Category Archives: Twitter Groups

Announcing support for TweepML

I’m excited to announce that Twibes now supports TweepML export for all groups. This will make it easier to take your Twibe with you to other Web sites and Twitter clients. Here is a quick video how to to follow everybody in your twibe on Twitter.

TweepML Export

To get the TweepML URL for your twibe, go to the bottom right hand side of the page. Click the link, then copy and paste the URL into whatever tool you are using to import the list.

For the techno-geeks out there, TweepML is a convenient XML based format for exchanging lists of Twitter users. If you have your own Twitter group tool, generating TweepML is easy. Twibes is written in Python using the Django framework. The code to generate TweepML looks like this:

class GroupMemberPage(base_page.BasePage):
 def get(self, group_name, format):
   order = 'ASC'
 limit = self.request.get('limit') or (100 if format != 'rss' else 15)
 limit = int(limit)

 if self.request.get('date') and len(self.request.get('date').strip()) > 0:
   date = self.request.get('date')
 else:
   date = None

  # call to database to get tweeps
 self.context['group_data'] = all.find_group_members(group_name, date, order, limit, True)

That context hash is then rendered using a template like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<tweepml version="1.0">
 <head>
 <title>{{ group_data.name }} Twitter Group</title>
 <generator>twibes.com</generator>
 <generator_link>http://twibes.com</generator_link>
 </head>
 <tweep_list title="{{ group_data.name }}">
 {% for group_member in group_data.members %}
 <tweep screen_name="{{group_member.username}}"
   profile_image_url="{{group_member.profile_image_url}}"
   created_at="{{group_member.created_at}}"/>
 {% endfor %}
 </tweep_list>
</tweepml>

Alan See: Marketing Twitter Group

AlanSee
Alan See (@AlanSee) is Senior Marketing and Sales Executive at Berry Network, Inc. and a University of Phoenix Associate Faculty. He is founder of the ultra-popular Marketing Twitter group and talks about building community with “characters, cadence, and call-out”. Tune-in below to hear the entire interview.



Alan See:

Good morning. It’s Alan See.

Adam Loving:

Hi, Alan. This is Adam from Twibes. How are you?

Alan:

Adam, good morning. I’m well.

Adam:

Glad I caught you.

Alan:

Really early for you, isn’t it?

Adam:

Yes.

Alan:

I just noticed you’re on the West Coast.

Adam:

Yes. The dog was looking at me kind of funny this morning about why I wasn’t taking her for a walk, but…

Alan:

I understand.

Adam:

It’s all good.
So you are the founder of the Marketing Twibe. When I brought that up, I was like, oh gosh, this is a big one, over 1,800 members. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and how it came about that you were the founder of this giant twibe?

Alan:

Sure. Well, I am the vice president of marketing at Berry Network. Berry Network’s an advertising agency. We’re actually owned by AT&T, and we operate under the AT&T Advertising Solutions division.
We focus on national advertisers to drive sales leads at the local level. From that perspective, we wanted to build communities around marketers and people who have a deep interest in marketing as a discipline.

I suppose there’s an element of luck, and, in some cases, I’d rather be lucky than good. Marketing was actually wide open at the time we were looking at Twibes as a platform and an area to build a community.

Adam:

Right, right. Fantastic. Is Twibes more about the members or the messages, would you say? It’s something that’s coming up with some of the other conversations I’m having, and it’s interesting.

Alan:

Well, we work very hard at building the community, and we actively try and recruit members to this area, to the twibe marketing group.
We focus on the three C’s. The three C’s are characters, cadence, and call-out. We’re characters. We’re looking for people who are interesting marketing characters or individuals, thought leaders, and we proactively reach out to them to join the community.

From cadence, I mean we regularly notify people that this organization and that the platform – I really like your platform – that it exists, to be able to bring people in.

We try very hard, like everyone, to be regular with the cadence, and not in a way that comes across as spam or in any way like that. But we’re working hard to make sure that we keep it up to date and that people stay notified.

From call-out, by that I mean we help share or retweet members’ content so we help their exposure grow in that way.

Adam:

Excellent. One of the interesting things is that you’ve created this neutral ground with the twibe where people can discuss the issues of marketing. Obviously, Berry Network is establishing itself as a leader by being here and facilitating all of this.
But it’s more about the community of people than any particular message or agenda, right?

Alan:

Right, absolutely. The conversations actually can be quite diverse, but based on the fact that most people who have joined this particular group have an interest in some area or some form of marketing, so the discussion generally stays that course.
But if you think of marketing as a discipline, even going back to the old four P’s in the marketing mix, that people look at marketing through different lenses. Because of that, the discussion around marketing as a discipline is actually quite rich.

Adam:

So what’s worked well, and what’s worked not so well for you, both with Twitter and with Twibes in general? Are there things about your interactions on Twitter or on Twibes that I could help improve?

Alan:

Well, as far as Twibes goes, I can tell you that I really like your pick feature and the marketing twibe robot. Those were well done.

Adam:

OK, good.

Alan:

We leverage those a lot as a tool to help build and bolster the group. If I could wave a magic wand and ask you to come up with something next, it would be if there was a magical way to leverage the pick feature by geography. That would be really, really cool.

Adam:

Interesting.

Alan:

But as far as Twitter or the applications in general, I, like most people, sometimes get a little bit frustrated when the system seems to be overloaded.

Adam:

Right.

Alan:

All in all, I can understand that they’re going through growing pains. So we can live with that from that perspective. I really haven’t found or had a bad experience on either platform at this point.
In fact, I really like the openness of all of them and the fact that in Twitter’s situation that it can actually feed other platforms.

Adam:

Right.

Alan:

That’s one thing that we’ve done particularly with the twibe marketing group is that not only in sending out notifications through Twitter, but through status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook, some of the Ning communities, like the Dayton Marketing Community.
We post messages through there notifying people of that group as another source to go to in order to connect with people who have an interest and a love for the discipline of marketing.

Adam:

Right. What’s amazing to me is that people are forging these strong connections through such small messages, and such fleeting comments, and what have you, but it actually adds up to something.
I think you’re right. It has to do with the ability for these tweets to be replicated on other networks. You can have a badge on your blog or what have you so that you start to recognize the faces, and the tweets start to add up in some way.

Alan:

Right. It’s really quite amazing what you can say in the message. You can come across in 140 characters.
We live in a sound bite society, and so while there are times when I wish, "Oh, I wish I had a few more spaces to go here, " in general, if you can’t say it in 140 characters, you probably don’t really have your thought down.

Adam:

Right. Are there any other Twitter tools or tricks that are part of your repertoire for your work?

Alan:

Well, as far as Twitter goes, I do use TweetDeck. We also use an application called Tweet3, which is like a web-based version of TweetDeck. I do receive DMs through my BlackBerry.
But I look at Twitter as one of those things… I don’t spend all day on it. I generally try and plug in first thing in the morning, maybe a little bit during or right after lunch, and then in the evening.

That seems to work for both me and our organization as far as being able to stay involved in the conversation but not feeling overwhelmed by all the platforms.

Alan:

Right, right. OK. Berry Network, tell me just a little bit more about that. You said your parent company is AT&T, but who are your primary clients then?

Adam:

Sure. We focus on helping national advertisers drive sales leads at the local level. So national advertisers typically, also many advertisers who have large dealer franchise or agent-type of business models, companies like Allstate, Meineke, MAACO. These are part of our client portfolio.
We are a part of the AT&T Advertising Solutions Division. We’re known from 100 years ago as having done a lot of work in the print, Yellow Pages, and now, as of late, we do a lot of work around Internet-based local search sites like YellowPages.com.

Our connection to AT&T means we’re also positioned to help with mobile marketing, IPTV, and of course now social media.

Adam:

Right, right. What’s your feeling on your clients in social media? Is it something they’re starting to understand or be interested in? Where are they on the spectrum of engagement?

Alan:

Sure. If you take the people that are not in Twitter right now – of course, it’s hard not to know about Twitter when you watch CNN or pick up "The Wall Street Journal." They’re hearing about it. They’re wanting to learn about it.
But I would say that it’s still fairly early in the adoption phase. We’re beginning to see clients asking about it and wanting to wade in, but to say that they’ve jumped in with their whole body, not yet. But I do think that that will come.

Adam:

OK. Well, thank you very much for taking the time this morning. I sure appreciate it.

Alan:

All right. Well, thanks very much for setting up the call. Again, well done. I enjoy your night job. It’s been fun to play with the application, and let me know if I can help in the future.

Adam:

All right. Thank you.

Alan:

OK. Thank you.

Adam:

Talk to you soon.

Adam:

Bye-bye.

Adam:

Bye.

Eggface Interview: Weight Loss Surgery

eggfaceMichelle Vicari (@eggface) is the founder of the Weight Loss Surgery Twitter group and blogs delicious recipes at The World According to Eggface. Through sharing her story and passion, she’s grown a fantastic Twibe, it has increased by 30 members just in the week since we spoke.



Transcript

Adam:

So you are the weight-loss-surgery Twibe woman, is that correct?

Michelle:

I am, yeah. This has been wonderful. I really enjoy this Twibes thing, keeps getting us all together in one place.

Adam:

Fantastic. I have to say, I know nothing about weight-loss surgery, and this seems like a fairly personal topic. So I’m interested to see how you guys have been using Twibes. You’ve got 259 members, I see. I’ve got it up on my screen.

Michelle:

I know! I’m excited! I thought to myself, “Oh, I’ll probably get about 25.” And I’m like, “Ah! There’s a lot of us out there!”
Well, I’ll just tell you a little bit about myself, and then I’ll kind of slide into it, I guess, and then you just hit me with whatever you want to hit me. I had weight-loss surgery. There’s a ton of different weight-loss surgeries. That’s kind of like a thing that people don’t know about. But there’s more than one or two. There’s a bunch of different types you can have. I had RNY gastric-bypass surgery. So they made a little pouch out of my stomach.

I was 295 pounds, 35 years old, and dying, basically, because I’m five-two and a BMI of like 50-something, carrying around another person. And I think in June of 2006, I had gone through a bunch of hoops with insurance and decided to go down to Mexico and have it done. So I have like a little side thing with medical tourism and stuff, too.

Anyway, I went down and I went from a size 28 to a size 4. I lost 158 pounds. And I got off all the medications I was on. I had sleep apnea. I had old people’s diseases. I mean, I had things that were going bad. So I decided–I used to go on a lot of different specific weight-loss-surgery forums around on the Internet, just to kind of get support and meet different people that have had it, too. Misery loves company on things and things like that.

I had my surgery 2006, and at first you really want to be very specific and learn a lot about your surgery. Now my life has gotten so great that I want to–I have tons of different interests. It’s not just that I had surgery. So I kind of love Twitter for that reason, because I can get on and I can have little blurbs of all my interests at once and not just weight-loss surgery. But then, the thing about Twitter is, until you know about these people on there, you’re following no one and no one’s following you.

Twibes was great because I started searching keywords and finding people, and then I thought, “I know all about these people, but they don’t know about each other.”

Adam:

Right.

Michelle:

So making a Twibe just made sense.

Adam:

So your Twitter account is Eggface, is that it?

Michelle:

Eggface. Yeah.

Adam:

What’s the story behind that?

Michelle:

When I was on those different websites before I had surgery, I didn’t want to put up my before picture. I was embarrassed. And so I found a happy egg face. It’s funny that it’s food. I mean, that just kind of goes to the addiction thing. Funny that it was food, but it was food. And it stuck.
I do weight-loss-surgery cooking. That’s kind of my thing.

Adam:

OK. Yeah, I clicked over to your blog, and I saw all this delicious-looking food. So yeah.

Michelle:

Yeah. You know what? People think you suffer after you have weight-loss surgery. And there’s really a handful of things you can’t have. It’s portion control that changes. And you can eat great food after surgery. A lot of people don’t have it because they’re afraid. I mean, we got fat because we love food. And so, I want to tell them, “There is life! There’s good eating afterwards!” So my blog kind of does that. My personal blog does that.
So anyway, I went on websites and I had the Eggface, and it stuck, because a website that I frequent had me come out and do some cooking demonstrations. And so I was in the lobby of a hotel and people were like, “Oh my gosh! It’s Eggface! It’s Eggface!” And it stuck. Yeah. So now I’m stuck with it.

Adam:

I see.

Michelle:

And it’s the longest website address, theworldaccordingtoeggface.com. It’s like, could I have come up with anything longer? I kind of did the website for my family and friends, because when you first start losing all the weight, people are like, “Oh, great,” and you get sick of talking about it all the time. So I was like, “Oh, just look at the website. That’ll give you the updates and new pictures and stuff.” So anyway, I did it for my family and friends. And then I put a little counter on my website, and I was like, “Wait, there’s like 1,000-some-odd people hitting a day.” And then it started rising, and I was like, “OK. This is not my family and friends.”

Adam:

Is it still a hobby at this point? I mean, not a hobby. It’s part of your life. But you’re not making money, or this hasn’t become a business in any way, has it?

Michelle:

You know what? I want to do a cookbook for weight-loss surgery, for post-ops. I would love to do that. Right now I’m just kind of throwing them out there for free and hoping that it’s good karma, and we’ll see what opportunities come out of it.

Adam:

That’s great. Cool. And so, \you mentioned, back on Twitter, that you were sort of looking for specific keywords. So did you have to do much to get the Twibe going? Or did you just throw it out there, and since you were already following people interested in this topic, they found you? Or how did that play out, exactly?

Michelle:

A little bit of both. A little bit of both. I mean I had already kind of found some people via keywords on Twitter, and so I was following a good number of people who had had weight-loss surgery or were thinking about it. Some of the people knew me already from my blog. And so when I put up one of those little Twitter bird things, like, “Follow me, I’m also on Twitter” thing on my website, they found me, and they were also on there. So it was a little bit of both.
Now, I’m kind of actively seeking out. I will type in “lap-band,” “gastric bypass,” things like that, just to kind of see who’s mentioned it. I don’t like to be hard-sell. I just follow them.

Adam:

Right, right.

Michelle:

And then I let them kind of go, “Hey, you also had it.” I put in my bio that I had it. It kind of opens up the conversation and gets them together.
And then, as I start to Tweet to them, other people, I try and link them up. Because I’m three years and a couple of months out. Totally different experience when you’re those first few months. You’re eating tablespoons of food, and you’ve got all this weird stuff going on, and your body’s changing. I’m basically just trying to maintain and do all the right things. And I changed my lifestyle, so I exercise, and I eat well and all that.

My thing is different than a newbie, so I try and hook up, “Hey, I just heard so-and-so’s having surgery this week. You might want to start talking to them.” I’ve always liked to host parties in real life. So Twibes was like I’m hosting a party.

Adam:

Right. Right.

Michelle:

And then, to kind of advertise it, I do what I call “pimp Tweets.”

Adam:

OK.

Michelle:

I do pimp Tweets. And like three times a day, I’ll go on and I’ll be like, “Have you had weight-loss surgery, blah blah blah,” and I send that out to my followers. And a couple of them re-Tweet, so that’s nice. I do it three times a day to try and not drive away all my friends that aren’t weight-loss-surgery people. But I figure, you know what? What’s that Dr. Seuss? “Those that matter don’t mind. Those that mind don’t matter.” Whatever.
That’s kind of what I do. It’s like, “If they care, whatever, they’ll follow me, block, whatever.”

Adam:

Right. I like that. Great. Well, is there anything, I suppose, either Twibes or Twitter, that I could be doing better with Twibes to help you out?

Michelle:

Oh my God. I’ve got one huge request.

Adam:

Great.

Michelle:

An add-all button. That’s my one thing.

Adam:

Add-all. Follow everybody.

Michelle:

Yeah. My one thing is about the followers. I always say like, “Hover over your picture and add these people.” But it’s like 200 and some-odd people to add. Not all of them get added. So it makes the experience less for everybody. I just want them to be able to click on all Twibe members, add. Then they can kind of weed, if they need to weed, and see people that either talk too much for them or whatever, don’t have similar interests, or curse more than they’d like, or whatever.

Adam:

Right.

Michelle:

That’s fine. But an add-all button would be very, very cool.
And then, obviously, just promotions, that you’re out there. I love the part at the top that says like “Hot now, ” at the top of the home page, where it lists the ones that are talking the most.

Adam:

Right.

Michelle:

I’ve risen a couple of times on that, which I love, because then people that are out there that are just hitting Twibes before they ever… Maybe they’re not even thinking about weight-loss surgery right now, but then they see it and they’re like, “Oh, let me check that out.” That’s always cool, promotion.

Adam:

Right.

Michelle:

That’s pretty much it. I just think it’s great. I love the new features that you’ve added, with the little pictures. That’s kind of neat.

Adam:

Cool. Cool.

Michelle:

It’s really awesome.

Adam:

What else is in this? Oh, yeah. What about other Twitter tools? How do you connect to Twitter, typically? Or do you have any other..?

Michelle:

I’m old-school. I’m like, my computer at home, and then I’ve got my laptop at Starbucks. Seriously, I’m not an iPod whatever, an iPhone person.

Adam:

Really?

Michelle:

I’m not a BlackBerry person. It seriously took me forever to get a cell phone. I was always like, “Nobody needs a cell phone! I don’t want to be found!” Only if like I was a doctor and somebody had a kidney transplant. I was totally anti-cell-phone. So I’m like the anti-computer person doing computer stuff now. But I think that’s a lot of my demographic, of people that would be in my Twibe. Middle-aged women. I’m 38. People that kind of just realize they need to change their life and stuff. I guess I’m probably in with all my people.

Adam:

Right. Well, and by its nature, this kind of community-building stuff requires more than just a phone, right? You’ve kind of got to be sitting there and replying to people. You can’t just be typing in at a coffee shop. So yeah, that makes sense.

Michelle:

Yeah. Exactly. That’s true. That’s true.

Adam:

OK. Any other questions for me?

Michelle:

No. I just want to thank you for what you’re doing. I think it’s a really creative thing that you came up, and I’m just loving it. I know the people that are in my tribe love it, too, because it really is. It’s a life-changing experience.
Weight-loss surgery, in itself, it’s just a tool. All it is is a kind of- at 295 pounds, people are like, “Why couldn’t you just diet and exercise?” It’s like, “Well, yeah, I did that.” And I lost hundreds of pounds over and over again, and kept gaining them back. This is a life change. I cannot eat that much now. And I’ve changed my life.

It’s not just that. I used to say to myself like, “Oh, when I lost all the weight, my life will be perfect!” It’s really not. There’s still those things that made you overeat. And we now have that support network, and it’s one of those things that you really do need. You need that person that gets it.

It’s a big mind thing. I look in the mirror and I’m not that fat girl anymore. I’m size four. I’ve never been a size four. I can’t even remember that. Maybe I was 12. I don’t know. And so, looking in the mirror now, that’s not my life.

And guys look at you differently, and people open doors differently. It’s a very different experience. When they have the celebrities that put on fat suits. It’s the opposite. I’ve put on my skinny suit, and it’s permanent. And I can’t get out of it, and I’m glad, but it is a different world, and so it’s nice to have people to connect with. And so Twibes is giving me that opportunity and others that opportunity. From our little niche of the world, I’m thankful and want to thank you for that.

Adam:

Wonderful. That makes me very happy. OK. Well, thank you very much for taking the time out to talk to me this morning.

Michelle:

Any time. Any time.

Adam:

Shoot me an email if there’s anything that crosses your mind. But I really appreciate it.

Michelle:

I will. Very, very cool. Thank you, Adam.

Adam:

All right. Have a good morning. Thanks.

Michelle:

You too. Bye-bye.

Adam:

Bye.

Founder Interview: Steven Williams

Steven Williams (@microedge) is the founder of the Web design Twitter group and runs a Web design business in Liverpool. I resisted the temptation to ask if he was Robbie Williams brother. Listen in to find out why “Twitter is not about the number of followers you have got; it’s about the number of listeners”.



Transcript

Steven Williams:

It’s a great idea.
Adam Loving: Thank you.

Steven:

It’s a great, great idea, because you’re basically grouping people together by interests. When I first joined Twitter, I’m a web designer, and I basically talk to other website designers. So, I don’t use it for looking for business, because the type of business that I’m involved with, it could be anybody. It could be somebody that owns property abroad. It could be a company that sells jewelry. It literally could be anybody, so I don’t go out to try and find specific people on Twitter.
I don’t think Twitter is designed for… Twitter is basically micro-relationships. They call it micro-blogging, but it’s basically forming little relationships. You’re in contact with somebody for a couple of Tweets, and then you might remember the person’s name and then go back and Tweet with them.

So, the good thing with Twibes is that I’ll post a link, I’ll join the web designer’s Twibe, and then people will basically go away, join a Twibe, and then it gives me other web designers to go and follow. Because I had posted once and said, "I’m going off to Twibes.com/webdesigner, and I’m going to follow people that are on the Twibe."

Adam:

I noticed that the Webdesign Twibe has over 400 members.

Steven:

Yeah.

Adam:

Was there anything that you did that encouraged that? Or was it just by virtue of getting there first and having a good name? And obviously, there’re lots of web designers on Twitter.

Steven:

I think it was because most of the people I’m following are web designers.

Adam:

Oh, right.

Steven:

So, pretty much within the first two days of me mentioning it. What I did was I mentioned Twibes to people who were on in the morning, people who were on in the afternoon, and people who were on in the evening, because, obviously, it’s Seattle. Bright and early, Seattle time. You’re there with your coffee and bagels at the start of Tuesday morning, and this is half-past three in the UK.
So, I just did the Tweets, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening, for two days, so that I basically made sure that all my web designer colleagues who I’m following and who are following me went over and joined the Twibe. And then I can look on Twibes. A lot of them actually re-Tweeted it, because then they’ve got friends who are also web designers who joined the Twibe. So straight away, it almost shoots straight up.

Adam:

And have you sort of reaped any rewards from being the founder, being at the center of this?

Steven:

[laughs] No, no, no. I think I’ve probably had more relevant followers because I follow web designers. And I think the reward is that people looking for a good web designer, if they’re a member of the Twibe, they like to follow the founder. And then, obviously, my Tweets appear within the feed. So, I think that the people like to follow the person who set up the Twibe, and also because you can see the feeds in real time. People like to follow the person who set up the Twibe because, obviously, that’s the main area that they are involved in.

Adam:

Right. Right. Is there anything that you wish Twibes did that it doesn’t do?

Steven:

That is a very good question.

Adam:

One thing I’m always amazed with is that people are so successful networking with such short messages.

Steven:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, because that’s Twitter’s business model, where they were thinking of changing accounts to business accounts and allowing 250 characters for people who’ve purchased a business account. So, you could upgrade your account. And one of the ideas that Twitter had of making money was…

Adam:

Pay-per-character. [laughs]

Steven:

Yeah. Because, at the moment, Twitter is not making money. But yes, I think it’s worth something like three billion pounds or something. It’s got some ridiculous price tag to it. And the potential for Twitter to do that is there. I wish I had come up with the idea of Twitter back in 2005, one year before Twitter. So, the business model is there for Twitter to capture on. It’s the same for Google. Just a slight, small change and they can create like a money opportunity.
I think that with Twibes you’re basically allowing people can follow people who are members of the Twibes. And I like the home page. It’s simple. Because you just are broken down into relevant categories. I noticed that you had added a few more categories. And you’re pretty much at the limit of category areas, because I think web design comes under technology. And you’ve broken it down into good categories, because you can’t overkill the categories. Because, I don’t know whether you remember Yahoo in the old days. Their home page used to be…

Adam:

Oh, right.

Steven:

Yeah. Categories. And it was just too much saturated. It was a category within a category within a category. So, I think keep doing what you’re doing, Adam, because it’s good. It’s working. People on Twitter are using Twibes. And it’s a good name. It’s a short URL, so people are able to Tweet it quite easily without losing too many characters. I’m glad that you went for a small URL. I’ll shake your hand for using a small URL.

Adam:

[laughs] I was lucky to get that one.

Steven:

And it’s a great name, Twibes, because you’re using a "TW."

Adam:

Right.

Steven:

And it’s basically a tribe of Tweeters, people who are on Twitter. So, that’s a really good thing. I think that what you’re doing is correct.
Ways forward. If you have a look at FriendFeed, I think FriendFeed do some really useful techniques. And there’re probably some things on FriendFeed that you could look at.

Adam:

I love FriendFeed. You think like maybe aggregating more than just Tweets, letting people put in their blogs and things?

Steven:

Yeah, maybe. Maybe. Yeah. Maybe aggregate people’s… as well as Twitter. But, you’ve got things like either their blog they can aggregate, or they can aggregate their Facebook, because there’s the API for Facebook. You can tell I’m a web designer.

Adam:

[laughs]

Steven:

I can talk about aggregating and using APIs to aggregate and pass through.
Yeah, there’re certain things. You don’t want to turn Twibes into FriendFeed. But there’re certain features on FriendFeed that are useful without it becoming too…

Adam:

Too thick and heavy. Right.

Steven:

Yeah, yeah. Because otherwise, if everybody aggregated, it’d end up slowing your whole service down, and you’d end up with an API stopping working, and you’d need proxy service backing up data. So you don’t want to start going down that route of having a big stream of proxy servers just to monitor data. But I think, maybe adding one or two different features like that…
And on the actual Twibes page, you basically show the founder, you show the avatar, which is good. You do allow sort of a short bio. I think I just put on a place for web designers and web developers. What I’m worried about, from a web designer’s point of view – and you would be – would be people using it for spammy purposes.

Adam:

Sure, yeah.

Steven:

That paragraph of text, you don’t want people saying, "Buy these soft, triangular-shaped, blue tablets online here."

Adam:

Right. [laughs]

Steven:

And you think, "Oh, how many times have I seen you now?"
Maybe allow people to do something so that people can search older Tweets. Because there’s a great website, My First Tweet. I went to it because I’d forgotten how long ago it was that I set up my Twitter account. I had to see what my first Tweet was. And my first Tweet was, "I’ve just set up my Twitter account."

Adam:

[laughs]

Steven:

I’m sure a lot of people’s are.

Adam:

That’s funny. I didn’t realize that was the whole site.

Steven:

It asked me what I was doing, and I thought, "I’m sitting here. I’ve just set up a Twitter account."

Adam:

[laughs] Yeah. It’s funny how Twitter’s ended up being used for so many different things beyond what they originally envisioned.

Steven:

Yeah.

Adam:

Just constraining it to such a short message has been, actually, very powerful.

Steven:

It started when it was mainly, I call it the geek industry. It was basically American, Canadian students. People in the UK partly had. Unless they’d been to South by Southwest, they just hadn’t heard of Twitter. And Twitter was launched, I think, 2006, at South by Southwest. So, that was in Atlanta, at South by Southwest, in 2006. And even then, in the infancy of Twitter, there were just a couple of thousand people that were using Twitter. And it tended to be geeky-style students that started it.
But, by starting with students, it’s the same as Facebook. That started at Harvard University, and it was just Harvard University that started using Facebook. And it spread, because by the students using it and seeing the functionality of it, then it just spread, and the word spreads around.

Adam:

Right. Well, tell me a little bit more about what you do. So I brought up your…

Steven:

OK.

Adam:

I’m going to go to your Twitter profile.

Steven:

Yeah. If you go to my website, which is www.microedge.co.uk. This was established in 2001. I’m a UK-based web designer.

Adam:

Right. Fantastic. So, like you said, Twitter has been more about networking than sort of marketing for you? Is that true?

Steven:

Yes. Yeah, more about networking. And it’s about web designers helping each other. Because keeping on top of web design, it’s always constantly changing. It’s like Google Wave was launched, and using Twitter, I was able to ask, "Has anyone else got a Google Wave account?" And a guy in Technorati got back to me and said, "Yes, I’ve got a Google Wave account." And he direct-messaged me his email address, and then we were able to test out Google Wave. Because I think we were the only two people in the UK that have got a Google Wave account.

Adam:

[laughs]

Steven:

So, we used it for testing out the sandbox of Google Wave. So, that’s been one of the most important things that I’ve found Twitter for is for testing out, with other web designers, an idea or something that’s launched. Because, before Twitter, there was no way that I’d be able to send a message out to over a thousand web designers with one tweet.

Adam:

And do you use any other tools for Twitter, like TweetDeck, or any of these?

Steven:

I use TweetDeck. I tend to use the web mainly because I don’t use Twitter. I find Twitter… I can’t get distracted from my work. If I get into Twitter…

Adam:

[laughs]
Steven … I can waste a few hours on Twitter. And want to send a message, and then people will send the messages back. I can get quite involved with Twitter.

So, I try not to go on Twitter unless I’ve got a free hour or two to spend – because I like to reply to the people who send me a message. I don’t know whether that’s an English thing, or whether it’s me being a polite Englishman or not. But, I like to reply to everybody.

Adam:

Yeah, I know. It sounds like that’s one of the key pieces of advice that people give about how, if you really want to get the most out of Twitter, as you’ve done, and become the center of a big group. You have to participate.

Steven:

Yeah. You’ve got to take part. And people have asked me questions about web design. And I’ve got to basically know the answer, and be able to tweet them. And nine times out of ten, I do know the answer, and they’ve not. Then I’m able to ask the question for somebody else.
And it’s great, Twitter, because sometimes you can either post the URL, or you can even post a short part of code. Because I tend to code in PHP, so the fix might just be a short little piece of code that somebody can post as a tweet, or it might be a problem with CSS, because IE six is still around, and cause some problems for web designers. I wish Microsoft would kill that off fast.

[laughter]

Steven:

And we’ve got to work fixes and work around IE 6. So, sometimes when I come across problems, my task on Twitter is to say, "How do I maintain a footer to maintain it within IE 6." And somebody will give me the answer. And they say, I might get asked the question, "How do I?" I tend to get asked questions like that.

Adam:

Right. Well on the subject of IE six and other aggravating things, is there one thing that drives you crazy about Twitter? What do you really dislike?

Steven:

It’s probably the spamming, which are the bots. The one thing that I hate about Twitter is if I type in, "I’m having a cup of coffee with my bagels this morn." And the next day I’ll have 10 coffee manufacturers and 10 bagel bakeries following me.
It’s just a waste of time for me and for them, because I’ve got no need to follow a coffee manufacturer or a bakery within the middle of Chicago. I’m never going to go into a bakery in the middle of Chicago. And least I don’t think I am.

[laughter]

Steven:

But, it’s basically the automated bots. I’m starting to see messages, how to get 1000 followers. You know those. I just tend to totally ignore. And if they’re persistent, I just block them. And I suggest that to everybody else.
That’s the only one thing is that people think that Twitter is the marketing tool of the future. And that the more followers you have, the better a person you are. And it’s not about the number of followers you have got; it’s about the number of listeners. You can use that as a quote. It’s not the number of followers; it’s the number of listeners.

Adam:

Yeah, I know. You’re absolutely right. That’s a good way to put it.

Steven:

It’s no good saying I’ve got half a million followers. Well, if half a million followers are bots and people who never read your tweets, then it doesn’t matter. But, if even if you have 100 followers, or 200 followers, and all of them do listen when you make a tweet, then it’s great.
I got engaged two weeks ago. And my other half put a Twit Pick of the photograph up. And straight away I think we had about 300 tweets, came back to us with messages of congratulations. That was a really nice part of Twitter, was getting an instant feedback. There were people on Twitter that knew before my own family.

[laughter]

Adam:

Interesting.

Steven:

So if I could get me my grandfather on to use Twitter, then he’d have [inaudible 18:19] them quick.

Adam:

That’s great. That shows how much people actually care.

Steven:

It was good because we both actually kept all the tweets. We just copied and pasted the tweets, because we thought, they’re in a constant feed. They’re going to be lost forever. But, we kept a hold of not a screen shot, but I cut and pasted them into Word. And we’ve kept all the messages, which is really nice.

Adam:

Of course, that’s 300 more people you’ll have to invite to the wedding now.
[laughter]

Steven:

Yes. I don’t think that some people from Alaska are going to travel all the way over to the U.K. But, it is considerably warmer in the U.K. than Alaska.

Adam:

Yeah, maybe. I don’t know, they could just fly just over the pole there. It wouldn’t be that far.

Steven:

Yeah. It’s not that far. Seattle isn’t that far. No.

Adam:

Well, thank you Steven for spending the time this morning. This has been really useful.

Steven:

Good luck with Twibes. Carry on what you’re doing, because what you’re doing is great. All of my information you’ll find on the website I’ve made, post, and put loads of information together.

Adam:

Yeah, I think I’m…

Steven:

Basically, I follow web designers. Reply to [inaudible 19:35] if you ask me a question. Stay away from the spam bots. And it’s not about the number of followers, it’s about the number of listeners.

Adam:

Excellent.

Steven:

And that’s my short little bio for Twibes. What I would say, keep doing what you’re doing. OK, thanks Adam, thanks for the call.

Adam:

Have a great afternoon. Take care.

Steven:

OK. You too. Bye.

Twibe Leader Interview: Cathy Harrison

Cathy Harrison (@VirtualMR) is the founder of the Market Research twitter group. In this interview, we talk about using Twibes and Twitter for Market Research. Also, we talk about a few ways she promotes the twibe, and possible improvements to Twibes.



Transcript

Adam Loving:

Hi, Cathy. This is Adam from Twibes. How are you today?

Cathy:

Fine, Adam. And yourself?

Adam:

Pretty good, pretty good. Hopefully I got the timing right, and you’re expecting my call, I hope?

Cathy:

Absolutely.

Adam:

Great. I’ve just been talking to a few different Twibe founders, people who have these amazing Twibes. I’ve got Market Research up here, and it’s got 347 members. I just want to find out what people are…

Cathy:

Only a few more.

Adam:

I want to find out what you’re doing, if anything, to build the Twibe up. First of all, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Cathy:

Sure. I’ve been a market research professional for over 20 years now. Currently I’m supporting a new social media agency focused on marketing to women, and I also freelance for agencies, and vendors and clients specializing in marketing in social media.

Adam:

Quite a lot going on there.

Cathy:

Oh yeah.

Adam:

What kind of clients do you work with? Are you independent, or do you work for a company?

Cathy:

Currently I’m independent, but I’m supporting ShesConnected. That’s a social networking site for women, and it helps them manage both their personal and business social networking activities. They have a lot of bloggers there, and I can also manage Twitter and Facebook there, which is really handy.

Adam:

Got it. What sort of marketing activities, aside from tweeting all the time, which I see these here. What is the stuff that you do on a day-to-day basis?

Cathy:

I do both quantitative and qualitative research, so basically what I do is hear what a business problem is, and I translate it into a methodology. Then I may write a questionnaire or guide, and then field the research, and then analyze the results and present the results to the client.

Adam:

Fascinating. So you know you’ve succeeded when, what? There are more people on the website, more people participating? What are your metrics for a successful campaign?

Cathy:

In terms of social media and promoting myself?

Adam:

Right, yeah, or your clients, or any given project.

Cathy:

Well, it isn’t necessarily online, all my research. But what I do use social networking for is to actually get the freelance work – it’s been really useful that way – and just getting to know other research professionals. I learn a tremendous amount just reading links, interacting with people. It’s been amazing.

Adam:

Cool. OK. With regard to the Market Research Twibe, did you stumble into that, or was it a preconceived goal to collect these people? How did you get into it?

Cathy:

Actually, I sort of stumbled into it. I saw a tweet that there was this application called Twibes, so I went to it immediately and did a search on market research. I was amazed that there was nothing there on it, so I quickly developed one and started to promote it.

Adam:

Cool.

Cathy:

I wanted a central meeting place for market researchers.

Adam:

Right. So it’s for your peers more than anything else. When you say "promote it," does that mean tweeting about it? Obviously you’ve got a fair amount of followers already yourself.

Cathy:

There’s many different ways that I promote the Twibe. I posted a link on my LinkedIn profile page, and I frequently provide updates there on the growing number of members. I also posted a link on several LinkedIn market research group sites, but you really have to read the group rules before posting because some groups don’t allow that type of posting.
I also tweet from the Twibe page directly, which provides a link to the group. On my Twitter profile page, I also provide a link. Occasionally I will send out a tweet asking those who are interested in the art and science of market research to join the group.

Adam:

Right, right. Great. Have there been any specific new relationships or opportunities that have come out of this for you?

Cathy:

Yes. I do think some people know me first and then join the Twibe, but there’s been people that joined the Twibe directly, and then they follow me. So it has provided a new means of getting relationships with other market researchers.

Adam:

OK. How about your other Twitter tips and tricks in general? What tools do you use? How do you look at Twitter?

Cathy:

I am one of those Twitterholics. Truly, I think it’s a fabulous tool. It has a really bad rep that people don’t understand it, but to me it’s just a tremendous business tool about having an opportunity to meet a variety of knowledgeable people, interacting with them, reading what they read, hear what they’re thinking. It’s just amazing. I’ve gotten to know people from all over the world.
Primarily I tweet from my home office. I usually tweet directly on Twitter or using FriendFeed. But I also have a Twitter feed coming to the ShesConnected site, which I mentioned before, so I can manage both my Twitter and Facebook accounts there, which is very useful. On my BlackBerry, I use TwitterBerry.

Adam:

OK. Excellent. I brought up ShesConnected here on the website so I could take a look. All right. Last question or subject is what can Twibes do better, or Twitter in general, I suppose. What are some areas for improvement? What do you wish it did?

Cathy:

Well, it would be useful to have some increased functionality in terms of facilitating conversations. That would really help build the Twibe. Right now we rely on the hash tags, and not all the tweets that contain those hash tags appear on the Twibes still.
Also the delay in the tweet postings makes visiting the site less attractive for some than just doing a search on Twitter using the hash tags. So anything like live discussion groups would be useful, or actually streaming tweets with the hash tags almost as they happen.

I don’t know about the technology and what’s possible, what isn’t possible, but these things would help make the group more cohesive.

Adam:

Yeah, there’s some improvements that I’ve been planning for just making sure the tweets are more up to date and that I don’t miss any. When you say "conversation," that also interests me because that’s a frustration I have with Twitter in general. Does that mean maybe showing message threading perhaps? Or does that mean maybe better email notifications?

Cathy:

Actually, that would be useful. Having the message threading, that would be fabulous. I’m trying to think of where I saw that before.

Adam:

There’s a site called Tweetree that does a really good job of that. But, unfortunately, that’s all it does. So you just go and look at your tweet stream as a thread, and then you can’t really post to it as I remember it. Certainly I could do something like that on Twibes.
I’m also trying to fix up the notification email, which I realize is not terribly useful. It’ll give you a number of tweets, but I’d like that ideally to include the most recent tweets on a weekly or daily basis so that you can jump in right from your email and comment or not visit if nothing interesting is going on.

Cathy:

Yes.

Adam:

Because I know that’s useful say on Facebook or, for example, where every single reply that you get you get an email, and that triggers more replies.

Cathy:

The only thing to be careful on that is people just being overwhelmed with emails. I guess it would have to be something that they would opt into or not, I suppose. I just have trouble keeping up with my emails as it is.
I do check the Twibes I’d say at least once a day, but sometimes twice.

Adam:

Well, cool. Great. Great. All right. Well, I will let you go, but thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me.

Cathy:

You’re welcome.

Adam:

I’ll put this up on the blog for other people to listen to if, that’s all right.

Cathy:

Oh, sure that’s fine.

Adam:

With a link off to your site. I really appreciate it.

Cathy:

You’re welcome. Have a good day.

Adam:

You too. Talk to you later.

Cathy:

Bye.

Adam:

Bye.

Will “Virtual” Presence Ever Replace Face-to-Face Communication?

About the author
James P. Ware

James P. Ware is Executive Producer for Work Design Collaborative, LLC.
He writes about changing nature of work, the workplace, the workforce, and management practice on Future of Work Blog.
His organization’s goal is to foster community, conversation, and mutual learning about the future of work and the forces driving change.

This is a guest posts on using Twibes and Twitter to make friends and grow your business. If you would like to be considered for a guest post, please email adam@twibes.com with an idea for a topic.

I seem to be inundated these days with articles, blog posts, and tweets about the differences between “being there” and interacting with people remotely. There’s a growing presumption that we can all “meet” virtually with no loss of quality, creativity, or our relationships.

But there are also many, many well-meaning managers who are skeptical—who still believe that “you can’t manage ‘em if you can’t see ‘em.”

I met recently with a group of CEO’s of mid-market companies who just can’t accept the idea of flexible work programs that enable their employees to come and go as they please. The CEO’s were adamant that they needed to have their staff in one place virtually full-time “to build a common culture” and “to make sure everyone is on the same page.

And I met a CEO last year who insisted that her company’s competitive advantage came from its collaborative culture. That was in the middle of the gasoline price spike, and she was so convinced of the value of face-to-face that she was seriously considering offering her employees commuting subsidies to ensure that they would
all be in the office every day.

However, while I know there’s a lot to be said about the value of “being there,” I just don’t think it’s that simple. Yes, there are powerful arguments for face-to-face, but technology is relentlessly chipping away at the differences.

In June I posted a note on our Future of Work blog about a story in the New York Times regarding the continuing importance of face-to-face interaction (”Place Still Matters – A Lot“). That story focused largely on the places where people choose to live and base their work from, and stressed the value of being “where the action is.”

And I’d also like to call your attention to a recent article in Impact Magazine (a publication produced by OM Workspace, the contract furniture division of OfficeMax).

The article (”Face to Face: Design and Technology for Collaboration“), by Elizabeth Hockerman, explores an important but all-too-often unasked question:

Mobile technology provides untethered freedom. So why
do millions of people still partake in the dreaded rush-hour commute
to work?

The answer, of course, is that they want to be with other people (although certainly many of them probably work for organizations that expect—no, require—them to be in the office if they want to keep their jobs).

There’s still an almost-universal gut sense that face-to-face communication is much more powerful than “virtual” meetings, even with the increasingly powerful collaboration tools now available (there’s also the reality that lots of those people would work remotely at least some of the time if their employers would let them,
but that’s another story altogether).

Ms. Hockerman quoted one “expert” on the subject:

“The main reason people go to the corporate office is to be with other people,” says James Ware, executive producer of The Work Design Collaborative LLC, based in Prescott, Ariz. “There is a tremendous power in face-to-face meetings. Same-time, same-place can spark a powerful source of collaborative innovation and meaning for people.”

However, she also cites an expert on meeting rooms and collaboration technologies:

“A conference room is no longer thought of as just a meeting space within a building, but as a virtual meeting space in a limitless universe,” says Marvin Hecker, director of audio-visual design at JanCom Technologies, Inc., in Austin, Texas. “The level of technology available today can create a telepresence, where the visual and sound during a teleconference is presented in such a natural way that it is as if all participants are sitting in the same room.”

The technology to create telepresence has yet to replace face-to-face contact, but, like most technological investments, it offers organizations the possibility of increased productivity and efficiency as well as reduced costs. But remember that less time and money spent traveling to in-person meetings can only be effective if the technology can preserve the power found in human interaction.

Actually, I do believe we’re getting closer to technology that “preserves the power found in human interaction.” Most of us these days are completely comfortable with audio conference calls, which are incredibly commonplace, even though we know we don’t want them to replace all of our face-to-face interactions.

And video conferencing, using systems like HP’s Halo and Cisco’s Telepresence, while still way too expensive for home offices, are finding their way into more and more corporate facilities, some of which are available for rent to the general public on an hourly basis. As more and more people experience these technologies I’m sure the demand for them — and our general level of comfort with distributed meetings — will only grow.

Add to those particular tools web conferencing and all the social networking applications, and it’s clear we’re all becoming more used to “virtual” collaboration. Yes, there’s certainly much value in being together, and there always will be. But the more the economy becomes global and digital, the more we’re going to be communicating and collaborating with people who are far, far away.

The challenge everyone faces as we move into this new age  of “working anywhere” is learning when it’s important to be face-to-face, and when it’s not. The fact is that we have choices today that we never used to have; we have to learn how to make those
choices intelligently.

And for a final thought, don’t forget that there’s also real power in our ability today to reach out and include people in distant locations in spur-of-the-moment “meetings” via telephone and web conferencing tools – thereby enriching our conversations and brainstorming sessions with ideas and perspectives that were simply not possible to access before the Internet created a truly global community.

Writers Find Community on Twitter

About the author
Zakiya Lathan

Zakiya Lathan is a freelance writer. Prior to freelancing, she worked in broadcast news as a web producer and online journalist for CBS affiliate KTVA-TV in Anchorage, Alaska. Follow Zakiya on Twitter. You can also become a fan of her newly-launched Facebook page.


This is a guest posts on using Twibes and Twitter to make friends and grow your business. If you would like to be considered for a guest post, please email adam@twibes.com with an idea for a topic.

Writing is a solitary craft, albeit one that is difficult to practice in a vacuum. Freelance writers who originally hail from print and broadcast newsrooms understand this all too well.

Working outside of the realm of cubicle life acquaints freelancers to the double-edged sword of freedom. There is the autonomy to set one’s own hours and to choose one’s own writing subject matter. But while freelance writers get to set their own paths, they also have to navigate those paths on their own. Gone is the brainstorming, banter and camaraderie of a lively newsroom. There are no colleagues with whom they can compare notes, troubleshoot, commiserate–or even compete.

While there are a fair share of media newsroom alumni all too happy to be done with the intricacies of office politics, there are probably just as many who dearly miss the unique social interactions that can only be found in the writer fraternity.

Writers can use Twitter and Twibes to reconnect with like minds. They can follow and interact with others who speak their native tongues of word count and plot development. They can once again find colleagues with whom they can compare notes, troubleshoot, brainstorm, banter–or even compete.

Wordsmiths can also use Twibes to mine for sources. There are groups formed around many different fields and interests represented on the site.

Twibes is like homeroom for Twitter–a base camp that makes the process of finding kindred spirits that much easier.

Using Social Media for Social Entrepreneurship

About the author
Vania Benavides

Vania is an entrepreneur interested in innovation, new technologies, and social entrepreneurship. She is currently working with a startup in the San Francisco Bay Area, developing a business plan and prototyping in PHP. Her personal blog is vabulus.com (coming soon!).


This is a guest posts on using Twibes and Twitter to make friends and grow your business. If you would like to be considered for a guest post, please email adam@twibes.com with an idea for a topic.

Recently I have been researching social entrepreneurship, and wanted to highlight how social entrepreneurs use social media to leverage support for their causes.

What is a social entrepreneur? The SkollFoundation defines a social entrepreneur as “a change agent: a pioneer of innovations that benefit humanity.”

How do social entrepreneurs use social media to leverage donations or get people to support a cause? Can we solve the world’s problems by talking? The use of social media allows all kinds of entrepreneurs to engage everyone in a conversation. According to Nick Temple, the network director at the School for Social Entrepreneurship, “For social entrepreneurs, untapped markets are people or communities in need, who haven’t been reached by other initiatives…the big question is no longer “what can we afford?” but “what should we use?” and “how do you use it best?”

Well, according to some research I’ve been doing, I found that the best use of social media is by making it easy for others to contribute to your cause. There are many tools out there, but you have to figure out which works best. For instance, Everywun.com and bettertheworld.com make it easy to give, which requires little effort and no money. They have all kinds of ways for users to interact or support a cause. When users post a badge on their blog, facebook page, or website, they earn credits when someone signs up after clicking on their badge. Both sites feature their top supporters who have earned the most credits. In addition, Bettertheworld.com takes ideas from their users on what the organization can do to improve the user’s experience. Another organization, Social Earth, who set up the twibes group #socialentrepreneurship, also has the most up to date content on social entrepreneurship. Beth’s blog has great guest posts about how to use social media to promote your social entrepreneurship or non-profit organization. Even good “old-fashioned” email has evolved to implement sharing tools.

In this economy, fundraisers are too expensive; social media comes at no cost. The success of your organization largely depends on the way you interact with your donors, and what tools you make available for your contributors to promote your organization for you. The more we allow our friends to feel like they are contributing, the more they are willing to spread the message, since people want to be a part of something that is good.

Vote for your favorite Twibe

To celebrate 50,000 followers of @twibes, we had a contest to pick your favorite twibe. Lo and behold, we had a tie! Please vote today for one of the two twibes below to break tie.

Voting is now closed! Congratulations to PogueBook. View the Results

2nd Place: Torchwood

Runners Up