Why Tweetmeme Sucks For Marketers

 

The emergence of Tweetmeme during the period I wasn’t blogging was interesting – I spent a fair amount of time reading content on sites, and even clicked the tweet buttons occasionally.

This post has now been updated with an official response from Tweetmeme – the features have now been added to the development timeline.

The Tweetmeme site is a useful content source, but this article is mainly about the Tweetmeme buttons.

Adding something to your blog, especially something that can encourage viral behavior and add social proof is highly beneficial, and doing it correctly, without asking for passwords offers huge advantages.

Twitter is also a medium that is marketing content tollerant, as long as the people following you are marketers, unlike Digg, Reddit, and to a lesser extent Stumbleupon. 

Thus I have spent some time delving into the code and API for Tweetmeme and the existing WordPress plugin. It has just been updated, thus if you download the Tweetmeme plugin, it will be the latest version.

Important New Features

  • Cleaned up cookie use a little, but it would be better if they set a cookie based on an action, rather than a display.
    The original RFC for cookies states that browser support for cookies should be a minimum of:-    

    • 300 cookies in total
    • 20 cookies per domain
    • 4095 bytes per cookie

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t want all those cookies, whether they are 1st party or 3rd party.

  • Ability to brand the retweets with @andybeard etc, though you still get “via @tweetmeme” at the end
  • The button is removed from excerpts using a filter on get_the_excerpt() – more on that to follow

However essential features of Tweetmeme and Tweetmeme Button are missing if it is going to be used by serious marketers.

Whilst I am not a huge fan of the @tweetmeme at the end of button tweets, it is something that users can just delete. However I have some additional problems / requirements / feature requests

1. The latest incarnation of Tweetmeme prevents the button, as standard, appearing on custom excerpts.

I can understand this from a user perspective:-

  • Most bloggers are using automatic generated excerpts that might include the button javascript
  • This appears ugly on the page, and is useless if they are also using that for their page descriptions

However some people use custom excerpts and custom meta descriptions, and like displaying tweet buttons on their front page without adding custom filters to functions.php or hacking theme files. Can the options be expanded with a separate set for use on the_excerpt? I can also see people wanting to use different buttons on full page, excerpt and rss, and only have one button on the_excerpt, but top/bottom on both feeds and posts.

2. The Headlines Used

Currently there is no way to define the text that is being used within a tweet – the text used is the Title tag from the header of a page. Many blogs use various titles for different purposes

  • In the header for SEO
  • For the title of a post
  • Various navigation elements
  • Custom titles for RSS feeds
  • Calls to action for Social Media
  • Calls to action for Twitter, or what Tim wrote about a few months ago, Social Bites

I really need to be able to define the text dynamically for each button display.

3. The Links Used

Tweetmeme like tracking things. Guess what? So do I…

I don’t so much care about branding of the final tweet links – it would be a bonus, but I need to be able to track the way I want to track.

  • Within my short URL software
  • Google Analytics for various goals
  • Possibly for use with affiliates

I understand that Tweetmeme need the permalink to associate with tweets, but couldn’t I provide that, in addition to the link actually used to generate links? You might end up generating a lot more short links, but you would know in advance, without having to check headers, that all those links are to the same URL.

4. My Tweeps Like To Track Too

As a person who might occasionally click on Tweetmeme buttons, there is one fatal flaw.

If I use my own link shortener, I can track the response rate. I like knowing which topics and headlines generate a response from my audience. If something proves to be popular, maybe I will repeat it for people in a different timezone.

Tweetmeem Buttons remove my ability to test the popularity of the content I post.

The solution is actually fairly simple:-

The tweetmeme buttons are quite happy to write cookies all over a users system, why not read just one cookie, a unique user ID for Tweetmeme as well. The default user ID would identify which URL shortener they prefer, and their API ID. If you want to be extra secure, you could store both of these in a cookie on the user’s computer, rather than store them yourself. Links would ultimately go through the following redirects

  • Tweetmeme Bit.ly
  • Tweep (any)
  • Publisher Short (any)
  • Permalink + parameters
  • Permalink

That is a lot of redirects, it might slow things down a little, and Googlebot might not like so many jumps, but ultimately this provides a better experience for users, and for once any SEO factors aren’t important – Google will have to cope. The 2 URLs to include with the javascript would be

  • Permalink
  • (optional) Publisher Short (any) / Permalink+Parameters

5. Split-testing

The observant among you would also notice that with all these parameters being set with each page load, it would be possible to split-test response to some degree. This level of functionality would add real value, and might even be looked on as a useful, modestly priced, premium feature – $10 per month/site  or $30 per month/site unlimited? For tweeps it would have to be free.

Thus I think Tweetmeme is a great idea, but to be turned into something that not only remains on my blog, but which I might even be willing to pay for, it needs significantly more flexibility.

Tweetmeme could be turned into a masterful, measurable viral marketing tool, with just a few tweaks.

Update: Tweetmeme Marketing Features Coming

Sarah from Tweetmeme has just left this message in the comments area

Hi Andy,

Your suggestions have been added to our todo list here in the office so do look out for the new features you’ve requested. They will take us a while to do but they are coming.

We’re using your post as our guidance, and if you are up for it when we have something to show, would you be up for looking over it and seeing if there’s anything we’re missing? We would like to get it right and have a really strong offering for marketing experts so feedback and working closely with experts like yourself is essential really.

Lets keep the conversations going between us and if you drop me an e-mail then I’ll make sure you are on our early adopter program :)

Many thanks
Sarah

I think this is a superb response and I want to thank Sarah, Nick and the rest of the Fav.or.it team for accepting my challenging post “head-on”.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    The thing about Twitter is that it is interesting for about a minute, then people lose interest quick.

    They have a 40% retention rate after 1 month of use – that’s a terrible number. Twitter is going to be a cool flash in the pan.

    • says

      @Vlad you have to ask/request from tweetmeme to get whitelisted by them.

      @Andy great points man, the button and the way it functions is NOT good for true intentional marketing use out of the box. I really hope the read this and adjust to correct these points at least in part.

      I will say for you average site or twitter users its still a fun & cool little tool. The bitly links are public view so anyone can watch the tracking, its rather fun with bitly as its live. You should see the variance between say @MattCutts and others, intense insight into quality vs quantity of connections.

      Peace bra,
      Mich D.

        • says

          I can quit follow… So is it a part of the plugin or not? The ability tu substitute @tweetmeme ?

          Andy, you desperately need the subscribe to comments option…

          • says

            It is part of the plugin, I haven’t ever requested whitelisting.

            Subscribe to comments will only return when I can do it through a central blacklist management system, though I have an option I am also going to try out.

          • says

            Thanks Andy,

            Sorry about the confusion… I just installed the plugin.

            I tried it once before but it did not have that option at the time. Thanks for the heads up.

      • says

        Oh and with Bitly, they would have to do some link bundling or sets – with this system you might end up with 100s of short URLs that actually belong to the same canonical permalink.
        They may already do that in some way, as there are lots of sites that use Google analytics lnk tracking.

        • says

          Your right with bitly & it does aggregate all bitly links into one set of stats. Like this,
          http://bit.ly/info/oupyb is the one from tweet meme
          &
          http://bit.ly/info/W6y1P is the full aggregated on bitly
          You can pull either the specific link you used or a combined aggregate link bitly seems to assign to each url it shrinks. You can view who shrank each link if they have bitly accounts to. [yes i admit it i have a stats n data addiction]

          I saw the @name change in the tweetmeme-wp setting but it had a notice you must first get whitelisted by tweetmeme, thats the only reason I knew or mention it :) I just guessed they used it as a tracking method or filter and assumed you had been pre-whitelisted when I saw your @name in the tweet.

          AWESOME to see they found your post bra and thank you for bringing it to their attention :)

          peace
          michd

  2. says

    Hi There,

    I’ve just seen your post and I’ll raise the issues you mention with the team in the office and see what we can do. :) As you say the use case that we have created the button for is the general user but we will look into the things you mention above and see what is feasible.

    Thank you for such a detailed analysis of our button and offerings. Do keep in touch and let us know what we are doing right and wrong it’s all really helpful! We are constantly trying to improve the service and have a forum page for any suggestions etc. I do my best to keep on top of what people are saying and if you would like to chat with us further then do follow @talktweetmeme and I’ll be happy to follow up with you directly.

    Many Thanks
    Sarah
    Tweetmeme
    http://blog.tweetmeme.com

    • says

      This actually started off as a post on the forum, I even registered an account.

      Then I decided it needed a wider audience to validate it in some way, plus it really was too long for the forum, and almost out of context.
      My audience are the serious marketers who would pay for this, a few 1000 people paying $30/month isn’t small change, with the right integration.

      • says

        As I said I’ll get the team to have a look into it. No promises at this stage but it’s on my radar to follow up with you on. :)

        And I do get what you are saying. We listened re the whitelist and opened that up so who knows it’s something that makes a lot of sense. So I’ll see what happens when I bring it up in Monday’s morning meeting.

        Have a great weekend!

        Sarah

  3. says

    It might not be what you want it to be, but surely adding something to your site which can increase the exposure or readership base is a good thing? I am sure everything out there could be improved, some more than others. I just think that any kind of tool/software etc that can increase how many people know about your site has to be good.

    • says

      Traffic without a way to measure it is like collecting water using a sieve when it is raining.
      The only way a business improves is measurable results so that they can see what they are doing right/wrong.

      What I have described above, with some clever plugins on WordPress integrating with other services, would allow quite extensive measurement.

  4. says

    This tweetmeme stuff sounds interesting, I’ll check it out. I am building my list with Twitter and I am thankful, there are tools like these that’s viral and easy to use. I hope it stays free to all. :)

  5. says

    Thanks for the posting! Helped me to understand all the benefits out of ‘Tweetmeme’ toolbar!! thanks again!!

  6. says

    Hi Andy,

    Your suggestions have been added to our todo list here in the office so do look out for the new features you’ve requested. They will take us a while to do but they are coming.

    We’re using your post as our guidance, and if you are up for it when we have something to show, would you be up for looking over it and seeing if there’s anything we’re missing? We would like to get it right and have a really strong offering for marketing experts so feedback and working closely with experts like yourself is essential really.

    Lets keep the conversations going between us and if you drop me an e-mail then I’ll make sure you are on our early adopter program :)

    Many thanks
    Sarah

  7. says

    Andy,

    What do you think about buttons accuracy? My latest post (which is actually a digest of my tweets last week) shows 10 retweets but I can only find one (my own retweet) via Twitter search. Not sure if you see the same on your blog.

    • says

      To be honest, if it counts too many, I am not worried, but frequently people will use different text and different links and they are still licked up. I am sure they have a lot going on in the background, just as I am sure there is a lot going on in the background of Fa.vor.it the parent service.

      You will also get lots of tweets, but maybe not as many visitors as you might expect, because lots of tweets are from various syndication bots.

  8. says

    Tweetmeme gives you the chance to rank the most interesting posts until they are important enough to be tweeted by the site’s Twitter account.

  9. says

    All worthwhile suggestions, there’s no doubt about that. But in reality, these are the self same problems with most other services, Twitter and FriendFeed being chief among them; there’s almost no sensible way to see what the hell is going on across your network.

    This is something I’ve written about quite a few times. However, in the meantime, I’ve resorted to services like tr.im and HootSuite to give me the metrics I need to keep track of my content through what I call the Social Loop — content production » content promotion » socnets, websites, email, RSS etc » back to original content.

    This still isn’t _anything like_ as comprehensive as I’d like (and as you’ve outlined), so let’s hope Twetememe aren’t the only ones reading…

  10. says

    Hum, this Tweetmeme thing sounds intersting. Congratulations to get heard by Tweetmeme development team ;]

  11. Loan Modification says

    I will definitely be adding a tweet me button to my blog. Its like combining the best of Digg and Twitter; I love it!

  12. says

    I’ve now installed the ‘Tweetmeme’ toolbar.. now trying to improve marketing aspects using this button.

  13. says

    Andy,

    Just because one installs the plugin does not necessarily mean his or her posts will be featured on tweetmeme.com?

    Also I am a little confused as to how the posts are being tagged at tweetmeme.com? Do they match the tags on your blog?

    Would appreciate your insight.

  14. says

    I normally use tweetter for tweetting my friends. I have never experience using it for marketing or optimizing my site. So, i don’t have the problem regarding whether tweeting is good for marketing or not. Lucky me… :)

  15. says

    Twitter is very dizzying to me. I’m sure there are millions of people who like the onslaught of information – don’t get me wrong, I like twitter for what it can be, but getting there can become a total timesuck. I really need to try out a few twitter app sites to manage the timeline better. I retweeted – thanks!

  16. says

    Those are some valid points and arguments. They should simplify and limit some tracking factors. I think they could really benefit from reading this review, which they should. TweetMeme is based around a good idea, and I have checked it out before.

    Unfortunately, my tweeting ability has been very limited lately because I don’t have the time and my wife doesn’t like me working past 5. lol

  17. says

    ‘Tweetmeme toolbar is really good I am planning to add it to my blog. It is little bit annoying to sit on Twitter web interface to whole the day for marketing purpose. Now I just need to write quality content on my site and that will be my area of focus.

    Thanks Andy for the great post about the benefits of this tool bar. Your efforts for its improvement are appreciated.

  18. says

    I think tweetmeme has the speed of twitter, and the link quality of digg. fantastic idea, just needing some fine tuning!

    honestly, twitter is too fast for me. like information overload. tweetmeme set a nice pace, and shows me stuff that matter more than others.

  19. says

    Think it’s a great thing on balance. I’d like to see the ability to not show how often a post has been tweeted because even 9 tweets can look pathetic. It’s like an automatic judgment or review of the post, which may be way more interesting than the number of tweets actually signifies.

  20. says

    The title part is killer right now. Like many other bloggers, my header title is more geared to SEO while my post title is meant to hook the reader in. There should be an option but seems most bloggers would prefer it use their post title, as it’s likely the more enticing of the two and thus more likely to get clicked on twitter.

  21. Michael Goldstein says

    Hi Andy,

    i like your antisocial plugin. i notice you only use the tweetmeme plugin now instead. a few questions:

    1) do u recommend that we no longer offer social bookmarking buttons on our blogs?
    2) have u customized the tweetmeme plugin with no follow for better seo?

    thnx for sharing some much great information.

    Michael

    • says

      Antisocial is effectively in retirement, it was only a hack, and Joost took over development of Sociable, and fixed it with the same features.

      Offering it depends on your niche.

      I include buttons that relate to my primary audience and where my primary audience is welcome to participate without discrimination.

      Twitter meets those requirements, and I believe so does Tweetmeme, at least unless people start gaming them with bots.

      There isn’t a need to nofollow the buttons

  22. says

    I am going to install Tweetmeme toolbar now hoping for improvement in visits to my website. Twitter is really a useful marketing tool to share your updated and now Tweetmeme will also help me inmy efforts.

  23. says

    Andy, I prefer to create my own retweet links within the text of the post, so that they also appear within RSS feeds. (For some blogs, the majority of subscribers may not even see a plug-in button in their RSS feed!)

    I wrote a blog post about how to create a text retweet link, but it boils down to 3 fairly quick steps…

    1. After publishing, get your blog post's URL and shorten it if necessary (using something like Bit.ly)

    2. Go to RetweetLink.com, pop in the retweet message and get the retweet link.

    3. Add a message to the bottom of your blog post, ie. “Twitter users, click here to retweet Andy's post.”

    It does take a few extra minutes, but if you've spent an hour or more writing a blog post, an extra 2 minutes is nothing to give it that extra viral reach – along with complete control over the message, and your RSS subscribers being able to use it, too!

    Plus, an extra bonus tip: You can also use these text retweet links in email, on static web pages, in PDF documents… :)

  24. says

    I can see the benefits of a static link, plus it is quite easy to program a clickable link automatically and end up with something like [tweetlink] that pulls from the permalink, creates a short link using API, uses blog post title or custom field (or a custom field in Headspace 2), or even split test them.

    However I can also see the benefit of a standard button that visitors are trained to click, and that provides social proof

    I am a greedy marketer looking for the flexibility of one method, combined with the social proof of another

    I am not looking to create a “fake” viral effect or social proof, but just one that can be nudged by incentives.

  25. says

    The wordpress plugin allowed me to brand the tweetme with my user account instead of tweetme it says authorityseo.

    I can see how many people tweet me or retweet me for each post which it counts. I can see the traffic I get from Twitter and what the landing pages are from my analytics. This tells me what articles people like and what posts followers like that tweeted me.

    I am not sure what other stats would be necessary especially if it would slow done the load time.

  26. edbisquera says

    I see the benefits of either retweet method, but what are the advantages over one?

    I like the idea of a WordPress plugin, branding with my user account, and having analytics, but does the plugin automatically create short links via bit.ly?

    I'm still a newbie Twitter/blogger, so I'm investigating options to retweet.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  27. says

    Most of the retweet plugins will use bit.ly or other shorteners, and it doesn't take much tinkering in the ocde to use a different shortener if you require.
    They can also use authorization keys so it is attributed to your account.

    Most also include additional analytics tracking links for Google analytics

    Tweetmeme however is my current favorite for social proof as they seem to be able to count lots of tweets from different sources.

  28. says

    You can't see the real traffic in Google Analytics without including tracking links, and most Twitter traffic will be listed as direct.

    Maybe you want to split test different calls to action, different twitter accounts etc.

    Maybe you want to identify users who send the most traffic, even if they don't receive affiliate compensation

  29. says

    On this site I am not tracking specifically, because you can't using Tweetmeme – adding a lot of tracking parameters to a URL would mean it isn't the same canonical URL, what this post was about.

    However when using a service such as Bit.ly or Cli.gs, and you see 2000 clicks, and in Google Analytics you see 600 visits from Twitter and 1300 direct (just a made up example), then you know it is from people using various applications/clients.

    Or just look at your tweet stream and see how many are using web compared to various twitter apps

  30. says

    On this site I am not tracking specifically, because you can't using Tweetmeme – adding a lot of tracking parameters to a URL would mean it isn't the same canonical URL, what this post was about.

    However when using a service such as Bit.ly or Cli.gs, and you see 2000 clicks, and in Google Analytics you see 600 visits from Twitter and 1300 direct (just a made up example), then you know it is from people using various applications/clients.

    Or just look at your tweet stream and see how many are using web compared to various twitter apps

  31. dental_implants_Southampton says

    I have never tried this button before. The Fav.o.r.i.t team has good work to follow up this post.

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