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.

My Firefox Add-ons

I use Mozilla Firefox as my prefered web browser. Firefox allows you to expand its functionality by adding on mini programs. These are called add-ons. I thought I’d share some of my favourite add-ons.

AdBlock PlusAdBlock Plus
This add-on blocks adverts in web pages. It collapses any content being imported from ad servers. You should see how small the Yahoo! home page becomes without its advertising. There are no more sponsored results on search engine pages, only organic results. It allows you to manually create exceptions, pages where ads are allowed. Where it detects any Flash content it displays a tiny button so that you can manually block this content.

XmarksXmarks (formerly Foxmarks)
This is a Bookmark or Favourites synchronisation tool. Put simply, if you use more than one computer it keeps your bookmarks or favourites consitent. I use three different PCs and find this tool invaluable.

If you use Twitter this is very useful. You can stay connected to your Twitter account without the need for having the site open. Any new tweets are popped up in a bubble at the bottom of your browser window. Clicking on the status bar icon allows you to read tweets or tweet yourself quickly and easily.

FacebookFacebook Toolbar
Similar to the Twitter tool this keeps you up to date with happenings on Facebook via small pop up messages in your web browser. The toolbar allows you to update your status in the browser, see how many items in your inbox, view your friends in a sidebar as well as share the content of the page you are currently browsing.

DiggDigg Toolbar
This makes it quick and easy to share the content of the page you are browsing on Digg. With one click (“Digg This”) you can submit a new URL to Digg to share with the online community.

DeliciousDelicious Toolbar
Like Digg this allows you to add and share online bookmarks to Delicious with a single click.

For web designers, developers or anyone working with graphics this is an eyedropper tool for picking colours. By clicking the tiny icon in the status bar you geta crosshair which when clicked on any pixel on screen gives the colour references in both Hexadecimal and RGB 0-255 values. This is incredibly useful if you see a colour you want to use. It also has the option to copy the various colour values straight to the clipboard.

Web DeveloperWeb Developer Toolbar
Quite specifically for the web designer or web developer this toolbar has buttons which strip down the web page in the browser window to its various elements. You can view just CSS (styling), just images, identitfy different layers (div tags) – just about anyhting you might want to know about a page is there.

If anyone reading knows of any other useful add-ons please feel free to share.

Online ways to launch a website

3... 2... 1... lift off!In the offline world when you create a new publication, like a brochure or catalog, you need to plan its distribution. You need to get it in front of your potential customers. Online is no different.

Too many people out there still seem to think that having a website built is the job done. Get a website and then sit back and wait for people to visit it. Wrong. The offline equivalent is having your brochures printed and then leaving them in their boxes. Just building a website is not enough.

So, what can you do to distribute it and get it in front of your online customers? Here are some simple steps that should help.

Firstly, you need to change the way you view the website compared with a more traditional printed brochure. The website is not equalivalent to a brochure. Your website in isolation is not worth anything. No, really. It’s completely worthless. Without any way to reach it it may as well not be there.

The way to get it out there is by creating links to your site. These can be links in emails, on other website’s pages or on search engine results pages, like Google.

To get your site to appear in the search engine results you need to let the search engines know that it exists. You can either submit it to the search engines manually or just create links to it from other sites and they will find it and do the rest.

For more information on building links please see my other article Links, link exchanges and strategies.

It takes time to build links and get found through the search engine results pages so what else can you do? Well, this may be stating the obvious but tell people. Tell everyone. And I mean everyone. Even the people who you don’t think will be interested may know someone who is.

Ask for feedback. Approach people and say you need their help and value their opinion. We all love to feel important, valued and that we can help someone else. Send them a link and ask for their feedback. Most of them will take a look and if they’ve had a quick look it will increase their chances of remembering your site in the future.

Win win win! One of the easiest ways to get people to visit a web page is to incentivise them, put something in it for them. Running a competition is good. This will not only pull people in but may also have a viral effect as people forward links to your web page to friends and family. It also provides an opportunity to capture their data (only with their permission, of course) and approach them again in future.

Use social networks. By posting a link on facebook or twitter you can reach huge numbers of people in minutes and if they like what they see it can really snowball.

In short, when you’re budgeting for a new website like Click here to read more about Carlson Knives you should add in some budget to launch it or it may not provide you with any value.