Will We All See More Room To Tweet At The Expense Of The At Reply
Will We All See More Room To Tweet At The Expense Of The @Reply

Twitter are testing something and I think it could be controversial

In May of 2016, Twitter announced measures that would allow us to extend the character allowance from 140. Many of the announced changes have been rolled out already, most recently we saw the inclusion of media in tweets not taking up any of our character allowance. 

This weekend I started to notice another of the changes, it’s only being tested on some iOS users at the moment and although I had it over the weekend it’s disappeared again.

What I saw was an idea of how Twitter will allow us to reply to users without including their Twitter handle as part of the character count.

Watch below to hear my initial reaction to the new character count:

What does the new feature look like?

It only kicked in when I was replying directly to a tweet, not when I was starting a conversation. When I hit the reply button the username of the person I was replying to didn’t appear in the tweet. Instead, I got a blank tweet with my full 140 characters intact.

I could still see I was replying and who I was replying to. Their name appeared in small grey text above the tweet.

Blank tweet with 140 characters for replies
Blank tweet with 140 characters for replies

But it’s when I wanted to reply to more than one person that the possible problems became apparent.

Again I was presented with a blank tweet, 140 characters. But this time above it I could see the name of the person I was replying to directly + ‘Others’. If I want to remove the ‘others’ from the reply I needed to click on that and de-select them one by one.

I can’t imagine many Twitter users will do this, or even be aware they are replying to so many, this could see a massive upsurge in non-relevant notifications for all users. This, in turn, could be bad for Twitter, if we see irrelevant notifications will we stop clicking the notifications tab altogether? Will this stifle conversation?

I can see why Twitter are being cautious rolling out this update. It’s a positive way to extend the character count whilst still keeping our messages short. It makes sense to take the @reply out of the tweet window to facilitate this but I do think they need to be mindful of how the changes could affect the way we use and respond to conversations on Twitter.

Have you seen the update yet? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Will We All See More Room To Tweet At The Expense Of The at Reply
Will We All See More Room To Tweet At The Expense Of The @Reply
We Can All Learn From These Three Eccentric Londoners On Twitter
We Can All Learn From These Three Eccentric Londoners On Twitter

According to popular myth English people are eccentric. I’m English myself and may be prone to eccentricity from time to time.

But this eccentricity can add to a warm and entertaining social media presence.

I’m just back from a trip to London so I thought I’d share some of the eccentric Twitter accounts I found there and look at how they relate to small business marketing.

Watch below to hear about eccentric London on Twitter

The Oval Underground Station

My airbnb was near the Oval tube station. The Oval is known for its cricket ground, the heart of a very English sport.

But it wasn’t the cricket that caught my eye. As I stepped off the train and into the station I found a bookshelf full of random second-hand books. This wasn’t a bookshop but a place where I could pick up a book for reading or leave one for others to enjoy.

How quaint.

But that wasn’t it, next to the bookshelf was a notice board. Instead of displaying service announcements or rules there was a thought of the day.

If a tube station could have a personality this one did. I imagined the thought that went into this by the staff and wondered if they took pride in the quirkiness of their station.

There’s a Twitter account too. @Oval_station shares the daily thoughts and is hugely popular. They also share community news and information.

eccentric twitter accounts, Oval station
The Oval, Thought of the day.

They have around 12k followers but it’s not the followers that are remarkable it’s the interaction. Posts get up to 200 retweets and lots of comments.

What’s interesting is the station doesn’t get into conversations directly with people but people get into conversations with each other in the Twitter stream. It’s got real community spirit. This happens because the Oval retweet comments from others sparking the conversation

Takeaway

As small businesses we should be sharing content that will make our audience want to respond. We need to be entertaining and we need to embrace the local community.

We should, like the Oval, look for opportunities to spark conversations amongst our followers.

Big Ben Clock

I’m cheating a bit here. @Big_Ben_Clock is not a new discovery for me. I’ve been following them for years. This is definitely eccentric. On the hour every hour Big Ben Clock tweets the bongs. Yes, that’s right at 1pm it tweets ‘BONG’ at 2pm ‘BONG BONG’ and so on.

That’s all it does, all day, every day. That’s all it’s ever done. But people seem to like it. Each tweet gets between 20 & 40 retweets and some people even respond.

Why do I follow? It amuses me that someone, somewhere came up with this idea. It’s also a handy reminder that I’ve been looking at Twitter for too long.

eccentric twitter accounts, big ben clock
Big Ben Clock, humour? eccentricity?

Takeaway

I always say Twitter is about interaction and conversation but it doesn’t have to be. Humour goes a long way and people will remember you for it and be delighted to tell people about you.

#CatsNotAds

I joked that Clapham Common tube station knew I, a cat lover, was coming. For two weeks the stations advertising had been taken over by posters of cats. I went there specifically to photograph the event. I wasn’t the only one at the station that day. I was delighted and so were others, you can view photos from visitors by following the #catsnotads tag on Twitter and Instagram.

Takeaway

The easiest way to get people to create content for or about your business is give them something worth sharing. You don’t need to go to the expense of buying ad space. Do you have a photogenic spot in your business? A quirky prop or something that will delight your visitors? Encourage people to share a photo and give them a hashtag to use when they do.

Over to you

Do you follow any eccentric or quirky Twitter accounts? Which ones make you smile? Let me know in the comments below.

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We Can All Learn From These Three Eccentric Londoners On Twitter
We Can All Learn From These Three Eccentric Londoners On Twitter
twitter update
Why did Twitter give us more room to tweet?

The 19th of September 2016 was a big day for Twitter and Twitter users. They finally activated the Twitter update they’d promised us earlier in the year. From that date they released the 23 characters they had been stealing from us every-time we attached an image, a video, a GIF, a poll or quoted a Tweet.

Earlier this year there were rumours of Twitter extending their character limit to 10,000. You may remember I wasn’t a fan.  This latest update is one I can live with, I’m still limited, I still have to be creative but I no longer have to sacrifice words just because I want to share an image.

Find out what I think about the latest Twitter update below

What will you do with your extra characters?

23 is a very small number but it will allow us to finish sentences better. It will let us add full words and edit less. We could add more hashtags and emojis and be more expressive. What it might do is encourage us to use more images, videos and rich media in our Tweets and that could be good for both Twitter and us.

Why are Twitter making this update?

I have a theory. If you’ve used Twitter ads you’ll know that they strongly recommend using media with every tweet you promote. Tweets with media always do better in ads, the engagement rate is high in comparison with naked, text tweets.

We know Twitter has a problem with engagement. They introduced the heart button to tackle it and reported success, but was it enough? It’s easy to click the heart button but we’ll spend longer looking at an image or video right?

I don’t have the stats but my hunch that by giving us these extra 23 characters they are hoping we’ll attach more rich content to our Tweets, we’ll stop sending people offline to our links and start mixing it up.

If that’s what they want I’m willing to give it a shot are you?

 

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Why did Twitter give us more room to tweet?
Why did Twitter give us more room to tweet?

 

 

Somehow We Forgot How To Use Twitter For Business
Somehow We Forgot How To Use Twitter For Business

I’m not sure if there is one key to Twitter business success but here’s one thing I’d forgotten and had to re-learn.

I know I’m not alone as a Twitter user, looking nostalgically back to the days when Twitter conversations used to flow. I’ve talked about it here many times before. But where many of us are desperately trying to cling on the Twitter we used to love other users and even Twitter itself seems to be moving away from this model.

Watch to find out my tip for Twitter business success:

Every morning I search desperately on Twitter for conversations, it takes time to scan through my lists and my main feed, to click links and see what people are sharing so I can open a conversation but I know this relationship building will pay off eventually.

I like to get to know people, I enjoy making friends on Twitter, I love that I am never alone when I know a friend is just a tweet away.

However, so many of the wonderful people I follow seem to have abandoned their feeds. They curate content which is great, they ReTweet stuff from the people that are important to them, some of them even ReTweet me and I don’t want them to stop! I miss the conversation. I miss finding out about people, shooting the breeze with people.

Being a content curator on Twitter makes sense. Twitter is a place to discover content so if you show you are a good resource you will attract people to your account. I’ve been guilty of this too. I curate content every weekday, I share my own stuff but I have forgotten to create Twitter content.

I’ve changed recently. I’ve stopped sharing links with every tweet, I’ve tried to recapture the Twitter I love. Instead of posting a link about the latest social media news I comment or ask a question. The reaction has been fabulous. I’m chatting to people again.

Twitter aren’t wrong when they bill themselves as a place where people can stay up to date with what is happening now but as businesses we need to be the ones discussing our industry, we need to be the ones people come to follow, we need to be the authority on our business.

So don’t give up, try my tip, share a tweet, no link, no image just a comment on something even if it’s just the weather (think about it how many beautiful friendships have started with a conversation about the weather). You’ll find that Twitter can work for you too.

 

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Have You Forgotten The Secret Of Twitter Business Success
Have You Forgotten The Secret Of Twitter Business Success

twitter-dashboard-thumb

Last week Twitter did something that astounded me. They released a new feature that I don’t hate. Twitter Dashboard is a tool aimed at small business that rearranges the way you view Twitter.

When you sign up for Twitter Dashboard you are asked for your website address and some interests. Twitter customises your feed with this info. You’ll get a bundle of tweets including your username, shares of your website and tweets with hashtags related to your business.

As far as I can tell this dashboard feed has nothing to do with who you follow but serves up tweets that you should find useful or interesting. And you know what? I did find them interesting.

It also brings some previously difficult to reach features into one place including scheduling (at last) and analytics.

I’ve used Dashboard for almost a week now (on and off) and I’ve pulled together some of the things I think work well and some that need to improve.

Watch below to find out what’s good and bad about Twitter Dashboard

3 Good things about Twitter Dashboard

1. Scheduling

I, like most small business owners use third-party tools like Hootsuite, AgoraPulse or Buffer to schedule my tweets. Scheduling has become a crucial part of my Twitter strategy and it’s always seemed bizarre that Twitter made it so hard. If you have signed up for an ad account you can schedule from there but it’s clunky and hard to access. We now have scheduling just one click away on our Twitter Dashboard.

2. Curating

Because my new home feed is no longer reliant on who I follow but what I’m interested in, I’m finding and reading loads of great content. This is for me the main benefit of Dashboard, I’ve discovered lots of new blogs to follow and it’s spiced up my rather stale collection of content sources.

3. Analytics

Like scheduling, analytics has been available for some time. What’s different here is that it’s one click away on your Dashboard, no need to go to a different site. It’s nice to have stats on tap although I have to be careful not to waste time constantly checking them.

3 Not so good things about Twitter Dashboard

1. Monitoring

I was encouraged when I set up my account that it wanted my website address. I expected to be able to easily access tweets that included links to my site. Unfortunately, these tweets may be there but they get lost in the feed full of curated content on the topics I chose. It would be nice to have a button I could click to see just the website mentions. I won’t be giving up my monitoring tools anytime soon.

2. No Twitter lists

I enjoy following a diverse and large volume of people on Twitter. It means there is always something new to look at, but I rely on Twitter lists to stay on top of the most important people in my feed.

Dashboard doesn’t have the ability to access lists. This missing feature alone would stop me adopting it full time.

3. No Mobile In Ireland

When I read Twitter’s announcement I was excited to see there was a mobile version. As someone who travels at least 2 days a week it’s important for me to access my Twitter tools on the go. Unfortunately, when I tried to download the app I discovered that it wasn’t yet available in Ireland.

Conclusion

My initial reaction to Twitter Dashboard was positive. It’s been a while since they’ve created something user-friendly and I can only hope that a more streamlined Twitter advertising interface is on its way to compliment it. However, Dashboard seems incomplete, like it’s a rushed out half solution. I don’t think third-party tools need worry just yet but they should keep their eyes open if Twitter start to add more features.

What do you think? Have you tried Twitter Dashboard? What are your thoughts?

 

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Should You Switch To Twitter Dashboard?
Should You Switch To Twitter Dashboard?
extended 140 character tweets
Could you soon have more space for your tweets ?

BassDrummerEd believes that “limitation makes you be creative”

Last week I was at the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle, BassDrummerEd was there showing us how he had pushed the limits of his drumming. His stuff was incredible.

It made me think about two of my favourite social networks Twitter and Snapchat. Both have limits and both are networks I enjoy and love. Part of the reason I enjoy them so much is the limitations they impose. For Twitter, it’s the 140 character limit, for Snapchat the 10-second video limit and the restriction on uploading photos to your story.

Twitter character counts may be changing – Watch for more

Twitter was originally limited to 140 characters as it was a text messaging service. Back when it was launched the maximum length of an SMS text message was 160 characters. 140 characters allowed for the text of the tweet and the username.

Although we’re no longer limited by SMS size, 140 has become the differentiator for Twitter. It’s part of the brand and it forces users to be concise and creative to get their point over in a short space of time.

limitation inspires creativity
Wisdom from @BassDrummerEd at the recent Thinking Digital conference

Earlier this year there was a rumour that Twitter were to extend their 140 characters to 10,000. I wasn’t a fan. Luckily they seem to have abandoned the 10,000 character limit.

The latest rumour suggests they are going to introduce stealthy, longer tweets. An article in Bloomburg, as yet unconfirmed by Twitter claims that soon the characters taken up by links and photos will no longer count towards the 140 limit.

This isn’t a surprising update. We can already extend tweets beyond 140 characters with tagging and quote tweet, this is just an extension.

If the rumour is true we’ll be able to use the full 140 characters for the text of our tweet and add links and photos after. This makes sense, at the moment if you add a photo and a link to your Tweet you’re left with just 94 characters for your tweet. Visual content has become a crucial part of the Twitter experience but it seems a shame to loose part of our prose to it.

For once I’m not annoyed, I think I’m OK with this character extension, it leaves the limitation in place, it still forces creativity but it allows us to expand the meaning of our tweets with images and text.

What do you think, is this a good thing or is it just one step on the slippery slope towards the 10,000 character tweet?

 

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You'll Soon be able to tweet all of your 140 characters every time
Are Twitter about to let us tweet longer?
increase twitter character limit 10000
Should Twitter increase the character count to 10,000 characters?

I’ve been away on my holidays in New York for the last week or so. I have just about been keeping up with the news and one topic that popped into my newsfeed was the possibility that Twitter would increase their character limit from 140 characters to 1000.

I really hope the rumours about Twitter increasing their character count to 10,000 characters are false. There have been rumours for a while that they were considering an increase but I expected it to be incremental and almost invisible.

A jump this big would be a shock for Twitter users and would remove the thing, that for me, makes Twitter special.

I understand why they are considering it. The 140 character count sounds like a gimmick. They need to appease shareholders and get more people signing up and using the service. Is the 140 limit one of the things holding people back?

As much as I love that the 140 character limit forces me to be concise, I do feel that on Twitter I’m part of an exclusive club. A club that understands the rules and the language that the character restriction demands. I’m sure to an outsider that this can seem intimidating. By increasing the limit, by essentially removing it, Twitter will be a crowd pleaser.

I object! Here’s a quick (not entirely serious) video I made on holiday in NYC last week to express my feelings on the topic…

When I access Twitter and Facebook from my phone I already find the two networks very similar. So much so that on occasion I’ve been using Facebook whilst convinced I was looking at Twitter. The interfaces are so similar it can be hard to spot which one you are using.

I love Twitter for its uniqueness. I love that it makes us concise, that because of the limit I can pop in for five minutes and get an overview of what’s going on in the world, what concerns the people I follow today, what stories do they have to tell? If we want to tweet longer we can already do so, we don’t need 10,000 characters.

Of course, at this early stage we don’t really know what Twitter is proposing. My guess is that they are keen to jump into the blogging arena like LinkedIn have with publishing and Facebook have with Instant Articles and Notes.

What do you think, should Twitter expand its character count? Will it encourage you to use Twitter more or would it make you abandon the network? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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tweet longer than 140 characters
3 ways to tweet longer than 140 characters without leaving Twitter

It’s been hinted at by Jack Dorsey, it has been anticipated, but I for one wouldn’t welcome tweets longer than 140 characters. 

I don’t have any children, but I’m beginning to think that Twitter is acting like a teenage son (or daughter). The network we enjoyed, nurtured, watched grow has suddenly started acting differently. It’s stopped worrying about what we think and has started doing stuff that is cool with it’s new friends.

I’ve ranted about some of the changes before. I wasn’t a fan of hearts when they appeared, but I’ll forgive my Twitter anything. I’m jumping on board and using hearts more than I ever used stars.

Then Twitter stole my share count. I wanted to give it a good talking to about that one. But I’m still hanging in there. After all I love Twitter, I’m not going to give up on it.

Today I see they are experimenting with a Facebook-style newsfeed algorithm. I want to scream. Why does Twitter have to be so awkward and annoying?

Why 140 Characters?

140 Characters is what defines Twitter. If they get rid of that limit will it lose its unique selling point? Will I loose Twitter forever?

The limit comes from Twitter’s origin as a text service. In those days SMS Text messages were limited to 160 characters and Twitter needed 20 of those for the username.

The truth is that you can already Tweet over 140 Characters. All of the methods below work within the existing Twitter architecture, and they do work. Maybe Mr. Dorsey doesn’t need to do anything. I think we’ve got it covered already.

#1 Reply to your own tweet

This is the simplest way to extend your tweets beyond 140 characters. You don’t need any images or tricks, you don’t have to leave Twitter.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Write part one of your Tweet and post it
  2. Hit the reply button
  3. Delete your username from the reply
  4. Write part two of the Tweet and post it

You can repeat this process until you have finished your message. The first tweet and the replies will appear connected by a blue line when viewed in the Twitter stream.

How to tweet longer than 140 Characters
Your tweets will appear joined by a blue line

#2 Write your message and screen grab

If you have a lot to say the first method might seem cumbersome. This second one works well when you have a lot to say.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Type the extended section of your tweet into the notes application (or the equivilant) on your phone
  2. Take a screen grab of the note (home + power botton on iPhone, power + volume down button on Android)
  3. Write your tweet – maximum 118 characters
  4. Add your screen grab as an image to your Tweet
  5. Tap on your image to crop and filter it
  6. Tweet

Twitter now displays images in full so people will be able to read the full text of your note in the stream.

tweet longer than 140 method 2
Twitter now displays your full image in the stream without expanding

#3 Use photo tagging

This one should be used with caution. If you are mentioning a lot of users in your tweet instead of using your 140 characters to mention their usernames you can add an image and tag them.

**Warning don’t be a spammer** Although this is effective if you are mentioning people, maybe you have included them in a post or are sharing a moment you had together, be careful of spamming. Don’t tag people just to get their attention. Instead of getting lots of ReTweets and hearts you’ll find yourself unfollowed an blocked.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Compose your tweet – maximum 118 characters
  2. Upload a picture or video to accompany it
  3. Click ‘who is in this photo’ underneath
  4. Start typing the name of someone you want to tag
  5. Choose them from the drop down menu
  6. Send the tweet

Your tweet, the photo and the users you have tagged will appear in your tweet.

tweet longer than 140 using photo tagging
Tag your photos instead of adding user names to the tweet

 

tweet longer than 140 using photo tagging
Choose users from the drop down menu

 

tweet longer than 140 using photo tagging
Your tag will appear above the photo and won’t take up any of your 140 characters

I have a feeling Twitter will start increasing the number of characters we tweet stealthily. First they’ll allow us to add links without them counting towards the character limit. Next it will be photos and video. I can’t see many of us complaining about that. Then eventually they’ll phase out 140 characters altogether.

It’s bound to happen but I’ll miss the uniqueness and the challenge to be concise.

For more social media tips, pick up a copy of the We Teach Social – 365 Social Media Tips Kindle book on Amazon.

What do you think?

Do you use any of these methods to tweet longer?
Should Twitter abandon the 140 character limit? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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twitter hearts v favourites
twitter hearts v favourites

When Twitter changed stars to hearts last month many users weren’t impressed. I wasn’t impressed. I liked Favourites, I used them to bookmark content and tweets, I used them to save testimonials.

In reality, I’d been battling against a new way of using favourites for a while. They may have served a different purpose in the past but over time users had started to click the star the same way they clicked the Like button on Facebook. After trying to resist, I eventually gave in and joined the crowd. Twitter had changed its vocabulary and I needed to keep up. Since the switch to hearts I’m liking with abandon. I no longer have a ‘favourite’ strategy. I like Tweets I see to let people know I’ve seen them o to indicate I agree. Just like on Facebook.

Here Are My Thoughts On Twitter Hearts v Stars

Why Did Twitter Introduce The Heart?

I don’t know for sure but I have a good guess. Twitter has a problem, although it has a strong user base many of those users are lurkers. They never Tweet, favourite, RT or interact with the content they see. If Twitter is to grow it needs to get those users participating. The heart button encourages this, it matches the hearts we see on other social networks like Tumblr or Instagram. It’s a familiar symbol that will make people feel more comfortable, they’ll know what to do.

It’s paid off. According to reports, more people are liking than used to favourite. Both existing users and new users are embracing the heart.

What Can Small Businesses Learn From Twitter Hearts?

Small business owners, myself included, pour their hearts into their businesses. They work long hours and for the first few years at least sacrifice their social life and sleep. When you are that invested in your business any criticism can hurt. We react to it in two main ways:

1. We get upset – When we put so much into what we do any criticism can hurt. The only solution to this problem is to grow a thicker skin. It can take time but it will save you torment if you can develop one.

2. We try and fix it – When we are dealing with customers we have to treat their complaints seriously and address them. However, when we receive criticism outside customer service issues we need to take a step back. If Twitter had listened to the people who complained about the heart and backtracked they wouldn’t have grown engagement on the network. They wouldn’t have reached a business goal. Sometimes we have to ignore the critics and accept that we know what we’re doing.

What do you think? Do you take criticism to heart? Have you ever changed something you do as a result of criticism and regretted it? And more importantly are you on team star or team heart?

Leave me a comment below.

 

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The end of the Twitter share count is here. It hurts but does it matter?
The end of the Twitter share count is here. It hurts but does it matter?

If you logged in to your blog this morning you probably noticed a massive drop in your share count. Suddenly your Twitter stats are reporting zero shares. It’s not a glitch, they aren’t coming back. Twitter have killed the ability to view how many times your web pages have been shared on their site.

Why Have Twitter Killed Share Counts?

I was prepared for today’s sharecopolypse. I read the announcement when Twitter originally made it, but it didn’t really sink in until I read this post on Social Media Today by Andrew Hutchinson. It was his post that inspired today’s vlog.

I may have known it was coming, but it still hurts. It hurts to suddenly see those Twitter shares disappear from my site but could this be a good thing? I’m always looking for the silver lining. Watch my video to find out if and where I found it.

Stats have been something I’ve been obsessing about recently. I just finished a three-part blog series over on Agora Pulse and it’s made me think a lot deeper about my statistics, which ones are important and which aren’t? You can read the series here starting with part 1.

Share counts do matter to me, but they aren’t one of the numbers I use to measure my social media success.

Why Share Count Matters

My share count is a stat I am attached to. Seeing that people are reacting to my content makes me want to create more. It’s an incentive to keep going. Not only is it satisfying to know that people liked my content so much they wanted to share it, but it is also great social proof. When someone lands on one of my most shared articles they will feel confident that it’s good content and read on. They may even be encouraged to share themselves.

Only the Twitter count has disappeared. We can still see how many Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest shares we’ve had. I do wonder will people be less inclined to share on Twitter if they can see no one else is?

How To Find Your Twitter Shares

You can still find tweets that mention your website on Twitter. The easiest way to do this is to paste your website address into the Twitter search box (no need to include http or www). This will pull up all the Tweets sharing links to your site, even if the link is shortened.

Search Twitter for mentions of your website.
Search Twitter for mentions of your website.

You can also use a monitoring tool to find them. Here’s three I use:

  1. AgoraPulse (disclaimer I write for AgoraPulse blog) Monitoring website shares is baked into AgoraPulse’s social media management tool.
  2. Mention – This tool monitors the web and the social web for mentions of your website.
  3. Topsy – This is a free tool, it works the same way as Twitter search, but it also filters results. You can choose to view tweets just from influential users.

Finally

Loosing those Twitter share counts is upsetting, disappointing, annoying but it’s just a statistic at the end of the day. Instead of focusing on the number of shares work on creating content that is relevant to your target market and to your customers. Make sure that the people who do share are the ones who count.

What do you think? Why are Twitter killing the share count? Will it make you share less on Twitter? Leave me a comment below.

 

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