Should you sell your tweets?


sponsored_tweetsTo sell or not to sell, that’s the $64,000 question on the minds of a lot of regular Twitterers right now.

Sites like Ad.ly and Sponsored Tweets offer people the opportunity to post ads in their Twitter stream. Usually the more followers you have, the more you can charge for ads, the fact that the number of followers by itself is an extremely poor indicator of influence doesn’t seem to matter much right now to the people buying and selling tweets. You can set your rate at whatever you’d like and if the advertiser thinks it’s a good bang for their buck, so far at least, they’ve been eager to pay some pretty audacious prices for a single tweet on the more popular streams.

Some Twitter users have made upwards of $3,000 a week using one or both of the services I mentioned before. Obviously this is a pretty enticing figure considering we’re only talking about a few tweets at the most. I can’t say that if I had the leverage to make that kind of scratch off of a couple of tweets that I would definitely turn it down. Unfortunately I’m a pretty late adopter to the Twitter scene so I don’t have nearly enough followers for that to be an issue for me. Which is also great for me because, for now at least, it takes the decision on whether or not to sell ads out of my hands.

What do I mean by that? Well, since I’m still in the process of building up my Twitter network and engaging the people I’m already following the amount of revenue I could generate with ads is insignificant enough that it wouldn’t be worth me potentially offending and losing people that have chosen to follow me.

That being said, that’s a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. Does the potential financial gain outweigh the potential loss of followers or loss of credibility with your followers?

I don’t think there’s a clearly defined answer to this question, although I do believe that in-tweet advertising is not going away and will only continue to grow as people acclimate to it and it becomes less of a hot-button issue.

While there are no clearly defined boundaries for tweet selling, I can think of a few good rules of thumb that should be adhered to.

  1. More than any other form of advertising, selling tweets has the potential to seriously damage your personal reputation so you better be damn sure that the product you’re hawking is something that you actually believe in, have experience with or at least researched heavily, otherwise people are going to be PISSED when they get a hunk of crap in the mail that they bought based on your personal recommendation.
  2. If you’re not going to be making some pretty serious, legitimate cash by selling your tweets, it’s probably not worth the risk. Serving up ads in your tweets could not only cost you people who are already following you, but it could seriously effect people’s decisions on whether or not to follow you in the future. If you’re only making a few bucks, why not just work on connecting with your followers and leave the ad considerations until you’ve got a much larger, more stable group of followers.
  3. If you’re a corporation or organization, you should never sell your tweets. Your goal is to engage your clients and build trust with them. Selling ads will pretty much accomplish the exact opposite of that.
  4. No matter who you are, do not tweet more than one ad a day.
  5. If you do decide to sell ads ONLY sell ads that are relevant to the rest of your posts. If you’re a tech/gadget guy and all of the sudden I see an ad for Victoria’s Secret in your stream that’s more than likely going to get you an unfollow.

One of the reasons this is such a sensitive issue is the nature of the medium. If you sell ads on your blog, it’s understood that you are selling inventory and filling it with pretty much anything you can. When you sell ads on Twitter the implication is that you are personally recommending this product to your followers and it just so happens you got paid for it.

At some point everyone on Twitter will make the decision (or not make a decision at all) on whether or not to sell their tweets. Each person needs to seriously weigh the pros and cons. Think about your audience and how they will react to ads in your stream? Are you willing to risk losing some of your followers for the sake of a few bucks? Chances are, if you follow the advice I’ve already given, and actually wait until you are in a position to charge some serious cash for selling your tweets you will already be able to answer these questions because you’ve already connected enough with your base to understand what the expect from you.

It seems as if monetizing tweets is part of the natural evolution of Twitter, what you have to decide is whether or not you’re willing to follow people who are trying to hawk their #ads to you, or are you going to chain yourself to the base of the Twitter tree and roll around in patchouli with the other “Twitterhuggers”. To be honest, I haven’t made up my mind which group I’m going to fall into for now. Have you?

Brizzly: What Twitter would be with a Facelift and on some Steroids


brizzlyFor the past year or so I’ve been making a concerted effort to move everything I do into the cloud. I love knowing that I’m not tied down to one machine. It’s very freeing to know that I can log on from any computer in the world and have access to virtually everything I need.

The more I use Twitter, the more I’ve been searching for the perfect web app to handle my Twitter needs. A few days ago I wrote about Seesmic’s Twitter Web App, which has pretty much become my default app of choice. But as I mentioned, Seesmic is still missing some basic functionality that I’d like to see added and until I find an app that can handle everything I need I’m always going to be on the lookout for new innovations.

The other day I got an invite to another Twitter web app called brizzly and I have to say, wow. Not only is the design drop-dead gorgeous, it’s loaded with features. It’s by far the most powerful Twitter web app I’ve seen. Not only does it have many of the features some of the more robust desktop clients have, it even has some unique features that are pretty cool too.

Brizzly not only supports multiple accounts it has facebook integration as well, both of which are big pluses in my book.

Screencaps and more details after the jump.
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Tweckling? You've got to be twucking twidding me


presentingJennifer Preston of the New York Times posted a tweet about “tweckling” with a link to this article in The Chronicle for Higher Education. The article is about tweckling.

I would imagine your first two reactions to that last sentence are, “what the eff is tweckling?” and, “why the eff should I care?”. Well, to answer your first question, tweckling is the act of using Twitter to heckle speakers at conferences. The answer to your second question is, you shouldn’t, at all.

Now I don’t pretend to understand the world of academia or their high-falutin’ keynote speaking ways but I am shocked that any of them would actually give a crap about what some people in the audience would have to say about them on Twitter. But apparently they take this stuff pretty seriously.

One reaction was, “It appears that the nasty, vicious, backstabbing academic culture has reached a new low with the pack mentality of tweeters who vilify a speaker contemporaneously. Have intolerance and incivility reached the point where humiliating and attacking a speaker who does not ‘respect’ their time and expectations has become a new sport? I guess common decency and polite behavior fall to the wayside in the presence of the towering intellect of the elite and sarcastic critics who know it all.”

Well if the keynote speaker sounded like half as much of a douchebag as that I can’t say I blame the audience for tweckling them. God, I can’t even write the word “tweckling” without wanting to punch myself in the face.

At least someone seems to have some common sense on the subject, “The main impact of the Twitter backchannel will be an improvement over time in the quality of the presentations at conferences like this. I’ve experienced this several times. The Twitterverse is highly complimentary when such compliments are earned, and they are critical when the criticism is earned. How exactly is that a bad thing?”

Seriously, if people are making fun of you and talking about how bad your keynote is on Twitter, maybe it has a lot more to do with your keynote sucking and you being a douchebag than with “the electronic ‘Pack’ formed and attacked. Cowardly, cruel, Tweeters are hastening our rapidly declining social and moral standards and turning us into hateful boors.” (seriously someone said that).

And to the dolt that responded with this, “I have attended this conference in the past, and have even presented there (in a session, not as keynote). I wonder how hard it will be for the conference committee to get keynote presenters in the future. I wonder if people will think twice before submitting a presentation proposal – I know I will.”

You can’t even get a keynote in the first place! Pfft, a session? I could present at a session and I’m an idiot. If “tweckling” or throwing tomatoes or whatever is effective in making people think twice before going up and giving the same old rote keynote with no new information and expecting people to sit there like quiet little puppets until it’s over then so be it. If your skin is so soft and your foundation so weak that you’re actually bothered by what people are tweeting about your keynote, then it’s likely you’re not coming up with any groundbreaking ideas anyway so I doubt we’re missing much. Good riddance.

You know who doesn’t get “tweckled”? People who connect with their audience. Bottom line. If you’re giving a keynote and you can’t connect with your audience then the fact that they’re talking about you on twitter should be the least of your worries.

Federal Judge Agrees with Verizon (and AT&T Users) that AT&T's 3G Does Indeed Suck


att_verizon_3g_coverageVerizon may be getting its ass handed to them in the Smartphone department for the moment, and perhaps for the foreseeable future as long as Apple decides to keep the iPhone exclusive with AT&T but at least they have a network that works.

That doesn’t change the fact that Verizon’s “there’s a map” for that ads were truly inspired. As an AT&T customer I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry whenever I see those commercials, but mostly they just make me angry. Especially since I’m not only inflicted with AT&T’s sorry excuse for 3G, I’m in NYC which has the worst AT&T 3G reliability in the country.

The effectiveness of the ads was obvious considering how fast AT&T filed a lawsuit to try and get them yanked, claiming the lawsuits were “misleading”. A federal judge in Atlanta today declined to grant AT&T a temporary restraining order that would force Verizon to stop showing the ads.

In lieu of actually having a judge help them silence Verizon from advertising the truth, AT&T has decided to do the next best thing, producing an, “I know you are but what am I?” retaliation commercial which, sadly, completely misses the point.

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Seesmic's Twitter Web App is Hitting All the Right Notes


Seesmic_logoAs a certified (or is it certifiable?) Twitter power user I am very finicky when it comes to choosing a Twitter client.

For me, Twitter.com is out of the question. There’s just not enough going on. I have to click around to see my @replies and DMs. No columns? That’s a dealbreaker.

When I’m at my computer and have a Twitter client open I want to be able to easily scan all of my activity. I want to see my @replies, search terms I’m monitoring and DMs easily. Seesmic’s Web App actually goes one step further and has already integrated lists! I can monitor my lists right there in their own little column. It’s enough to make this geek practically giddy.

TweetDeck has been my go to desktop client for quite some time, but with the evolution of Twitter Web Apps I find myself using them more and more even when I’m on my own machine. It’s the same reason I’m such a Gmail fanatic, it’s by far the best web based email out there. Once a web app can compete, or beat a desktop client (for any application) my choice is going to be a web app because I like my experience to be the same no matter where I’m logging in from. It’s why I’m excited to see Seesmic starting to nail this.

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Posterous Adds Built in Retweet and Flickr Compatibility Continuing Trend of Awesomeness


I’ve been a huge fan of Posterous since it first launched back in 2008. I wrote a post here detailing my dry run using Posterous as my full-time blog.

Since I wrote that post there have been a few major developments over at the Posterous camp. Perhaps the most profound change has been the opening up of the CSS for Posterous to allow you to change your theme or completely customize it yourself from the ground up.

I’m still not sold that Posterous is powerful enough that I would feel completely confident in moving there full-time again, but they are definitely making some exciting headway. Two of the most recent announcements I’ve been really excited about are the Flickr integration:

Just paste the URL, e.g. from the address bar:

// into a post or an email, and you’ll automatically get the Flickr embedded slideshow, shown below.

and the Retweet functionality built into default themes.

First you’ll need to go into your customize panel and activate the retweet button.

Posterous3---Customizing-James-Poling_1258337868655

Once you’ve done that you should see the retweets showing up on all of your posts. Not only your future posts but past posts as well. The implementation is top-notch as well. You don’t even have to leave the blogs comment page to retweet a post.

James Poling - Sent via my iPhone_1258338186224

The co-founders of Posterous have been giving the impression that there are a lot of cool new features coming down the pipes over the next few months. If one of those improvements is a more powerful web dashboard for publishing posts, I may be chomping at the bits to get over to Posterous full-time once and for all. Right now I’m still extremely excited to watch the changes unfold on my mobile blog jamespoling.mobi.

Is AT&T's Terrible 3G Responsible for Blackberry Users being More Active on Twitter than iPhone Users?


theresamapforthatCan AT&T’s 3G service be so bad that it’s actually affecting how people use their mobile apps? If recent data published by the siliconANGLE blog is to be trusted it may very well be.

Although the iPhone went zooming past RIM in market share over a year ago, siliconANGLE says their research shows that over the past year the most popular mobile Twitter client was ubertwitter. Beating out both Echofon and Tweetie, two extremely popular iPhone clients.

Ubertwitter is nowhere near as powerful, or as polished as either of the iPhone apps mentioned, but it does have one thing going for it that the iPhone apps don’t. You can use it on other networks. Granted this may be a bit slanted because you can get a Blackberry on literally any wireless network, but it’s still a bit shocking since iPhone users are supposed to be the power users of apps.

I can say from experience, that while I am a Tweetie junkie, I rarely even attempt to use it unless I can connect to wifi or unless I just have a lot of time to waste and am actually hoping the painfully slow load times will help wile away the hours.

If I’m not connected to wifi on my iPhone I almost always rely on texting to post to Twitter. It’s not even a reasonable consideration for me to try and open up Tweetie on 3G and try to get an update out.

That’s one thing ubertwitter really has going for it, it’s streamlined to be an effecient, fast mobile Twitter client and actually even works pretty well on AT&T’s EDGE network.

New York City has the worst 3G reliability in the country. It’s no wonder happy Verizon and Sprint customers are tweeting away on their Blackberry clients while us poor iPhone users are trying to count to 140 as we text in our latest tweets.