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All posts tagged Twitter

Twitter Do This Now

Twitter has enough problems with user retention, competing as a textual platform against the rise of Live video (something they are investing in themselves with Periscope) and general app improvement malaise.

One of Twitter’s power features are the lists. Anyone who uses 3rd party tabular apps like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Tweeten will love the ability to create logical groupings of Tweeps you follow and then have them displayed in filtered, tabular format. Even better, Tweeps are notified when added to a list, making it a nice opt-in feature.

Twitter - Mission Statement

 Lists Are Cool, So What

The other day I had written a blog post I felt was interesting to one of the Lists I maintain and wanted to share with the people there. You can’t just @<List_Name> and then share with all the members of that list. You have to use your time listing each person. To be fair, the name of the list is probably already somebody’s Twitter name. Still, there should be an easy way to do this. Forget about the repetitive strain or the years of Twitter including names in the 140 characters. This is a powerful, useful feature and it fits Twitter’s mission statement in the image above:

To give everyone the power to create and share ideas

and information instantly, without barriers.

The Warptest POV

The use case here is pretty neat and enhances the power of the List feature in Twitter. Think “mailing list”. This is one more channel for easy content distribution and apps like Buffer or Start-A-Fire could piggyback on it. Heck, Mailchimp might even decide this is something they want to buy into.

 Twitter, if you are reading this, realize that features that are one-click or force multipliers increase user retention and new user adoption. In the war for users, you need to bring you’re A-game. Just one caveat, make this a feature that can’t be abused and you’ll really be on to a winner. One thing is for certain, this will change the way we build, maintain and use our lists.

 Does this feature help you? What other feature would you like to see?

Tweeten Is A Twitter Desktop Client…

Tweeten appeared in a dark time, when Hootsuite and Tweetdeck weren’t delivering for me in the browser. When Tweetdeck client was behaving badly, freezing and hanging at regular intervals.

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Having a desktop or browser Twitter app that doesn’t make it easy to tweet is one more, big reason why so many users were tweeting less and less.

What’s the kicker?

Tweeten started as a wrapper for Tweetdeck. Twitter’s lackadaisical attitude to development allowed someone else to build a better Tweetdeck. After buying Tweetdeck, Twitter has killed several versions of Tweetdeck but not done any substantial development to improve the app performance or feature set.

In the several months that Tweeten has been available they have not just matched but surpassed Tweetdeck in performance, functionality and more recently going cross-platform. Currently Tweeten is available for Windows (32 or 64 bit versions), OS X, Google Chrome and Edge with expected releases for Linux and Firefox in the pipeline.

Tweeten managed to do this by building with Electron. Electron was initially designed for GitHub’s Atom Editor but since has experienced massive adoption by Slack, Microsoft, Facebook and many others:

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As this is GitHub there are also a slew of development (and testing) tools for working with Electron. (click on the iFrame above to jump to this page.).

Tweeten - Electron Dev Tools

The Warptest POV

Tweeten is an easy to use, easy on the eye Twitter app that does better than Twitter themselves. I personally don’t like using Hootsuite so I was happy to find a good alternative. The desktop app is well served by development in the fantastic Electron, supports multiple accounts and pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from a Twitter app.

I’ve repeatedly called out Twitter for their failure to invest in improvement of their apps, mobile and desktop. The new Windows Twitter (Windows 8/10) app is IMHO a lazy attempt to take the mobile app and port it to desktop. One of the strongest features Twitter has are groups / lists. Tweetdeck and subsequently Tweeten deliver this feature marvelously. I would love to see a radical improvement to this in Twitter mobile apps and an investment in improving Tweetdeck.

Wake Up Twitter!

To be fair Twitter aren’t just sitting on their hands, as The Next Web reports, we can expect photos and links to be excluded from the 140 character limit on Tweets. Big news to be sure.

For now I’m happy to get back into Twitter on my laptop using Tweeten. How about you?

 

10K Tweets Made Me Mad…

This wasn’t simply about the rumor of removing the 140-character limit to tweets, 10K Tweets were the tipping point.

Twitter has been losing relevance and simply disappearing from conversation. The one thing you can actually say for certain, this rumor has made Twitter relevant and back in conversation.

I can’t imagine waking up to a change of this magnitude without a series of knock-on effects. Just imagine scrolling through a 10K Tweet as more appear onscreen.

10K Tweets - Kirk Khan

Today Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter tweeted an explanation:

Ramifications?

If the rumors are correct then one thing is certain, Twitter tomorrow will be an evolution and this evolution will require fundamental change.

It’s important to keep in mind a couple of things: –

  1. Even if every tweet can be 10000 characters, it doesn’t mean every tweet will be: many Twitter users who love the brevity of 140-characters will continue doing that most of the time.
  2. As 140-characters has an etiquette and teaches a discipline, 10K Tweets will require an etiquette of their own: it’s going to be a learning process.
  3. Twitter apps as we know them are all dead: the fundamental UX of rapid real-time messaging is going to have to change to accommodate the new tweet limit.
  4. It’s not just going to change how individuals tweet; brands will have to adapt fast to survive.

… and one important question:

Has Jack Dorsey cracked the conundrum of monetizing Twitter?

The Warptest POV

Whilst I was annoyed at the state of Tweetdeck Web and Twitter’s other apps, it occurred to me today that for 10000-character tweets to work, to be searchable text as Dorsey mentions in his tweet above, all apps are going to have to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up to work.

Perhaps, this has been coming for a long time, thus why work on two branches: changes to current apps & new apps with radically changed UX / UI to cope with maintaining real-time and 10K tweets.

Use cases and etiquette: I link to the definitive post on the subject by Hillel Fuld. I’m looking forward to reading his interpretation of 10K tweets and how he thinks tweeting behavior should change.

Brevity: if you love the brevity of it all, you’ll probably keep doing what you’re doing now except for the occasional high impact 10K Tweet. I suspect the less you use the 10K limit, the better the ROI.

You’re probably asking, “What the heck did you mean by …crack the conundrum of monetizing Twitter..”

This is pure speculation, but if it was my decision I’d make 10K Tweets a for pay option with the following: –

  • Searchable text
  • Promote this tweet
  • 10K Analytics

Well it seems I’ve passed through the denial and anger stages right to the imagine how good it could be stage. How about you?

Meerkat the Plucky Israeli Startup…

Has clocked up some serious achievements in the month they have been live:

  • Meerkat is a livestreaming iOS app that combines with real-time Twitter feed interaction, is beautifully designed and implemented.

Meerkat app logo

  • A slew of spinoff apps (some official, some not) including saved streams, chrome extension, a geo-location app to show where people are Meerkatting (thanks Hillel Fuld for the Twitter correction) Meerkasting from.
  • Having huge names like Jimmy Fallon and Shaq use and promote the app.
  • Basically forcing Twitter to early release Periscope, their competitor to Meerkat (a recent acquisition) and now it’s a race to see who will be cross-platform on Android and Windows Phone first.
  • Closing a round of investment with Greylock.

In short, Meerkat are on a rocket ride.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Whilst Meerkat is doing incredible things and Twitter is nipping at their heels with Periscope, who else is positioned to dive into this pool?

1. Microsoft: Skype is already cross-platform, cross-device and clearly has the infrastructure to support Livestreaming. What Skype needs is the social integration.

2. Google: Google+ has Hangouts which is a part of Google+ and a standalone app. Within Google+ Hangouts Live already exists, so how hard would it be for Google to add this feature to the app? One thing is for sure, Google will continue to support every platform except Windows Phone:

Not Meerkat - Google Hangouts App

3. Facebook: Messenger or WhatsApp? Which would Facebook use? Given last week’s F8 announcement of Messenger as a platform, Zuck would probably go this way.

4. LinkedIn: There is a use case for the social network to encourage job seekers to generate and share Livestream content thru LinkedIn. Imagine the benefits for headhunters.

5. Apple: What would it take to make Facetime into Facestream?

There are others who could conceivably add this as a feature or separate app to their existing infrastructure e.g. Foursquare, Vine or Snapchat based on their existing use cases.

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The Warptest POV

How will Twitter respond a month from now when there are a slew of competitors all connected to Twitter, all competing with Periscope? This is anyone’s guess but I suspect some stringent appliance of their Terms and Conditions.

As I mentioned earlier Meerkat has sparked a variety of spinoffs and it won’t take long before there is a Livestreaming app that allows your Facebook friends to interact with you.

The biggest problem most of these companies that could be competing here have is being aware of the opportunities available and moving fast enough to build and launch their own app. I asked Skype if they had plans for this on Twitter but (unsurprisingly) got a “no comment” sort of reply.

The social networks have a huge strategic advantage with an organic network to build on. The biggest challenge that Social Livestreaming faces is psychological: the early adopters will be the extroverts but for the more introverted livestreaming is something of a daunting challenge.

One thing is sure, Meerkat arrived when social networking was in need of a shot of adrenaline and that’s exactly what we are seeing.

I’m going to bet that Meerkat will hold up to the competition well, continue to grow and will probably beat Twitter (who are good about cross-platform support) to Android and Windows Phone app release.

The big question is will any of the companies I mentioned above join the race? Who do you think it will be?

What Can Twitter Possibly Teach Testers?

When working with testers who are still learning (all of us, right?), one of the challenges is finding a common language between testers and with Developers. This came up today and sparked this post:

This is especially important when it comes to writing test cases and reporting bugs.

In an age of “You had me at …” it’s crucial to get the point across rapidly and efficiently without compromising the information.

So.. Twitter Huh?

Twitter with its 140 character restriction on tweets is a natural teaching tool for anyone who needs to learn the discipline of brevity.

Twitter logo - testers

The thing is when reporting a bug it’s important to remember that you are imparting a story; a story that allows the Developer to know what should be fixed and under what scenario(s).

Imagine an ALM that was built on Twitter functionality: –

  • User stories, spec, test cases and bug reports all limited to 140 characters
  • Hashtags to make all of the above searchable by keywords.
  • Groups and Lists based on teams (e.g. QA, Dev, Product, Sales) and team members with usernames prefixed by the Twitter @.
  • Retweet, favorite or Direct Message (DM) other users.
  • Attachable images and URL shortening.
  • Trending subjects based on traffic within the ALM.
  • Analytics (of course).

The Warptest POV

As you read this keep one eye on the Agile Manifesto and see how Twitter Teaches Testers in an Agile manner. If you don’t see it, then it’s time to reread the manifesto:

agile manifesto - testers

The beauty of this method is not just the brevity but the rapid manner that it allows your testing to progress as everyone gets onboard with this manner of communication.

Obviously, there are exceptions, intricate or complex issues that require greater detail but the rule of thumb is,

“If you can’t sum up your bug or test case in 140 characters then it might be more than one issue.”

Does this speak to you? Feel free to offer your own experiences and ideas on the subject.

 

 

My Story With Microsoft Support…

… How often do you speak to Customer Support for work or in your personal life? Due to some of the work I do, I have a lot of contact with a variety of companies.

Microsoft stand out for the way they have leveraged their social presence, especially Microsoft Support or @MIcrosoftHelps to use their Twitter handle.

Microsoft Helps - Logo

I was discussing this today who was telling me that I am probably the only person they know who gets satisfaction when speaking to Support at these companies.

I had one question to ask them at this point…

There is only 1 Important Question

What medium are you using to speak to Support? Phone / Email / Website Form / Facebook or Twitter?

Why is this such an important question?

  • Phone / Email / Website Forms tend to be one to one conversations; discrete and unobserved by others during or after the fact.
  • Facebook / Twitter are Social platforms and conversations are out in the public eye and observed by many.
  • Facebook / Twitter allow a multitude to watch and interact with the conversation and benefit from the support being passed to the original customer themselves.
  • In a nutshell there is no Social ROI to a one on one conversation unless the customer takes it on themselves to share after the fact. Even if the customer does share in a tweet or Facebook status, the impact is not the same as seeing a live, real-time exchange.Microsoft gets this and their Twitter support is excellent.

    The Warptest POV

    If you are in the business of customer support then I would recommend learning from the @MIcrosoftHelps feed and how they interact and engage with customers.

    I am going to give them a 98% success rate for the support I have received from them in terms of good answers that resolve my issues, speedy response and an all-round positive attitude.

    Microsoft - phone?
    Microsoft - Crowd

    The move from traditional unrestricted call center support to 140 characters may seem a strange choice but receiving issues in a brief, concise format is beneficial, social interaction online can take some of the stress out of the situation and the benefits from the crowd observing the level and quality of support given are immense.

    About the only real criticism I have is that you have to know to get on Twitter to get better support from Microsoft than over the phone. That said, I guess I’m fixing that problem here and let me just ask;

Why aren’t you on Twitter?

So if you have an issue with a Microsoft product and need help get on Twitter and speak to them; and if you like tell them I sent you.

Embedding, yeah that…

Today someone asked a question on Twitter that sparked my interest,
“What’s the point of Facebook’s new embed posts feature?”

embedding

One might ironically ask if I’m going to embed the question but for now, no. This got me thinking and I answered knowing they were a blogger that this feature allows portability of a conversation on FB into a blog post related to that subject.

Until Now…

… I used screen captures and pasted the jpeg into the post but there are a couple of issues with this: –

  • This is static, even if the conversation progresses the image remains the same.
  • This is a link directly to the conversation for whoever wants to participate: your blog now drives traffic to your Facebook post.
  • Screen capture, cropping and resolution are an inaccurate, time consuming art.

Social .. Embedding

So are all Social Networks equal when it comes to embedding?

Embed feature

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Location

NA

NA

Dynamic content

Yes

Yes

NA

NA

Yes

Conversations

Embed child to get 1 parent but you can’t embed a whole conversation

Embed contains a link that opens the conversation in the browser

NA

NA

No

Sharing

Sharing buttons in embed

Sharing buttons in embed

NA

NA

No

Fav / Like / +1

Counts displayed

Counts displayed

NA

NA

No

Media:

NA

NA

Photo

Twitter photo services embed, others link

No

NA

NA

Yes

YouTube

Yes

Yes

NA

NA

Yes

The Warptest POV

The chart above shows us that Twitter has the most open attitude to embedding tweets


— jonathanross (@jonathanross) August 22, 2013

sample Tweet from my Twitter account.

Followed by Facebook (personal profile and pages are the same) but come on Facebook, what about embedding photo posts?

Microsoft So.cl has embedding but the same menu has extensive Social sharing options too: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or email which more than make up for the limitations So.cl embedding has versus the competition.

Apparently neither Google+ nor LinkedIn are interested in allowing embedding. I can understand Google whose gated community attitude
is apparent in other places but LinkedIn?

What if I want to embed LinkedIn Profile somewhere or posts? Well for posts there is a simple workaround: LinkedIn allows you to post to Twitter. Embed the post you want from Twitter.

embedding linkedin

The one I didn’t mention is YouTube itself. YouTube has an option in the right-click menu of each video to receive the embed HTML and if you know your code you can edit this to suit your design/layout.

In a nutshell embedding is as useful as you want it to be and the only downside is if the embedded post / status etc is deleted or for some reason the URL changes you are going to end up with a gaping hole in your website where the embedded content sat.

So, are you going to start embedding?

Twitter logo

Twitter Goes All Medieval on the Tweetdeck Product Line

Last week Twitter, the owners of Tweetdeck posted on their blog about the discontinuation of several versions of Tweetdeck.

The thrust of the article is that old technology is going the way of the dinosaur and the focus is going to be on better web experience.

What Got Deadpooled?

Deadpool from Marvel Comics

In a nutshell these four things will cease functioning by May:

  • Tweetdeck Air for Desktop
  • Tweetdeck for Android
  • Tweetdeck for iPhone
  • Support for Facebook integration

Keep in mind that this still leaves us with Tweetdeck in the browser, Desktop and or the Chrome app.

When I started using Twitter seriously I got into Tweetdeck Air and other than certain bugs that seemed to regress every few versions I loved it. This was just about the only app I needed Adobe Air for but it was worth it. With a standalone Windows Client it was time for the Air version to go.

Adobe Air

Tweetdeck Desktop on Windows 7 is an awesomely good Twitter client but in Windows 8 I experienced a consistent resource leak leading to hangs / freezes / crashes.

Windows 8

Windows 8 has MetroTwit which was a great alternative to Tweetdeck but the Metro / New Windows UI version doesn’t entirely do it for me. I like having 8 or more of my Twitter lists open so Tweetdeck Web in Internet Explorer 10 was my next choice. (MetroTwit if you are reading this and I’m mistaken please comment on how to add extra columns, I couldn’t find it).

Warptest POV

It’s not all bad news.

Twitter is streamlining their product line and whilst dropping support for Facebook integration is at face value a loss of major functionality, why should they support a competitor platform for content distribution? At the end of the day fewer products to support should mean more investment in new features and better quality. Hopefully Twitter will get their act together and provide a robust and consistent user experience regardless of mobile platform.

With that in mind, Twitter finally released an updated Windows Phone App whose UI is in line with the designs of the Android and iOS Twitter Apps (the minor UI difference in iOS is the menu-bar is below not above the tweets).

 comparison of twitter cross-platform

After testing it I discovered that: –

  • The new Twitter UI on Windows Phone looks gorgeous and works nicely with slide enabled between major screens.
  • Finally, finally, finally Twitter on Windows Phone gets reply all. This was the single most frustrating missing feature. Well done.
  • There is a known issue with Twitter Live Tile; it doesn’t seem to work unless notifications are enabled and the counter only goes up to 1. Lame.
  • Twitter cannot find my location even when other apps can (including Rowi… see below). Worse still, trending topics detects my location incorrectly and so I get topics in Turkish, thanks but no thanks.
  • Twitter on Windows Phone did not get photo filters as in the Android version.

The main competitor to Twitter on Windows Phone is Rowi with a Lite (free but ad laden version) and a Pay (ad free version). Rowi has a slew of nice features and for as long as I’ve been using it has reply all and uses Aviary photo filters. Rowi has long been considered the best Twitter App on Windows Phone.

rowi twitter app

The basic functionality of Twitter on Windows Phone has caught up with Rowi and the sleek UI makes it tempting but the presence of bugs that QA should have caught and the absence of photo filters detracts from the whole package.

So come on Twitter, fix these bugs and give us some photo filter love. You still have some work to do before users get the same experience regardless of mobile platform.

Skype Warptest-ed

Skype, the popular VOIP application has been under the microscope lately. I’ve looked at it on Windows PC, Windows Mobile (legacy but working version), Symbian, Linux and other platforms. Why you ask, mainly because I frequently get asked about it in a support context.

image

As you know in May 2010 Microsoft announced their acquisition of Skype.for $8.5 Billion. Since then the biggest thing we have heard was the news that it will be developed for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. ((Since I began writing this I found way more interesting news about Skype for PC incorporating HD video, Facebook and Bing Bar integration))

As I looked this popular app both as a day-to-day user and as a tester I found it frustrating at times and was hard pressed to put my finger on why.

Great expectations

So I sat down with a tumbler of scotch and mulled exactly was bothering me. I came to the conclusions that: –

  • It hasn’t really progressed from a Desktop Application (even the versions ported to mobile platforms).
  • It is the kid in school who always gets the could do better  and  does not play well with others on their report card.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Ebay and Skype themselves before Microsoft didn’t fulfill Skype’s potential was that they simply didn’t see what they had.

Is Skype simply a VOIP application? Definitely not.

Warptest Predictions or 2 Things Skype needs…

Once again I’m going to indulge in something between predictions and the hope that someone at Redmond reads this and says “”Hey great ideas, let’s hire this guy and run with this”: –

  • Full integration into Windows Live. Skype is at its core a Desktop app but the way to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century is to make it part of Microsoft’s cloud ecosystem. Just as a small example, if I send or receive files via Skype the best place to store them as a default location is not the local device I’m using, it’s my Skydrive. For those who don’t favor Live add an option here for Dropbox, Box.Net, Google Apps and that way when it hits Europe you can avoid those pesky EU non-compete suits.

Skype - SkyDrive

  • Turn it into a social media hub. Yes, Skype needs to maintain it’s core VOIP functionality but it already has some Facebook integration. Adding full integration allows a user to also post to Twitter and other Social Networks; VOIP / IM were the natural precursors of the Real-Time Social Networking Revolution so this would be a case of natural evolution. Skype as a Social Networking Hub would open a huge can of whup-*ss on applications like Seesmic or Tweetdeck.

I’m not even going to get into the potential as a commerce or pay-per-service platform that would be well served looking at models like Linden Labs’ Second Life for just how easy an application can make it for their users to pay each other for services or products.

I guess my last question is if Skype should be proudly 100% Microsoft then will I be able to search accounts via Bing and where does this leave MS Messenger?