Tweets: LinkedIn, Twitter & Lists

Today I had the privilege of taking the wraps of a feature enhancement that my team has been working on for the past few weeks: the new version of Tweets.

LinkedIn Blog: Find and Follow Your LinkedIn Connections on Twitter

Tweets on LinkedIn

You can install Tweets by going to the install page on LinkedIn.

There’s no need to run through all of the great new features – the LinkedIn blog post does a good job of that.   Here is some of the most notable press coverage:

The buzz was fantastic to see.  We pushed out the new application at 4PM PST, and by 4:10PM we were trending with over 20 tweets per minute about the application.  (This included a really nice shout out from Ryan Sarver at Twitter).

One of the most unique aspects of this launch was the added ability to see which of your LinkedIn connections are on Twitter, and which ones your are (or aren’t following).  For example, I personally discovered that I had over 334 LinkedIn connections with Twitter accounts, but was only following 120 of them.  With a few clicks, I was able to discover that key people, including several executives at LinkedIn, had Twitter accounts that I should be following.  Click click click.  Done.

The reason I really loved working on this project is that it captures one of the fundamental reasons the LinkedIn platform is so important.  We believe that every business application would be better if it was integrated with your professional reputation and relationships, and this feature is a great example of how Twitter can become more valuable when it’s integrated with your LinkedIn account.  Finding the right people to follow on Twitter can be difficult, and leveraging your LinkedIn network is a great way to find and follow professionally relevant Twitter accounts.

With the new Twitter list functionality, I can now keep tabs on the tweets of my LinkedIn connections on LinkedIn, on Twitter for iPhone, in Tweetdeck, Seesmic, or any Twitter client that supports lists.  Set it once and forget – LinkedIn keeps it up to date.

A special thank you to the team, in particular Alejandro Crosa, Sarah Alpern and Taylor Singletary.  Very exciting to see this feature live.

You’ll be even more impressed with what we have planned next.  🙂

I Need to Blog More & Tweet Less

I’ve come to a painful realization in the past few months:  I need to blog more and tweet less.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of Twitter.  I’ve learned a lot from them from both a user-perspective and a product-perspective.

The problem, however, is that tweets are ephemeral.  They offer an interesting combination of news sharing, brief commentary, and even a smattering of public dialog.  Unfortunately, they dissipate like snow flakes on a warm windshield.

I’ve been posting on the blog for several years now.  Almost 700 posts total.  But there is no question that my blogging activity has dropped considerably as I’ve tweeted more.  This is my first blog post in over a month.

And where are those tweets now?

In 2006 I wrote a thoughtful, but brief blog post about the Orion program, and the reinvigorated plans to establish a permanent presence on the moon.  A few weeks ago, President Obama put forth a proposal to kill the program.  I tweeted several times about it… but no blog post.  It’s sitting on a “to do” list of blog topics that I haven’t completed.

Does it matter?

I suppose it depends on the reasons that people have for blogging.  For me, blogging serves multiple functions:

  1. Blogging allows me to collect and share opinions about topics of interest (e.g. The Real eBay Magic: Irrational Commerce)
  2. Blogging allows me to demonstrate my interest / skills around a topic (e.g. The Personal Economics of Farmville)
  3. Blogging allows me to share knowledge publicly (Roth IRA Loophole: Everyone Can Qualify in 2010)
  4. Blogging allows me to keep a diary of topics of interest (The Self Organizing Quantum Universe)
  5. Blogging allows me to personally experiment with social media (Category: Blogging)

Unfortunately, I’m worried that the trade off between tweeting and blogging is having a significant long term impact on many of these goals.

My working theory is that Twitter is influencing me to blog less in two ways:

  1. It’s real time. As a result, I’m more likely to comment on something during the day, rather than waiting until the evening to blog about it after work.  But, once I’ve commented, the pressure to blog about it lessens.
  2. It’s where I get my news. As I’ve started depending on Twitter more for news than Google Reader, my old workflow of going through blog posts and articles, finding topics of interest, and then blogging has been broken.

Now, Twitter has its own value.  In terms of traffic generation, I find it phenomentally effective.  It has also become my primary conduit to gain environmental awareness of topics both personal and professional.  Twitter has also enhanced my professional reputation in a number of circles – circles that rarely if ever discovered by blog.

As a result, while I’m still going to tweet frequently in the coming month, I’m also going to make a renewed effort to blog more frequently over the next 30 days.  At minimum, I’m going to shoot for 1-2 posts per week, to get some rhythm back into the exercise.

I’m also going to experiment with some different tools and features to see if I can’t help turn topics that I find interesting enough to tweet about into topics I’m interested enough to blog about.

The Identity of Fake Leonard Speiser is Revealed!

Too much fun.  Tonight, we revealed the identity of Fake Leonard Speiser to, well, the real Leonard Speiser.

The key to obfuscation was simple: there was no one Fake Leonard Speiser.  A group of people who have worked with Leonard before all had access to account.  Consider it a form of “Twitter Improv”.

Yes, this is the kind of fun we have in Silicon Valley.  It’s because we’re geeks.

See below for the kickoff email.  We had fun with this all weekend.  I hope Leonard (and fans) did too.  I’d like to think that even though Fake Leonard was just around for a few days, he was starting to develop a real personality.

Goodbye, Fake Leonard.

From: Adam Nash
To: Elliot Shmukler, Chris Yeh, Bart Munro, Ben Foster, Shri Mahesh, Michael Dearing, Kenny Pate
Subject: Welcome to the Fake Leonard Conspiracy
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 11:10:37 -0700

Merely by reading this email, you have been inducted into the Fake Leonard Speiser conspiracy.

Yesteday, Leonard made the mistake of issuing this tweet:

Clearly, this was a desperate cry for a prank.  We will oblige him.

Behold, Fake Leonard Speiser:

Instead of just one of us making up fake lines from Leonard, we are *all* going to contribute.  Kind of like a live, Twitter improv.

Here is the commitment:
For the next few days, every one of us will make *at least* one tweet from the Fake Leonard account.  Don’t worry about being consistent with the tone of everyone else too much – just shoot out lines that you can imagine Leonard saying.

Follow @fakeleonard, and tweet/respond/retweet his posts, to help get his followers up.  If someone wants to run around and follow a broad swath of his social network, all the better.

This is all in good fun, so nothing too personal or offensive.  🙂

The account password is:

Please try to make your first tweets today… I got mine in.

Email me with questions.

Update: I’ve been reminded that this is the second online gag I’ve played on Leonard Speiser… in the first, the co-conspirator was

Once again, the web is safe for “adamnash”

Just in case you aren’t one of the 225 million Facebook users who received a notification, tonight at 12:01 AM EST (9:01 PM local time), Facebook decided to launch a massive “first-come, first serve” claim on usernames (or handles) on Facebook.

You might be wondering why this is big deal, since these have existed on every other site for years.

Well, the reason is because this is Facebook, and ironically because they waiting this long to launch handles, it’s now moved from part of the new-user experience to a huge virtual geek battle for your name.  (if you want yours, go to

I, of course, claimed “adamnash”.

Not very creative, I know.  When I chose my first username, freshman year at Stanford, I picked a nickname I had in high school.  (To this day, the wonders of the web have preserved old Usenet posting from under than handle… embarrassing.)  Thankfully, when you declare Computer Science as your major at Stanford, you get a virtual second chance – your Xenon address.

With a full name that fits in an old-style unix handle of 8 characters, it seemed too obvious.

I am adamnash.

These days, of course, you can find me at:

Brilliant from an SEO perspective, I guess.  Not that hot if I was looking for anonymity.

Now, I can safely say, Facebook is safe for “adamnash” as well:

I feel a little guilty for hogging all the virtual cyberspace for myself.  There are other Adam Nashes out there.  I think there are over 30 on LinkedIn alone.

But not that guilty.  I’ve been “adamnash” since 1992.  I’m not going to stop now.

Jordan: My First Twitter Baby

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (or who received an email), this blog post is about old news.  But I thought I’d share here, for posterity, the fact that last Wednesday, my wife & I were blessed with the birth of our third son, Jordan Gabriel.  He weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz., and was 21 inches long.


While we’re still adapting to life with three kids in the house, I thought I’d note the tech milestone as well.  When my first son was born, we had a birth blog to commemorate the event.  That was less than five years ago.  Clearly in just that short time we’ve moved on to newer modes of obsessive documentation.

I guess that answers the question on whether Twitter competes and/or substitutes for blogging.

In any case, welcome to the world Jordan.  Our first Twitter baby.  (In fact, one of my colleagues at LinkedIn was kind enough to reserve @jordannash for him…)

Jordan Tweet

Get Ready for TEO: Twitter Event Optimization

That’s right, everyone.  A new acronym is born.

Get ready for consultants, product managers, marketing executives, and knowledgeable technorati everywhere to be talking about the most important traffic driver since… SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

That’s right, 2009 is the year of TEOTwitter Event Optimization.

The logic is simple enough.  Twitter is growing by incredible rates, and it’s inherently a high activity, highly connected distribution model.  That means that pushing out events to Twitter can help drive traffic to your application or service.

When a user pushes out a link to your content, it magnifies distribution a large number of ways:

  • The tweet/link is pushed to all of their followers (sometimes to multiple clients/locations)
  • The tweet is sometimes retweeted (at a fractional rate) to a 2nd degree of followers
  • The tweet shows up in countless Twitter searches for terms/keywords
  • The tweet is indexed in Google for natural search
  • The tweet, if hashtagged, comes up for anyone reviewing that particular topic.  (Topics on Twitter are often flagged with a # symbol.  Example: #swineflu)

One of the hardest problems that websites face is traffic generation, and I can see it in the eyes of marketing and media executives everyone.  They look at Twitter, and they see… engagement.  attention.  TRAFFIC.

And they want it.

Thus, TEO is born.  Like SEO before it, there will be a range of skillsets that will quickly be developed, and then sold to countless companies everywhere:

  • Optimizing your website to get users to issue events to Twitter (manually or automatically)
  • Optimizing the content of an event to promote click-through
  • Optimizing the content of an event to trigger retweeting (RT)
  • Optimizing the tracking of the links on Twitter for effectiveness (already happening)
  • Optimizing the landing pages of your site, so that non-members who click through from Twitter get a good experience and “convert” to direct users.
  • The list goes on…

I really haven’t seen this much collective energy around a new traffic source since Google really hit the scene in volume, and everyone realized that an alternative to paying for search advertising was to invest in optimizing your content for natural search.

It’s hard to argue that this will be good for the Twitter eco-system.  Google has fielded armies of engineers and incredibly advanced technology to help keep natural search effective.  One of the challenges Twitter will definitely face is keeping their stream relatively “clean” of manufactured content.  Whether that’s something that can be done by end users, or whether deep technology will be needed is yet to be determined.

In any case, I’m not sure if I am the first to coin the term… it’s hard to believe that with the huge buzz around Twitter that this one hasn’t been claimed already.  But, just in case you heard it here first, remember:

2009 is all about TEO

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tweets…

If you have not been following the latest Twitter drama, I thought I’d share it briefly here on this blog.

Meet Connor Riley.  She seems like a nice enough young woman, going to UC Berkeley.  Her personal student website is online, including her resume.  After all, she is looking for a job.

Good news!  She landed an offer from Cisco, one of the few big tech companies hiring these days.

Unfortunately, she sent out a message on Twitter that was captured as follows:


She apparently didn’t understand that by default, everyone can see  you tweet.  Needless to say, someone at Cisco saw this tweet (likely from a saved search or TweetDeck stream for “Cisco”) and responded as follows:


Thus, the “Cisco Fatty” incident was born.   Amazing stream – you can see the Twitter search here.  The drama.  The intrigue.  A couple articles:

Connor actually posted a response on her personal site.  It’s not much, but here’s a sample:

Sometimes in the course of applying for a job, it becomes apparent that it’s a job you don’t want to do. I declined one such job early on Tuesday, and then, because I live at some distance from many of my close friends, I decided to use Twitter to tell them about what I had been thinking.

Let me tell you about how I use Twitter: I have 45 friends. I know all of them. They know me. 95% of them have lived in a dorm or a house with me. I practically can’t offend them, although sometimes I try.

So one checkbox stood between my using Twitter correctly to suit my needs and my using Twitter in a way that would make @timmylevad start baying for my head.

It’s not really that compelling.  Still, I found myself thinking about a few things:

  1. Get used to “Bad Tweet” stories. We’ve heard a few “bad tweet” stories before (remember the “Memphis” incident?).  And we’ll hear more.  It’s the new, hot social medium, and these stories will take on a life of their own.
  2. The bad economy affects reactions. This would be one of those classic schadenfreude stories, except that with the economy where it is, people are particularly indignant at anyone who would flaunt and dismiss a great job at a great company like Cisco.  It’s overstating the case, but in some ways, this taps into anger the same way the AIG bonuses do.  This is just a Gen Y, techie version.
  3. Twitter seems private, but is public. There are least two very clever aspects to Twitter that have helped its member and usage growth.  The first is being designed, from the ground up, to separate “following” from “follower”.  Who you see is kept separate from who sees you.  The second, however, is a play on privacy.  Twitter feels private, and the interface leads you to believe that only the people following you can see your tweets.  However, in reality, everyone can see everyone else’s tweets by default.  The advent of realtime search streams has only made this more obvious.

People use Twitter like its a new, better form of group chat… but it isn’t.  These messages don’t just go to friends and family on your buddy list.  These updates don’t go only to your connections. And until the interface changes to suggest to people that their tweets are public, we’re going to see more and more people make the same mistake that Connor did.