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February 15, 2009

Twitter Followers & Sheep Syndrome

One thing I have noticed about the Twitter community if the love for ranking systems. Whether it be the number of followers or number of retweets people want to rank themselves. I've done all of these myself as I'm a stat and an "online ego narcissist".

There are many examples and these are just a few:

- Top 50 Aussie Twitter Users
- Most interesting Aussie twitter users
- Twitter Rank
- TwitterHolic
- Twick Size
- Twitter Power 150
- Retweet List

Ranking people by their followers is interesting actually as it's quite easy to "game". Look at the #1 Australian Twitter user @Andrew303 and you think Wow 37,000 followers that is amazing from just 300 odd updates. But then consider he is also following 38,000 people and the stat doesn't seem as impressive.

I always suspected that if you follow a lot of people then you will in turn get a lot of followers. Sheep syndrome sets in and people either feel obliged to or blindly follow.

For me power twitter users are the ones who follow a small amount of people (they actually use it for other reasons than to broadcast a message) and yet still get followed by a large number of people.

So for me The Real Shaq is a power user just like Lance Armstrong. These both being celebrities (well sports stars) but you get the idea.

So to prove my theory I started following an additional 1,000 people up from my usual 74 and left it for a week. I randomly followed anyone I could find in lists of followers for other people. Doing this manually took longer than I expected and if you were to do it then find an automated system.

Below is a chart of what happened to my followers count vs my following count.


See the trend? If I had been more selective I could have gotten a higher following to follower count. it probably did help that I had 1,000 updates so the people who actually manually added me saw that I wasn't a bot or a scammer.

Something else happened when I started following 1000+ people. I started to hate using twitter. Having 1000+ people all talking at you became a huge mess of noise. As the two twitter apps I use only pull down 200 messages at a time if I didn't check every few hrs I would miss many @replies. (I realized these aren't like emails they are just normal posts which need to be searched) Also the people I followed and were interested in were drowned out.

I did also get a few non English speaking follows, some pyramid scheme bots, warez blogs and random fetish twitters but that was a small part of the problem.

I can only imagine what it must be like to follow 30,000+ people.

A week Later
A week later I unfollowed the 1,000 people I added (I kept a couple) and announced this in a tweet. I lost around 70 followers while I gained more than 350.

As I mentioned earlier people love to rank themselves on Twitter. I know I too love to check my stats on Twittercounter and occasionally browse the Twitter top lists. You can even drill down to times zone.

By being on this list you also gain the added bonus that other people will check this list and want to "follow" the top users. They are top users for a reason right?! This is like the front page of Digg. Once something gets on there the sheep swarm in and it goes even higher.

Eunmac theorized that Andrew303 rose to fame by the number of retweets he receives. And he does get quite a few but no way near the number needed to be pulling in 30,000 followers.

Increase Your Twitter Rank
So if you really want to move up the Twitter ranks the task is simple. Just start following a lot of people. If only everything else was so easy to game. It's like a movie studio buying an opening weekend. Sure it did $100m + but it costs just that much in marketing to get it there. However having the #1 movie is part of the promotion itself and this propels more people to see it.

I guess the moral to this story would be to not worry too much about follower counts and influence and spend more time doing something productive.

I've also posted Twitter is Shit at... which I think is still relevant. Even more so after following 1,000 people for a week.

Oh and I almost forgot to pimp my own Twitter profile, follow me @100ftzombie

Facebook Ads & Get Rich Schemes


Maybe my Facebook profile has been tagged as "poor loser" but 75% of the ads I see on Facebook are get rich schemes. I visit Facebook about once a month and last week I was on there quite a bit as we got an app and a fan page done for a project. I was amazed at the low quality ads being shown. Some of these looked illegal. Check the fake ID one with Homer.

They are not as bad as the Mypsace ads of 2006 (when it was in it's prime) but they are just as sad.

I found it interesting that if you thumbs up a banner its a one click process. If you thumbs down it asks for a reason. In that drop down I could not find the option "because it's shit". If you click other it wants a proper reason. I can't be bothered filling this out for every crap ad I see.


The other amazing thing is seeing "singles" ads for a profile that is flagged as "in a relationship". I thought Facebook would not allow this as it seems to go against relevant ads.

Is this the same for all countries? Maybe the Australia sales team is snowed under but the quality of the ads makes you think otherwise about advertising with them. Would you want your brand or service sandwiched between two scam ads?

February 14, 2009

How Marvel is killing DC in the digital world: Part1


One only needs to look at the homepage of Marvel and DC to see who is winning in the digital world.

But if you scratch a little deeper you'll see by how much. I like looking at both companies as the printed comic world must be suffering in this digital age. And here are the two biggest companies in the area and both trying to adapt and introduce a new generation to their evergreen franchises.

I was going to put all this into one post but there is too much to talk about so I've broken this into parts.

Disclosure: I work with Marvel directly at Soap and also work indirectly with them on Activision projects. But have tried to be unbiased in this series of posts.

Part 1: Be Topical

Marvel: M.O.D.O.K goes off at a A.I.M agent Christian Bale style. Great timing and the production on this is quality

Marvel: Spider-Man meets Obama

This piece of genius has gone into its 5th print run.

Sorry Superman you'll have to wait 4 years until you can meet the president.

Marvel: Spider-Man and Stephen Colbert Join Forces

This came before the Obama special and show that Marvel have their finger on the pulse.

NY Comic Con

The first major Comic Convention for 2009 was held in New York recently and we have coverage from both companies. This is much smaller than the San Diego convention later in the year but I think coverage of that will be similar to coverage of the NY one.

Marvel's is here and have news posts, photos and video out the wazoo.

DC's is here and has slideshows and pod casts.

Marvel wins here too. They even present the content aggregation in a better format.

Future Parts
This is only the tip of the iceberg and in future parts I'll be looking at how they treat individual comic franchises, quality and frequency of content, how they tackle social media (Marvel on Twitter is a case study in itself), their impending MMO releases, their communities, how they treat their film and TV releases and how to monetize their sites.

These is a great case study for anyone who complains that their clients "have no content" or who wants to see brands that do it right and wrong in the same market. Both companies have more content than you can imagine and both have admired brands and a rich history. I'd also be interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of the Marvel vs DC battle that is going on. Also if I have missed anything topical lately that either company has covered.

January 19, 2009

15 Community Tips from the LOLCats guys


I like this article from Ben Huh from I Can Has Cheeseburger.

This one is poignant.

11. Measure the Number of Shared Experiences, not Users Try not to fixate on the number of users on your site. It’s much more useful to focus on the number of shared experiences. Admittedly, this is much more difficult to monitor but it’s a much more useful statistic.

I spoke about the LOLcat empire here last year.

January 7, 2009

Highscores in Life

Iain Tait - High Scores Talk at Playful London 31.10.08 from Iain Tait on Vimeo.

Iain's talk speaks to the gamer, the nerd and the stat lover in me. I wish I could attend a Playful festival. What a great idea.

It reminded me about this fantastic presentation on Reputation systems by a Yahoo! developer

I have implemented learnings from this into two projects launching next month for video game clients.

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