Twitter is great for connecting people and ideas. I've described my Twitter versus Facebook experiment on this blog previously which showed that Facebook was far superior in terms of the degree of interaction and engagement compared with Twitter. However, I'm finding benefits that are unique to Twitter. While Facebook is good for reconnecting with old friends, I'm finding a particularly valuable benefit of Twitter is meeting interesting new people and engaging with them. A case in point is Dr. Guy Winch and his book "The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the right way to get results, improve your relationships, and enhance self-esteem". Guy followed up on a Tweet I sent out about a Life Habits podcast episode which led to a DM discussion about his book. He subsequently sent me the book. I read it, loved it, and suggested to Guy that he be a guest on my podcast. We just did that podcast together with Guy providing some insightful quotes about complaining effectively and going through a top 10 list of the essence of the material in his book. The advice he gave in the podcast is practical and extremely valuable if you only listened to the podcast and took action on his advice during it. Of course, you'll get even more value if you buy and read his book. You can listen to the podcast episode via iTunes, on the shownotes site, or you can discuss it on the new Facebook page. You can also visit Guy's site to learn more about him and how to get hold of his book.
Entries in Twitter (13)
I've been on Facebook and Twitter for years and have written some six thousand tweets and countless (because they're not counted) Facebook updates. I typically get on social networks soon after they're available and do the same with digital gadgets. I have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts and IBM Design Facebook and Twitter accounts as well (the company Facebook account is handled by a member of my team, Scott Lewis). The follower/friend counts are as follows: Facebook personal account 350, Facebook company account 1,548, Twitter personal account 1,367, and Twitter company account 13,748.
I've been noticing a change in my use and enjoyment of these two social networking systems over the past few months. I tend to spend most of my social networking time on Facebook these days and only occassionally on Twitter. One of the reasons for preferring Facebook is the amount of interaction I typically have as well as the richness of content which includes photographs and videos. I also find that the interaction is richer with "likes" as well as comments. The fact that the discussion thread stays together and is visible is also key as is the fact that the discussion tends to go on for days and sometimes weeks. In contrast, replies on Twitter aren't kept together or visible, and then to only last for an hour or two. I find that Twitter is better at announcing things and sharing links which then get retweeted by others. The retweets are gratifying but not quite the same as a substantive conversation. Don't get me wrong, I have had good interactions on Twitter on both my IBM Design company account as well as on my personal one. There are people on Twitter whom I have great conversations with and while I enjoy those conversations, they aren't as frequent, deep, or lengthly as they are on Facebook.
I wanted to test my impression that I have more interactions on Facebook compared to Twitter so I conducted a mini experiment. I posted the following on Facebook, "Karel Vredenburg is conducting an experiment comparing Facebook and Twitter to see which has the most interaction. Let's see how many likes this update can generate. The same request will be made on Twitter. Thanks!" and the same, albeit slightly shortened text due to the 140 character limit was posted on Twitter, "I'm conducting an experiment comparing Facebook & Twitter to see which has the most interaction. Let's see how many replies we can generate." The results were that the update on Facebook generated 19 likes and the post on Twitter yielded 2 replies. When I thanked the 2 people on Twitter who replied, that led to three more replies from one of my Twitter followers. A post just prior to this about the same topic yielded 3 likes and 5 comments from different people on Facebook but no activity at all on Twitter.
I should point out that this is based on my own experience alone and likely also has something to do with the composition of friends and followers I have on the two systems. My Facebook friends are comprised of actual friends, family, colleagues, and a few listeners of my Life Habits podcast series. My personal Twitter account has a few friends and colleagues as followers but the remainder are people who linked to me but whom I really don't know at all outside of Twitter. The company accounts on Facebook and Twitter are naturally made up of virtually all people I don't know at all outside of these systems. However, that doesn't mean there isn't good interaction with those accounts, just that the interaction is less frequent per follower. I should mention that I've also been on Google's Buzz which did support threaded conversations and I'm also on LinkedIn with its update function. Neither of these systems has kept my interest in terms of interactions.
Of course all users will have a different experience with these systems because there are so many variables that can differ for any two people. I thought it interesting to hear the views of netcaster Leo Laporte on this topic. He has no use for Facebook other than being aware of its features in order to report on them and finds greater value in Twitter and, in fact, also preferred Google's Buzz but no longer uses that system.
I'd appreciate hearing about your experiences on these two social networking systems using the commenting system of this site. Interestingly, when I post links to my blog posts on Facebook and Twitter, I usually get comments within Facebook on the link rather than here on the blog.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we're witnessing a dramatic increase in the use of SmartPhones in doing core daily tasks. Couple that with the increase in the use of the browser as the mechanism for accessing information, and we see the need for addressing the question of what default user interface should be shown when access a website using a SmartPhone. To determine what people prefer in this regard, I created a poll and asked followers of my Twitter accounts to respond to it. The poll asked, "What should come up when you access a website with a SmartPhone?" The responses were interesting. As shown in the pie chart on the right, 65 percent preferred "a version of the site optimized for a mobile browser", 25 percent wanted "the regular site and a button to access a mobile version", while only 8 percent wanted "the regular site - there's no need to for mobile versions". A write-in comment preferred, "the mobile version with a button or option to access the regular version" so the opposite of option two above. These results indicate a clear strong preference for some type of support for a mobile version of sites with 90 percent of respondents wanting a site tailored for SmartPhones. The vast majority of those respondents preferred a special mobile optimized version of a site to appear by default when a site is visited by a SmartPhone. Interestingly, most websites don't do that today but will have to in the future to satisfy users' preferences. The number of respondents to this poll is 48 thus far and I'd like to see a substantially bigger number given the importance of this question so if you'd like to contribute to the poll you still can and I'd really appreciate it if you would take the poll.
I've noticed a dramatic change in how I use technology. I used to have a desktop computer many years ago but then switched to a notebook computer exclusively (mostly a ThinkPad). Over the past few years I've increasingly used a hand-held device as well (first an iPod Touch and then an iPhone). In addition to these changes, most of the data I work with is now stored in the "cloud". All of this has resulted in my being able to do certain types of tasks on either of my devices while some are still done better on one or the other device. I find this amazingly liberating.
Most of the tech pundits I read and listen to also talk about this type of transition in their use of technology. However, I wondered how pervasive or representative this change in usage was. As I often do, I decided to turn to Twitter to ask the followers of my @ibmdesign account to take a brief poll answering the question, "Please indicate the devices you use to do your e-mail during a typical day (check all that apply)" and giving the options of "Desktop Computer, Notebook Computer, Smartphone, and Other". I chose e-mail given that it can be done reasonably well on any of these devices.
The poll was completed by 228 people (thanks to those who responded!) and the results showed that 39.5 percent of e-mail was done using a Notebook Computer, 38.2 percent was done using a Smartphone, and only 22.4 percent was done on a Desktop Computer. Although there was an "Other" category, most of the responses could have been placed into the other categories so I did that to simplify the analysis. So it appears that Notebook Computers and Smartphones are used almost equally and Desktop Computers are used relatively little. Who would have thought just a few years ago that we'd be doing half of our e-mail using our phones? It's important to point out that the poll asked respondents to "check all that apply" so the results shouldn't be interpreted as indicating that 38.2 percent of respondents exclusively use their Smartphones for doing e-mail. In reality, most people likely do some of their e-mail on a Smartphone and leave a certain portion of it to a time when they have a Notebook or Desktop Computer at their disposal. I find that I don't deal with e-mails that are more involved, have extensive attachments, or require me to write a lengthy reply on the iPhone but leave those to deal with on my ThinkPad.
It'll be interesting to see what will happen to these trends when Apple's iPad is introduced into the mix. How do you think these trends will change as a result? Please use the comment mechanism to provide your thoughts on this.
I was shocked when I realized that I hadn't blogged here since November 6th last year. Of course I've mini-blogged via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and audio-blogged via UXDesignCast and Life Habits podcasts. I've even hosted a webcast or two. The problem is that I always argue with others who say that blogging is dead having been replaced by these newer alternatives. I argue that we still need the longer format so that you can express deeper, wider, and longer thoughts than a 140 character space affords. However, my own behavior has betrayed me.
I refuse to give up on the concept that blogging is important for the following reasons.
- Bloggers need to write the material that everyone else can write tweets and Facebook updates about. It's bad enough that we seem to be losing investigative journalists who can spend time to get into depth and truly investigate a story. If we lose bloggers, we'll have even fewer sources of original material. I did some investigation some years ago into the practice within academia of citing journal articles without actually reading them. I tracked down the original article that virtually all journal articles in a particular research area cited and found out that it didn't say at all what people thought it said. I then proceeded to do the actual research properly and published it in a prestigious journal and now that paper is often cited at least as often as the original. My point is that we now have many, many people on these social networking sites looking for things to communicate which is great if there is enough source material to communicate about. With newspapers decreasing and if blogging also declines, there's is very little source material left. What are we left with then? Celebrity gossip. Argh.
- We need original thought and a mechanism to express it openly using as many characters, words, and paragraphs that are needed. I often listen to podcasts that are longer versions of radio programs. I don't listen to live radio or TV for that matter. I find it interesting that the hosts point out that the full interviews are available only in the podcast form. I prefer to hear the whole story, not some edited down few minutes. I listen to audio books and always download the unabridged version. I can't imagine not wanting the whole book. That's how I see blogs - the full, unabridged version. I still like to read tweets or Facebook updates that point me to interesting blogs - that's how I now find them by and large. I also still use an RSS reader but don't use it as much for getting pointers to blogs to read.
So, blogs are still important but there's still a problem. There are still only 24 hours in a day (although a Facebook friend showed me how to increase it to 26 hours BTW). If you're tweeting, Facebooking, podcasting, and reading tweets, Facebook updates, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, when do you have time to blog? The answer is one that I give regularly in episodes of my Life Habits podcast: determine your priorities and plan your time accordingly. I sometimes load up my iPhone with an episode or two of my own podcasts, particularly the Life Habits one and listen to my own advice. I'll do that in this case too and, in turn, devote some more time to thinking, writing longer than 140 character thoughts, and thus contributing to the content others can tweet about.
As always, I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts on my thoughts using the comment capability of this blog or via Twitter, Facebook, my podcast shownotes sites, or wherever you'd like.
Thanks for doing your part in contributing to the survival of the blogosphere.