to reflect on whether your Twitter followers want to hear about your personal life, sex life or toilet habits.

The banalities of your exercise regimen, diet, daily routines, coffee preferences and fluctuating mood are hardly of interest to anyone either – do it on Facebook if you must do it, at least those people know you personally.

Different, but just as inappropriate, is ignoring netiquette – that series of fluid and informal rules that just make the web a nicer place to be. They apply to Twitter too, just in subtly different ways.

None of this is a catch-all; not all of it will apply to everyone; and I probably indulge in a few myself. Nor am I setting myself up as some kind of expert, or arbiter of how to behave on Twitter.

I’m just someone who uses Twitter a lot and gets irritated easily, so I reckon the following list of what not to do on Twitter will serve most people well.

It won’t help you get 10,000 followers, but it might stop you looking like a bit of a dick.

20 things you shouldn’t do on Twitter

• Don’t DM unless you have a good reason – or you know someone personally

• Don’t set up an automated DM to new followers – sheer, pointless irritation

• Don’t announce you’re about to unfollow a load of people before you do – it’s pretty offensive to those about to be unfollowed

• Don’t unfollow genuine friends, no matter how annoying – it’ll bite you on the arse

• Don’t furiously live blog events you’re watching – keep it to a reasonable frequency

• Don’t set up a feed to churn out more than one link at a time – modify your application to spread them out

• Don’t automate more than a handful of tweets a day – you’ll get unfollowed

• Don’t tweet about your sex life or personal life – or apply a little common sense

• Don’t tweet random banal headlines – other people know how to use the internet for themselves

• Don’t ignore your followers – you’ve got to follow at least some people

• Don’t simply tweet your inventory if you’re selling something – it’s pointless

• Don’t slag off people you know – this isn’t Bebo

• Don’t slag of organisations you may work for or with – that tweet could come back to haunt you

• Don’t post orphaned links – no-one knows where they may go. That’s annoying

• Don’t post NSFW links, unless properly highlighted – even then, don’t (probably)

• Don’t use caps – it’s ANNOYING

• Don’t ask for followers or RTs – by and large

• Don’t cross-post between social networks – it’s a wild goose chase for everyone involved

• Don’t overdo services like that send out the same message to a number of platforms. What’s right for Facebook may not be right for Twitter

• Don’t be a dick – what’s true for the real world is true for the virtual

Feel free to let me know if I missed any obvious ones out below

You should follow me on Twitter at RobinBrown78

Written by Robin Brown

February 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 pm

2009: My year in Facebook status updates

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Facebook has pretty limited options for marketing and all of that, but it can provide a fairly interesting insight into the life of a heavy user.

While I don’t spend a lot of time browsing stuff on Facebook, I usually have a window or application open so I can update it as and when.

I usually use it for sharing links but often update my status with something I think is interesting, amusing or bizarre.

Whether other people find this interesting or not is debatable, but as a way of keeping in touch it’s quite novel.

What’s more, it arguably provides an interesting view into how a website curator might interact with readers. Could there be a time, in the future, when individuals are appointed solely as the human social media face of large organisations?

It’s a possibility that interests me, particularly in light of the rise of brandividuals who come to represent a business in an online environment. Could curators be appointed just to sit on Hootsuite all day updating Facebook and Twitter with engaging stuff? Perhaps, perhaps not.

If nothing else it’s a rather more engaging way of explaining how 2009 appeared to me, particularly if you see how many references to popular culture you can spot.

I’ve stripped out all of the links and more prosaic ones, with plenty of music, radio, social media, TV and film references left in. Virtually all are quotes, posed for my friends to decipher.

It may not mean much to you, but in all likelihood it’s a lot more interesting than the media- and journalism-based round-up of 2009 I’d originally planned.

What’s on your mind?

‘s hand is still grill-singed

wonders if anyone has recently swigged a can of coke and burped the word ‘bollocks’


is appalled by the duplicity of Little Chef’s senior management.

screams like a panther in the middle of the night


lacks the minerals and vitamins

has been sorely disappointed by Death Proof and Doomsday, two very bad films

is photoshopping pictures of last of the summer wine

just rasterised a JPEG

is very sorry but, he has to tell you that, you’ve got ringworm. Very infectious disease

what if Mike Catt was a cat?

I got through to the darts quarters but was bowled by a small child at nets. Both feel like defeats.

newest spam email: Hurt her with your rod

latest spam email: Your sister is in danger

Maureen’s got five sisters…they’ve all got ass…one of them has eyes as big as Jolly Ranchers

Latest spam: Give her flash some porking

Let’s go to dolphinarium together

what’s happened to all my clothes, what’s happened to all my furniture?

three of my friends became fans of ‘chesty girls’?

Freaky eaters? Lock em in a shed with some lettuces for a weak and see how choosy they are. bloody idiots.

Edward de Bono is one of my tailored ads? What does that say about me?


2 friends became fans of french knickers?

that hallowe’en goatie has come back to haunt me

is Rock Strongo

‘Sarcasm!3 friends are fans.Become a Fan’ Become a fan? I wrote the fucking book mate.

I just failed the quiz ‘how well do you know Robin Brown?’

I sin every single day

got into a youtube barney cos I said Shearer would knock roy keane out, which he obviously would. In fact, I think Desmond Tutu would knock keane out.

just watched a young lady having her piles burned off on embarrassing bodies. still in middle of hour-long retching session

kevin pietersen woke up this morning with ‘general stiffness’. don’t we all?

always thought byers was a little weasel

has dreamt of rubies

i wonder whatever happened to Tracey Jacks

4 games of cricket in 6 days. can my creaking knees, heels, shins and back handle it?

just wants a bit part in your life

the cruffatin liveth

Duck butter

let me go the the depths of your infinity!

dicks also fuck assholes, chuck!

can’t, won’t and don’t stop

six wickets – i’m back!

i am the fly

random vacuous update concerning food, TV or weather

is nobody’s fool. Plenty of people’s bastard, but nobody’s fool

Angry jealous spies/got telephones for eyes

Face or tits?

warm leatherette

I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass….

looks like i picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue

has gone from being Den Davis to Den Dildo!

long live the new flesh

Ameobi hat-trick. Bet not even Shola saw that coming

won’t you come on down to my rescue?

‘you bastard, you absolute bastard!’ ‘you slut, you absolute slut!’

i’ve decided to take my work back underground, to stop it falling into the wrong hands

There is radar in my heart I should have trusted from the start

i would like it if aung sang suu kyi were freed, but I’m not sure ticking a miniature ‘thumbs up’ sign on Facebook will help much

Dirty goat!

If there’s one thing on my mind, it’s gettin downstate

Fucken Prawn!

would like to protest in the strongest terms about everything

just when i though i could not be stopped, when my chance came to be king…

FACT, The Thing, tonight 11.30pm. Anyone?

beefy beefy mushroom

i love my drug bunny

Kruder & Dorfmeister radio on Spotify…like 2001 all over again

Is re-reading William Shatner’s TekWar

won’t you come to comfort me?

Surprised Eastenders didn’t save the ‘Stacey goes mad and gets carted off to the looney bin’ episode for Xmas Day


Attempting Keith Floyd recipe – trout in newspaper. Expect to set fire to oven, poison self with new sort of newsprint or simply fuck the whole thing up completely

i got 96 tears and 96 eyes

is in love with a German film star

Needs a temporary secretary

Dont admire thieves… hey they don’t admire you, their time’s limited, hardrocks too

Stereo MCs DJ Kicks, brill

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea is asleep, and the rivers dream…

Let’s get killed

Roast pork with suet pudding

everybody spread the word, i live in my sister’s basement

‘There is a specter haunting Europe…’

Boing boom tschak peng!

I have never met anyone who thinks the future is Knowsley

Facebook wants me to become a fan of MILFs

Ensanguining the skies, how heavily it dies

Relaxation is death

I wouldn’t let Grace Slick blow me

Pertwee-like hubris

Robin Frown

Death has come to your little town, Sheriff

Pass me the suitcase, baby I know it’s not that easy

kim the cleaning lady’s espousal of equal rights as explained via sexual positions would have enlivened my feminism seminars

Just saw a pigeon eating a fruit pastille

Wish I had an autumn almanac

Mama said knock you out

Jumper was inside out all day yesterday

ow my balls

is clinically a beast

Wish I could stop sticking out my tongue when I concentrate

People will be able to tell when I’ve had my nervous breakdown when I’m found slowly driving around Vice City, observing traffic lights and listening to Emotion 98.3 – tears silently tumbling down my face
some people call it a one-night stand but we can call it paradise

I can see a blue tit

You can do it put your back into it

is going to start calling everyone ‘kid’ from now on

trousers fell down on way to lark lane

Ham-fisted bun vendor

one drop of that could turn you all into hermit crabs

I believe in my own obsessions, in the beauty of the car crash, mystery of multi-storey car parks, in the poetry of abandoned hotels

Ello bruv

Hello Nasty

Living a boy’s adventure tale

Smell the glove

Applying the hot teaspoon to the forehead of life

game over man, game over

“Joanna Lumley? She’s got a plastic arsehole hasn’t she?”

walking a fine line between love and hate


I hate lowering my balls into a hot bath – Become a Fan

Written by Robin Brown

December 30th, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Media

Tagged with ,

The power of tweets: The future of Twitter

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Some of my words ended up in a Guardian article by Jon Henley today on the ‘power of tweets’ – a balanced piece that sums up a lot of the debate over the nature and power of Twitter that have been batted about the internet recently, not least on this blog, concerning Trafigura, Jan Moir and now AA Gill.

Since talking to Henley I’ve been pondering some of our conversation in greater depth, so wanted to detail some thoughts on the matter.

For my money Trafigura was a high watermark in the site’s power, as an expression of its extent and force for change. The Moir thing was also worthy of praise, but displayed the potential herd mentality of Twitter, especially when driven by celebs.

As for the Gill thing, it gave me the first indication of the potential ‘outrage of the week effect’.

In many ways this shouldn’t come as a surprise. All new social media sites go through a period of exponential growth and, essentially, ‘growing up’.

Twitter, as a community, is just coming to terms with itself and what it is all about. We’ve already seen this happen to Friends Reunited, Myspace, Facebook and – to an extent – Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Reddit and Fark.

At first there was little to choose between the last five, but they’ve all branched out into different directions.

The Grauniad’s own Comment Is Free community is another example. Right now I’d say it’s in a particularly troubled adolescence, so unpleasant a place it’s become.

I’d say Twitter could go either way at the moment. Its growth could level off, in which case it remains a forum of like minds. I’ve outlined the drawbacks to this, with the Gill phenomenon, but I also think this could be a positive.

And let’s not forget that in and of itself there’s not much to Twitter – it’s still the traditional media lavishing such attention on it that is driving Twitter into the mainstream. Twitter propelled Trafigura into the mainstream, but it was cleverly nudged into doing so by The Guardian and Alan Rusbridger.

I’m unimpressed by the quote in the article from the guys from Spiked, one of whom ‘really hates Twitter’. Fair enough, but to deny its value as a tool or its ability to focus attention on an issue like Trafigura seems counter-intuitive, or even snobbish.

Twitter is a very simple tool, used in many different ways. Recent events have shown the good and bad of the community, but to write it off as something that ‘doesn’t work’ on an organisational level is patently untrue.

One of the questions Henley put to me was what the future holds for the social networking site. I had to admit I don’t have a clue, and I don’t see how anyone can.

Henley quotes a Twitter ‘leaked internal document’ that sees it in a few year’s time as ‘the pulse of the planet’ with 1bn users.

I found myself wondering if that’s likely to happen, and I don’t think it is. Most social networks have their time in the sun before something else springs up.

And if Twitter were to reach that landmark, would it be Twitter as we know it? The community seems to be chiefly populated, at the moment, by UK and US early adopters: left-leaning; likely to work in media or PR; socially and environmentally aware.

But the other obvious demographic seems to be urban US teens, who seem to be mainly responsible for trending topics involving US celebrities or daft internet memes – gossip essentially.

I think that if Twitter makes it to one billion users it’s this latter aspect of the community that’s likely to be in the ascendancy, which would rather scotch the ‘Twitter as fifth estate’ notion put forward by Stephen Fry.

As for Fry, the poster boy of the ‘offencerati’, he seems to have found the attention all too much, announcing his retirement from Twitter only today. I doubt Henley’s article has anything to do with it, but it highlights what a focal point Fry has become on the site.

He also alludes to the growing ‘aggression and rudeness’ – the Comment Is Free effect. Maybe we’re already into the next stage of Twitter’s growth.

All told I think this comes back to the duality of Twitter as a platform and as a community – two very different things. The former initially informed the latter, but as it becomes more mainstream those early adopters will be joined by more and more people, and more diverse people at that.

The most telling quote in Henley’s article is Stephen Levy’s:

Twitter left a ball and a stick in a field and lurked around as its users invented baseball.

Where Twitter goes from here, and whether we have our apoplexy of the week, rather depends on what Twitter’s new users do with that ball and stick next.

• Click here for my other stuff on Twitter

Written by Robin Brown

October 31st, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Free content might kill journalism, but charging for content won’t work either

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The web is having one of its occasional spasms about where journalism, the web, content and newspapers are going.

The internet community does this occasionally, in the same way that I sometimes have a chill of fear about climate change but swiftly forget all about it and put the kettle on.

The issue is fairly simple. Everyone cocked up the internet model of delivering content a few years ago by radically overestimating the amount of revenue the internet would generate.

Back then everyone thought the net would replace newspapers, and online ad revenue replace print ad revenue. To a significant extent it has, but it does not deliver anywhere near the revenue needed to replace that lost by print and other traditional media.

Kicking off this latest round of hand-wringing is Rupert Murdoch, who says he will start to charge for online content and Robert Picard, who says journalists need to adapt to a new world, and quickly.

The opposing view, maintained chiefly by web libertarians and social media zealots, is that everything on the internet should be free.

I don’t think either of these positions really addresses the root of the problem. The major issue is that, increasingly, consumers expect to access data, analysis, information, entertainment and services for free.

Clearly, this model is not sustainable, but the alternative is to try to return the genie to the bottle – to persuade people to go back to shelling out for quality information, media and services.

David Hepworth put it like this on his blog:

At some stage users have to start paying or watch the thing they value just drain away.

And therein lies the rub. I think this will be next to impossible in an environment where free music, film, literature and software are the norm.

iPlayer, Youtube, Spotify – all are legal and all are free, though Youtube is apparently in some financial trouble and may be forced to introduce some form of payment model.

Flickr has a premium service, but I’ve heard the Yahoo!-owned site is also losing money. If those services become pay-as-you-go or subscription there’s always Bittorrent.

No-one knows how to make these services pay for themselves, and every day they are available for free it will be harder to convince users to pay for something they’re used to getting for nothing.

I think any efforts to charge for content will be doomed to failure. The net will simply redistribute it for free, via what is now termed ‘extreme aggregation’ and used to be called copyright infringement.

The issue of copyright on the web also seems blurred these days, with so many blogs existing on repasting material from news and picture agencies, with seemingly little consideration of the legalities of the situation.

It’s simple supply and demand. And boy is there demand.

At the other extreme I don’t see how any kind of professional journalism can exist in a world where everything is consumed for free. Where will the revenue come from to pay these professional journos?

Bloggers versus journalists, new versus old, free versus paid

There’s a strange debate I’m kind of in the middle of relating to the blogger versus journalist issue – new versus old media put crudely – as I pretty much qualify as both.

This war of words is chiefly played out between the NUJ, who come off as pompous, snotty and out-of-touch and a coterie of senior bloggers and self-styled Web 2.0 evangelists, who come off as smug and over-confident.

The NUJ is getting its knickers in a twist about citizen journalism taking food off the plates of trained journalists and, as far as the NUJ are concerned, not offering anything like the same quality.

Web journalism

The most strident aspects of the blogosphere stress that newspapers and journalists need to embrace the possibilities of Web 2.0, and seem to me to hint that so-called ‘citizen’ journalism is making pro journalists redundant.

I’m very ambivalent about all of this, because I recognise the value of social media and blogging and engage with it.

On the other hand I recognise the usually superior value in professional journalism, and fear for the future of journalism without it.

This is something I expect we will only realise when all the last newspapers have disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Picard’s viewpoint doesn’t recognise the value in strong journalism, although he eventually makes some good points in a hideously waffly article – journalists need to play a part in shaping old media organisations.

Certainly, newspapers can go some way to meeting the new world by training journalists as a kind of all-in-one journalism Swiss army knife, versed in writing, subbing, online writing, coding, image editing, SEO and moving image media.

But that still doesn’t address how newspapers earn money from their content, it will simply reduce costs (and jobs) and goes some way to preparing for a multi-media consumption model.

Where the revenue comes from, especially when it becomes clear that few consumers will be willing to pay for content, is anyone’s guess.

Maybe ad revenues will pick up, maybe some miraculous new platform will figure out how to make money out of freely available content.

But I wouldn’t bet on it, and the method of delivery is rather by-the-bye. The question everyone should be asking is not how to save newspapers, but how to save journalism.

• Image by Noodlepie on Flickr via Creative Commons

Written by Robin Brown

May 27th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

The really, really simple guide to using Twitter

with 11 comments

There’s a lot of absolute bollocks written about Twitter, usually by self-styled social media evangelists, clueless hacks on rubbish newspapers or self-important ‘communicators’.

In addition, I’ve noticed a lot of friends I’ve recommended Twitter to use it for a few days and then drift away, clearly non-plussed.

I don’t blame them, it took me a couple of goes to get Twitter, and I’ve lost interest in a few other social media sites before getting to grips with them, but Twitter really is worthwhile.

So, I thought I’d compose my own guide to Twitter that isn’t filled with self-promoting nonsense. It won’t make you rich, get you a better job or guarantee you 1,000 followers, but you’ll gain a valuable and interesting tool to play with when you’re supposed to be working.

I’m sure there are other, much better guides out there, but hopefully any old dunce can understand this one.

• Decide why you want to use Twitter. If you only want to post about your breakfast, your trip to work, your dislike of work, your vague feelings of alienation, your illness, your tea and your bath I’d suggest you try Facebook instead.

If you want to make contact with people in a particular profession or interest, Twitter is definitely for you.

If you just want to promote yourself, that could work too, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

• Create your profile, and bear in mind the kind of the image you want to project with your handle, picture, bio and website link. This is how you’ll be judged when people decide whether to follow you in return.

If people don’t follow you, you can’t interact with people, which is the whole point of Twitter.

• Do not, under any circumstances, protect your updates. What’s the point? This is social media. No-one will follow you.

• Search for 50-100 or so people in the area you’re interested in. I followed people in journalism, motoring, Liverpool, sci-fi and music.

• Watch what happens for a few days. Get to grips with the rhythm of things, and particularly the etiquette. Work out how direct messages, @ messages and retweets (RTs) work.

• Post a few introductory tweets explaining what you’re doing on Twitter and why you’re there. Post a few interesting links, RT those of others and offer some comments.

• Start to interact with people: asking questions, praising links, offering comments.

• Don’t ask for more followers or for others to retweet your links. It just makes you look like a bit of a twat.

• Celebrities: Don’t expect them to follow back or reply.

Where you take it from there is up to you. I use Twitter to promote links, to build networks, to tout myself around for freelance work and make connections, but in the main I use it because it’s fun and informative. It helps me in my job, and it amuses me in equal measure.

If you take the same approach, I reckon that’s more than half the battle.

I don’t claim that this is the be-all-and-end-all, and if you disagree that’s fine. But I reckon it’s a good primer for the social-media novice.

If you want to follow me I’m @robinbrown78 and @motortorque.

Other posts of mine on Twitter:


Who is behind Twitter denial-of-service attack?

Is blogging dead? Why do I blog?

Americans confused by Mrs Slocombe’s pussy

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What would my Twitter page look like if I were a social media evangelist?

Written by Robin Brown

April 29th, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Posted in Other stuff

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What would my Twitter page look like if I were a social media evangelist?

with 3 comments

I get a lot of social media evangelists following me on Twitter, presumably because I’ve got ‘SEO’ and ‘social media’ in my Twitter bio.

They usually unfollow me within hours as I never follow them – a common trait of social media evangelists. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against them but I can’t believe many of them make a lot of money and most of their advice amounts to stating-the-bleeding-obvious posts on basic SEO and social media etiquette.

So I got to thinking, what would my Twitter page look like if I were a social media evangelist?

The result is below, with a few important points to explain the nitty gritty.

Twitter evangelism – some basic rules:

• Numbers of followers and following almost exactly the same. The social media evangelist refuses to follow anyone who does not follow back.

• Link to website that dispenses weak and generic advice on SEO, marketing and social media marketing.

• Likely to come from exotic location.

• Photo is either black-and-white professional or sun-tanned relaxation.

• Must include at least one quirky activity or like. Children’s books, something new age or ironic film/pop culture genre.

• Follows most Twitter celebs, and desperately tries to gain attention of said celeb. Often includes @wossy replies that are not aimed specifically @wossy, just in case @wossy notices.

• Website/ebook logo and contact information partially obscured by the bit where updates go. All writing slightly bitmapped.

• Updates number in tens of thousand. All rubbish.

Social media evangelist on Twitter

Written by Robin Brown

March 30th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Other stuff

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