How to find a Twitter First Post

Want to the find the first post you wrote or that someone else wrote? It’s easy.

  • Go to the Twitter page of the person whose first post you want to see. Take note of their Twitter username.
  • Look for the number of updates in the Stats section in the right column.
  • Take the number of updates and divide it by 20. (There are 20 updates per page).
  • If you have a remainder after the division, add 1 to your result. This is the page number you need.
  • Construct a url using the following syntax:[username]?page=[pagenumber]

  • Load that url in your browser.

That’s it. Enjoy!

Twitter First Posts

I’ve been introducing a lot of people to Twitter lately. The conversation when I introduce it to someone has a very familiar pattern:

Do you use twitter?
No, but I’ve thought about it. But I don’t think I would get much out of it.
I had the same thoughts when I started, but I’ve gotten a few business leads, connections to the community, and speaking engagements through Twitter. So I get tremendous value out of it, and it’s fun.

This reminded me of the way that Scott Kveton talked about Twitter during his intro at Ignite Portland. He said:

By the way, when I tell you about this, you are going to think this is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard of–because everyone who Twitters thought it was stupid too.

That’s absolutely true. Many of the most prolific people on Twitter had the same thoughts as people who look at Twitter now and think it won’t work for them. I thought it might be interesting to go back in time and see if they tweeted about their impressions.

This sparked a series of re-tweeting people’s early tweets. Some of my favorites:

@marshallknow if I can just figure this service out quickly :)

@davewinereat ideas flying around

@betsywhimfiguring out how to use this thing

1st tweet from @jowyang: “Surfing the web” 2nd tweet: “sitting at home

@ravenzacharyIs this more than a fad?

@kvetonI’m sitting here trying to figure out why I’m using this … haha … :-)

There are a lot of funny early tweets to look at. But the main reason I wanted to expose this was to say to people who are new that you’re not alone in wondering whether or not Twitter will be worth it to you. The most experienced Twitter users started out with the same questions, wondering if they had anything worthwhile to say, and if anyone would bother to follow them.

So give Twitter a shot and be sure to stick with it for awhile until you find your voice. Sometimes things that are valuable aren’t apparent until you give them a try.

Mobile Dominates Social Media

With all of the buzz this week about Google’s Open Social, everyone’s attention is focused on the web-based social networks and missing the impact of mobile technology on social media. Per usual, the Communities Dominate Brands blog is ahead of the game on this one.

In Tomi T Ahonen’s latest post on Communities Dominate Brands, Tomi points out that:

Informa’s latest Mobile Industry Outlook report for 2007 reveals that yes, mobile social networking services did continue their dramatic growth for the past 12 months, and are already worth over 5 billion dollars in 2007.

$5 billion dollars! This again dwarves the revenue associated with web-based social networks. Tomi’s post echoes one of his posts from a year ago where he put the then $3.45 billion in mobile social networking in perspective:

3.45 Billion dollars this year! Wow. A bit of context. All of iTunes revenues last year were about 400 million dollars. TV-interactivity (voting for Big Brother, Survivor Island, Pop Idol etc) were worth 900 million dollars. Internet gaming revenues, all multiplayer games etc, were worth 1.9 billion dollars. All internet adult site revenues were worth 2.5 billion dollars in 2005… Oh, just to be clear – that mobile digital content revenue is more than all (non-mobile phone based) online social networking revenues combined. In only two years, the mobile side of digital communities has shot ahead of the online world. Amazing!

There you go. If you weren’t previously convinced that mobile is the next big thing, it’s hard to dispute the fact that today’s big thing–social networks–is already bigger on mobile devices than on PCs.

Twitter Updates and Facebook Status

Twitter’s Facebook application has recently been updated to allow you to change your status whenever you post to Twitter. This sounds like a good idea in practice, but in reality, it turns out to be simply redundant.

Status updates is one of the few Facebook items that are available via RSS. Now that Twitter updates change the Facebook status, most of the RSS that Facebook provides is now full of updates that I’ve already read in Twitter.

The only updates I can get out of Facebook’s walled garden is something that both started outside of the garden and something that I’ve already read. It’s easy to see why everyone thinks Facebook is so useful. </sarcasm> :-)

I’ve got Twittermentia!

From yesterday’s Twitter transcript:

09:43 am grigs: Really enjoyed the ALA Web Dev Survey Well written report. Wish it has included billed rates. Any surveys on that?

09:46 am grigs: Twitter usage of tinyurl makes it difficult to track links. No way to set up a (blog)search for tinyurls that point to your site.

09:46 am grigs: There is a service there that tinyurl could provide.

09:55 am selenamarie: @grigs thanks for the pointer.

10:02 am grigs: @selenamarie what pointer? oh, the ALA report? can’t remember what i did moments ago.

10:15 am selenamarie: @grigs: twittermentia?

Selena went on to define Twittermentia as:

twittermentia: happens when you can only remember your most recent post to Twitter.

This is the first time I can recall a new term being defined to describe my behavior. I’m not sure if I should be happy or ashamed.

Betsy says to own it and given the fact that it probably won’t be the last time I can’t remember what I was just doing, I should probably do as she says. Thanks Selena. :-)

5 Months Later: Twitter Rocks. Facebook Bores.

After hearing such a buzz about Twitter and Facebook at Web Visions 2007, I decided to give them both a try. Five months later, the results are completely unexpected to me: Twitter seems indispensable and Facebook completely ignorable.

My initial impressions were very different. Facebook had a clear purpose and reason. While I’ve never got much value out of MySpace or Friendster and minimal value out of LinkedIn, at least I understood why someone might find them useful. Facebook’s common features with these other social networking sites made it easy to see what Facebook was about.

Twitter on the other hand seem like a tremendous waste of time. I believe that the high interrupt nature of today’s workplace is already straining productivity. I’ve changed my email client to only check email every 30 minutes, stopped participating in IM and irc but irregularly, and generally sought ways to give myself more focus.

It was difficult to imagine that a system like Twitter with constant micro-updates would work for me.

Five months later and I’m contemplating turning off my Facebook account while I both enjoy and find utility in Twitter. How did this come to be?

Let’s start with the easy answer on why Facebook disappoints.

Dave Winer wrote recently about how Facebook sucks because it doesn’t allow users to control their data. This triggered a lot of back and forth about the value of Facebook. I’m not sure if it is control of the data or the walled garden or what, but the reality is that I never see what is going on in Facebook.

I think Facebook’s expectation is that I’m going to log into their system and refresh the news feed page. I’m not sure. I’ve tried turning on every type of notification and subscribing via RSS to no avail. I’m in several groups, but I never know that anything is happening in them.

Basically, the only time I think about Facebook is when someone writes an article about how great it is. Then I log in to look again and wonder what I’m missing.

Yes, Facebook has a wonderful development platform. I like the fact that I can syndicate my blog, twitter, delicious and flickr information to Facebook. It means I never have to log into Facebook to update anything. :-)

Maybe more of my friends need to use the platform. Maybe I need to “live” in the application to appreciate it. But for whatever reason, I’ve given Facebook five months to hook me, and I still could care less about it. And I’m actively trying to understand this system. I doubt others will take as much time.

Twitter’s purpose is much more difficult to explain. Adam C. Engst’s recent “Confessions of a Twitter Convert” mirrors my own experience. Twitter provides both a way to know what is going on in people’s lives, a conduit to breaking news, and a community that you don’t find elsewhere online.

It also provides you with a conduit to talking to people you otherwise have no connection to. My exchange with Guy Kawasaki allowed me to give something back to someone I admire. That connection would have never happened without Twitter. I don’t have Guy’s email address. He doesn’t know me at all.

Who knows? Perhaps in five months more of my friends will be on Facebook, and I’ll suddenly see why so many people swear by this service and think it can take on Google. And maybe Twitter will grow old or become crowded with spammers.

But for now, Twitter provides a difficult-to-describe joy and usefulness to my everyday. Facebook promises much more, but doesn’t deliver.

(You can follow me on Twitter here. My Facebook account is… well, I don’t think I can link to my Facebook profile. So I guess you have to search for me. How lame is that?)

Web ‘not path to close friendships’

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post where I theorized that social networks were having an impact on our ability to create and keep in contact with many more acquaintances, but don’t redefine our definition of friendship as some have suggested. A study by Sheffield Hallam University has recently been released that says that, “close friends are unlikely to be made through social networking web sites such as Facebook and MySpace.”

The article on the study points out that social networking sites “may be having less impact on people’s social lives than might be expected.” The research shows that people really only have about 5 close friends—the same number that people had before social networking sites—and that those close friends are met face-to-face.

So social networking is about acquaintances more than friends regardless of how many “friend” request you accept. The thing that surprised me most about the research was that people might have actually expected social networking sites to change the dynamics of close friendships.

Facebook: The First Level 2 Platform

A quick follow up to my previous post on platforms. In Marc Andreessen’s article on The three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet, he writes:

  • In the Internet realm, the first Level 2 platform that I’m aware of is the Facebook platform.

Marc defines a Level 2 platform as a platform that lets “developers build new functions that can be injected, or ‘plug in’, to the core system and its user interface.”

Is Facebook really the first to do this? Does anyone have an example of a company that was doing this before Facebook?

Applying a Social Computing Strategy to the entire Product Lifecycle

Jeremiah Owyang has published an exceptionally detailed article tracking the different ways to engage in social media during a product’s lifecycle.

The article has a raft of good ideas in it including this insightful quote:

1. Listening: The most important step
This is one of the biggest problems for communicators today, just like a real conversation, is learning to listen. Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party. Marketers, MarCom, Integrated Marketing, Advertising, PR, have forgotten (or never knew) that by listening to the needs of the market will help them to create more effective messages and then evolve into a conversation.

Listening is the most underdeveloped skill in business today. Whether it is listening to our customers or listening to our coworkers, finding people who can listen well is difficult.

Listening to a market is a different skill set (rss, bulletin boards) than listening in a meeting, but both rely on true listening—active listening.

Active listening requires you to not only have heard what is was said, but to listen intently enough that the people speaking know that you have heard and understood them. Only after someone knows that they’ve been heard will they be able to engage in a conversation.

In social media, it isn’t sufficient to simply monitor the conversations. You need to understand and internalize the values, concerns and fears of the people involved.

The first time that a marketer speaks in a social network, it will be readily apparent those involved in the network whether or not the marketer truly gets what they are about or not. Marketers need to take the time to listen and to make sure that when they engage in the conversation that their audience knows that they have been heard.

I was pleased that Jeremiah listed listening as the most very first thing on his list. The rest of the list is just as insightful so read the full article.

Friends vs. Acquaintances

Steve Rubel had an interesting post a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been holding onto to consider. He postulates that the Web Changes How We Define Friendships. Steve makes some compelling points about the drive towards quantity versus quality when you start participating in social networks.

I have a different theory. I believe that social networks are not changing the way we define friends. Our close friends are the ones for whom we never needed social networking tools in the first place. Our friends are the ones who know who we are, have been to our homes, and who have refrigerator privileges*.

What social networks see to be able to do is help us better track our acquaintances. I think there is a stigma attached to the word acquaintance. We think of acquaintances as cool relationships. Distant relationships that mean little. In fact, they mean a lot.

I have acquaintances who I greet warmly whenever I see them or correspond with them. I don’t know them intimately, but I know them well enough to want to know how they are doing and what they are up to.

Perhaps social networks will change our definition of friendship, but if they do, it will because we were never comfortable with the word acquaintance and because word acquaintance is too long to fit nicely into our common language and UI designs.

* Refrigerator privileges is an idea I read about in Never Eat Alone defining the friendships that you have where the person feels free to raid your refrigerator. The idea in the book is that we need more friends with refrigerator privileges. I couldn’t agree more.