Fritter? What Facebook’s Opening Up Means for Twitter

twitter-vs-facebookFacebook has just made a bunch of significant updates today, most notably opening “up access to the content and methods for sharing through…status, Notes, Links (what we used to call Posted Items), and Video…” Not sure if you read the article awhile back over at AllFacebook, but Nick called it a few weeks back. I’m concerned that we will lose the inherent privacy that, for me, is so enjoyable.

Personally, I enjoy the two applications/services operating differently, but it was only a matter of time until Facebook realized a way to compete with Twitter in their ability to facilitate a means for instantaneous and widespread conversation. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to see a bunch of Twitter-inspired clones that will be taking up the cause clawing for their stake of the Facebook open status game.

Twitter applications like Tweetdeck, Twhirl, and the ton of other applications operating as satellites around the Twittersphere would do good to investigate and see how difficult it would be to recreate their applications displaying Facebook streams.  That is if they care about being involved in a niche that is about to completely blow wide open.

Twitter has a few million users, which admittedly is on the significant rise over the last few months with all the new celebrity users, media mentions and resulting attention, but their userbase pales in comparison to Facebook’s gargantuan 150m+ users. That being said, I wonder how long until Myspace decides to jump into the fray…I’m sure that they’ll arrive fashionably late.

What do you think about this? Do you think we’ll see people jumping ship for Facebook, as there will be a completely different level of integration with all of your other Facebook data and information? Or do you think the Twitterworld will buckle down and get ready to fight the good fight? Or will this really change little for Twitter faithfuls that already sync their Facebook statuses to their Twitter posts?

Can Facebook create the same level of underground endorsement and loyal buzz with their service? Do you think Facebook will have a greater ability to capture trends because of the wider user-base and dedicated audience?

Honestly, my biggest concern is that Facebook is going to become completely overrun with marketers and as a result we’re all going to get 100x the amount of friend requests that we currently get. I enjoy keeping my Facebook friends list filled with real-life friends. Facebook, for me, is a completely private opt-in community. I share different things on Facebook that I’m less likely to talk about publicly on Twitter.

In fact, I probably only have 10 or maybe 15 people that I don’t actually know who are my friends on Facebook. This is something that potentially could ruin the Facebook experience, and turn it into Myspace all over again…sans the horrible PimpMyLayout services.

What do you think? Chime in.

Please jump in and get involved in the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below and sharing/bookmarking this article. Thank you kindly.

How To Get The Most Out Of Twitter

For those of you who aren’t Twitter users (also commonly referred to as “twitterers”), this article is meant as an introduction. For those of you who are just getting your feet wet, hopefully this will serve as a guide reviewing some of the popular Twitter tools and applications.

First things first
If you have no idea what Twitter really is, instead of explaining it, I’m just going to suggest that you go and watch a brief little movie which does a better job explaining Twitter than any other site I’ve seen online: go watch videos at Common Craft.

Get yourself signed up with Twitter
When signing up, I strongly recommend choosing a name that is either widely recognized as an alias of yours, or some arrangement of your name. For me, while 417north would probably be recognized by a certain group of design industry folks, my name Greg Huntoon has far more recognition at this point in my career. To keep it short, I played around with the idea of using “ghuntoon” as my handle, but my name is pretty distinct, and so I made the decision to use my full name “greghuntoon” as my username/profile name on every single service where it’s available.

Don’t underestimate the power of this recognition. You will be easier to find by your friends and colleagues, and also by search engines. I would say that 75% of the people that I follow on Twitter agree with this based on their Twitter handles.

Figure out your voice
Find out what it is that you really want to say. When you’re new to micro-blogging, figuring out what to say might be a little difficult, because you’ll be tempted to just tweet about every little thing. For me, Twitter is largely a business tool. I have Facebook to stay connected with my friends, and Twitter allows me to follow the conversation leaders on a wide variety of topics that are of interest to me. And in turn, I try to make sure that my tweets (the name given to Twitter’s 140-character posts) are relevant, and hopefully not boring to my followers.

Don’t use multiple posts to get your point across. Part of becoming a good twitterer is learning how to condense your thoughts into the 140-character limit. After a while, you’ll totally see the utility in keeping things short and sweet. It’s really amazing how much can be communicated, and culled, from 140 characters.

Find people to follow
Search for topics that you’d like to find “experts” in, and then check out the profiles of the authors that are returned in the search results. That’s one way, for sure. There’s also the TwitterPacks Wiki, which will give you some lists of people to follow based on a bunch of different filters / categories. I can nearly guarantee that you will walk away from the Wiki with at least 30-40 new people to follow (and depending on their reciprocity, you will probably end up with a bunch of new people following you).

Once you have a handful (20-30) followers and people that you are following, I strong urge you to follow Mr. Tweet “Your Personal Networking Assistant”, by visiting the site and clicking on the “Follow Mr. Tweet” gray button on the front page of the site. That is all you need to do, and within about a 1/2 a day later, you’ll get a reciprocal follow from @MrTweet with an accompanying link to their report which will show you two things:

  1. Which of your followers you should be following in return.
  2. Who the influential people are that you should be following (and it is different for each person, depending on your interests, what you post about, and the types of people that you already follow).

Which programs and tools you might use
I always have my main Twitter stream open using Tweetdeck. This allows me to split my stream into the main tweets from me and the people that I follow, all of my @replies, and my direct messages. Additionally, Tweetdeck has the ability to add multiple columns so that I can filter off specific people, searches, or fine-tuned groups of people to follow. This is the ultimate tool if you are managing one account, or have one account that gets 75% of your attention or greater.

TweetdeckSince I have multiple Twitter accounts I use, I also use Twhirl to manage all of those other accounts. Twhirl isn’t quite as great for showing me everything all at once, but it does a great job of managing tons of accounts all at once, including your friendfeed, seesmic, and identi.ca accounts if you so choose.

Tweetdeck and Twhirl are definitely the two applications that I use to post tweets with the most, but I take advantage of quite a few other services that really make it easy for me to Tweet wherever and whenever I want:

  • Twitter Tools – a WordPress plug-in that auto-posts your blogs tweets as part of the publishing process
  • Twitterfeed – the best, and most painless way to auto-tweet your blog entries (any RSS or Atom based feed), which I use for all of my non-Wordpress posts and entries
  • TwitThis – a bookmarklet that uses javascript to prepopulate a Tweet with relevant data like the title and the url of the page you are currently viewing in your browser
  • Twitterific – although not often, sometimes at home it’s just far easier to rattle off thoughts and links via the iPod Touch (in my case). This, however, is definitely the best iPod/iPhone Twitter app on the market.
  • Tweetburner – a great service if you’re really wanting to track your tweets
  • Twitter.com/home – although rare, sometimes I’ll exceed my limit on Twitter (long story, more on that here) and returning to your web home, tweeting by IM or by txt are your only options

Etiquette: some do’s and don’ts
Most importantly, unless you’re a chef, don’t tell me what you’re having for lunch today. The only other exception to that rule is if you’re giving links, reviews and/or dining tips that are useful. I guarantee you that the quickest way to getting yourself unfollowed is incessant tweeting about mundane eating habits, such as “Really enjoying this apple. It’s the best after a Subway sandwich.” I cringe at posts like that, while, conversely, a food-related post like this would be much more engaging: “Just finished off a caprese panini from @atlanticgrille on South E St” (fictional post…don’t go searching for Atlantic Grille on South E).

On the other hand, a very important Twitter practice is getting involved in the conversation(s) by replying to people. Let your voice be heard, and contribute when you have something constructive and new to offer into the stream. When done effectively, you’ll make new friends, followers, and widen your experience on Twitter.

I have made new business connections and friends, and learned a ton since joining Twitter way back when. But it continues to redefine itself, and there are new tools and services jumping into the fray nearly every day.

So, the sooner you sign up and get involved, the better for you…

What should I write / post, and where should I put it?

I have come to a bit of an impasse with my blog, and all of the other personal properties that I use. The blog that I currently use at GregHuntoon.com isn’t built for the length of posts that I prefer to write, and as such, I don’t write often. The design (ironically) looks unbalanced when you don’t write a 5-pager, and so I have a backlogue of half-finished articles dying in the sea doomed to irrelevancy for being untimely.

Another issue that plagues me is my portfolio. I appreciate it when designers keep their portfolios up-to-date, allowing others to participate in the evolution. But I don’t really want my portfolio and my blog to be the same site. Main reason being, there are a handful of topics that I want to contribute on, but I fear that a project post about my latest launch sandwiched between two lengthy articles about parenting and a trip to Africa will splinter my readership. I am looking for the way to best collect my work and my thoughts, but I’m not quite sure that they all need to be collected in the same place. Many people do take that route, but it usually comes across disjointed, and is they’re trying to shove a round pegs into square holes. I want it to be easy for visitors to participate in the thoughts and ramblings of a thirty-something new dad, who happens to like to cook, discuss sports, and talk about photography and design, without alienating the people who’d just like to click through my portfolio, and vice versa.

I guess what’s funny about this discussion, is that I currently have the two different functions of portfolio and blog separate already, with GregHuntoon.com and 417north.com, my portfolio site. Instead of just doing it, and keeping my mouth shut, I’d like for this post to serve as part of my inventory process. I need to streamline the online sites and apps that I use to write and manage my online content, as I feel too thinly spread out at times. On a daily basis I keep 3-4 Twitter accounts up-to-date, write blog posts for this site occassionally, rarely update my portfolio because of the tedium of doing so, and sporadically post to my Tumblr, Posterous.com blog (which is a new site I suppose I’m just evaluating), or any of the other umpteen micro-blogging and social community sites / services that I hold an account with. I could use my Ping.fm account to simply write once and post to all of the various sites, but that seems disingenuous.

The only thing that I know for sure right now, is that I need a new design for GregHuntoon.com that can be a catch-all for my digital life. Here are the content dilemmas that I really want the next incarnation to address:

  • a new design that is built so that all blog posts will look great, regardless of length or content
  • I need to make it easy to post thoughts, articles, portfolio pieces, photography, videos, and other content, without having to stop and think about what goes where
  • a sidebar widget and dedicated homepage real estate to feature pieces from my portfolio (whether those pieces are pulled in from some other off-site location or not)
  • an elegant and inviting display of my Twitter feed, as this is the most updated and interactive piece of content I have to offer
  • dedicated spaces for my Last.fm feed and Hype Machine feed, which is actually updated more regularly than Twitter since music is always playing (and scrobbling), whether at work, hanging out with the fam, driving, or on my bike
  • my Flickr feed (there are a thousand different great solutions for this…the least of my worries)
  • and possibly to round out the content objective, a page or section devised to pull back all of the various bookmarking, reviews, and other worthwhile participation around the web (on sites like yelp.com, del.icio.us, digg.com, etc.)

As I write and think about this more, I realize that I would like to keep my portfolio on site and archive 417north.com, but it will require me looking for some help in writing a custom plugin for WordPress to help manage the portfolio. I definitely want the posts sequestered away from the main content, because some people don’t like it when their ketchup touches their salad…even if ketchup is one of the main ingredients in Thousand Island. You get the picture.

I’ll keep talking about this as I go through this transformation, and I’d love to hear (and see) how you or someone else has elegantly addressed these same concerns. Jason Santa Maria does it quite well, and I’m definitely paying attention to his deft management.I just don’t have the time to keep up a portfolio on my own with great customization. I just want to post screen shots and project details when I’ve got new stuff to share.

Does anyone out there know of a hosted portfolio tool that allows you to pull your uploaded projects offsite via XML or an ultra-customizable widget? Carbon Made? I know that Behance.net doesn’t allow this yet, as cool as their service is. Any help would be greatly appreciated.