Geez, it’s almost been 4 months since I last posted something here. Shame on me.
This blog isn’t dead and neither will it be. I’ve just been busy with a lot of client projects, redesigning my company websites, fiddling with other projects as well as talking to a lot of people with interesting ideas.
How this blog will change
In January I’ll redesign this blog from scratch and completely change the focus of it.
This blog started out as a way for me to share stuff about my trip to Australia with my family and friends. Gradually it started to more and more revolve around social media, twitter and my Twitter application. One key thing I learned in the last few months is that a blog isn’t about you – it’s about your readers.
As a proof of this, the undoubtedly most popular content on this blog has revolved around Twitter and Social Media. And not directly shocking, the least popular content has been about my specific life.
The Quest for Freedom
So — in January this blog will focus on a mission, a quest, that I guess a lot of us are pursuing — the Quest for Freedom.
Freedom (and specifically the freedom of time, choice and place) has always been my primary goal. Unlike a lot of my friends and my family, I’ve never, ever, felt that an ordinary job, and in extent an ordinary life, is something that I would ever feel happy with pursuing. I’ve been self-employed my entire life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Even though I’m self-employed, I still haven’t attained the freedom I desire. I might have achieved the freedom of time to one extent (I do my consulting from home and I choose when I want to work) but I’m still far away from having as much freedom of choice as well as freedom of place (I’m still stuck in Sweden, duh) as I’m striving for.
Next year I’m going to put a lot of effort into transforming my business as well as my life. I’m going to transform my company from a software consulting company into a company that creates highly scalable and valuable products and solutions. I’ve slowly started to implement my plan for this but the most substantial changes will probably happen next year.
As you probably can imagine, one aspect of this blog will thus be a chronicle of my personal quest for freedom. I will as transparently as possible tell you what I’ve done, the results I’ve got — and if the results are awesome — how you could go about replicating them.
To put this into a clear context, here are a few subjects that I’ll frequently write about as soon as I’ve launched the new blog:
- Social Media – Social Media has inevitably proven to be a topic my visitors love to read about.
- Entrepreneurship – Tips and golden nuggets on how you can get started on your entrepreneurial journey.
- Internet Marketing – I’m spending a lot of time testing various internet marketing methods right now and if everything goes as planned, a substantial part of my income will be generated by Internet marketing projects by the end of next year. I’ll share the methods I use and the results I get with you.
- E-commerce – I’ll probably partner up with a great company next year and set up an e-commerce operation. As I’m kinda new to e-commerce, this will be a great learning experience as well as something you can use as a resource if you’re thinking of setting up your on shop.
- Outsourcing – One goal I’ve set for me personally for the next year is to do more outsourcing and stop being so micro-managing-esque. If you’re thinking of doing the same, you’ll obviously pick up a few tips and tricks from my trial and error.
- Traveling – I’ll still keep a journal of the traveling I do (I do believe people like to read about new and exciting places) and share tips of stuff I’ve learned while traveling.
Since we’re living in the age of Social Media and User Generated Content, I’ll try as much as possible to turn this blog into a communications platform where you as readers can connect and empower each other. One quite obvious idea is to set up a forum, but I’m also thinking of other ways to enable you as a reader to participate in a discussion rather than just reading a blog post.
Another thing that I’d also like to change is the source of the content for this blog. Inevitable I’ll be responsible for the majority of the content, but I’m going to work on getting content from awesome ‘guest bloggers’ (I’ll also do some blogging on other blogs) as well as publishing some golden info nuggets from my readers. If you’re setting up a related blog and want to cooperate on some material, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll work something out.
Tweet-o-matic — What’s going on?
First of all, I’m really thankful for all the comments you’ve made about Tweet-o-matic as well as your interest.
One thing I’ve decided in the past few months is that I will not launch the application as Tweet-o-matic. First of all, the word ‘tweet’ might eventually be trademarked by Twitter and secondly, a name like that would pretty much target the platform to exclusively use Twitter. The new name for the project is Socialize and this is mainly because the platform also will feature other social media outlets (Plurk, Identica etc.) further down the road.
I wish that I could say when I’m able to release it but unfortunately I’m not in a position to do so. There’s just too much uncertainty right now regarding a few projects I might start working on.
I’ll keep you posted on the progress though!
I’ve noticed something very disturbing in the Twittosphere lately. A lot of people are promoting a bunch of insanely dodgy sites that claim to get you tons of followers and let you become a Tweetelite in no friggin’ time at all.
Getting heaps and heaps of followers on Twitter seems to be something that a lot of people desire (I’m also guilty of this) and a select group of these people are so extremely interested in this that that they’re willing to give their password to complete strangers in order to achieve this objective.
Here’s the catch though: A lot of these sites (I’ve linked to a few of them above) promising you to “get a lot of followers for FREE” (or insert- random-bullshit-catch-phrase-here) are generally operated by a bunch of scammers, spammers and down right internet trolls.
What has happened is that a lot of people have signed up for these sites in the quest for hundreds and thousands of new followers. If you take a look at some of the infected accounts, you’ll clearly see that the creators behind these follow-applications have used these accounts (and loads of others) to virally spread the message of their scam application and thus infecting and (potentially) taking control of even more accounts.
Why you should never give your Twitter password to complete strangers 101
Just to explain something here: as soon as you enter your username and password on one of these sites the people behind them can store your credentials, do whatever they like with your account and ultimately, log in to your account and change your account password. Awesome Twitter account be gone!
And that’s not even the worst part. By logging in to your account these people can find out what your email address is, and if you’re like a lot of the people online who have the same password for all their online presences, they can hijack your email account as well.
All you wanted was to get a few more followers and now suddenly you can’t access your e-mail account where you’ve stored a lot of personal information and if you’re unlucky, credit card information and usernames and passwords to other accounts as well. Hey, I might stretch this to the furthest, but it was actually something like this that lead to the leak of 310 or so confidential documents about Twitter.
The solution: Oauth, baby!
Something I think a lot of tweeps aren’t aware of is the fact that you don’t have to supply your password in order to use applications that integrates with the Twitter API.
Twitter has been supporting the authentication protocol Oauth for quite a while, and using this protocol you grant applications access to your account instead of supplying your password. There’s no exchange of passwords whatsoever.
Another awesome thing with Ouath is that you’ll be able to revoke access (and also change read and write permissions) for the applications directly from your Twitter account (Click on the ‘Connections’-tab in the settings section).
If you grow tired of an application, you can just revoke it’s access from there – there’s no need to log in to the third-party application and delete your account and stuff like that. Neat! Basically, the only way to do this using the password-based approach is to change your account password.
When dealing with third-party applications I have the following policy:
- Never ever (and ever, and ever…) enter my password for a web-based third-party application. If the people behind the app is legitimate and serious about their application, they’ll authenticate accounts using OAuth. Pretty much how WeFollow, Tr.im and soon-to-be Tweet-o-matic (shameless self-promotion :D) does it.
- Only supply my password to trusted desktop clients (I haven’t really done a lot of research about this, but the desktop clients are lagging behind in implementing OAuth based authentication).
I might be pretty darn biased, but this seems like a very healthy policy :).
Spread the word
If you’ve signed up to any of these sites, opt-out if that’s possibly or as an ultimate resort – change your password. There will be no warning from the scammers when they’ll suddenly decide to steal and lock you out from your account.
And please spread and RT this post on Twitter if you want to stop people from getting ripped off.
He was working on an article about how companies and politicians are adopting Twitter to extend their reach to potential customers and voters using this very popular medium.
I’m not tweeting for a company and I’m not a politician, so I guess I was chosen to be interviewed because I probably have the most followers on Twitter in Sweden.
The article (the translated version – weird translation though – is available here) talks about companies (Zappos, Chevrolet etc.) that uses Twitter to reach out to new customers and how Barack Obama used Twitter in his presidential campagin. The article also covers a little blurb about me, my Twitter account and how I attracted 23,000+ followers.
If you’re curious about the details on how I got all these followers, be sure to read my earlier blog post ‘10,000+ followers in less than a month – Yeah, it’s possible!‘.
I’ve been doing my little productivity experiment for almost a week now and I’m actually getting some results out of it.
I’ve been pretty much 100% consistent with getting up at 7am and I’ll probably start getting up at 6 am soon as well.
Most of the time I’ve been able to limit the time I’m reading and responding to e-mail, keeping track of what’s going on on Facebook, Twitter etc. and instant messaging to one hour between 12 pm and 1 pm.
Something I haven’t yet figured out though is to be 100% consistent with this. It’s dead simple to avoid these things in the morning (I tend to be a lot more motivated and get more stuff done in the morning) but during evenings I find that I become pretty easily distracted and have a tendency to fire up Facebook or MSN Messenger and just waste time.
I can’t really figure out why it is this way, but it would be awesome to track down the reason. So during this week I’m going to challenge myself to find a way to stay productive and focused during evenings as well.
Do you have any tips and pointers on how to achieve this?
When I wrote the last post, ‘To follow, or not to follow – That is the question‘, I was completely oblivious about the fact that Twitter actually has enforced a new policy regarding how many people you can follow per day. According to the new policy, you can follow a maximum of 1000 new people per day.
In relation to this new policy, the awesome marketing blog DoshDosh posted a blog post titled ‘Twitter Marketing: Why You Don’t Need to Mass Follow Users‘ that details a few very valid points about why you don’t have to mass follow users.
If you want tons of followers on Twitter, you’re not alone. But here’s a secret: a small number of great followers is much more valuable than a herd of uninterested people.
Think about it this way: if you’re an accountant twittering about tax tips, what’s the point of having 1,000 followers if 999 of them are spam bots and war resistors who don’t file taxes? — Tim O’Reilly
When it all comes down to it, having great followers always beats having heaps of followers. There’s no question about it. But the question is how you should start out building this great network – you still have to find these great followers somehow.
I believe that automatically following a few hundred or even thousand people that match your interests (for example, searching http://search.twitter.com/ for a key word or hash tag) will get you started out fairly quickly. From there you can start narrowing down the people that are providing value in the network and find related interesting people. Hand picking all your followers will of course lead to a more targeted network, but it will also take a lot more time and energy on your part.
I’m not saying that you should go absolutely bonanza and follow 14,000ish people like I do, but doing a bit of key word based auto-following using for example Twollow will not hurt you. You can always unfollow people that aren’t providing value to you.
I was actually planning on posting this a few days ago, but I’ve been buzy with flying straight across Australia and exploring Perth.
Shortly after writing my last post, ‘I don’t give a damn about your affiliate offer or whatever you’re trying to sell to me on Twitter‘, I stumbled upon the following video:
Ed certainly presents a few valid points in the video and truth to be told – he’s dead on about the direct message spam. As I wrote in my earlier post, the direct message functionality is becoming less useful to me as I follow more people. If I wouldn’t follow 12,000+ people I wouldn’t have this problem. Neither would I have a hard time keeping up with what people are saying in the main timeline.
So why do I follow 12,000+ people?
First of all, I am by no means a celebrity or a media power house. I’m just a regular guy. Because of this, I do not have a fan base that will follow me on Twitter. So the only way for me to build a great network on Twitter is to be social (I guess that’s what “social” in “social media” stands for) and follow a lot of people. Usually people will follow back, I follow new people, rinse and repeat – and then the network will grow from here.
Having a fair bit of friends and followers (I do not really care about the actual number – even though the post ‘10,000+ followers in less than a month – Yeah, it’s possible!‘ might give a perception of that) is a way for me to build a great network and a forum to share my thoughts and ideas.
By having this great network available on Twitter, it will be possible for me to share my thoughts and ideas and get more feedback from a lot more people. Every time I post a new blog post on this blog it will automatically be posted on Twitter. Since I’ve got a few followers following my updates there’s a possibility that a certain percentage of these followers will click on the link and read the blog post. The more readers, the more awesome discussions, the more motivated I’ll be to update the blog = WIN! If you have a blog, you’ve probably experienced this as well, that the more readers you have, the more motivated you are to keep up with posting new and great content.
Twitter is really golden when it comes to traffic. Since I started this blog in February, roughly 48% of the few thousands of visitors I’ve had to this blog comes from Twitter. If you’re running a new blog or a site that’s still sandboxed by Google, Twitter is a great way to pull some initial traffic to your blog or site.
The bottom line of my rant is that if I didn’t follow a lot of people, I wouldn’t be able to have the network I have today. The case with Ed is that he’s quite famous in Internet Marketing-circles and that he’s already got a certain fan base that will follow him on Twitter. For me, I have to start the other way around and build a strong follower base on Twitter, provide value via my blog and eventually (if ever :D) build up a fan base.
As a matter of fact, from the time I signed up on Twitter to last month I actually did what Ed’s proposing – to not follow everyone that follows you or generally not follow a lot of people. I didn’t have a lot of conversations back then and I surely didn’t come in contact with a lot of awesome people.
Twitter, heaps of friends and followers and performance
Twitter wasn’t really initially built for having thousands of friends and followers, and yes, Ed certainly has got some valid points about how this could affect Twitter’s performance. If everyone would follow 10,000+ people I guess it’s a no brainer that Twitter’s performance will be negatively affected to some extent. Twitter has been performing a lot of upgrades to its backend the last year or so though, and except for the down time in the beginning of this month, there haven’t been a lot of controversy about the service’s up time lately.
I’m fairly certain that Twitter will be able to cope if people would start to follow a lot more people than they do right now – given that it wouldn’t happen at the exact same time.
Apparently, I might be considered to be a rock dweller
At the end of the video Ed talks about the apps that ‘hammers people’s Twitter profiles with follower requests’ and that people who are making these are ‘rock dwellers’. I can certainly get that hammering the same people with a bunch of follow requests a few hours apart is a really, really bad thing. I do not do this, and I wouldn’t write an application that would focus on doing this.
What I do consider to be okay though, is to semi-automate the procedure of finding like-minded and interesting people. If you for example perform a search for #SEO on Twitter and decide to follow a lot of people matching that search term – you’re seriously in for quite a few minutes or an hour of work to open up the user profiles from the search results and click the follow button for each person you’re interested in following. If you could do this in an automated fashion you’ll save some time and you’ll be able to have a few interesting discussions instead of spending your time opening up profiles and pressing the follow-button like a maniac.
What do you think?
Do you consider following a lot of people to be a bad thing? Should Twitter do something about it?
In my last post, ‘10,000+ followers in less than a month – Yeah, it’s possible!‘, I described the system I used to get over 10,000 followers in less than a month and how this has benefited me. What I didn’t talk about in that post is the actual downside of having a lot of
followers friends on Twitter.
Sell, sell, sell – Spam, spam, spam
The number one downside with having a lot of friends on Twitter is that the direct message functionality more or less becomes useless. There’s actually a negative correlation between the amount of friends you have and the usefulness of the direct messaging-functionality – the more friends you have, the less useful the direct message-functionality becomes as you’ll receive more and more auto-direct spam messages.
What bothers me with this is that these spammers ruin the Twitter experience – and I’m far from the first one to feel this way. This has gotten to a point where I rarely ever read direct messages, and people that actually want to have a conversation ‘in private’ with me won’t get any response from me because I’m having a really hard time filtering out the real messages from the spammy ones. Right now I’ve got like 2,000 messages in my direct message-inbox and I swear that 90% are automatic ones trying to push some shitty product or service. Thank god for the possibility of turning off the option that tells Twitter to send you your direct messages to your e-mail.
I don’t know you and I haven’t asked you to send me that offer – so why should I buy the shit you’re trying to sell to me?
What I don’t really get is how obnoxious these spammers really are. I do not know you and the first thing you’re trying to do is to get me to buy some useless and utterly worthless junk.
Marketing is about trust and relationships – and here you are trying to sell me stuff when you haven’t even earned my trust or haven’t even tried to build a relationship with me in the first place. You are Internet Marketers – shouldn’t you know a thing or two about marketing?
For all you spammers insisting on trying to push your stuff via auto direct messages, please get a copy of Seth Godin’s excellent book ‘Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers‘ (or read the blog post ‘Permission Marketing‘ on his blog). What Seth says (which I think is dead on) is that marketing and the way people respond to it has changed. Nowadays marketing is about having the permission to sell to a prospective customer – not interrupting him or her and try to shove your message down his or hers throat.
Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.
— Seth Godin
When you actually think about it – direct messages are e-mail all over again. When e-mail was new, anti-spam systems weren’t really that sophisticated and people got heaps and heaps of spam e-mails in their inboxes. Right now there’s no ‘spam filter’ for your direct messages and you have no actual control of your direct message inbox.
As this whole direct message thing is becoming uncontrollable I’m going to enforce a new policy: until Twitter gets a direct message filtering system I’m not going to respond to direct messages from now on. Reply to me instead, or if you really want to discuss private stuff – shoot me an e-mail at me[at]sebastianjohnsson.com.
So what do you think about this whole direct message-mess? How should it be solved?
If you’ve been on Twitter for a while you’ve probably received the following spam-esque auto-direct message:
Want to know how to get 16,000 Followers in 90 days, and make money doing it? http://urlshortener.com/random-gibberish
— Random douchebag
If you follow the provided link you’ll end up at The Twitter Traffic Machine (my affiliate link – sponsor me with a cup of coffee if you’re going to get it anyway) which is an info product by @BillCrosby and some random dude about getting a lot of followers. After watching their video I just started asking myself why I didn’t do what they’re doing – If they can do it, so can I.
How I did it
Since I’m a pretty awesome programmer and since I’ve been keen on playing around with the Twitter API for a while I decided to hack something up myself rather than buy their product. So about 20 days ago I started to play around with the Twitter API to see what I could come up with.
After playing around with it for a day I managed to implement functionality to copy the followers from a specific user and follow these users, copy followers from search results and unfollow all those who didn’t reciprocate my follow. These functions are the core functions I use to improve my follower count.
What I usually do is to go to the article ‘Top 237 Twitter Users Who Will Follow You Back‘, find a user with similar interests and a lot of followers and copy his or hers followers. I’ll wait a few hours or even a day and then I unfollow all people who didn’t reciprocate my follow. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
The whole process actually started out kinda slow, adding about 10-30 followers per day. Then it climbed to a few hundred followers, and now recently I’ve had days where I could get like 1,000-2,000 new followers per day. See my awesome chart at TwitterCounter for more details.
Providing value (on auto-pilot)
Another crucial ingredient in the secret sauce is the auto-posting of tweets. If you follow me you’ll probably see that there will be posts from my account each and every hour (that is, as long as my app is running).
So what’s going on? I’ve programmed my little nifty app to fetch rss-feeds (pretty much like twitterfeed.com) and automatically post these items at certain times (usually every 15 or 30 minutes). I usually get my feeds from http://delicious.com/popular/insert-tag-here (for example: http://delicious.com/popular/seo) and my app will create a tweet using the title of the feed item (shortens it if necessary), a url shortened version of the feed item url and hash tags if available.
It also supports quotes and stuff – we all love those right? I also use Google Blog Search for other accounts I’m playing around with where there usually aren’t a lot of relevant information available via delicious.
And oh, if you’ve been following my account for a while I guess you occasionally have seen that I’ve posted the same piece of information twice (or even thrice) sometimes. My app keeps track of what it already has posted, but from time to time (I’m still experimenting and developing this Twitter app you know) I have to re-initialize my database and the posting history will be erased. The version of the app I’ll release (more on this later in this post) will accurately keep track of what’s been posted and not post duplicate content.
Why having a lot of followers is a good thing
Even though this might be obvious to some, I didn’t realize this until I did this little experiment. I’ve actually been a member of Twitter since the 12th of December 2007. From that point to the 24th of March this year I’ve had a maximum of 50-60 followers. I didn’t really care about Twitter then and if it wasn’t for all the hype about Twitter right now – I still wouldn’t care about Twitter.
Back then I could look at accounts with heaps and heaps of followers and wonder what the point with that was. How would they be able to interact with all those thousands of followers? But you know what, it’s way better to interact with someone rather than no one. Having a maximum of 50 followers didn’t lead to a lot of conversations, neither did it enable me to find interesting and valuable information other people would tweet about.
Since I started experimenting with this I’ve actually gotten a job offer via Twitter and I’ve also come in contact with a lot of interesting people whom, if they haven’t proven to be already, will prove to be beneficial to me in some point in time. Twitter’s a really fun tool for me right now (read: addictive) and it’s all because I decided to extend my network.
Before you start – I know what I’ve been doing is a semi-relatively bad thing to do. There are a lot of sincere people on Twitter that want to build their network organically and who are really into building long-lasting relationships with their followers – and here I am auto-following and auto-unfollowing people from left to right just to make a point.
I really do try to engage people on Twitter (I’m actually a really nice guy) but sometimes it’s just hard to keep track of everything when you get like 100-200 new tweets every 5 seconds.
I initially also thought that auto-posting links and quotes was a bad thing to do because I didn’t do it “myself”. But if you look at it from a different perspective, I’m actually providing lots of value to people. According to Retweetrank and Retweetist a lot of people actually appreciate the content.
Tweet-o-matic – reproduce my results
Despite my little ethics rant above, I’m actually going to release my twitter app so that other people can reproduce my results. I feel that a lot of people could find this tool valuable and that it would enable them to establish a great network on Twitter.
Unfortunately, I can’t say when it’s going to be released (I have to rewrite the backend, build the web gui etc. – and I’ve already got loads of stuff to do) but what I can say is that it’s going to be released using a software-as-a-service freemium model. If that’s total mumbo-jumbo to you, it means that there will be one free basic version (with a limited feature set) and several versions that you have to pay for to use (the more you pay – the more features you’ll have access to).
I’ll be posting my progress with Tweet-o-matic here on my blog, so be sure to subscribe to my rss-feed if you’re interested in this app.
If you liked this piece, I would really appreciate if you would share it with your friends using the ShareThis-button below. Thanks!
- I need a haircut. Time to find a hairdresser or whatever. #
- All right, gym exercise done for today. Let #
- Argh, damn submit button :/. All right, time to make a keto friendly version of chicken tandoori. yay! #
- Time to sleep. Laters! #
- All right, let’s see what’s on todays agenda. Sydney Museum perhaps? #
- All right, time to catch a train to Sydney. Laters! #
- Running around at the australian museum in Sydney. Good stuff! #
- Man, I love Australia. Now I’m just waiting for an Australian supermodel to adopt me as her toy boy so that I don’t have to go back home. #
- All right, time to sleep. See you on teh interwebs some other time fellow tweetlies. #
- Nah, seriously. Zzz. #
- Ggggoood Morning! #
- On the train to Sydney, today’s agenda: the tourist bus and manly i guess. #
- Had an awesome time in Manly. Too bad i have a one hour train ride back to suburbia. #
- Whoa, took some awesome pictures in Manly today… Uploading to teh interwebs as we speak. #
- There are still no signs of my Australian super model that wants to adopt me as her toy boy. Anyone seen her? #
- I also want to be one of those cool guys that write random quotes… “I love gummy bears.” – Sebastian Johnsson, 2009. #
- New pictures up from today’s adventures at Manly in Sydney: http://is.gd/p4IY #
- All right, nightie people. #
- Wtf? Rain? Noooo! #
- Scrambled eggs with walnuts and greek yoghurt sucked. I guess I have to stick to simple stuff. #
- Yay, gym done for today. Pre-workout meal/snack ahead then some work. How’s everyone today? #
- Thinking about hacking up a little Twitter bot and try an experiment… :) #
- All right, gotta fix me a post workout meal. Carb-up/eat-crap day tomorrow! Yay! #
- Had an awesome time out yesterday. #
- Had another big day out… Good stuff! #
- Time to make some breakfast (eggs I guess), go for a run and then hit the gym. #
- All right, off to the gym. #
- Doing some twitter api experiments. #
- This will be a fun experiment, let’s see if it’s useful as well :) #
- All right, cool, api limits. Cleverly done by the twitter devs. #
- Ah, next mini-experiment is a little bit trickier… I guess I’ll have to continue with that one tomorrow. #
- All right, I call it a night. Laters! #
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