What Will Twitter Do With TweetDeck?

The news that Twitter just bought TweetDeck for a reported $50 million has me a little worried, because Twitter has a history of killing its acquisitions, sort of like Lennie and soft things in Of Mice and Men.

It got worse after Mrinal Desai gave his five reasons why they were going to do it. It made me wonder, would Twitter really spend $50 million to kill a program that makes Twitter work better than their clunky interface?

If they were smart, Twitter would use TweetDeck as a way to win new users, not kill it to force people to use Twitter.com.

I use TweetDeck to keep up with different groups of people, making my Twitter stream easier to manage and follow.

TweetDeck makes using Twitter easy

I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to who didn’t get Twitter. They stared at Twitter.com and tried to keep up with the 50 people they were following. “Everything keeps going by so fast, I can’t even read it all.” TweetDeck lets you divide your Twitter stream into columns, either based on search terms or groups of people, and tweets are easier to read and follow.

Twitter.com is about as clunky as an old Edsel with square wheels, and is a pain to use. I hate having to click to see different tabs If they want people to use Twitter, they’ll keep TweetDeck around.

Twitter can feed ads into TweetDeck more easily.

Imagine if you’re forced to use Twitter.com for your Twitter stream. My tweets go by so fast on there, I’ll get a couple hundred in 10 minutes. If Twitter wants to slip in an ad, it will be easier for me to miss. While Twitter may be able to sell ads based on how often they’re served, “served” does not equal “seen.”

TweetDeck, on the other hand, makes it easier to see the ads. If I have a hashtag search column up while I’m watching a Colts game, I am more likely to see an ad that is not only slipped into that stream, but it can be targeted to me because I’m talking about the Colts. There are already enough bot programmers in the world, Twitter should be able to figure out how to serve targeted ads to people based on their conversations, and should be able to slide them into searches and lists that meet certain requirements.

For example, put a sporting goods ad in a sports hashtag discussion. Slide a restaurant ad in any list labeled with a city name, or even based on a conference hashtag.

TweetDeck is Just Awesome

I like TweetDeck for any number of reasons (to be fair, there are plenty of people who think HootSuite and Seesmic are awesome too. They’re wrong, but I support their beliefs.).

  • TweetDeck lets me communicate with my Facebook, LinkedIn, and FourSquare accounts.
  • I can support more than one Twitter account, which is important since I manage Twitter accounts for several clients.
  • It lets me view pictures and watch videos in little pop-up windows, rather than just visiting the original website.
  • I can schedule tweets for any minute, not in 5 minute increments like HootSuite used to do (they changed it, but when I had to make the decision, HootSuite was still only doing 10:15, 10:20 etc.)

There are a lot of Twitter clients out there. If they want to kill any apps, they need to look at some of the smaller ones that don’t do very much and kill them instead. It would clean up the market a bit, it would prevent future problems by saving them from accessibility and interface problems, and could give them a preferred client to send people to in order to help them use Twitter better.

My hope is that Twitter is taking all of this into account, and will keep TweetDeck as the official Twitter client. If not, I’m hanging on to mine as long as I can, and will use it for as long as it can send and receive tweets.

5 Strategies for Avoiding and Eliminating Twitter Spam

Yesterday, I sparked some real interest from people with my 10 Signs for Spotting Twitter Spammers, and a lot of people started tweeting and commenting about how they have been hit with the same Twitter spam hammer. That got me to thinking about some of the different ways I’ve avoided and even eliminated a lot of the Twitter spam clogging up my Twitter tubes.

  1. Shut off email notifications. If you’re still getting email notifications about new followers, the best way to cut back on it is to shut off all email notifications and use TweetDeck’s New Followers column.
  2. Hit the Block or Block & Report Spam. Look for any of the signs of Twitter spammers and just block those people directly from TweetDeck (HootSuite can’t do that, can they? Update: Jill Manty says in the comments that, yes, you can do that.). If a Twitter account gets enough blocks, they’ll shut it down. This has an added bonus of not only eliminating spammers from your stream (and preventing them from seeing your tweets), but you can continue to frustrate the attempts of spammers.
  3. Use Formulists.com to see who has unfollowed you.A favorite trick of Twitter spammers and number chasers (i.e. people with 10,000+ followers and 200 tweets) is to follow and unfollow people. Since Twitter caps the number of people you can follow at 10% over the number following you, the spammers will follow and unfollow a lot of people, letting them bounce their rate higher and higher as their followers increase. This lets them build up a large follower network, which allows them to follow more people at a time.With Formulists.com, you’ll start to notice that people who followed you also unfollowed you 2 – 3 days later. You can also see if you inadvertently followed a spammer, so you can then unfollow them before you hit the Remove button.

    (Note: While I expect this kind of behavior from spammers — because they’re evil — I’m sometimes surprised to see this from real people with real accounts. How do I know? Because they’ll follow me 2 – 3 times, or they’ll unfollow me within 48 hours of following me. You people know who you are. You should also I know I block you. Hard.)

  4. Use SocialToo.com to eliminate DM spam. I don’t use this service very often, but only because I’ve managed to avoid following a lot of spammers. Occasionally I do get auto DMs from people who thank me for following them, and ask me to download their free report. SocialToo will let you filter out certain DMs based on keywords and phrases you choose. So adding things like “free whitepaper” or “free report” to the filter will keep those DMs out of your stream and email inbox. SocialToo has limited options in their free service, but this is at least a place to keep some DMs out of your tubes.
  5. Use TwitSweeper.com. Doug from TwitSweeper left a comment on yesterday’s post, which reminded me I had signed up for their free trial several months ago (which has since run out). The great thing about TwitSweeper is that it identifies the tweeting pattern of your followers, and will flag them as spammers if they meet certain criteria. The one downside is that if you follow some news outlets, they may inadvertently be flagged as spammers, because they don’t have conversations and they don’t retweet. But TwitSweeper lets you see who you’re about to unfollow so you don’t accidentally drop people you wanted to keep.

Do you have any strategies or tools? How do you get rid of Twitter spam? Do you have a way to drop the spam hammer on people cluttering up your Twitter followers? Share your ideas in the comments below.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

Photo credit: Jens Lumm (Flickr)