Trendjacking and the Twitter Bugs

5 08 2009

The UK retailer Habitat brought the practise of hashjacking or trendjacking to the fore when it used interest in the election protests in Iran to try to sell lampshades, tarnishing its own reputation somewhat in the process.

When a word is used frequently in posts on twitter it will ‘trend’ and show up in applications like twitscoop, twazzup and on the twitter site.  These applications create clickable links so we can all see what the fuss is about. 

Increasing numbers of users users are hijacking these trending terms to sell at us. As I write a twitter user has managed to get Cory Aquino, #iranelection, Paula Abdul, Bill Clinton and North Korea into one 140 character message.   The amount of spam that now finds its way into twitter is one of the reasons that some seasoned PR practioners are seriously questioning its value.

Spammers are getting more sophisticated, setting up believable accounts with convincing tweets.  For example @mgimina and @askanditsgiven both look credible but they are sending out identical tweets at the same time and with alarming frequency.  There are at least half a dozen accounts also automated to send out the same stuff as these two.  If you do look at them take the time to block them (you don’t have to be following to do this) which will help twitter to identify the accounts for closure.   Twitter needs to clean up its act but we all need to do our bit to clear out the garbage.

Tweetdeck is my Weapon of Choice

15 02 2009

I have been pretty resolutely old skool about Twitter, choosing to use the web as my application of choice. That was up until today when I decided to check out Tweetdeck.  It’s a desktop application developed in the UK by Iain Dodsworth and launched in June 08.  It has also just raised almost $1/2 million in funding to allow Ian the time to develop it, so expect it to get better and better.  

Tweetdeck allows you to tackle the issue that every Twitter user encounters when they get to follow about fifty or more people (Ian reckons his problem kicked in at the thirty mark), the issue of too much noise.  It provides a set of columns that allow you to organise your twitter information streams.  You still have a column for everyone you follow but you can set up columns of selected followers or columns based around search terms that you select.  

There is also a Twitscoop word cloud that allows you to track ‘trending terms’. This Sunday morning I watched ‘hangover’ trending highly in the morning to be edged out by ‘church’ as the day progressed.  For us PR people it provides a neat adition to the tools we can use to track the twitterverse and the conversations that are taking place, which might particularly interest us.

There is also an audio alert for new tweets or, and this is my preference, a discreet notification window which is gently nudging me as I type this blog.

Oh, and the default colour scheme, which you could alter if you wished, is black and cool.

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