getting updates right

There’s a few questions that always pop up when I speak, I’m going to tackle one of them today following a discussion I took place in over the weekend:

What’s the right mix for status updates (or tweets)?

I’d summarise it as the following:

  • Frequency
  • Relevance
  • Personality
  • Purpose
  • Consistency

All of these are underpinned by the central question you should ask yourself – what do the people following me, who subscribe to these updates expect?

I sometimes see status updates, used for two different things, when really they should use two streams or types of resource.

A good example of this was the event that prompted the discussion, a bar in Bournemouth began posting every record played, as it happened.

  • Some people loved it.
  • Some people hated it so much they sent abusive messages to the bar.
  • Most people were either indifferent, or switched off without saying anything.

Then the bar apologised… and the usual war of words/trolls began, but it was this bit that stood out for me:

A: “If you don’t like the updates unfollow”

B: “I want updates, just not a flood of them!”

A valued follower, taking the time to say “less updates” – I wish I could look back, or measure how many people either unfollowed or hid updates from this bar – it’d be very interesting numbers.

Anyway, the moral for me is – horses for courses – there is a place for the track-listing high frequency type updates, but maybe it wasn’t the same as the general stream – is that true for your business?

Listen to what your customers/users/followers tell you, with an eye on the quiet many – in the case above, the silent majority and the smallest minority that commented negatively were the voices that needed to be heard and not those of the vocal supporters (who interestingly mostly came round to the 2 stream idea, after I proposed it).

Have consistency with how/when/why you tweet/blog/update – occasional changes (like if you’re at a conference) can be accepted, of course.

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change IS coming to America thanks to IntenseDebate

When a website adds the feature to allow comments to websites, it’s not really news.

When change.gov adds comments, its interesting… when they use the IntenseDebate system as their comment system it is exciting.

IntenseDebate uses threaded comments and user profiles, with community ranking to ensure that quality comments are most prominent as well as telling you what a commenter’s reputation is next to each comment.

I have to take my hat off to Obama and his team for really embracing democracy in this way, enabling a real conversation where anyone can add their thoughts and by truly embracing community to manage those comments. Good work.

There is plenty of ongoing discussion about how to moderate comments on blogs and the legal issues around who is liable etc.  IntenseDebate doesn’t solve/answer all of those issues, but it does represent a great step forward – not only that, it supports OpenID and a number of other cool “2.0″ type features.

If you’d like to read more on change.gov’s use of this technology, see also techPresident’s excellent article.

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