whitelist – Stay N Alive

With Facebook’s New Page Design, Do We Really Need Twitter?

(Alternate Title: “Twitter: 3 Years Later and Nothing’s Changed”)

Talks of acquisition, deprecation of whitelisting, charging for API access – Twitter’s doing all they can to reduce cost and become more profitable.  It’s actually a typical story for them.  I’ve written the same post several years in a row – about 4-5 years strong and Twitter still hasn’t changed.  Yet, it seems Facebook is always changing, and they’ve been around for almost the same time.  I’ve been looking for the excuse for years now (remember when I quit Twitter, and came back?) to be able to reduce my usage on Twitter.  The fact is I’ve got almost 30,000 followers on Twitter, and it’s a great megaphone for me to get word out and share.  I’m not required to have a 2-way relationship, and people can just click “follow” and they’re immediately getting my updates in their stream.  Until recently, Facebook made that really hard – it was hard to be a brand on Facebook, follow others, and build real relationships as a brand.  However, Facebook changed that recently, when they started allowing brands to “like” other brands and Pages and follow them in a stream, just like a normal user’s account, with their new Facebook Page redesign.  Now, I can “Use Facebook as (my page)” and see other public, more anonymous, accounts just like I do on Twitter.  There really isn’t much difference!  And I get more features!

Twitter has much fewer active users (they quote in the hundreds of millions, yet when I look at my sample of that data, only 30% of Twitter’s users have more than 20 updates total!), much less engagement, and it’s much harder to organize the conversation.  Let’s add to the fact that as a brand I’ve sent numerous email requests to the company asking to advertise with no response back.  On Facebook it’s much easier to represent yourself as a brand, it’s much easier to network, and there are so many more integration points to share and get into people’s conversations!  I have weekly conversations with my Facebook account rep.  I get Insights telling me how well my posts are doing.  I have a self-serve ad interface where I can get real-time stats on how many people my ads go to.  I have accounts with hundreds of thousands of users as an audience.  I have APIs and Search APIs and Real Time APIs to all these public accounts as a developer.  I’m really starting to think, is it really worth using Twitter any more?

In an era where the competition is fierce, has more features than you do, and is more appealing to brands, where the money is, I’m afraid it might be the time to sell for Twitter.  I’ve suggested before that Twitter would end up in an acquisition and I fear if they can’t start competing faster and better, they’re going to get left out in the dust, with a lower and lower value.  I hope they can prove me wrong, that they can accomodate brands better, and start competing with the likes of Facebook, but I’m afraid Facebook’s recent move makes Twitter an even less necessary platform for brands than ever before.

Maybe I’m wrong – can you share with me why you think Twitter is still more valuable than Facebook for users, developers, and brands?  I admit I’m now out of options.

Image courtesy http://www.chaaps.com/facebook-vs-twitter.html

UPDATE: See my latest post, “How to Replace Twitter With Facebook” if you want to know how to do this.

Remember When Your Followers Were Deleted? Twitter’s Done it Again!

whale.pngEarlier in the year you may remember Twitter “accidentally” deleting a large portion of a majority of their users’ followers and having to spend days restoring those from tape backup due to their mishap. Well, it would appear that Twitter has done it again. This time may not be as obvious to users.

On SocialToo.com I was noticing we were getting “Rate Limit Exceeded” errors for our whitelisted @socialtoo user. Such errors shouldn’t be happening for whitelisted users so I looked into it. Sure enough, on the Twitter development mailing list I noticed an email from the founder of MrTweet, Yu-Shan Fung, stating they too were seeing the same issue with their @mrtweet whitelited user.

Alex Payne, Twitter API Lead, confirmed the issue, stating, “It looks like some database maintenance inadvertently truncated our table of whitelisted users.” He then continued in a follow-up e-mail making the problem seem worse: ‘The updated estimate I’ve just received from our ops guys is “more
than 15 minutes and less than 12 hours”. They have to restore from a
nightly database backup. Said backups are quite large, and take some
time to get through.’ It would appear that Twitter has inadvertently deleted an entire table of all the whitelisted users – this is the table that enables many of the Twitter Apps you use to continue to talk to the API without breaking. This is what we as developers are relying on to work or our Apps go down.

It was the exact issue of database deletion and insecurity of Twitter being competent enough to not do it again that caused me to go on hiatus from Twitter earlier in the year. Problems like deleting an entire table from a database, especially twice in a year, are inexcusable Twitter! I recommend finding someone that can ensure this doesn’t happen again. It’s time to upgrade your Operations team. As developers, we simply can’t rely on this, and it’s why I called my service SocialToo and not TwitterToo.

In the meantime, many of the Twitter services you use until this gets resolved may have issues. This includes SocialToo.com autofollow being down until the table in the Twitter database is up again. I’ll keep you updated on the @socialtoo Twitter account when this comes up again.