If you have a website the chances are great that you also have a Twitter account related to your website. Twitter has become our visit card online more then our websites for the simple fact that we update our Twitter status regularly. Now even though there are countless of Twitter clients out there a lot of people still use Twitter via their web browser. So having a nice and good looking Twitter background is important.
Addicted to Twitter yet? The truth is that I didn’t think I would ever become a “Twitterholic”, but that was back when I thought it was just a glorified “status updater”, before Twitter allowed me to do everything from donating to Haiti to finding new web design clients.
That’s right, I’ve gotten hired for projects via Twitter. This means that Twitter has actually made me money. Hey, they don’t call it a “bluebird of happiness” for nothing!
Today, I want to show you five things you can do with Twitter that you might not be aware of. Twitter itself is a very simple service, but one of the reasons it’s become so popular is that there are so many things you can DO with it.
Write longer tweets with BiggerTwitter
Does the 140-character limit frustrate you? I know I have a tendency to chatter away a little too much, but 140 characters never seem to be enough for me. Luckily, there’s the BiggerTwitter service, which lets you post longer messages and simply linking them to your tweet.
Know when you’re mentioned in a tweet with TweetBeep
If you regularly Google your own name, you’ll love this service, which alerts you whenever you’re mentioned on Twitter. It works with shortened URLs like tinyurl and bit.ly as well.
Schedule tweets with Social Oomph
Pre-writing tweets might seem to defeat the purpose, but if you manage several Twitter accounts or use it primarily for business and promotions, a service like Social Oomph is great. There’s a professional version, but the free version is pretty powerful on its own, allowing you to schedule tweets and do other things like tracking specific keywords, save and reuse drafts… even do reciprocal unfollows (unfollowing those who unfollow you).
Learn more about your followers with ChirpStats
Formerly known as TwitterLess, a service that alerted you whenever people unfollowed you, ChirpStats is a lot more positive, which I like. It still tracks your “unfollows”, but its new analytics service gives you a picture of your current followers as well.
Access your Google Calendar with TwitterCal
I’ve admitted my dependence on Google’s services before, which is why I absolutely adore TwitterCal. It works exactly like it’s supposed to: simply follow @gcal, submit your Google Calendar details, and add events to your Calendar with a direct message, like so:
d gcal dinner with geraldine on thursday, 1st of april at 7pm
Bonus: the Nudge command
NUDGE is a command that sends a reminder to one of your friends to update their Twitter. When my friends and I were new to Twitter, we used this quite a lot- we hadn’t gotten into the habit of updating our statuses, and with many of us in various places around the world, we loved knowing what the others were up to at any given time. Simply send “NUDGE username”.
Do you use third-party Twitter services?
This week’s Friday Focus features designs with pretty little birds in them. (No, this isn’t another collection of Twitter-related sites—only two of them are.)
Designs of the Week
I love the mobile motif here—everything is hanging onto something until the very end of the page. Great concept for an online shop.
I like the illustration style here because it’s more cartoony instead of delicate and craft-y. And it seems dotted and dashed lines are all the rage these days.
I like it when sites go all out on a metaphorical design. This one has the content floating on ice!
Two things about this site mask how simple it looks. First, the hawk looks stunning—big, bright pink, and detailed. Second, the illustrations (aka Twitter backgrounds) listed on the site speak for themselves—if you’re designing a portfolio, do the same thing.
Some of you might have to squint to see the birds, but I appreciate the subtlety while still paying attention to detail—you can play hangman (or is it hangbird?) on the site! They’re all over the place, though, so you will enjoy their company.
Social Media Weekly
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One of the trending topics on Twitter lately is the #moonfruit hashtag. If you’re aware of Moonfruit, you probably know about their promotion to give away 10 MacBook Pros to random people who mention the hashtag–one each per 24-hour period. So far a lot of people have participated, and the topic has been among the top mentioned. Who wouldn’t want a free MacBook Pro, after all? I, myself, joined in.
But apparently, promotional campaigns like this don’t sit very well with the folks from Twitter, who seem to have taken off the #moonfruit hashtag from the trending topics list, even if it’s still, to this time, a popular mention on Twitter. Hashtags.org says it’s about three times as popular as other trends this week, even surpassing other, probably more relevant, topics like the Iran Election and whatnot.
Twitter and marketing
What does this have to say about marketing on Twitter? Is Twitter’s marketing potential diluted by the fact that the powers-that-be seem to frown upon the idea of the system being gamed? Is Twitter’s marketing potential affected by the negative image put forward by aggressive affiliate marketers (or even spammers)?
I often tell people that I think the best way to market on social media is by really connecting and interacting. In a way, the people behind Moonfruit have connected and engaged their audience, and with valuable incentives to boot. Perhaps the only mistake here was that their popularity took the better of them, and they were viewed as having gamed the system. That is, they have taken advantage of the numbers on a system where numbers play a big part in saying what’s important or not.
What’s wrong with this concept of “Twitocracy,” then? Maybe it’s the fact that any numbers system can be gamed. Think of Digg. Think of Google. In the olden days, people used to be able to easily game these two, and other similar services. For instance, Digg is quick to update and refine its algorithm for pushing articles up to front page. But in its early stages, just a hundred or so votes within a given period of time will be enough to frontpage an article. The administrators probably thought marketers would easily take advantage of these to drive traffic to their sites.
Google is another example. While their algorithm for PageRank and search engine results is probably more secret than the formula for Coca Cola, the search engine optimization industry is still thriving. Some Google insiders openly speak against SEO, highly favoring what is thought of as a more natural or organic way of optimizing webpages, which is by creating good content and a good information structure.
Twitter is, undoubtedly, a simpler and more straightforward platform than the two above-mentioned online services. You post “tweets” or updates. You get a network of friends and followers. Popular keywords get trended. But it doesn’t stop there. The wide array of third-party applications and services that build upon Twitter take advantage of the fact that the service is such a rich ocean of data that the possibilities for mining these are practically endless.
And then there’s the issue of things being a numbers game. He who gets the most followers would be considered god-like. The keyword or topic that gets discussed by the biggest number of people deserve a mention in the veritable trending topics list, whether it’s an important world event or simply a trivial word or phrase. Or worse–an explicit or obscene word. And if abused, this could render the entire thing useless, or at the very least less usable.
It’s like saying open comments are good. But when you get deluged by spam, you start moderating.
So does Twitter have marketing potential, even with the problems posed by playing the numbers game? Yes–and as I earlier mentioned, it’s about connecting and engaging your audience. And this is among the things I’ll be discussing on this new weekly Tuesday Tactics column.
Backgrounds are so called for a reason. They’re meant to support and complement instead of attract and distract. This week’s featured sites, however, provide a whole other level of interactivity and usefulness to backgrounds. You decide if they’re a good idea or not. Either way, they’re interesting concepts that can only be executed on the Web, so, enjoy!
Designs of the Week
Showing clients/web resources/cities on a world map as a background is brilliant. I don’t think it’s been done this way before. If the movement gets too annoying, you can stop it with a click. The “worldwide” concept carries over to the Time Zones section, which shows both the current time in your area and theirs, as well as how long before their office closes—what a sensitive little idea!
Lots of Twitter-related sites that pull tweets on a certain topic are mostly text-based and don’t usually create a wall of avatars with random popup tweets in the background. When new tweets arrive, the avatars shift right as new ones appear. And as for the foreground? Good typography, contrast, colors, and use of icon. Another well-done one-page site.
Flash-based, but definitely well done.
Bright, fun illustration-based design. Fluid width too.
I like that the parallax effect works whenever your mouse moves. The background is light and subtle enough to not be distracting.
The foreground and background fuse on the homepage, but when since the inner sections are loaded in a lightbox, you can still click on what is now the background. Anyway, very cute design elements, including the tilt-shift effect for the photographic background. And don’t you love the paper boat on the river? The greatness is in the details!
I love what the copy says, which at the same time serves as the navigation to the inner sections of the site. And the background is literally made up of the designer’s portfolio. And it looks good!
This effect might give some people a headache. But I like that the objects in the background can be any size or type—image, video, Flash animation, screenshot, poster, etc.
This one’s got more design elements for a polaroid photo collection metaphor, shadows and all. Not pictured: the designer’s latest tweet and an anti-IE6 disclaimer. One more thing about this effect: it works regardless of browser width.
Social Media Weekly
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