:::: MENU ::::
Browsing posts in: Social Media

Facebook Adds Privacy To Each Post

facebook-privacy-settingsSometime later today Facebook will be launching a new set of privacy feature to its 350 million users.

The good thing is, with this new privacy feature implementation – Facebook users will be able to choose exactly who they want to share their status update, photo, video, or any other piece of content posted on Facebook.

The set options will be: Share with “Friends, Friends of Friends, Everyone and Customized.” Facebook is killing regional networks such as “Malaysia” or “Silicon Valley,” which are too big and meaningless anyway.

“Facebook is transforming the world’s ability to control its information online by empowering more than 350 million people to personalize the audience for each piece of content they share,” said Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Communications, Public Policy and Marketing. “We’ve always designed Facebook to enable people to control what information they share with whom—it’s the reason our service continues to attract such a broad and diverse group of users from around the world. We’re proud of the latest evolution we’re announcing today and we will continue to innovate to serve users’ changing needs.”

How will The New Facebook Privacy Benefit You?

With the help of many customized options, facebook users will now be able to create Friends Lists so that you can share your personal photos only with your family, and say some inappropriate YouTube videos with just your college buddies! If you have some promotional news or business article to share, you can probably share it only with the people on your “business list” rather than sharing them with everyone who may or may not be interested into such content. Facebook is also simplifying its privacy settings to make them less confusing in general.

What Is the Next Step?

By making the privacy settings clear, I believe facebook is just encouraging people to trust the system ‘more’ and make more & more public facebook updates that they can include in the facebook internal search index. Right now, if you search for something on facebook it only brings results from your own network and not from everyone’s public post. (Unlike twitter, where http://search.twitter.com basically indexes all twitter updates and hence more useful!)

If you don’t see the privacy settings on your Facebook profile, don’t panic! They are slowly rolling it out and it will get to your profile shortly. Don’t forget Facebook has over 350 million users to take care of.

Read More on Facebook Privacy:

It’s Privacy Day at Facebook – Mashable

Privacy-Per-Post: Facebook Rolls Out Its New Privacy Settings – Techcrunch

Farewell Facebook networks; hello genuine privacy – Miami Herald

Facebook privacy update draws cheers, mostly jeers – The Christian Science Monitor

Live From Today’s Facebook Privacy Call – All Facebook

Facebook redraws site’s privacy boundaries – Reuters

Hide That Weekend From Mom – Facebook Is Rolling Out Granular Privacy Controls Now – The Next Web

HOW TO: Change Your Facebook Username


Not long ago, I wrote about how you can setup your own facebook username (a.k.a Vanity URL), so that your facebook profile URL is like – www.facebook.com/yourusername rather than the very long url that facebook provides by default.

Initially, Facebook mentioned that they won’t let anybody change their username once its already set. Thus everyone gets only one chance to make it right! But it looks like now its not the case anymore. If you are for some reason not happy with your current facebook username / Vanity URL — you now have an option to change your username!

How to Change My Facebook Username

Facebook has made it very easy to change your username. Simply login to your facebook account and go to your Facebook settings page. If you are already logged in clicking here will take you right there.

Once you are at your “Settings” page, you should see a new section called “username” displaying your current username and also a subsequent button called “change” to do the obvious!


If you were drunk while you have set your facebook username previously and regretted doing so; this is your chance to make things right again!

Personalized News Dashboard from Guzzle.it

If you are a news junkie like me then you will love this brand new personalized news dashboard service – Guzzle.it.

Guzzle is a free web application that allows you to define some topics (say – design, technology,google and apple) and what it does is – it goes through a intense process of collecting all the latest feeds and news on your topic of interest and lists them all in front of you in categories for easy reading. So if you are particularly passionate about any topic or you want to stay up-to-date about a particular story that has been running on the web, Guzzle is an excellent way for monitoring those topics and being informed at all time without you having to manually check your feeds for news. In order for Guzzle to work and deliver you personalized news, all you need to do is a bit of simple configuring – like letting Guzzle know what sort of stories/news would you like to read, what are the topic of your interest and guzzle will do the rest for you! The interface of Guzzle is pretty soothing and sleek, check out the screenshot of the homepage below:

guzzle-screenshot - Social News

How to Setup Guzzle

Well Guzzle pretty much works out of the box. I didn’t even had to sign up to make it work! But probably signing up with Guzzle (For free) would be a good idea if you want Guzzle to remember your preferences.

But anyway, I’ll show you a simple three step process to make Guzzle work for you in no time. Step one, you go to their homepage- guzzle.it and add topics – this can be anything from iPhone to Google to Gardening, because you type in the term rather than choosing from categories. So what you are basically doing is telling guzzle the “Keywords” to look for in a news story.

Second step is to arrange topics into columns and organize them using separators. You can easily do that from their drag and drop User interface. And the final step is to choose your display option – I personally set my guzzle page to see both the story title at the source. Confusing? Well it won’t be if you visit Guzzle.it right now and follow what I just said! Its extremely easy to use Interface so there is no way in hell that you won’t be able to get yours to work. Below is a screen shot that briefly shows you how you can add topics:

guzzle news dashboard

The best thing about Guzzle news dashboard is the way it gathers news – it’s really a social aggregator. It can pull news stories from a variety of sources including: Yahoo News, Reddit, Delicious, FFFFound, and more. it’s checking these feeds all the time, so the news that you see on your page is always up-to-date and customized to your preference.

Do Like Guzzle? Then share your love, Tweet and let your friends know!

Create your Own Social News Site in Seconds


Ever wanted to run your own version of Digg.com, Reddit.com or other social news sites? Slinkset lets you do just that! With this cool service, you will get your own social news running in a matter of seconds.

After looking at some of the examples, I am pretty impressed by Slinkset’s ability & customization options. The best part about using Slinkset to develop your own social news site is – you can actually host this whole thing under your own domain. So if you have a big community driven blog, I believe you can just create a subdomain like – news.yourname.com and run slinkset there where people can vote up/down some of your stories (along with some other stories from external sources). And if you can do things right, I believe this can actually turn into a very useful addition for your site and a great source of traffic + links too.

How to Create your own Social News site using Slinkset

Let me briefly go over the simple steps that you can follow to create your own social news site. Firstly do sign up with Slinkset (it won’t even take you a minute). After signing up, you will have a blank news site (duh!), so you can add sources of stories easily via specifying their RSS feeds. So for example if I want to make a Social news site around the “Technology” niche then I’d probably add feeds of all the popular Tech blogs that are out there.

So as you start adding RSS sources, you will notice that your News page will start showing stories from all those sources. The page layout looks almost like reddit.com with a vote up/down button and also button for comment, edit and kill. Here is an example layout:


How Does the Social Influence Work?

Well, just like any other social news website – when people starts to comment and vote on the stories, it will influence the position of the story. Stories voted “up” pushes their position more towards the top and stories voted “down” will naturally go down. If a story is voted down many times then it gets pushed out of the page – buried! The commenting area is very similar to what you have probably seen in reddit.

News Story Submission & Moderation

There is a “submit” button for the users of your social news site to submit their articles. If you are worried about spam then there is a editorial mode where you can appoint editors who will only have the privilege (apart from you) to add new stories.

Some Highlights of Slinkset

User Management: You have complete control over your users. You can ban a user if he abuses your service or for whatever reason you like. (You are the boss, remember?)

Custom Design: Slinkset allows you to use Custom CSS to really change the look and feel of your new social news site. If you are not very good with CSS, no problem – they also have options to play with the basic design elements like colours and all.

Story Management: You can add categories to keep your stories in logical groups. You can also force your submitters to use categories during their submission. By default the stories on your home page doesn’t have any thumbnails, however you can turn on the “show thumbnail’ option to show little thumbnails right next to each story ( just like digg).

Advertising / Revenue Opportunity: You can use the sidebar section and insert your own own HTML Code. So definitely the sidebar would be a nice place to display some adsense block or other advertising in order to monetize your news site.

Slinkset is currently looking to add more cool features! If you have an idea, you can shere them in their help site which is also powered by Slinkset, Check it out at – http://help.slinkset.com/. Oh, and don’t forget to Follow @slinkset on twitter and let them know how awesome they are.

Facebook Fan Box Widget

facebook fan widget Facebook has recently introduced a widget called “Fan Box” that Facebook page administrators can install on their website so that their readers can see the facebook page updates directly on the website almost in real-time. On the top of that, readers can also become a fan of the Page by simply clicking a button on that widget itself. According to Facebook, over 8 million users become fans of Facebook Pages every day to connect with their favorite public figures and organizations and get updates directly in their streams. Now with the help of this new facebook fan box widget, users can connect with brands, musicians, celebrities, businesses, and more, whether they’re on or off Facebook.

The Fan Box is very easy to install and just takes a few simple steps to fully integrate it with your existing website. If you are a facebook fan page administrator, you should be able to get the Fan box widget running on your page by copying only four lines of JavaScript.

How to Add a Facebook Fan Widget on your Website

To install the Facebook fan widget, first login to your facebook account and go to your facebook Page – there you should see “Add Fan Box to your site” right underneath your Page’s profile picture. Each Fan Box includes the Become a Fan button. You can customize the Fan Box to include additional features including the stream of recent posts as well as a list of fans. The Fan Box can integrate tightly into your website – it takes a minimum of 200px width and 64px height for the button, and 554px height with all features included. You can read more detailed instructions on the Facebook Developer Wiki.

Here are some examples of different uses of the Facebook Fan Box:

  • Threadless is currently using the Fan Box to feature the videos and posts they make to their Facebook fans.
  • Newsweek has nicely integrated the Fan Box to encourage readers to become a fan and get news updates through Facebook.
  • Coca-Cola’s Fan Box integration encourages Coca-Cola customers to become fans on Facebook.

So don’t wait up, go and install your Facebook Fanbox widget on your website today and get more facebook fans and free exposure to your fan page.

What others are saying about Facebook Fan Page?

Facebook Releases New “Fan Box” Widget to Turn Website Visitors into Facebook Fans – Inside Facebook

Facebook Fan Box Widget Links Celeb Sites, Pages – AppScout

Facebook wants you to become a fan with the new “Fan Box” – Webbyist

Facebook Introduces The Fan Box. Take That, MySpace. – Techcrunch

Get more updates about Facebook Fan widget from Techmeme.

Twitter Launches Verified Accounts

twitter-verified-accountNot long after twitter’s recent announcement about account verification system to stop impersonation, they released what they are calling “Verified Account“.

For instance, if you check out Ashton Kutcher’s twitter page, you will notice he has a verified account logo appearing on the right hand side of the page.


Twitter writes:

With this feature, you can easily see which accounts we know are ‘real’ and authentic. That means we’ve been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved. (This does not mean we have verified who, exactly, is writing the tweets.)
This also does not mean that accounts without the ‘Verified Account’ badge are fake. The vast majority of accounts on the system are not impersonators, and we don’t have the ability to check 100% of them. For now, we’ve only verified a handful of accounts to help with cases of mistaken identity or impersonation.

How to Become Verified on Twitter

Currently twitter has started implementing this feature with well-known accounts that have had problems with impersonation or identity confusion. (For example, well-known artists, athletes, actors, public officials, and public agencies). However they said that they may verify more accounts in the future, but because of the cost and time required they are only testing this out with a small set of folks for the time being. So hopefully as time progresses they may role this out to more accounts over the next several months.

However if your account is constantly competing with parody or impersonation accounts you can fill out the twitter feedback form so that twitter can know your situation. One thing you can do right away is to provide a link to your official website containing the Twitter badge or logo linking back to your twitter profile.

Check out other related posts about Twitter Verified accounts:

Twitter Launches Verified Accounts – Mashable

Twitter Starts Verifying Accounts Without Actually Verifying Them – TechCrunch

Twitter finally verifies verified accounts rumor – DownloadSquad

Twitter Finally Launches Verified Accounts – WebProNews

Twitter begins roll out of verified accounts – The Next Web

Track more sources via Techmeme.

URL Shortener by StumbleUpon – Su.pr

stumbleupon-make-short-url-su-pr Stumbleupon which is a social bookmarking/voting site that I can’t get enough of, has recently launched a URL Shortening service called – Su.pr.

This new URL Shortener – Su.pr has a lot of cool features that every content publisher would really love. It basically combines all the features of StumbleUpon with the traditional features of a URL shortener.

Su.pr is currently invite only and unfortunately I don’t anymore invite codes to share with you all. However you can follow @stumbleupon on twitter, where they frequently give away invite codes for SU.pr.

How Does StumbleUpon URL Shortener Works?

Well firstly you need to register for a SU Account if you don’t already have one and after that you can start shortening URLs and at the same time post those URLs on twitter and facebook with a message attached to it. They have also included a feature for scheduling, so you can set your message to go out at a time in the future.

Once a user clicks on a Su.pr links they will see a web-based StumbleUpon toolbar, which lets them to like, dislike, stumble, favorite, or comment on your content (similar to the new DiggBar). They also have an additional option for sharing the Su.pr link on Facebook, Twitter, and via email.

Some Features of the Su.pr URL Shortener

  • Real time analytics – It gives you detailed view of how many people click through your links, how many came via StumbleUpon in particular and who the most prolific “reTweeters” have been and so on.
  • Easy Sharing on Twitter/Facebook- You can share your links easily on twitter and facebook, including the schedule facility.
  • Intelligent Predictions – They have a “Suggested posting time” metrics, which tells you when people are most likely to click your links based on past user activities.
  • Bookmarklet – Last but not least, they have a handy bookmarklet that makes submission of links quick and easy.

Mashable has a screenshot of the UI of Su.pr –


So did you get a chance to test this new URL Shortener? Share your feedback in the comments!

Update: Danny Sullivan made a point about Su.pr not being Search engine friendly as they use a 302-redirect instead of a 301. Check out his post on – Search Engine friendly URL Shorteners.

Facebook Username in Profile URL

facebook-logoAre you a hardcore Facebooker? Wouldn’t it be really cool if you could just give someone your facebook URL to add you as a friend, instead of them having to search for your profile by your name using the facebook search?

For instance, when someone wants to follow me in twitter, I can just easily tell them my username (a.k.a twitter handle -@saadkamal) or give them the link – http://www.twitter.com/saadkamal.

However for facebook there is no easy way to do it. But the good news is facebook recently announced that they will be launching a system soon whereby every facebook user will be able to associate an unique user name with their profile. So from then onwards, your profile can be accessd from a unique profile URL in the following format – http://www.facebook.com/username.

How to Setup Your Facebook Username

Well unfortunately you won’t be able to do it just yet! Facebook announced that starting from Saturday, June 13th, this new feature will be activated for all Facebook profiles and Fan Pages.

To claim your username (and thus your facebook profile url), all you need to do is just visit Facebook.com/username. On this page, you will be offered instructions on how to choose a URL or create your own. These new facebook profile URLs can only include numbers, letters, and periods – no hypens or underscores. Currently the page displays a countdown of this feature to go live.

Note: You cannot change your username once you have selected it, so be extra careful!


Track Twitter ReTweets

repeets-Twitter-retweets If you are using twitter, then you must be already familiar with the concept of ‘re-tweeting’. It basically uses the same concept of “forwarding”. When you come across a cool Email or SMS, you may often press the forward button to pass it on to your friends. So basically for tweets this forward function is often referred as ‘re-tweets’!

So How do I Forward a Tweet (a.k.a ReTweet)

Ben Par of Mashable has an amazing writeup on this topic. However, I’d just like to briefly touch on this re-tweet function of twitter as well.

Follow these steps to re-tweet:

If you receive a tweet say from @sparklette saying: Download Coldplay’s entire new album free! http://is.gd/Av1e (P.S. It’s legal too!)

Simply add “RT” infront of the persons name along with the same message and send! So it may look like the following:

RT @sparklette – Download Coldplay’s entire new album free! http://is.gd/Av1e (P.S. It’s legal too!)

How to track twitter ReTweets

Since people usually ReTweet the good stuffs that floats around twitter, it is sometimes a nice practice to track what other people are Retweeting. There are few good sites which actually lets you keep track of those ReTweets. But the one i recently came across is called – Repeets.

Repeets basically tracks all the hot retweets from today, this week and also this month. It also captures all the retweets in a thread and produces trend graphs showing what time a retweet peaked and so on.


The feature that I liked the most about Repeets is the ability to search by username and see how many times a user’s Tweets have been RT’ed, along with a roundup of their most retweeted content. This is really useful if you are doing some research on the twitter power players.

Not happy with repeets, you can try an alternative – TweetMeme. Don’t forget to follow me – @saadkamal in twitter!

Monitor The Social Media – WhosTalkin

Nowadays, It is extremely Important to monitor the social media and keep track of the conversation that is on-going continuously. If you are a small business, you need to know what your customers are saying about your brand, product or services. You need to be there, when they have a problem, complaint or feedback. And this is the most effective way to save your online reputation. People often think that online reputation management is only needed for the big brands, but Its not entirely true. Small brands & small businesses require a proper reputation management tool even more than the big guns of the industry. Why? – Because Small businesses don’t have any reputation to spare! They can’t afford to lose any reputation. For big brands, its a totally different scenario as they have more room to play on. They are in a position where they can choose to ignore the ‘little guy’ (even though its not always best for them). But for Small Businesses, you absolutely have no option to ignore anyone – not even a single customer. A slightest of bad noise can shatter your online reputation – and recovering from it would be pretty difficult.

There are plenty of solutions out there that helps you to monitor the social media. A perfect solution isn’t there yet – as each has their fair share of pros & cons. But the service that I’m about to talk about today has done pretty well to bring the social media into a search engine and its completely Free to use.


WhosTalkin is a brand new social media search engine with a very simple & easy to use user Interface. You simply need to type in your query and click on search and the engine will automatically display all the conversation that has happened regarding that subject matter. Currently it displays results from different microblogging platforms, blog search engines, news aggregators, video networks, images, forums, social bookmarking & news sites etc. WhosTalkin is pretty good if you want to get a instant overview of what people are saying about you, your brand and your business.

But for more advanced tracking – with support of of multiple keywords, email notifications, RSS etc. – I’d highly recommend Trackur.com, A web-based Professional Social Media Monitoring service created by the Online Reputation Management Expert – Andy Beal.

Are you monitoring your personal brand? How? Share in comments!

Listen To Free Music Online


Do you Love Music? If you do, then you will love this new Music Search Engine – Just Hear It!. Justhereit.com lets you search for any song that you want to listen to and plays it directly on your browser. It also have a built-in playlist functionality that lets you add a number of songs to be played one after another.

They have a pretty sleek, flash interface that makes it very easy to search for songs – with auto spelling correction, add them & play them in your playlist.


Justhereit.com is completely legal (according to their website). It pays for music licenses from all major performing-rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC). which then pay the publishers and writers in proportion to the number of plays they get and is protected under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1996.

Their member features is currently disabled and you would require an invite to become a member. But you can still search for any song, play it and make a playlist without having to register with them.

Try Justhereit.com today and you will love it!

Digg Phishing Scam Exposed

digg-logoHackers didn’t just stop at the Twitter Phishing Scam that we saw few days back. Now They are after the social news site – Digg!

A Digg copycat site – http://567gu.com/ has been leaked which looks and functions exactly like digg. But the only difference is when you will login to digg the story, your password will be sent to the hacker who will completely mess your account up.

How Does it Work?

You may receive messages via IM or via digg itself containing a link to a particular story. Sometimes we get so many of these everyday that we hardly look at the URL of the story. If its anything other than “digg.com“, I’d advice you not to click it.

Be particularly careful when someone gives you a link with a URL Shortening service like Tiny URL. Those can really fool you big time. For example, Check this out — http://tinyurl.com/6vjavf

If I randomly give you this link, you will open it without noticing the ‘address bar’. This is a FAKE digg page.


Since the page looks exactly like digg, its very easy for you to get fooled. I feel that this is even dangerous than the Twitter Phishing because – a social news site like digg involves more sharing of links. If you are active on Digg, I bet you have a lot of friends in your IM (e.g. Google Talk, AIM). One of them might be the Scammer who would want to pass you a fake digg page and ask for a digg. If you are careless and actually try to login and digg his post, he will get access to your actual digg account and use it for his own benefit.

So be aware! Pass this news to all your friends, because if they can compromise one of their accounts they might actually use their account to send the phishing message to you. And since you trust your friend, you might not actually bother to look at the address bar.

Here is the Whois Information

Organization : su yue bian
Name : suyuebian
Address : shanghaipudongtangqiao19B
City : shanghaishi
Province/State : Shanghai
Country : CN
Postal Code : 361009

Source: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/567gu.com

The fake twitter site also has a similar whois info – Shanghai, China. Interesting!

Update: One of the commenter in this post is a strong believer that this is not a phishing site as both the site has the same IP. Well I was aware of that before posting this entry because the actual news originated here. And as you can see in the comments of that entry, a few of the diggers already pointed out well before that both the sites have the same Ip.

However I still find it risky and a possible phishing scam ‘attempt’. Here is why:

  • Both digg.com and the domain in question – 567gu.com are on different name servers. So even though they are redirecting the requests to digg’s server ‘right now’, it not might be the case after an hour? Or tomorrow!
  • Digg.com is working fine. Its not blocked by my ISP nor it has any other issues. So why would I take the risk of going to a 3rd party site and take my chances?
  • Phishing is like ‘social engineering‘. Today they may be actually pointing to digg’s server, tomorrow they might point to a totally different location! User has no control over it, only the person who owns the domain will be able to control it – whenever he wants to!
  • After what happened with twitter, I don’t think this is a co-incidence. If you are smart you should not take this ‘lightly’. Since the owner of the domain is in control, He can keep everything the way it is and simply point the ‘login page’ to another address to capture your password.

If you still want to go ahead and try your luck, Be my guest :)

Use of Twitter in an Information Retrieval System

Firstly, A Happy New Year to all my readers! I have been a bit slow with blogging lately because of the tremendous pressure with work & my postgraduate research. But anyway, since Xmas & New Year is over I’m back in my serious business – Blogging!

twitter for on demand information query I’m sure most of you are already using twitter as a communication medium to communicate with your friends, family, your colleagues, your online pals and it doesn’t stop there. You are also using twitter to keep track of your industry, the key people involved in the industry and companies that are important to you etc.

Nowadays every company seems to have a twitter profile with a real operator (human being) behind the scene who is communicating with customers, taking complaints, resolving existing issues and doing everything to save their online reputation. Companies are monitoring the twitter cloud for occurrences of certain keywords – company name, product name etc. and before you know it, you get a tweet from them – showing you that they exist & they care!

How thoughtful! Isn’t it? Well, that’s just the ‘social’ side of it. When a customer is talking about your company, you should be there! But is being there just enough? Let’s take a look at some of the corporate twitter accounts like dell, comcast, jetblue etc. (Courtesy of Search Engine Journal).

Below are some of the similarities I have found. If you run a business and you have a business twitter profile, than I’m sure you fall under one or more of the points below:

  • You simply broadcast whatever new happens with your company. It’s like a TV advertisement– You tweet, tweet and hope that your customer sees it.
  • You try to be interactive with your prospective customers. Whenever people talks about something that you
    sell or do – you jump right into the conversation and try to pitch your product/service.
  • You use Twitter as one of the dedicated Customer Support channel for your business. So when your customer is having a bad experience and they have shared it via twitter, you try to comfort the customer and help to resolve the issue.
  • You use twitter as a Reputation Monitoring tool. When someone talks about a bad experience with your company/product or service. You try to jump right in, showing that you care and show him a light of hope.
  • You just heard of twitter and you have opened up a profile with your company name to save it from those stupid name squatters. You are yet to think of a proper strategy to run your twitter account.
  • You are using twitter as you normally would, but you are just using your Business name and logo in the profile.

Now whichever point you business falls under, it’s really not my focus today. I’m not here to argue on which ‘strategy’ works and which doesn’t. In fact I’m not even going to touch on the ‘social’ factor that twitter possesses. Twitter is an excellent social tool on the web and this is just a fact so there is no point in talking about it over and over again, because it has already shown its significance in that area.

Can Twitter be a Medium of an Information Retrieval System?

Twitter is yet to be tested as a strong medium of an Information Retrieval System. SMS (Short Message Service) has been very popular & successful in delivering On-Demand information to customers. So for instance, if you want the latest headlines of the news, want to track your order, or want to know the exchange rate of a currency – What you usually do is simply send an SMS to a specific number (provided by the mobile operator) and you get the details instantaneously on your mobile inbox. The service is not necessarily offered by the mobile operator, in most cases it’s created & maintained by the 3rd party providers. They simply lease a pretty number (e.g. 1111, 2000, 3232 etc.) from the operator and share the profit with them as per their agreement.

Now SMS is becoming history, people are sending less ‘text’ messages and relaying more on twitter. So I am very surprised why no one is looking at the possibility that twitter can actually replace SMS in terms of On-Demand Information Retrieval & Marketing.

Here are some scenarios:

Amazon & Dell can start allowing users to track their orders via Twitter – It can be fairly simple. Customers will simply follow a specific twitter account for tracking purpose (i.e. @AmazonTrack, @DellTrack) and they can send a DM to the account with a keyword followed by their tracking number/order number etc. So something like:

DM @DellTrack Track 1033910

Then within seconds DellTrack will query a database containing the order number and DM back the customer with the details:

Order Status: 1033910 – Dispatched 19:09 – 02/01/09 (Details: http://dell.com/tracking/twitter/?o=1033910/)

Some third party service is already doing this for Postal Mail/Parcel Tracking for Fedex, UPS, USPS, and DHL etc. But why aren’t those companies doing these themselves?

Airlines can give away Flight information via Twitter – I found a few airlines on twitter – (e.g. SouthEast, American Airlines, Delta etc.) But most of them are just sticking to the social aspect of twitter. But from a customer point of view I think it would be really useful if a person could just send a tweet and know what time his flight is or from which gate its boarding etc.

So all you need is to follow their twitter account and send a “DM” which will automatically make the ‘bot’ to query the Database and send you a direct message with the details requested.

Service Industry can use Twitter for Customer Support – Whether you are a mobile operator, an ISP or a Web Hosting company, you can provide your customer with an extra channel of support via twitter.

For example, customer can be allowed to assign one twitter account with the service that they are subscribed to with your company. Let’s assume for now that it’s a hosting industry. And for those quick support queries (e.g. My Site is down, How Can I do XyZ), a customer can simply send a DM to the Support’s Twitter account (Without having to make that call or write an email). The system will automatically generate a ticket for that support request and let the user know the ticket number via DM.

Since this will be integrated with the host’s support system, so all those ‘tweets’ will actually be received by the support team via Email. They will simply respond to the email and its cut-down version will be automatically DMed to the user with a link to the full response.

Schools / Colleges can give away their Results via Twitter – A student can DM @StanfordResults with their ID & DOB and get the result of the current term.

Love Sports? Get the latest updates via Twitter – A sports freak can get the latest score of his favorite sport by simply sending a tweet.

Make a Doctor’s Appointment with Twitter – No need to make that call, just tweet and you automatically know whether your doctor is available on your chosen time-slot and then you can register yourself for an appointment – everything just using your twitter account.

Pay for your coffee via Twitter – It would be cool if you could send a DM “Pay @Starbucks48 $9.99” to @PaypalTwitter and automatically @Starbucks48’s TwitterPaypal account will be credited with that amount. This can also work for ordering pizza!

Random Ideas of some Twitter Based Information Retrieval Apps

World Time – You send a tweet to @worldtime – “time London” and the world time bot automatically returns a message to you with the current date/time in London.

Exchange Rate / Conversion – Similar to the one above – “193 USD =? AUD”.

Stock Updates – There are many people who needs to keep a sharp eye on the stock market. So if this app is developed users can just write @StockUpdate GOOG and get the latest Google stock price via twitter. They can sign-up for a auto-notification service where every hour or every day, the system can send a DM to you with the latest stock price of your preferred businesses.

Tweet Poll – I love polls and I have seen a lot of people who take polls via twitter. But I can’t imagine the trouble the host needs to go through by manually counting the ‘votes’. Why not have real tweet polls that can be automated? So you sign up with this service and create a poll, your poll question can be a True-false type (e.g. “yes/no”) type of a MCQ type (e.g. “1,2,3,4”). Users will be asked to simply tweet the poll id and the answer to the service provider, say – @Polldady. (e.g. @polldaddy QS93384 3).

The possibilities are endless. Anything that exists for Mobile devices (via SMS) can actually be upgraded and made for twitter. Since more users are going for mobile internet, and getting wifi access almost anywhere – sooner or later SMS will become a history and Twitter will be the next alternative for SMS.

What Needs to be done from here onwards?

Someone needs to build a platform that will be able to ‘host’ some of these things mentioned above in a simple manner. Since Evan Williams (CEO, Twitter) is yet to find a proper business model, I believe this is something that they should look into. Rather than charging people money for their service, they should build a platform that businesses can subscribe to facilitate these services. Because it will be impossible to do something in a large scale with their current API limit. They are in the best position to host these services on the cloud. They can even formally open up a team, to develop the ‘systems’ and integrate it with the company’s existing system so that a smooth operation can take place.

For small businesses (those who doesn’t require much customization), Twitter can have sort of an ‘Easy Wizard’ that can allow the businesses to make a basic application on the fly and pay for it as they go.

Have any ideas? Share them in comments!

Follow me (@saadkamal) on Twitter!

Tweetree – Follow a Conversation on Twitter

tweetreeJust like Michael Arrington who notes that the biggest problem with twitter is that the conversation that goes on is pretty hard to follow; I sort of feel the same way.

Let me give you an example: the people that I’m following and the people who are following me are from different places with different timezone. Many times it has occurred to me that sometimes I get reply of a conversation that I started 10 hours back! And if I’m pretty active in twitter and always in the middle of conversation with many people, it becomes really hard to keep track of those ‘out of the blue’ replies.

So then came Tweetree – a site that takes your Twitter account and digs deep to tweak it, and comes up with a much better UI (compared to the conventional twitter) for your account and displays all your conversations in threads!

How to Use Tweetree

Simply login to Tweetree with your Twitter Username & Password, and – ta-da! You will be presented with a Twitter running on Steroid! You will be able to view conversation in threads and also all the external media (e.g. photos, videos, friendfeed conversations will be displayed right within your stream.

So now you may want to close your Twitter desktop app and check out Tweetree!

Don’t forget to Follow me in Twitter & Friendfeed.

Read more about Tweetree in Techmeme.

Custom Twitter Backgrounds

Twitter Backgrounds Are you looking for custom twitter backgrounds to spice up your twitter profile? You may want to check out MyTweetSpace.com – A very easy way to create a custom Twitter background in a flash! Simply choose a theme, enter as much or as little information as you like, and the system will generate a new, cool looking Twitter background for you!


So what are you waiting for? Go and make your custom twitter background today and show it off to your friends, twitter buddies and of course, ME (Follow me on Twitter).