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Twitter template strategy

Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has put together a template twitter strategy for government departments and made it available, to share and mash-up, via Scribd (see below).

The document is incredibly thorough – from clear objectives and success measurements through to how much time it takes to maintain – and a good starting point not just for government departments but brands, businesses and other organisations. The document could also be used to audit your current brand presence and help identify how it might be improved.

Neil explains why as an exercise in putting it together it was worth while, by stating:

[…] some of the benefits I’ve found of having this document in my armoury are:

* To get buy-in, explain Twitter’s importance to non-believers and the uninitiated, and face down accusations of bandwagon-jumping
* To set clear objectives and metrics to make sure there’s a return on the investment of staff time (and if there isn’t, we’ll stop doing it)
* To make sure the channel is used consistently and carefully, to protect corporate reputation from silly mistakes or inappropriate use
* To plan varied and interesting content, and enthuse those who will provide it into actively wanting to do so.
* As a briefing tool for new starters in the team who will be involved in the management of the channel

So, possibly before trying to convince the boss that Twitter is worth while… “honest”, it’s perhaps worth taking some time putting together a strategy that will help them see:

  • How it will benefit the business – ensure you consider potential customers/clients and if they use the service
  • How activity will be measured
  • Success criteria and measurement
  • How the feed will be managed
  • The kinds of relevant content that will appear
  • What editorial considerations may need to take place

You may also wish to consider if individuals within the business or organisation should also be tweeting on behalf of the brand – this decision should be made on a case by case basis, although there are arguments being made for only having individuals tweet on their company’s behalf.

Twitter’s quiet problem

UPDATE 16/07/2009: The problem of appearing in search and hashtags has now been fixed, although it would seem that People Search is still not finding users. Thanks to @crystal of the Twitter Support team for her correspondence. She says that all problems should be fixed by 12:04am PST today.

UPDATED 14/07/2009 (see below).

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Twitter, the social media service reknowned over the last few weeks for the noise it has generated, has a quiet and growing problem. Many users are not appearing in search or the Find People tool.

I first came across the issue when @Paul0Evans1 told me he wasn’t appearing in search some months ago. At first I quite didn’t believe him, it seemed so unusual, and checked to see if this was indeed the case (which it was). He has since used another Twitter name to when talking about specific events such as Political Innovation Camp, but it’s a work around rather than a solution.

Just after Twitter Upgraded, about two weeks ago, I noticed a similar pattern occuring on my account. Appreciating that I get this service for free, and aware that what right did I have to complain, I added my query to this support post, which already had 80+ pages of comments, rather than writing out a new support ticket.

The number of comments to date on this post is over 2,300. It is currently Twitter’s largest open known issue. , and Twitter has now closed comments on the post. This known problem support post is still open for comments.

One of the many reasons that Twitter has been so successful in spreading messages rapidly through it’s system is through the use of hashtags (#) and Twitter’s own real-time search engine. As Twitter describe it themselves:

Twitter search is an incredible tool that allows you to find virtually anything and anyone by adding the ability to search for key words, locations, phrases, and more! Type in any word and you’re guaranteed to get real time results.

Twitter users can follow what topics are trending using a number of tools, including one integrated into each users homepage. It was this Twitter feature alone that enabled Digital Britain Unconferences to kick off, for example.

In the past when users have disliked a new feature or if something has broken Twitter users have used hashtags to quickly cause a storm to bring it to the attention of the site’s administrators.

But what happens when a multiple number of users are no longer appearing in search? Their accounts still exist, they are still tweeting, but they can no longer be found easily by other users, or their messages appear to the wider non-following audience. The irony is the problem is a quiet one.

Whilst this isn’t the end of the world it highlights three things:

1. Our reliance on VC funded free tools and how as users we have little leverage to complain, we are not customers after all.

2. Google has some how programmed us to believe that search is somehow simple and automatic.

3. The affects of the problem highlighted above are subtle and at first generally not that noticable, but they are ultimately quite pernicious and undermine many of the democratic qualities of the tool that have been admired so much in the last few weeks.

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Below is the email sent by Twitter in response to a support ticket sent regarding this issue.

Hi,

Thanks for your email. You can search for people on Twitter by keyword, user name, location and more. New: Twitter search in your sidebar!
http://help.twitter.com/forums/39781/entries/33972

More information about searching for people is here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/14022

We’re currently experiencing a couple of issues with finding people; if you can’t find yourself in search, make sure you’ve posted updates (so we can index you and your updates.) Profiles that haven’t posted updates aren’t indexed in search.

Profiles added in the last 8 weeks aren’t being indexed by search. We’re tracking this problem here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/31935/entries/38518

Due to high volume, support requests reporting this issue are being closed, as we’re aware of and working on the problem, and tracking it in the known issues page. Please check the thread above for updates or post comments there, and don’t re-open tickets. A solved ticket doesn’t mean the bug is fixed; bug fixes will be announced on the known issues page.

When you’re using ‘Find People’ to look for folks by name or user name, you can only perform 50 searches per hour before you’re limited– this is for abuse control and spam prevention. If you hit a search limit using Find People, try checking out Twitter Search’s advanced search:

http://search.twitter.com/advanced

If you’re not listed in search and your profile is public, we may be investigating your account for a violation listed here:
http://help.twitter.com/forums/26257/entries/18311

If you’re sure that doesn’t pertain to you and you still can’t find yourself or your friends, reply to this ticket and let us know.

Thanks!
Twitter Support

UPDATE 14/07/2009: Twitter Support has just emailed the following, which can also be viewed here

crystal said:

Update: Find People search index should be up to date. All public accounts with tweets posted for more than 24 hours should be indexed. Search is now updating regularly, on a daily basis. If you’re still not listed in search, your tweets may be filtered for search quality; find out more about this here. Search filtering is done automatically, and cannot be un-done by Twitter Support.

A rather defensive response, considering the comments on this issue (now closed) were nearing 2,500. From the tests I have done People Search is still not working and neither is Search. Twitter does seems to be experiencing capacity problems are however, so these issues may be resolved over the next few days.

Again the problem here really is that as users, rather than customers, of the service there is very little leverage in complaining. Twitter is a service that I would happily consider paying for as a Pro User (ie. with additional functionality/features), in the similar vein to Flickr or Gmail Corporate, each of which have a corresponding Terms of Service. 14/07/2009

How to post from Flickr to WordPress



BillT, originally uploaded by kcorrick.

Testing the Flickr to WordPress tool, which enables me to post a photo and words from Flickr to WordPress (or many other blogging platforms) without leaving Flickr.

I’m using a photo of Bill taken at his Puntcon in Cambridge last weekend, as you can see.

Here’s how
* Go to http://www.flickr.com/account/blogs/
* Select “Add blog”
* Follow the instructions.

To post a photo, once you’ve set up your blog account(s) in Flickr as laid out above:
* Go to the photo you wish to post
* Press the “Blog this” button above the photo
* Follow the instructions
It’s really that simple.

Now here’s me crossing my fingers that it’s worked! Tags and categories have to be added afterwards.

NOTE: Twitter users, you can also post from Flickr to Twitter using this same tool.