Stop

It’s been a while since I lobbed this graphic on the top of a post, but you can expect to see it a bit more in the weeks that follow. It’s a New Year, after all, and that means that people are using Social media as a means to prove they are capable of change. I have to admit that the major change I’m implementing is to spend less time taking part in discussion, and more time working. It was during that period yesterday that a couple of minor epiphanies took place.


You Know I Can Hear You, Right?

alone.gif

It is clearly apparent that a couple of people on my feed aren’t aware that if I’m friends with the same people they are, I get to see their conversations. If you have a dialogue directly with someone, this won’t clog up anybody’s timelines except the people involved, which is great. There’s an exception to that, but we’ll deal with that in a moment. However, if Person A posts a non specific tweet into my timeline and then Person B replies, it’s there for everybody to see. Sometimes I watch people reply to these with the belief that it’s a ‘private’ conversation.

You wouldn’t have said that in public otherwise, would you?

I watched a couple of people fall foul to this yesterday and learnt some quite interesting stuff about them that wasn’t clear otherwise. The other one is when someone does a lovely soapbox speech about X in one place when I’ve seen them say the exact opposite somewhere else to appease the friends groups they’re now hanging with. All those people who wish Social media wasn’t like High School are, amazingly, the exact same people making it just that way due to the fact they think other people don’t pay attention. You’d be amazed how many of us do, dude.


Please Don’t Include Everybody in your Replies

wtfishappeningnow.gif

As it’s Friday, I’m hoping mentioning this in a cheery, helpful fashion might have an effect. This is traditionally the day people on Twitter do #FF (Friends Friday) and shout out all the great people they interact with. The problem isn’t those initial tweets, let me be clear, but everybody that then hits reply to say than you, inadvertently cc-ing in EVERYBODY ELSE. Except, for some people, I suspect this isn’t an accident, and they enjoy the brief dopamine hit all those messages make in their Notifications.

I use Twitter to write, and communicate. I’m not here for the popularity contest, and have made a habit of force-unfollowing people when I no longer feel we have anything to say to each other (no, it’s not the main reason but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t happened.) I don’t #FF any more because of it. I also appreciate that for some people it is an important part of their existence online, but if you’re going to live here long term it might be an idea to either learn how to respect other people’s spaces or grasp how much noise thinking before posting can reduce.

You could thank the person who does the #FF in a separate Tweet. You don’t have to show everybody else you did that, just them. I won’t lie, when I end up in a #FF userpile I politely thank the person concerned, and then mute the original conversation, so I can get on using Twitter in the way that works best for me. If this flagrant disregard of your #FF motivation removes me from your Friday mantras, I will not take it as a slur or unfollow you in disgust. If you fail to communicate regularly or stay stuff I find uncomfortable, or assume that because we spoke once three years we remain friends? Then I might have reason to press the button.

In the end, you can rest assured, it wasn’t you. It was most definitely me.


The Overnight Mass CC gets you an Instant Mute

Lokisquashed.gif

If you cc-me in on a conversation when I’m asleep and I wake up to 100+ Notifications on my arrival the next morning which constitute nothing of value, I’m gonna mute yo ass.

Sorry, but I didn’t sign up for that when I joined.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start working on getting the poetry archived and scheduled for the weekend…

GSME #17 :: What’s my Name Again?

social-media-asides

Before we begin the regular weekly dissection of my engagement numbers, I feel duty bound to point out two things: you’ll see this post posted Tuesday, but the following tweets are dated Wednesday. That’s scheduling, folks, and why you should always check the HTML/headers of your webpages to ensure they’re not lying to you. The reason why I’m preceding all of this? Twitter have added some new, shiny filters to improve your browsing experience:

The first four have been with us a while, but the last two are new, and rather disturbing. Suddenly, you can stop listening to anybody else who might be bothering you, for whatever reason, just as long as they don’t follow you. It is obvious why this would appear attractive as a measure to stop trolling (as is the case with a new account) but just stop for a minute and think about the consequences. Click all of these options and BOOM you’ve created a virtual gated Community, where only you control what comes in and out. Now, initially that might sound great… but then stop and think about how much noise that will effectively remove. It doesn’t just filter out who you consider as the bad people, IT REMOVES EVERYBODY.

It won’t just be newcomers: you won’t be able to talk to a celebrity unless they unclick the option designed to protect them from pondscum like you. If an organisation wants to respond to your Tweet because their product sucks, you have to ensure you follow their feed for that to happen. However, this is nothing next to the horrible realisation that all you’ll ever hear are the people you choose to follow, on the assumption they then choose to follow you. Your gated utopia will be lovely though, right up to the point when someone fucks up royally, the whole thing falls apart, and you’re forced to put a Private lock on your account. In fact, the notion of privacy looks a bit lame now, because if you then refuse to listen to any dissent outside a carefully curated circle, you may as well just go back to Facebook.

The problem with filters, of course, is that there is no indicator at all if you’re being ignored or not. That’s why I’ll be blocking far more aggressively going forward, so that people can be very much aware I don’t listen to them for a reason. I’m not pretending to be supportive and open with one tweet, whilst filtering out all the grief I pick up as a result of the terrain on the side. Of course, nobody should have to suffer abuse and trolling, but if that really does bother you then lock your account and stop building an audience. Choose to walk this path right now and, like it or not, abuse is part of the package. I’m not saying that’s right, and it certainly isn’t fair, but just turning off all the noise is most definitely not your answer.


Now that rant’s over, let us look at how the push to increased engagement is going.

dramas

This is the first time I’ve hit above 3% since the Experiment began, and all it took was a Poll on the other side of MMO verbal abuse to do it:

pollu

There’s now no doubting that Polls are an easy, quick and free way of generating interest in your feed. Following this up with a blog discussing the results is also a decent way of making two days worth of content on the cheap, I won’t lie. I run a Tuesday poll to end Thursday, and then one to stretch from Friday to Monday.

volatile

Overall, everything’s a bit more volatile with the polls in place, and what is really needed is a good dose of consistency. That’s the plan for the next few weeks, and I’ll have a more in-depth look at what’s planned next week.

GSME #14 :: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

social-media-asides

It is time to get my writing aspirations back on track, and that meant today some serious thought over why I’m here and what’s happening long term with blogging as a future. This morning, a simple objective was publicly set:

There is a plan for this, that will play out across the week. I make no lie that it will involve incentives. This is a harsh reality in which we live, and I am well aware that to promote any ‘brand’ means getting dirty, providing sweeteners to help highlight what you do. I watched this play out across a weekend of ‘vintage’ bicycle festival: you pay to ride, and countless companies throw free stuff at you in the hope that you’ll like it enough to take the plunge and become a long term consumer. Our rider bags for Eroica were stuffed with alcohol, cosmetics and other gubbins. Free beer was offered during the ride, and when you completed. All of this has a purpose: buy into the lifestyle. That’s what I’m doing here, and if I’m up front about that, there’ll be no confusion.

The problem is, right now, that I’m not really terribly happy how Twitter’s platforms are being altered in order to make the company more relevant. We’ve spoken at length about the issues with analytics (that is still going on) but today my web-based platform of choice altered for good. On the back of last week’s ‘cleaner’ redesign (which owes a lot to the Android version of the UI) a fundamental change came into play that it took a while to work out. However, thanks to one of my most trusted followers, the answer was incredibly simple, once it became apparent some fundamentals have altered in Tweetdeck’s filtering functions.

At 5pm this evening, random tweets started appearing in my timeline from people I did not know. More importantly, these were accounts I did not follow, but in many cases had direct relevance to stuff I’d been discussing in my own timeline. The ultimate indignity was when Teresa May appeared, out of the blue, ON HER OWN ACCOUNT (that I’m positive nobody on my timeline would ever retweet). A sneaky switch to Hootsuite to check it wasn’t just a glitch showed promoted tweets are now appearing in their timelines, where this was not the case before. More significantly, it then became apparent what the issue was: these were cleverly picked posts being presented as ‘retweets.’ The thing is, unless I can see who’s retweeting them, or unless they are quoted, there is no way I can associate them with anyone I know on my feed. Once I worked out these were what Tweetdeck considered as a ‘retweet’, the filtering is a no-brainer.

preferences

One click of a button and the noise effectively vanished. It is now apparent that Twitter’s not mucking about with trying to promote new followers: by presenting ‘retweets’ that match the same content I’m talking about? There’s a better than average chance I’ll follow someone. The key here is, of course, these messages are anything but random. They were carefully targeted, just as that alcohol and other products were at the weekend. The problem with me, sadly, is that I won’t ever play that game if you don’t ask first. Just giving me everything and hoping I’ll click won’t work. In that regard, I will probably need to make sure I start using my own personally curated lists going forward so I can avoid all the noise. Today was a salutatory lesson in what a company will be prepared to do in order to make their product marketable.

Personally, I want nothing to do with it.

GSME #13 :: Boulevard of Broken Dreams

social-media-asides

I’m not going to lie today, I’m pretty hacked off. When you start something as an experiment, one does so with the understanding that the data you’re using is going to be constant and untainted. In the last few weeks, it has been impossible to accurately gauge anything from Twitter’s analytics. If I was being paid to do this for a living I’d feel angry and upset, and I doubt that paying for the service would give me that much extra recourse either. I understand enough about how the Internet works to grasp that this ‘software’ has to be upgraded on the fly: you can’t realistically shut down the Twitter servers for twelve hours a week for maintenance. That means if summat’s broken, it stays that way until you can find the means to realistically fix it ‘live.’

The irony is, of course, that on the other page I’ve quite obviously tweeted, quite a lot, and that’s gathered the interest of a few people:

realtimefuckups

Here’s the issue: according to the metrics, I didn’t tweet anything on June 1st yet garnered over 20k impressions. In fact, the first time Twitter acknowledges I did tweet anything is June 5th. What this has done is made my engagement rate not simply plummet but become a completely pointless statistic to gauge anything by:

tinfoilhat

If I was wearing my tinfoil hat, I’d say May 19th was when all this ‘trouble’ began. I’d also love to know whether the means by which Twitter reports engagement has subtly altered too, because this whole decrease for me now seems off, especially as I know I’m getting bigger engagements overall using threaded content (that is, if I go off on a rant I makes sure each tweet is posted as a reply to the ‘parent’ message.) Needless to say, I can see organic impressions doing nothing but raise as the Summer goes on, because I will be doing my absolute damnedest not only to sell the Intenet of Words, but to use Social media as effectively and ruthlessly as I possibly can.

dramatickangaroo

However, in the interests of balance, I have to make a few observations with relation to the amount of crap I now see in my feed… and, to be fair, it has dropped dramatically. By ‘crap’ I mean random followers who’ll pick up a high performance tweet and effectively flag it with a bot account. As was mentioned last week, hashtagging content used to result in a flurry of robot follows (presumably by websites who charge you to link up with like minded content to extend your reach.) With the demise of CoPromote at about the same time as all these changes came about? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Twitter might not just be taking steps to remove automated followers from its software. It could well be clamping down on those who use Twitter to make money for themselves.

With the potential value of the company long term, I really can’t say I blame them.

I look forward to seeing if a) anyone even bothers to respond now I’ve cc-d in Twitter’s Support account and b) on the amazingly slim chances they do, whether there’s any comment other than ‘we are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it for users as soon as possible.’ I understand how this works with gaming UI after many years of banging a head against the same wall.

I don’t really expect any change now.