Posts Tagged 'Plurk'

Twitter borked. Again.

Twitter sure doesn’t make it easy for people to give it the love they want to give. The downtime and the stressing out and the frequent appearances of the Fail Whale would have done in a lesser company by now, but we stick by it because Twitter is so damn useful.

But judging by the reaction to this morning’s problems that have seen people’s following and follower lists decimated or, in some cases, completely deleted, users are rapidly losing patience. Unless these kind of things are sorted, and quickly, then a Twitter-mass migration might be a way away.

That it hasn’t probably says as much about Twitter’s competitors as it does the site itself. I’ve hardly touched by Plurk account because, while it’s a bit of fun, its just not as instantly useful as Twitter. I can’t really comment on Friend Feed as I’ve not joined, although its been on my to do list for a while. Early adopters do seem to like it though.

If something similar had happened with Facebook, say, it would have been major news and covered by all the mainstream media and done some serious harm to the brand, especially when you’ve got a twitchy set of users showing signs of being ready to perhaps migrate elsewhere.

Twitter’s saving grace may well be it still relatively low profile outside the early adopter and blogging crowd. And the fact it’s so damn useful. But too many more snafus won’t do anything to encourage new users, which is what Twitter needs if it’s to grow as a company. Moreover, it can only be a matter of time before somebody builds a better, more stable Twitter-clone than Twitter.

I still love Twitter. It’s clean, simple and easy to use. It’s been so damn useful for breaking news, making contacts, sharing information and publicity purposes that I now can’t live without it. But many more of these kind of problems and I suspect I won’t be the only one looking elsewhere, assuming there is an alternative.,


Everybody’s Tweeting

Twitter may be down on a depressingly regular basis but it still seems everybody’s signing up to it. Radio 4’s Today programme is the latest. Downing Street got a fair bit of publicity for theirs (possibly the one piece of forward thinking they’ve done all year) and even Andy Murray has one as well. At least I think it’s him. Sounds grumpy and teen-speak enough. His brother Jamie also has a more chatty feed.

Now while Twitter definitely isn’t the new Facebook – slightly more limited appeal for a start – it’s increasingly becoming an effective PR/promotional/fan tool, as well as a news feed, and a place to network and make general conversation. It’s not quite mainstream, but if it doesn’t at least go beyond the early adopter/geek crowd this year then it probably never will.

That mainstream and traditional media companies and organisations are increasing getting their Tweet on suggests that they have enough regard and appreciation of it to make it worth their while to sign up and maintain a feed.

And yet Twitter’s regular outages and downtime will get people irritated and looking elsewhere and could yet be its downfall. FriendFeed and Plurk have been mentioned as alternatives, although whether they’ll take off or not remains to be seen. Is there even room for so many microblogging social media friend aggregator tools?

A few questions to finish: I’ve not signed up to FriendFeed yet but have seen a lot of positive press around it. Is ti worth it? And while I’ve signed up to Plurk, I’ve not really used it much. I can see the differences, just, I think. But is it worth maintaining both a Plurk and Twitter feed? And am I missing some major use or difference for Plurk that will make me want to embrace it as much as I have Twitter?

Social media: where the hell are we going?

Hands up who remembers the dotcom bubble burst of the late 90s? Recently, I’ve sometimes mused to myself on the possibility of it happening about but with social media. Every day, there’s a new social media app, often with a ridiculous name, to be discovered. And at least half of them I haven’t got a clue what to do with.

So it’s with a small degree of relief on my part to read Livingston Communications muse on a similar topic and conclude social media isn’t about to burst, but scale back a tad, probably shaking out some of the worse/more unsustainable sites.

It’s an excellent post, especially the first point:

“1) Too many communicators have the shiny object syndrome, yet don’t have domain expertise. That means we’re seeing a lot of bad social media this year. In turn, you can expect corresponding failures and a reaction against social media.”

One of the saving graces for social media, though, is many of the sites and applications seem to be born out of an idea of how to make something better or improve communication – something that will work for the group rather than immediately designed to make money. Take crowdstatus, a neat little site still in alpha – it was born out of the creator’s desire to make communication easier and it’s easy to see the potential uses. The note on the about page, to me, sums up this attitude nicely:

“This is a personal project for the moment so don’t ask me about business models :p”

Social media at the moment feels like its reached a tipping point of sorts. The secondary and tiertary adopters are now using these sites a lot more while some obvious cases, like Facebook, have gone beyond any expectations.

To some extent these new users will follow the early adopters, but they’re also likely to be more discerning. They’ve not drunk the initial kool-aid and will be asking questions such as “How can this help me in a personal/professional manner?”

I’ve started training, in the loosest sense, colleagues on how to get the best out of social media and, along the way, they’ve fired some difficult, direct questions at me. Sometimes it’s easy to show the value of a site like Twitter to PR, or netvibes to your personal way of working.

But with many of the other sites it’s somehow difficult to justify exactly why it’s worth spending time getting to grips with it and often it’s just a case of play and see if it suits you.

And this is where the shakedown comes. If you’ve got an overcrowded marketplace, there will undoubtedly be some casualties and financiers tighten their belts and new users ask why they should be using two or three similar applications.

Take Plurk, which I like but don’t use often, against Twitter, which is unreliable but has embedded itself in my life. It’s hard to tell if it’ll become Facebook to Twitter’s MySpace or Betamax to Twitter’s VHS. The most common question I’ve had in the past few weeks is ‘why should I use site x over site y?’ And there’s no good answer. At that point, I drop my geeky semi-early-adopter mentality and start thinking about if site x or site y is more useful to me in a work setting. And I’ll confess sometimes I get overloaded with the amount of new sites that pass by my eyes and wonder how or why the hell I should keep them all going.

Blogging is now embedded in online culture. Sites like Facebook have become part of our everyday lives, regardless of how much you use it. Twitter’s becoming a great source of not just conversation but also breaking news and news gathering.

I’m not quite sure what the final point is, other than that social media is here to stay but will eventually fall back into line with the basic laws of economics and the markets. And, at that point, as Livingston Comms say, “a more measured, intelligent debate will take place.” It’s a debate I’m looking forward to, even if the enthusiasm for social communication tools is fun at the moment.

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December 2022

Throw letters together and send them to me

Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com