Twitter timeline change is good because Netflix

Twitter Netflix
failwhale_netflix by emosoda licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Twitter changed its timeline today, and I’m glad.

Your Twitter timeline was previously populated with almost all of the tweets from accounts you follow, with the most recent updates at the top of the list. Now, you’ll see some tweets from accounts you don’t follow. Twitter selects those tweets based on a “variety of signals,” the details of which are immaterial to my argument. You can read all about the changes on Twitter’s blog post.

I suspect some longtime Twitter users will bemoan the sacrilegious  tampering of the sacred timeline. We like a pure social stream. We like to see every drop of tweeted information as it makes its way down that stream. We don’t want Twitter littering the stream with unrequested junk.

So why am I glad for the change? One word: Netflix.

Netflix shares dropped 26.4% late Wednesday. Why? Because, according to The Wall Street Journal, the company failed to meet expected growth of new users. It didn’t lose customers. It actually gained 980,000 streaming customers in the U.S. and 2.04 million foreign customers. But those numbers fell short of the expected growth of  1.33 million and 2.36 million customers here and abroad, respectively.

I use Twitter every day. It’s a great tool. I want it to succeed. Since it’s a publicly traded company, that means that it has to keep its shareholders happy, it has to continue to grow.

In it’s most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter stated that if they were “unable to convince potential new users of the value and usefulness of our products and services,” that could “negatively affect user growth and engagement.”

The change in the timeline is meant to attract new users, as Mathew Ingram reported at Gigaom:

The impetus for Twitter to filter is obvious: the service needs to show growth in both number of users and engagement in order to satisfy investors, and finding relevant content as a new user can be a challenge, which is why the company recently updated its so-called “on-boarding” process.

Through its years of consistent growth, Facebook has constantly changed the algorithm for its News Feed. Users complain, but new subscribers continue to sign up.

I haven’t detected any negative impact to my Twitter timeline, and tweets – all the tweets from the accounts I follow – are still showing up in reverse chronological order.

If Twitter needs to attract new customers, changing the timeline might be one way to make the service more appealing than it was to me when I first looked at it seven years ago. I don’t mind a timeline tweaked so slightly that I haven’t noticed a difference, if it means that Twitter can continue to grow.

Prepare before you live-tweet from an event like #TEDx

John Jolliffe and Kary Mullis by TEDxOrangeCoast licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
John Jolliffe and Kary Mullis by TEDxOrangeCoast licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Preparation is key for live events. Organizers plan ahead. Speakers and performers rehearse. If you plan to use Twitter to cover a conference, set aside time prior to the gathering to prepare to live-tweet. It will make the process easier for you and more fruitful for your followers.

I will be tweeting from the TEDxOrangeCoast conference tomorrow and Saturday, as an audience member @ksablan and as a volunteer @TEDxOrangeCoast. I’ve done this kind of work for years, and have learned quite a bit from the mistakes I’ve made. I’m providing these preparation tips to help you get ready for the next conference you attend. Continue reading

BufferApp’s scheduled Twitter links improve social consistency

Since this blog is about linking, it’s pretty important (to maintain some consistent branding with all five of my readers who also follow me on social networks) that I use Twitter to share links. Since I started using BufferApp to schedule my tweets, I get a friendly reminder via email whenever I have no tweets scheduled to post, and I think it had improved my tweeting.

BufferApp is basically a button on my browser. It’s a button I press whenever I come across a web page that I think my followers might like. Pressing that button brings up a window in which I compose a tweet with a shortened link. Instead of going out to the twitterverse immediately, the message is added to a “buffer” that BufferApp will send out one of the 9 times that I’ve already chosen in my settings. If BufferApp runs out of tweets to send, it sends me that email to remind me to add more tweets to the queue.

For me, that email might be the key to BufferApp’s success. It really annoys me. It annoys me like my boss annoys me when she bugs me about an overdue project (that polling page is almost done, Terry). It annoys me like I annoy my children when I have to remind them again to do their chores.

I hate that email so much that I work harder than ever to scan my Google Reader in the morning and fill my BufferApp with links. That’s right, that annoying email has basically made me a more consistent tweeter.

If you aren’t too proud to see if being treated like a child can sometimes be an effective time management tool, give BufferApp a try and let me know what you think.

The @ReallyVirtual tweets, reportedly of the Bin Laden raid

A few hours after President Barack Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, I saw this tweet from Mediagazer’s Megan McCarthy (@megan): “So looks like at least one Twitter user (@ReallyVirtual) live-tweeted the Osama raid yesterday without knowing what it was.” I have not confirmed that report, but here is a text version of @ReallyVirtual’s Twitter stream in chronological order (in Pakistan time).

@ReallyVirtual: Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). May 1, 12:58 am

@ReallyVirtual: Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/ May 1, 1:05 am

@ReallyVirtual: A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S May 1, 1:09 am

@ReallyVirtual@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone too. May 1, 1:44 am

@ReallyVirtual@m0hcin seems like my giant swatter worked ! May 1, 1:46 am

@ReallyVirtual@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani… May 1, 1:48 am

@ReallyVirtual@raihak I try, man, I try May 1, 1:57 am

@ReallyVirtual@raihak Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the ‘being safe’ strategy May 1, 1:57 am

@ReallyVirtual: Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicpoters, and since they’re saying it was not “ours”, so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad May 1, 2:02 am

@ReallyVirtual@raihak yep, the mad power cuts have reached abbottabad – 14 hours daily – luckily I have a generator AND a UPS at the coffee shop May 1, 2:03 am

@ReallyVirtual@tahirakram yea. *hides his giant swatter* May 1, 2:03 am

@ReallyVirtual@kashaziz technically, it is unidentified until identified, and it is a flying object, so year, why the hell not, we have seen weirder stuff May 1, 2:04 am

@ReallyVirtual@tahirakram they’re not saying anything May 1, 2:05 am

@ReallyVirtual: The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there’s report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone. May 1, 2:10 am

@ReallyVirtual@wqs figures, if they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, the must have the same instructions for PMA May 1, 2:14 am

@ReallyVirtual@smedica people are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful. May 1, 2:15 am

@ReallyVirtual@tahirakram very likely – but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was. May 1, 2:16 am

@ReallyVirtual@smedica It must have been more, I started noticing the helicpoter when the noise got irritating – which part of Abbottabd are you in? May 1, 2:20 am

@ReallyVirtual@smedica I live near Jalal Baba Auditorium May 1, 2:23 am

@ReallyVirtual@smedica ‘safer’ is a relative term that has lost its meaning in Pakistan May 1, 2:26 am

@ReallyVirtual: Here’s the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>> May 1, 2:34 am

@ReallyVirtual: Two helicpoters, one down, could actually be the training accident scenario they’re saying it was >> May 1, 2:43 am

@ReallyVirtual: and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/ May 1, 3:05 am

@ReallyVirtual: And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad… May 1, 3:39 am

@ReallyVirtual@raihak The day there is uninterrupted electricity in Lahore for a whole month, I will start packing my bags, until then, Abbottabad is home May 1, 4:14 am

@ReallyVirtual: Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today May 1, 8:00 am

@ReallyVirtual: Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding May 1, 8:02 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed What really happened doesn’t matter if there is an official story behind it that 99.999% of the world would believe May 1, 8:08 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras – and got away May 1, 8:10 am

@ReallyVirtual@ahmedbilal @kursed Sadly. We should start learning how to spread believable stories and recreate a reality that suits us. May 1, 8:12 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed True, but stranger things have happened. I just hope they don’t find my giant helicopter swatter. Must hide it :-/ May 1, 8:15 am

@ReallyVirtual: Report from a sweeper: A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for. May 1, 8:21 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes. May 1, 8:24 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed I think I should take out my big blower to blow the fog of war away and see the clearer picture. May 1, 8:24 am

@ReallyVirtual: I guess Abbottabad is going to get as crowded as the Lahore that I left behind for some peace and quiet. *sigh* May 1, 8:27 am

@ReallyVirtual: Wondering what would be the right music to play in the coffee shop today… May 1, 8:35 am

@ReallyVirtual@kursed so, not that hard anymore I guess? May 1, 8:35 am

@ReallyVirtual: I guess I should unsubscribe from the #abbottabad search on twitter before it kills my machine. Leave Abbottabad alone, Osama and Obama… May 1, 8:41 am

@ReallyVirtual@harisn we are both right outside Islamabad :-) May 1, 8:47 am

@ReallyVirtual: I need to sleep, but Osama had to pick this day to die :-/ May 1, 9:03 am

@ReallyVirtual: Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it. May 1, 9:41 am

@ReallyVirtual: and here come the mails from the mainstream media… *sigh* May 1, 9:42 am