I have 3,571 tweets that show that Twitter isn’t for lunch anymore

In just the last month I’ve really started using Twitter’s favorite feature. I’ve used it 3,571 times so far in just the past month. What is it? Well, I read thousands of tweets every day and I pick my favorite ones and click “favorite” on them. What does that do? It shares them with everyone on Twitter. You can see a page of all my favorites here. Unfortunately you probably will only be able to see the last few hundred, but a new service called favstar.fm is tracking them all and is showing some details.

For instance, you can see who my favorite Twitter users are here.

But what I’m learning goes well beyond that. It tells me that Twitter isn’t lame anymore. Remember those days when Twitter was for telling all your friends you were having a tuna sandwich at Subway in Half Moon Bay?

I do.

Those days are mere memories anymore.

Today Twitter is used for professional networking. Well, OK, and a few of us still use it to tell you where we’re eating for lunch, but those tweets are easy to skip over.

So, what have I learned by reading hundreds of thousands of tweets in the past month and favoriting 3,571?

1. If it moves in the tech industry it moves on Twitter first. I’m very active on Facebook, Google Reader, FriendFeed, and quite a few other services, and, sorry to those services, but stuff moves on Twitter first. If TechCrunch breaks a story I always see it on Twitter first.

2. More executives and influentials are on Twitter and far more are ACCESSIBLE on Twitter. There are lots on Facebook, almost everyone in the industry is, but very few people on Facebook will give you access to what they are writing and sharing.

3. Facebook is increasingly being seen as “for ‘real friends’ and family” or a rolodex of contacts, while Twitter is for telling us what they are working on. In many cases people just import their tweets into their Facebook accounts. (A practice that really bugs me but I’m not going to be able to stop it).

4. Twitter is a better news reader than Google Reader. And a worse one too. Google Reader is awesome if you really limit the number of feeds you follow (and the number of friends). Unfortunately I don’t follow that advice. Google Reader has become useless to me and VERY SLOW. I sure wish the team would use my account and figure out how to make it rocking fast for friend management. It’s gotten so bad I hate even going in there and use Feedly, except for the fact that the world is moving to mobile and Feedly only plays well on desktops with Firefox loaded.

5. Mobile is why Twitter is winning. I have moved probably 80% of my reading over to iPhone. On Facebook, FriendFeed, and Twitter. And I can tell that my favorite Twitterers have done the same. My favorite app? SimplyTweet. I’ve tried them all. Twitterrific. TweetDeck. Tweetie. And many others and SimplyTweet is the best — by far. It never crashes and hasn’t pissed me off once. All the others have. Reading behavior shifting to mobile has DEEP implications for all sorts of startups. If you don’t have a mobile strategy you will fail in this new world. It will be a lot harder to get adoption than if you have an iPhone app (and a Palm Pre one, an Android one, a Blackberry one, etc).

6. A large percentage of great tweets have a link. It’s very hard to say anything useful in 140 characters. Believe me, I’ve tried to spend most of 2009 saying stuff in 140 character bites. It isn’t satisfying most of the time. Long blogging has its place and those who get lots of retweets use long blogs a lot.

7. You only need to follow about 2,000 people to hit about 85% of the tech conversations out there. Why is that? Because of retweeting. Let’s say I didn’t follow Jeremiah Owyang. Let’s say he got an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs. How many minutes would it be before I heard about it? I’ve found usually about 30 seconds. In fact, within 30 minutes you will be sick and tired of hearing about it. Just tonight we had an example when Seesmic released a cool new desktop client. I wanted out I heard about it so much!

8. If you don’t read tweets for eight hours, don’t worry, all the big stuff you missed will be on TechMeme. When I was the first to talk about Yelp’s augmented reality feature on Twitter and on FriendFeed it was quickly blogged by EVERYONE and was on TechMeme within a few minutes and stayed there for about a day. The same is true of ALL news. I have not found an example yet where something important is discussed on Twitter about a tech company or tech news and doesn’t show up on TechMeme within a few hours. What doesn’t show up? Small stuff like birthdays or launches of obscure technology that only a very small audience will use.

9. Pushing Favorites over to FriendFeed via RSS makes them more searchable. I can find all sorts of stuff over on FriendFeed that I can’t find on Twitter. Why? Twitter’s search sucks and only shows you the last few days of results. Looking for something twittered about months ago? I can find it on my account, but you won’t be able to on just Twitter search. It’s not perfect, though. I wish search engines were better and I wish FriendFeed were better at letting me search just Twitter Favorites.

10. There is an 80/20 rule. The best Twitterers are a LOT better at Tweeting than even those just a few notches down. This is why some people get lots of followers on FriendFeed/Facebook/Twitter while others don’t, even after discounting the power of the suggested user lists on those services.

11. There is a LOT of noise on Twitter. It’s true. But that’s why human curation is going to be more and more important and why services like TweetMeme and others (I need to do a post on those) will be more and more important over time. Also, why when I unfollowed everyone that got a lot of discussion going. People are looking for ways to reduce noise in their lives and people and companies that help do that will get attention.

Anyway, I’ve gotta get back to reading tweets. Anything else you’re learning from reading all these tweets?

Oh, and I love that the Wall Street Journal made a case today that Twitter is worth 2.6 billion. I made the case a couple weeks back after reading so many Tweets that Twitter is worth $5 billion. Yesterday it was announced that Twitter raised another round of funding where investors poured in cash at a billion dollar valuation, which means that the investors can see a case for it being worth 10x that. Now you know why Ron Conway, investor in Twitter, was nice to me the other day at TechCrunch50. :-)

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

41 thoughts on “I have 3,571 tweets that show that Twitter isn’t for lunch anymore

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  2. Robert,

    I definitely feel your pain on twitter search and discovery/rediscovery of your own good content on Twitter. The search fiasco was what really gave me the idea for http://tweetsaver.com. I really wanted a super easy way to search further back than just the most recent days.

    Of course the idea evolved a bit and now it is basically Delicious for twitter, with great search and the ability to tag your tweets. We also just launched an auto-tag feature that tags your tweets automatically based on the hashtags inside the tweet.

    Anyway, I took the liberty of starting to sync your tweets up, so if you ever want to try out our service you should already have stuff in the system!

  3. Robert, thanks for your work, I’m a Mexican Entrepreneur with a little company, We are focus on business applications related with international trade and compliance related and all that bored stuff, My company sales about 300,000 usd per year, We are very far of all the companies you interview and talk about, and Mexico in business matters is very very far from USA but your post’s and all the information that your generate is very very useful for us, we are using cloud computing, twitter, posterous, animoto and a lot of your recommendations, we are growing this year, last year we got a round of investors and they valued our company in $ 1 million USD, a good start don´t you think? this year we are 1 of the 10 most innovative companies in Mexico in a contest organized by Dell and American Express, and all of that with your help and following your advices!! some day I will be in the silicon valley doing business and in that day i will search you with the only objective to say you in person: THANKS!!

  4. Robert, what are your thoughts on using “impression” tags on Twitter? These would be a little like topic tags (using #) but would allow people to mark their impression of something (using *). By using these tags, you would be able to find links you've tweeted in the past based upon the impressions you've had of those links (see all links you've tagged as “interesting” for instance). You could also discover new links you might like by looking at a site something like TweetMeme which could show you popular links and the impressions others have had of those links.

    Here's a quick description of the idea: http://microsyntax.pbworks.com/Impression-Tags Its basically one way of doing the human curation you mentioned here.

  5. I actually don't like Twitter the company. I have no deal in place with them. I am not compensated by them. I never have been on the Suggested User List, and now, if put there I would ask to be removed from it.

    You are missing reporting on and using a product with “being nice.” Not the same thing.

    The market has spoken and Twitter has won. There are tons of people in my world who use Twitter but who don't use Facebook or FriendFeed or other services. That is why I've redoubled my efforts there.

    Plus you probably missed that I've been spending more time on Facebook too. I have problems with that service too (remember, they kicked my account off for a day). Life isn't perfect, but I go with what I'm given and try to make the best of that.

    By the way, Twitter is a lot more reliable today than it was back in 2007.

  6. Robert, just wondering: Do you have any deal with Twitter for endorsing their service? Or a secret informal agreement regarding “the list”, perhaps? I just don't understand your 180 deg turn. First, you used to hype FB. Then came FF and you started dissing Twitter. Now you're suddenly all nice and kind to Twitter again. Although many professionals admit that Twitter's reliability hasn't improved much recently and that most technical aspects of Twitter are rather bad than good. FB's acquisition of FF doesn't make Twitter any better. It just makes it the only relevant microblogging service. Maybe that's the reason? Thanks for enlightening us all.

  7. Well, actually Robert I can say with full confidence that your statement is very, very wrong.

    “Twitter is worth money because people with money say it is.”

    Twitter, or any business, is ONLY worth what someone will pay for it or pay for a piece of it. Saying it is worth billions is just a guess until someone puts greenbacks on the table. The VC's have a future valuation formula in their bag of tricks they they vet a company against and they make a very educated guess at a valuation and that determines their investment.

    But, any VC will tell you that new technology, especially software start ups are a 10% success rate – 9 failures for every 1 winner.

    It would be an interesting study to look at all the Net Companies you've profiled over the past five years or so and see how many are 1) profitable 2) still in business and 3) total cost of investment of the failed ones.

    You're closer to the tech start up world, so you probably have a better feel for this…

  8. Very good observations. I always have somewhat of hard time explaining why twitter is different from other social networks to people who don't use it (apart from the 140 characters limit). You made some useful points I could use from now on.

    Regarding twitter Vs. google reader, you should check out readtwit which combines both (http://www.readtwit.com).

  9. I agree with almost everything Robert, great post – I especially agree that it's possible to identify almost all news and emerging trends very quickly through Twitter, especially using filters and groups (which I love on TweetDeck). One challenge some people face when following Twitter on mobile devices is the inability to load large web pages from embedded links. I see this all the time on my BB where i click on a link from a tweet and get “page too large to load” – I know you are going to say the answer is an iPhone but until corporate America goes iPhone as well as BB it's just not an option for the majority of professional networking – this is one of two big flaws is see in relying upon twitter embedded links; the other is the unscrupulous use of link shortening like bit.ly to disguise advertising.

  10. Off topic Robert you are an incredible marketer, hats off to you Sir. Personally i've been faving tweets for a while, but you and the Japanese take it to another level. Yeah the Japanese are fond of faves too, but more of a personal way :-)

    Very much liked point #'s *5*, 7, 10 and *11* and as curators into the future i feel we have a great responsibility. Bigger sites are onto this and tho im no expert look out for the likes of Business Insider, BBC and others to start some sort of paid content soon. On the web people are willing to pay for stuff so why not charge for unique and fresh content also?

    End of the day for me twitter has been a wonderful experience, a place where i can shine and most importantly learn from the best of the best. Knowledge is power my friends and whomever i've told to follow you Scoble has always come back a happy camper..

  11. Off topic Robert you are an incredible marketer, hats off to you Sir. Personally i've been faving tweets for a while, but you and the Japanese take it to another level. Yeah the Japanese are fond of faves too, but more of a personal way :-)

    Very much liked point #'s *5*, 7, 10 and *11* and as curators into the future i feel we have a great responsibility. Bigger sites are onto this and tho im no expert look out for the likes of Business Insider, BBC and others to start some sort of paid content soon. On the web people are willing to pay for stuff so why not charge for unique and fresh content also?

    End of the day for me twitter has been a wonderful experience, a place where i can shine and most importantly learn from the best of the best. Knowledge is power my friends and whomever i've told to follow you Scoble has always come back a happy camper..

  12. Off topic Robert you are an incredible marketer, hats off to you Sir. Personally i've been faving tweets for a while, but you and the Japanese take it to another level. Yeah the Japanese are fond of faves too, but more of a personal way :-)

    Very much liked point #'s *5*, 7, 10 and *11* and as curators into the future i feel we have a great responsibility. Bigger sites are onto this and tho im no expert look out for the likes of Business Insider, BBC and others to start some sort of paid content soon. On the web people are willing to pay for stuff so why not charge for unique and fresh content also?

    End of the day for me twitter has been a wonderful experience, a place where i can shine and most importantly learn from the best of the best. Knowledge is power my friends and whomever i've told to follow you Scoble has always come back a happy camper..

  13. I would rather you didn't do that. Google penalizes blogs that are duplicated too many places and your blog doesn't look like it adds any value on top of posts, sorry.

  14. My policy, in general, is to “rip into” (or engage in debate) pundits and praise startups. Pundits know how to dish it out and take it. Startups, if they're not good or don't impress me for whatever reason, don't get the press.

    Why waste time on a startup going point by point as to why it sucks? The 'net is littered with half-assed attempts and blatant site clones. It's better to ignore them and let them go away than to give them air time and come across as someone who is constantly negative towards business.

  15. I wasn't aware John had a reputation for being an ass-kisser (if I'm reading your comment correctly). Have you read his work recently? He gives praise where it's due, but he's not against calling folks out when the situation requires, either.

  16. OK. I'll check out your performance at TC50 (link?). Nonetheless, if you maintain the impression that you are a soft touch when doing face to face interviews by killing those interviews where you get confrontational then the end result is the same.

  17. Robert. This is classic Scobleizer. Great insights. And you're modeling the ability to revisit “old technology” (e.g Twitter vs. Friendfeed, and a feature that I basically forgot about) with fresh eyes. Now I'm wondering what I'm neglecting because its old news but actually could be part of something important. Hmmm. How about email? :) Thanks, E.

  18. Robert. This is classic Scobleizer. Great insights. And you're modeling the ability to revisit “old technology” (e.g Twitter vs. Friendfeed, and a feature that I basically forgot about) with fresh eyes. Now I'm wondering what I'm neglecting because its old news but actually could be part of something important. Hmmm. How about email? :) Thanks, E.

  19. Actually, you are wrong there. Twitter is worth money because people with money say it is. No revenues needed. Just like no revenues were needed for the same rich people to put money into Google before it turned on its revenue generation engine.

  20. I challenge lots of people when they blow smoke up my behind. The thing is, I don't usually waste their time on camera if they do that. I've killed lots of interviews with companies that just aren't that good and, when on stage, at TC50 and faced with companies who I can't get away from then I cream them and cream them hard for wasting all of our time. Go watch the video at TC50 and you'll see that.

  21. People like me? Do tell. To be clear, I don't equate “going Gillmor” with being nasty. Steve is good at asking tough questions without going there. It's easy to rip on companies in a forum where they don't have the opportunity to provide a response. If the people you interview don't expect to be challenged on anything they say then the interview becomes a commercial.

  22. I guess you didn't see me on stage at TechCrunch50 where I ripped a few companies. The thing is I don't waste my time interviewing lame companies. See, that's where people like you just are wrong. Totally wrong. It's clear you haven't watched enough of my work to understand what I'm doing and when it's appropriate to go “Gillmor” on someone. By the way, I am on the Gillmor Gang too and was pretty nasty to some startups on today's show.

  23. You are comparing yourself to a sushi restaurant?? I would watch more of your videos if you started challenging the business people you interview à la Gillmor instead of engaging in ass kissing à la Furrier.

  24. Twitter isn't worth ONE RED DIME until it shows a sustainable revenue stream. I love tech valuations as there have only been a handful of Web 1.x, 2.x start ups that have sustained, grew and have become real money makers. Sure, there are “web” companies out there scratching around a living just hoping to be the next Myspace or Skype, but there's not a lot of real businesses out there.

    Like the VC rule of thumb, bet on 100 horses and hope a couple finish and at least one wins.

    My hype buying is busted.

  25. Great post Robert and much of it is spot on. I don't agree with #8 though. There is still plenty of valuable tech news I get from my followers that never makes it to Techmeme. I'm a bit neurotic about missing stuff so there still needs to be a better mechanism to obtain that info. Twitter Times which I heard about today on TC appears to offer a nice way to do this which brings me to #11. This is what needs to happen next. Whoever comes up with the best way to mine our social graph data to provide utility by implementing smart algorithms is gonna clean up. I can't wait.

  26. but what about drupal mailing lists? but more seriously tracking twitter is really where is think the value is – i know that's gillmor's line, but it's one of the few things i'm pretty sure he's right about — a drupal dev can get a lot more out of keyword tracks on twitter, friendfeed, and the federated (status.net formerly laconi.ca) microblogs than just twitter — tracking ads value because you don't have to follow people — businesses that only want a mailing list of contacts 'don't get it' — twitter allows for the interaction with that mailing list which is some value, but twitter's 'monopoly' on the microblogging 'market' isn't a good thing in the long run (IMHO as usual)

  27. Sorry, I disagree. There's lots on Twitter that never makes it to TechMeme. You can miss eight hours of that, but not miss it permanently. Especially if you are, like, a Drupal developer. That stuff never makes it to Techmeme. But is discussed all over Twitter. If you think you aren't missing anything by just reading Techmeme I can tell you are either not honest or not reading much.

  28. Sorry, I disagree. There's lots on Twitter that never makes it to TechMeme. You can miss eight hours of that, but not miss it permanently. Especially if you are, like, a Drupal developer. That stuff never makes it to Techmeme. But is discussed all over Twitter. If you think you aren't missing anything by just reading Techmeme I can tell you are either not honest or not reading much.

  29. #8 is why you don't 'need' twitter as an rss reader – techmems's rss is all you need to stay informed about tech – for that matter, substitute mashable, thenextweb, technologizer – twitter's only 'needed' unless you want to get that info 30 seconds faster.

    I do think that twitter serves a purpose, but in my opinion an open and federated microblogging system is better than the twitter silo. That doesn't mean twitter should go away, but if they won't federate, then i hope they become myspace to the federated system's facebook.

    Now wouldn't that be nice?

  30. Scoble, thanks for sharing your informed experience. Your reflection helps to put to words things that I think are happening, and verifies the value in the tool. Very helpful validation. Cheers on a great piece. A must read for all.

  31. Part of valuing companies is to compare it to other companies. Also, how much economic activity is being done on top of the platform. Also, how defensible is it? Also, how many businesses have adopted it? How many will be likely to in the future? That's all how I came up with five billion.

  32. I follow about 500 blogs on Google Reader – that used to be 1500. Agree, Google Reader is stupidly slow.

    I am using the latest version of FeedDemon which now Syncs beautifully with GR – FeedDemon is not slow – its REALLY great…

  33. Definitely you have a great set of fav tweets but the question is out of how many. You would have reachieved at least 100 times more tweets that this and currently we don't have any way to search through all of them. If twitter can come up with search where we can search fav or do something more (like achieve, export etc) then we surely have something great at hand.

    I still don't understand the evaluation of firms specially in twitter's case. Till they dont have business model how can we identify how much a user/tweet is worth.

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