Back in the 90ies, more than a dozen search engines fought for the user's attention. A couple of years later (almost) only Google was left. Do we face a similar development in the field of social networking? Taking a look at the latest Facebook figures, I'm inclined to answer this question with yes. Yet their ever-growing social graphs make more and more users nervous, and even though Facebook in my opinion is doing a good job giving the user control over his content, Reclaimprivacy.org might come in handy. Read more
Of all twitter add-on services, Mr. Tweet has surprised me most during the last week. That basic aim of the service is to let you find folks in whose tweets you might be interested in. Since twitter is still growing so rapidly, topic-specific selection becomes more and more inevitable. Yet while I'm quite sure that in the long run the retweet-rate will act as twitter's “backlink factor”, Mr. Tweet introduces a well thought-through recommendation system.
Basically, Mr. Tweet is one of those services you have to trust enough to hand over your twitter account data – that's the one thing I don't quite like about it, yet still the surplus value is great. On each twitter users profile page a number of statistical data presents an overview of the type of twitter who's at work here: Updates per day, percentage of conversations, posted links plus additional notes (like “usually follows back”) give a better impression about the realness/spammyness of any account:
And there's more: the service regularly provides very interesting twitter tutorials as well as suggestions for new follows – and these work really well in comparison to what Twitter itself has to offer:
Twitter's suggestions for me include a grocery store, the microblog of an online shoe store CEO and a mommy blogger. On the other hand, Mr. Tweet has actually recommended people I have met or at least know professionally.
The founders of the company refer to their service as a personal networking agent, yet while this label sounds a bit exaggerated, some truly juicy candy is hidden inside the recommendation system: Mr. Tweet encourages its users to ask for recommendations by other users and to issue these to their own favorites users. Such recommendations are tweets which look like this:
#MrTweet I recommend @username because [insert reason here]
Not only do these messages raise awareness for ones account, their overall number is also used by Mr. Tweet's follower algorithm which determines the follow-suggestions. Besides, you get to know some nice bits and pieces about other tweepers – so in other words: please go to Mr. Tweet and recommend me!
Since I really like the service and the idea, I'll recommend one of my favorite twitter friends each day for the next two weeks. Using Tweetlater, that's a breeze – even the scheduling option of the free version are great, but to harness the full power of pre-tweeting, I highly recommend the pro version, which enables you to schedule replies and direct messages.
Want some recommendation love? Since I'm a big fan of reciprocal network building, of course I'll gladly return to favor if you write a recommendation for me!
A couple of social networks offer nice, human readable profile URLs, but most still don't. And since nobody is going to remember a link like http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717807375, it's a good idea to use a redirect: this way, Facebook and other URLs are much easier to remember in an offline talk for example. If you're running your own site using your own domain, it's very easy to set up a subdomain which points to your profile. facebook.datadirt.net opens my fb-profile page – here's a quick checklist on how to do that.
This kind of redirection is suitable for all kinds of links which you want to shorten and/or make easier to remember. There are no disadvantages whatsoever, as we are going to use a permanent redirect: this means that Google will not index the subdomain and hence there's no duplicate content problem. I'm using my own Facebook URL as an example for the following instructions – caveat: Your server has to run Linux and the apache rewrite engine must be enabled.
- Add a new subdomain: the way you set up a new subdomain depends on your web hoster. Usually it's done via some administration interface. Basically, a subdomain points to a subdirectory of the domains root-directory. In this example I added the new subdomain “facebook.datadirt.net” using the directory www.datadirt.net/facebook/
- This directory is going to contain just one file which you have to edit now. The name of the file is .htaccess (that's an Apache standard naming convention) and it contains the instructions that point the user to the destination URL. It takes only one line using the following syntax
Redirect permanent CURRENTDIRECTORY TARGET-URL
In this example, the content of the .htaccess file is:
Redirect permanent / http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717807375
- There's no third step – you're done. Don't expect your new subdomain to work right away though: because of the way the DNS system works there might be a delay of up to 24 hours until the new subdomain works. But you can instantly test your setup by entering the absolute URL, in this case:
Multiple redirects: Of course you can set up multiple subdomains (on multiple servers) and have them all point to the same profile. I added another subdomain to my personal site which also points to my Facebook profile: facebook.pettauer.net
How to edit your .htaccess file using Windows: If you're using Windows, there is no chance of naming a file .htaccess as Windows requires at least one character before the dot. So use a name like temp.htaccess, edit the file, upload it to your subdomain directory via ftp and then rename it to .htaccess on the server. Or you can use a command-line tool and edit the file via a terminal window.