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When Twitter Bots go Bad

Posted by twit | Posted in Applications, FAIL | Posted on 31-03-2012

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There are any number of bots (i.e. robots) on Twitter. These are accounts that are programmed to tweet when they find a certain term. Send a tweet out about iPad and you will immediately see a bunch of spam tweets responding to yours.

I re-tweeted a post about the top WordPress plugins on 3/30, and a friend RT’d it. An account called @DesignEcho re-tweeted  that one and added the hashtag #Design. @DesignEcho is using Twitterfeed (a sure sign of a scheduled tweet). The first instance of the RT was at 6:45pm.

Unfortunately for it, the bot then continued RT’ing its own tweet at 7:16pm,  9:51pm, 11:21pm, and 11:52pm. It looked like this by the end:
evolutionfilesMar 30, 5:36pm via TweetDeck

RT @anitasearchguru @bkmacdaddy: Top 100 #WordPress Plugins – The Best Of The Rest goo.gl/Dvnxt

Design_EchoMar 30, 6:45pm via twitterfeed

RT @evolutionfiles RT @anitasearchguru @bkmacdaddy: Top 100 #WordPressPlugins – The Best Of The Rest ht…

Design_EchoMar 30, 7:16pm via twitterfeed

RT @Design_Echo RT @evolutionfiles RT @anitasearchguru @bkmacdaddy: Top 100 #WordPress Plugins – The Bes.

Design_EchoMar 30, 9:51pm via twitterfeed

Design_EchoMar 30, 10:21pm via twitterfeed

Design_EchoMar 30, 10:52pm via twitterfeed

RT @Design_Echo RT @Design_Echo RT @Design_Echo RT @Design_EchoRT @evolutionfiles RT @anitasearchguru @…

At this point, not only is it clear that this is a robot program, but that it is now caught in a loop.  The only thing that stopped it from going longer was midnight.
I noticed all these tweets because on both HootSuite and TweetDeck I have a column for mentions of my Twitter handle (screen name).
Bots are mostly built to send out spam or because the actual person isn’t interested in actually talking to people on Twitter. I tend to block bot accounts when I find them. This one is following @evolutionfiles, not me.
 

What are the Favorite Apps for Tweeting?

Posted by twit | Posted in Applications | Posted on 10-01-2012

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Image representing MarketMeSuite as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

A lot of people use third party applications to tweet with, rather than going directly to Twitter. The ones I use include HootSuite, TweetDeck, and MarketMeSuite.  If you look carefully at these apps, you can see what other peeps are tweeting with.

On TweetDeck, look at the lower line where it gives the name of the person and the date. It also says “via [app name]“.  HootSuite has it directly under the name of the person (this is also true for the mobile app), and MarketMeSuite places the app name at the top. All of these names are links that will take you to the application website.

When it says “Web” for the name, it is referring to the main Twitter website.  This is also true if there isn’t an app mentioned.

Some of the different apps I have seen include: Visibli, TwitterFeed, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Tweet Button, Timely, CoTweet, Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android, and SocialOomph. I will be reviewing these in later posts.

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10 Reasons I’m Not Following You on Twitter

Posted by twit | Posted in Articles | Posted on 28-07-2011

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Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

There are no hard rules on Twitter. Just because someone follows you does not mean you have to follow them back.

I tend to be picky about who I follow on Twitter and Facebook. Here are 10 reasons for not following people on Twitter.

1.    Your avatar, (photo), doesn’t exist, is a cartoon character, is half dressed, or is nude. If you haven’t yet bothered to put in an avatar, Twitter shows you as an egg. This tells me you’re either very new, or you don’t care. Using a logo or a cartoon character tells me that you don’t want people to know what you look like. And finally, the only avatars that should be semi-nude, are those people who sell lingerie. I find it very hard to trust people whose avatars are wearing undershirts, bikinis, or other nonprofessional attire. Avatars that are naked women tend to represent spammers, or robots (fake Twitter profiles).

2.    You haven’t tweeted in 30 days or more. Are you still alive? There are a lot of people on Twitter who seem to abandon their Twitter accounts after a month. It is hard to tell this unless you go back and look at their last tweet.

3.    All your tweets are quotes. While quotations are useful in certain situations, if all you’re doing is tweeting somebody else’s words, then you obviously aren’t very interested in talking to others on Twitter.

4.    You have protected your Twitter updates. This shows that you completely miss the point of social media. Social media lets us engage with people and show two sides of the conversation (yours and others). Some people seem to think that protecting ones’ updates equals privacy. This is a fallacy because we can still see your profile.

5.    You use foul language in your profile or tweets, (continuously). Unless you are a third grader, civilized conversations don’t require profanity.

6.    All your tweets are advertisements, you selling something, or spam. This is one of the biggest mistakes made on Twitter. Think of Twitter or any social network as a cocktail party. You wouldn’t go up to the nice-looking girl by the punch bowl and say “You really need to buy my new book about weight loss.” That would probably get you a slap in the face. Instead, what you would actually do is engage the person in conversation, win their trust, and then lead the conversation to something about your new book. Twitter is the same. This includes automatic direct messages (DM). Talk, engage in conversations, and then lead into products.

7.    All of your tweets are forwards (RTs) of other peoples’ tweets. This is the same problem as using all quotations. Where are your thoughts? Or is it that you don’t have anything important to say? This sort of behavior leads people to think that there is no real person behind the Twitter handle.

8.    You tweet the same tweet over and over and over again. This is against Twitter’s guidelines, and again leads to my assumption that you are a bot (robot).

9.    Your profile has nothing on it. You need to give me something to go on, your interests, where you’re located, or what you do. Be careful of the location section of the profile. Writing, “Planet Earth”, or “Everywhere”, is useless to most of us.

10.    And the big one: if you are following more than 10,000 people, (and you’re not @GuyKawasaki, or a celebrity), my assumption is that you’re using one of the automatic Twitter follower programs. I doubt very much that you are following the conversations of all 20,000 people, or even engaging any of them.

No Speeka Your Tweet

Posted by twit | Posted in Definitions, Jargon | Posted on 30-08-2010

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If You're Not Confused
Image by B Tal via Flickr

There are a lot of odd acronyms floating around Twitter. Apart from urban slang, and weird Web 2.0 website names (i.e. Squidoo, Kirtsy), there are “hashtags.”

A hashtag is a word or set of words with a “#” in front of it. This was originally designed so that when you are looking for a specific topic on the Twitter search engine ,  it was possible to find quickly. An example of this is the place name “San Diego”. If you look it up without a hashtag, you get everything with those keywords including source material (names of publications) showing up. With the # in front, #sandiego, you can get the exact subject you are looking for.

Of course, this assumes that everyone on Twitter remembers to use the hashtag. Many do not, and others make up their own hashtags as they are writing their tweets. So, in order to figure out what peeps are talking about, I recommend using the site What The Hashtag? .

This website gives you the trending hashtags, active tags, and a word cloud of tag categories. It is free to create an account, and they now have a set of tools that can help you figure out the odder tags.

There are also a lot of chatspeak acronyms that show up in Twitter. Many of these were originally used in chatrooms, and then in text messages  (SMS) on mobile phones.

I would also recommend the Twittonary as a place to look up Twitter words.

Twitter Profile Backgrounds

Posted by twit | Posted in Graphics | Posted on 11-06-2010

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Have you seen some of those cool backgrounds for Twitter? How do they do that?

TwitBacks has a number of categories for backgrounds and lets you put in your contact details as well. They let you put links on your background to your social networks, and will help you promote your Twitter profile. They also offer a customized background for $99.

FreeTwitterDesigner also has free backgrounds. I really like their easy to use interface. These are straight graphics without any bells or whistles.

You can just use a graphic image to use as background as well.

Why are Auto-Follow Twitter Programs so Bad?

Posted by twit | Posted in Applications | Posted on 25-02-2010

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When Twitter first started, a lot of people thought that you could judge a person by the number of followers they had. In other words, a person would be considered popular if they has a large number of others following them.

As Twitter usage has grown, this has become less and less important. It is not the number of followers, but rather how much the person engages those followers.

Let me give you an example. A certain person on Twitter has 37,000 followers from using one of the many auto following programs. This software automatically follows people for him, waits until they follow back, and then unfollows them.  This results in a huge following, BUT none of these people really know who the main person is.

The person in question does not engage any of these followers. He tends to schedule his tweets in advance, and never stops to actually talk to anyone, nor does he RT other people’s posts. IMHO, he is little more than a robot here on Twitter, which does not make me want to follow him, nor to ask questions.

Twitter is all about engaging your followers, your prospects, and your customers. Why else would you want to be active here? Many of us share information, ask and answer questions, and even repost (ReTweet) other tweets. (Just don’t get me started on people who protect their updates! That is a whole ‘nother post.)

Many of us who have been on Twitter for longer than a year understand this. People like @ChrisBrogan, @iamkhayyam, @debng, and myself (@searchguru) have worked hard to build up their followers by talking and sharing with them.

Try it. Reach out and share information, or a pleasant thought with someone else. It doesn’t hurt. :)

What to Do With All My Favorites?

Posted by twit | Posted in Applications, Getting Started | Posted on 29-01-2010

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There is a feature on Twitter called Favorites. You can make a tweet a Favorite and share it with others, or just go back and read it later.

One of the problems with this is trying to sort through all your Favorites at once. If you are like me, you tend to mark tweets as Favorites so you can come back to them later. As a result, I have pages and pages of them.

I have just discovered that you can see your Faves as an RSS feed. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. If you are older than 30, think of those electric ticker tape signs. If you are under 30, you probably know what it is. :)

Simply type into your browser,  http://twitter.com/favorites/(your Twitter name).rss . That will bring up all your faves in an easy to read stream of links.

Interviews with Peeps – Tweetabix

Posted by twit | Posted in Twitterati | Posted on 28-01-2010

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Tweetabix interviews Twitter users as to how they use Twitter, whether for fun, community or business. Richard McKay (@holeinhiseye) runs this site and asks each person what they think about Twitter and its future.

This is a great resource for newbies and the general public to learn about Twitter.

How to spot Local Twitter Trends

Posted by twit | Posted in General | Posted on 17-11-2009

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A lot of people are using Twitter as a broadcasting tool to get the word out about events in their local cities. Unfortunately, many of these tweets get lost in the general Twitterstream.

Happn.in is one solution to this problem. This site allows you to follow your local Twitter feed, see what the current trends are, and even advertise to the local Tweetstream.

Using the hashtag #hi_, the site allows you to find your location on a Google map (the sites currently covers Western Europe and the US), and click on the pin. A small window appears with a list of the current words that are trending, a “town crier” -someone from the area who has tweeted the most about the local events that week, the latest posts with the hashtag and a way to advertise to that particular area.

If you click on “More  [city] Detail” it leads you to a page where you can not only see what is happening, but Happn.in even lets you rate the tweets.

This information is already very valuable to marketers, and retailers. Happn.in has hit upon a formula that will lead to a lot of great data.

Twitter Stats

Posted by twit | Posted in Applications | Posted on 30-07-2009

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Ever wonder how many tweets per day some people on Twitter are producing? There is an app for that! (sorry, couldn’t help myself) TweetStats shows you the statistics on anyone on Twitter. You can see how many tweets per hour, per day, per month, as well as when they are tweeting and what applications they are using to tweet with. The graphs also show who they are retweeting as well.

All you have to do is put in their Twitter name to get the information.  The app also lets you see the stats in a Word Cloud, and what hashtags are being used.

In addition, you can see what is trending on Twitter in real time, and what the day’s trends were. All in all, this is a very useful app.

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