An Interesting Interview with TweetMeme

This is one of the interesting interviews we have on our blog.
Sarah Blow, from TweetMeme.com was kind enough to answer our questions. And importantly, answered so accurately. Its interesting to see a business built around Twitter.

TweetMeme is a service which aggregates all the popular links on twitter to determine which links are popular. TweetMeme is able to categorize these links into categories and subcategories, making it easy to filter out the noise to find what you are interested in.

TweetMeme was built by a small web company called fav.or.it who are passionate about twitter, social media and a whole lot more. You can read about what the team are up to on their blog
TweetMeme-office-space
A glimpse at TweetMeme office space!
All the photographs of TweetMeme looks interesting, we have chosen one for this interview. You can look at the rest @ flickr.

Here is the interview:

Please tell our readers about yourself and TweetMeme service.

TweetMeme is a service that aggregates the most re-tweeted stories on twitter and makes them accessible to people in one central location. The service also includes it’s re-tweet button which helps users quickly engage their readers in re-tweeting interesting and relevant content to their twitter followers. Other offerings around TweetMeme include the Widget and API.

Some history about TweetMeme and fav.or.it(Parent company of TweetMeme!).

TweetMeme started out around 8 months ago as an extension of the original service Fav.or.it but specifically created with a focus on the content from Twitter rather than the web at large. The company is owned by Nick Halstead who is passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. Fav.or.it was founded about a year before TweetMeme and TweetMeme is a brand owned by Fav.or.it Ltd.

What inspired for the creation of tweetmeme.

TweetMeme was a natural progression of the original Fav.or.it concept of centralizing and aggregating interesting and most importantly relevant content from the web. The focus on Twitter came about as Twitter became more main stream showing that it may yet become a tool for the masses.

Many people around the world, all over the blogs are talking about “Is Twitter a Good Marketing Tool or yet another Time Waster” ? Tweetmeme being in the business, I can guess your answer, but would like to know it from you. And please tell us the reason for your answer.

You ask an interesting question here on Marketing. I would say Twitter is a tool that you MUST understand before using it for Marketing purposes. If used correctly such as for the Twestival campaign which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds around the world for the charity Clean Water then yes it is an excellent marketing tool. However if companies just use it as an extended RSS feed and don’t actively engage their brand in conversation and support then it’s no where near as useful as it could be. We try to help companies understand this when they come to us asking about using our featured tweet offerings or asking for a custom channel to be created for them. We think it is incredibly important for companies to understand both the risks and the rewards that can come from using social media tools such as twitter for marketing their brand but also for public relations.

What are the long term business plan and business model for TweetMeme?

Now that would be telling wouldn’t it…. We are already making money through our advertising revenue, featured tweets and custom channels but look out for other interesting things in the coming months. I’m going to leave that question there and leave you all guessing to find out what comes next for us.

How addicted are you and other employees at TweetMeme, to Twitter?

Addicted… that’s a strong word… that would suggest that we can’t keep away from the tool. We use it a lot but not to the detriment to our health or happiness. We understand that there is a healthy balance to be had between online and offline communications. I think you would class all the employees at TweetMeme as Twitter enthusiasts!

Do you think Twitter is becoming more of a main stream media now a days or do you think it will be a main stream media soon.

I think Twitter is fast becoming a common communication channel much like SMS however it will still take some time for the majority of the general public to find a suitable way of it working for them. Mainstream Media here in the UK already use it on local and national radio stations, within some TV programs for feedback and major celebrities both in the UK and the US are using it to engage their fans. As an engagement tool it is powerful but I’d love to see it used on programs such as Top Gear and National News Programs. So all in all I’d say it’s coming but it will take time.

Do you think, the presence of a company on Twitter, will positively help in their business or is just a distraction.

I think it depends on how the company has a presence on twitter and what the purpose of it’s presence is. If it is individuals on Twitter just to communicate on a personal level then that is very different to say a large medical company interacting with other businesses or key business influencers within their industry sector. Twitter has the power to connect people that would otherwise never manage to communicate with one another without intervention.

We can see TweetMeme buttons on many websites now a days. It makes me curious to know, how much bandwidth does it consume each day or each month? And what server configurations do you use to manage them?

We serve over 46,000,000 buttons per day but this isn’t the only thing that we do and as such our bandwidth usage isn’t something that is easy to split down to specific usage functions. We use Sun Micro-systems servers and are supported through the Sun Startup Essentials program. It’s a great program that we would encourage other startups to consider.

What new features can we expect from TweetMeme in coming days?

You’ll have to wait and see… that’s part of the fun of following us on twitter @talktweetmeme or following our blog http://blog.tweetmeme.com we announce all our latest releases of information over there, so you’ll just have to wait and see.

How big or small is TweetMeme, as a company?

I guess size is very much dependent on how you measure it. As far as number of employees, we’re a small team of 9 people but as far as our reach and traction, then I guess you would say we are pretty large.

What do you feel about Twitter. What might be its future?

Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball but Twitter’s future is bright and I look forward to seeing where it leads in the future.

How important do you think the numbers game in Twitter(I am talking about the follower count)? Do you think it matters?

Does the follower count really count…. now there’s a question that thousands have tried to answer. I think the most important thing with follower counts is that you follow people that you find interesting and people who find you interesting follow back. I don’t believe that any good can be had from following the whole of the twitter population and at some point you reach a personal maximum where the number of people you follow is so large that the stream of information is just too vast and varied that you miss interesting conversations and as such will end up following less to keep useful information flowing. As far as finding followers goes, be interesting, engaging and of value. If you are those three things you’ll get followers. You don’t need to be the most followed person in the world to have a large influence just a good strong network with links to other key influencers if you want to get a message spread far and wide.

Best practices at Twitter.

I’m assuming you mean when using twitter with this question:
Be honest, block spammers, don’t feed the trolls (those people deliberately out for an argument), be careful about telling people your location when you’re out and about, think about personal online safety (don’t publish your address details, bank details etc!), be reasonable, engage, inspire and enjoy!

Worst practices at Twitter.

Advertising, spamming, explicit images, rss to twitter only, excessive tweeting, uninteresting or irrelevant content,

Finally, how ofter do you re-tweet, at least when you see the TweetMeme button on a blog/website, which is interesting?

I re-tweet anything I think is useful to my readers when I see it, be that through the tweetmeme button or copy and paste. I don’t re-tweet excessively url’s as my users like conversation as well as links. Links without conversation are largely irrelevant. It’s all about meaningful, relevant and reliable conversation!

Thanks to Sarah Blow,
Community Manager
TweetMeme.com. For being so generous to agree for an interview with us. You can follow TweetMeme with these links:
http://tweetmeme.com
http://blog.tweetmeme.com
http://twitter.com/talktweetmeme
http://twitter.com/girlygeekdom

Thanks for reading. And I hope you can see a TweetMeme button below this article. Use the button to share about this interview with your friends, if you find it interesting.

TweetMeMe or Tweet Me Not!

First thing first: “TweetMeme is a service that aggregates the most re-tweeted stories on twitter and makes them accessible to people in one central location. The service also includes it’s re-tweet button which helps users quickly engage their readers in re-tweeting interesting and relevant content to their twitter followers. Other offerings around TweetMeme include the Widget and API.” – Sarah, Community Manager, TweetMeme.com.

You probably have see TweetMeme buttons used by many bloggers and even mainstream media websites. It helps in reaching more audience.
tweetmeme
There are two options to use the TweetMeme button:
1. On selective posts.
2. On every posts published on the blog.

If you want to insert TweetMeme button to a particular post, then here is the code:
Put this code wherever you want the TweetMeme button to appear:


<script type="text/javascript">
tweetmeme_style = 'compact';
tweetmeme_url = 'http://yoururl.com';  
 tweetmeme_source = 'yourTwitterID';  
</script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://tweetmeme.com/i/scripts/button.js">
</script>  

I personally like the compact TweetMeme icon, which shows the number of re-tweets and gives the option to re-tweet. But the large one my help get user attention. To get the compact button, I have used tweetmeme_style = 'compact'; and note that all these

tweetmeme_style = 'compact';
tweetmeme_url = 'http://yoururl.com';  
 tweetmeme_source = 'yourTwitterID';  
fields are optional, if not used, default values will be taken. Its a walk in the breeze experience, to install things on a blog/website using WordPress, but not so in many other blogging platforms. So, you can make use of the above code to implement it manually on your blog.
Code Source: TweetMeme Help

You can also know the number of re-tweets a story has got, using this code:


http://api.tweetmeme.com/imagebutton.gif?url=<url>

replace the <url> with the URL of the article.

If you want to show TweetMeme re-tweet button at the end/ beginning of every article on your blog, then its a good idea to make use of tweetmeme plugin.

Another fantastic plugin that I personally like is: Tweetable.
Here is its features:
* Automatically tweet your blog posts when they are published. Optionally add Google Analytics campaign tags to the shortened URLs. You also have your pick of URL shorteners.
* Tweet from within WordPress. The plugin adds a dedicated Twitter page where you can browse your friends timeline and post updates. An optional quick-tweet Dashboard widget is available as well.
* Display your latest tweets in your blog sidebar with a customizable widget. Includes support to display follower count.
* Set the minimum user level to access the Twitter page in the WordPress backend.
* Automatically add a full-size or compact Tweetmeme widget to your posts.
* Track tweets based on keywords of your choice via the Twitter API.

Over all, I think it’s good to use this button at the end of the article, as it will be a good call for action. As per my observation, a story with TweetMeme button get more re-tweets. People can see how many people have already tweeted about the particular article, and it can arise their feeling, to re-tweet.
It is also interesting to see TweetMeme using bit.ly as the default URL shortener. So we can get those extra stats- the number of clicks we got to the re-tweeted article link and the location of the people, who clicked the link etc. You need not even have an account with bit.ly, just append a + sign at the end of the shortned URL and hit the enter key.
Ex:- One of my article URL, shortened using bit.ly is http://bit.ly/mOtWR To see the stats I just need to append a + sign i.e., http://bit.ly/mOtWR+ and hit the enter. So simple.

How often have you tweeted a story that has a re-tweet button and how often have you tweeted about a story that does not have one. Always remember, many people using internet are lazy enough, so you can’t expect many people to phrase the tweet. Only a small percentage of people will take the initiative to form the original tweets, to share the stories that they like and all others re-tweet it. So it would be a good idea to have such links where people can just tweet or re-tweet about it, with 1 or 2 clicks.

Have you used TweetMeme buttons on your website/blog. How is it performing? Do you have it at the bottom or top of the article? Do you prefer using a plugin or manual coding for individual posts.

Simple tweak, to maximize the chances of getting Re-Tweet

This is a small tip, but worth a separate post! So here is the small tip for this Sunday, hope you find it useful.

Always use less characters in the tweet that you want people to re-tweet. Do not expect people to rephrase the sentence and tweet it for you. If you are using a long URL in your tweet, then it will get shortened and the number of characters will get reduced automatically. But when you are tweeting the shortened URL or when you are tweeting only the plain text, always make sure that you use less words, interesting and conveying words. If you cover the whole 140 characters then how will your followers or others re-tweet your tweet? [ Here I am talking about only those tweets, to which you expect or ask a Re-Tweet ]

Recently Darren Rowse released his e-book and offered it for 25% less price, for some time. And announced it on twitter. He had used almost all the 140 characters. I found that the offer was very valuable, so wanted to re-tweet it, only to find that I was exceeding the word limit!

darren-workbook-offer-Twitter

I could have shortened it myself, but still wanted to inform Darren that, his other followers might be willing to re-tweet it and that he should rephrase it with less number of words. Darren immediately rectified it and sent another tweet, with less and effective words. This also reminds me of “The Power of Less” ( Choosing only the essential ). Removing the unwanted things or less useful thing and using only the most wanted things.

darren-workbook-offer-rephrased-twitter

After seeing Darren indirectly agreeing to the fact that “Tweets which are originally less than 140 characters tend to receive more re-tweets”, I started experimenting with it. We know that it’s a mere common sense, but twitter is a new phenomenon and we need to experiment before coming to any conclusion. (Experiment atleast before publishing the post on the blog 🙂 )

So I started asking for re-tweets once in a week or once in two week. I use to phrase the tweet with full 140 characters and would receive re-tweets only by friends with whom I chat most of the time in twitter. They never mind taking the pain of re-phrasing the sentence for me and retweeting it. But when I asked for the re-tweet on some other days, which had 100 or less characters, many people re-tweeted it. I had never seen those guys on twitter till then. I started following them after getting those re-tweet!

Remember, it may not make much of a difference for people with less number of followers, but for people with lot of followers, following this one simple technique will drastically increase the number of re-tweets.

Some other things to keep in mind are:
1. You need to give before you ask: Retweet interesting things of others, before asking for a re-tweet. If you give before asking, people will be glad to help you.
2. Ask for retweet only when you have really good piece of thing to share. Because many people wouldn’t like to recommend anything which they think will not bring value to their followers as well as to their recommendation.
3. And remember, twitter is not just about sharing links and marketing. Ofcourse it’s a very good marketing tool. But use it wisely. Provide great value to all your followers. Do not just try to sell them some thing. If you do so, one day you will end up with no followers (or just some boots following you), who will not provide value to your links or anything that you tweet.
Be genuine, be real, help people, involve in the discussion. Tweet the links or retweet only when you find the links interesting or when you think that it might interest your followers.

If you have any other small or big tips, that you have observed or experimented with twitter, then please share it with all of us..

You can follow me @technotip

Digg.com to replace its SHOUT feature

Digg.com has decided to replace its infamous Shout feature with Share the story on Twitter, FaceBook and email. And this feature is expected to be rolled out to all users this weekend.

Its inevitable for Digg to give importance to Twitter and FaceBook which has grown up so fast.



Many bloggers and online marketers feel that this move from Digg will be welcomed happily by its users.

This move has both advantages as well as disadvantages:
Advantages:
1. There will be constant exchange of traffic between twitter, FaceBook and digg. This is advantage for Digg, as people will not forget Digg over time 🙂
2. We feel connecting with people as more fun in Twitter and FaceBook than to be friend in Digg.com, where the main intention to make friendship may be to get more Diggs!
3. This gives more reasons to join Twitter and FaceBook, if you yet don’t have an account.
4. Now we can expect the end of monopoly of Digg power users! Now it may be the turn of Twitter power users 🙂
But we can convince a twitter user to re-tweet our tweets, if the story is really interesting. But in Digg, people will most probably ignore our requests as 90% of them would be spam 🙁
5. Spammers can not easily target Twitter and FaceBook users, as we are more choosy in following someone. And others can’t hurt our privacy.


Disadvantages:

1. We can not connect with like minded people on digg!
2. We need to be popular somewhere else to get our article to the front page of Digg!
3. We may start getting more spam mails than ever before, if not handled properly.
4. Spammers may try more innovative means to spam Twitter and FaceBook.

We can already see the integration of Twitter, FaceBook and EMAIL as means to share the stories in DIGG BAR. But the Digg bar wasn’t received by digg users happily. Only way Digg can improve itself is by constant testing, testing and testing, and implementing things according to user feedback.

What do you feel about this move from DIGG ?.