What Techies Tweet

I was curious as to what value I was getting out of following people in the tech industry on Twitter. Are they sharing useful information or just sharing pictures of their pets? Is it jokes and memes, self-promotion, sharing useful resources, praise, criticism, politics? I studied 100 consecutive tweets to get an idea.

This is by knows means scientific but still quite interesting. There are a few important parameters for how I use Twitter, which may explain differences from what you see. Firstly, I don’t exclusively follow people in tech. I follow real world friends, football journalists, comedians, celebrities – a pretty broad spectrum of people. Here I’ve limited the tweets analysed to just those from people in tech. I’ve got to admit there were one or two where I wasn’t sure so had to check their bios. Secondly, I try to follow real people, not faceless organisations. My rationale is that organisations’ tweets are 99% self-promotion. If their content is good enough I’ll get to hear about it via others retweeting. I’m trusting the people I follow to filter the organisational information I receive. Final point is I have a couple of words muted – “Trump” and “Brexit”. This will obviously impact on the amount of political tweets I see.

So, here’s a breakdown from 100 tweets on Friday 26th April, roughly 5.00 – 5.30pm UK time.

68% were tech-related
29% were not tech-related
3% I couldn’t be sure about

6% I could not understand, tech or otherwise

Of the 68 tech related tweets,
48 (71%) were aiming to share something useful
(retweets, links to resources, media)

Of the 29 tweets not related to tech, subjects/themes were:
4 Gender Inequality *
2 Humorous (jokes/memes)
2 Politics **
2 Cats
1 Dog
1 Goats
1 Game of Thrones
1 Mental Health ***

* It could be argued that these are tech related if the people tweeting are in the tech industry but it wasn’t mentioned explicitly. Either way 4% or 1/25 tweets is very prominent.

** This is despite my “Trump” and “Brexit” muted words.

*** Big thumbs up!

If anyone else would like to do the same exercise it would be interesting to compare and contrast results.

Twitter explained simply

twitterTwitter keeps hitting the headlines at the moment but a lot of people don’t seem to understand what it really is and how it differs from other Social Networks. I’ll try to explain it in terms more people can understand.

Twitter is basically about posting short messages, much like SMS texting on mobiles. Each post is called a “tweet” and is limited to 140 characters. It can’t include other media as such but it can include hyperlinks so anything you wish to share is only a click away.

It doesn’t work like email where you choose the recipients of your messages but more like a subscription service. You put your message out there and it’s read by your subscribers. In many ways it’s more like broadcasting.

As a Twitter user, or “Twitterer”, you have the option to “follow” other users meaning you subscribe to their broadcasts. Each user has lists of “following” – who he/she has chosen to follow and “followers” – who is following him/her.

Twitter has 2 real strengths which differentiate it from other networks.

Firstly, the 140 characters limit means it is highly portable and works well with mobile phone applications. For example, it’s very easy to let your followers know what you’re doing whilst on the move.

Secondly, when you read someone else’s “tweet” there’s a facility to “retweet” it, which means instantly broadcasting it to all of your followers. This means that something written by one person can reach millions within a very short time frame. This is what tends to happen with big breaking news stories and this is why it is becoming such a powerful tool for marketing and PR.

If anyone wants to follow me and be alerted to new articles I’m @chris22smith.

The new language of Social Media

Social Media SpeakAs a linguist I find the evolution of language fascinating. The concept of Web 2.0 seems to have brought with it a whole new vocabulary, some new words and some new meanings for existing words. I’ve listed a few here. If you can think of any more I’ve missed please feel free to comment and add to it.

An application is a program which runs on a social network. Applications can easily be shared and published.

A picture or graphic used online to represent a person’s identity. This could be a photo, a cartoon or often just an amusing graphic.

Blog is short for weblog. A blog is like an online diary. It’s a series of articles or posts, with the date marked, generally updated quite regularly. These articles can be categorised, searched, tagged and consumed as RSS feeds.

A network of blogs and all their interconnections.

See blogspace.

It’s common now for articles or blogs to allow their readers to interact with the content by posting a comment. These are usually found directly below the article or post. Some sites require you to create an account to comment, others simply that you provide your email address. Similarly, some comments have to be approved before they will appear, others don’t.

This is often used with feeds. Feeds can be consumed. This means that the feed content is reused and reposted elsewhere on the web.

Becoming a fan of another user or a page means you receive notifications of their activity.

A feed, also called a newsfeed or RSS feed, is a small portable file which shares a summary list of a website’s content. For example, a news site might make its headlines available for sharing. Feeds are often denoted by an orange button with white markings like this: RSS Feed

Feed Reader
A feed reader is a piece of software which consumes a feed, interprets the data contained in the feed and makes it available to read in a user friendly form.

A friend is somebody with whom you have a network connection on a social media site. Unlike the traditional sense of the word a friend in Web 2.0 can be someone you’ve never met and never intend to.

You can show that you like content on social media sites by clicking a like link. Some sites use a thumbs up icon to represent the same idea.

Mashup (sometimes written “mash-up” or “mash up”)
A mashup is the combining of content from different sources to create a new entity.

See feed.

A notification from a website, usually about updated content.

A pingback is a link back to a site that allows an author to see who is linking to his/her document.

Podcast (sometimes written “pod cast”)
Content designed to be played back on personal media players, typically mp3 or video files.

A page about a person or organisation featuring information, photos, video and applications.

Wherever users are allowed to publish content there is potential for it to be abused. Many sites now offer an option to report inappropriate or abusive content.

Re-tweet (sometimes written “retweet”)
To re-tweet is to reply to a post on social media site Twitter.

RSS Feed
See feed.

A sidebar is a vertical running menu in a blog or web page. These often control the site’s navigation as well as other widgets.

A sping is a ping or notification from a fake blog or splog.

A splog is a fake blog, derived from “spam” and “blog”. A splog will use content from another site and have no original content of its own. They exist to drive traffic to other sites or to make money from advertising.

The status is a one line post on what a user is doing. It’s an easy way of keeping other users up to date with what you are doing, thinking or feeling. Other users are free to comment on your status.

Tagging a document means labelling it or assigning keywords to it. By tagging an article it makes it categorises it by your chosen keyword or tag making it easier to find.

A trackback is a link that lets an author know who is linking to their article. It’s really just a reference which the author can see.

Tweeting simply means posting content on the social networking site Twitter.

Where there are options to say that you like something, there is also the option to “unlike” something. This is different from saying you dislike it, it is merely revoking your “like”.

Some sites such as Twitter allow you to follow another person’s work or blog. To stop following somebody you “Unfollow” them.

If you have listed something, e.g. your website in a directory, then you can “unlist” it.

A vlog is a video blog, a blog where all the content is in video format.

Vodcasting is podcasting using video.

An area on a page or profile where people can post. The owner has editorial control.

A widget is a small program which usually sits in a sidebar.

A wiki is a website where the content is created by its users. The biggest and most famous example is Wikipedia.