Twitter Romeo & Juliet 'not cut it?'I disagree.

Last night I read a very cynical article on The Guardian’s Arts Diary about the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest Twitter project, ‘Such Tweet Sorrow.’ Twitter Romeo and Juliet

The article reads:

It is possible that I am just too old for this kind of thing. But for a start, Twitter’s public, right? So it somewhat stretches credibility to think that Romeo and Juliet would use it to conduct their secret love affair. Second – the whole thing’s interminable. It’s been going for a fortnight, and we’ve only just had Romeo and Juliet falling for each other. And third, didn’t the original have something to do with poetry? Does a tweet like “Goooooooooood morningggggg :):):):):):) It happened….. with THE most beautiful boy alive…. IT happened :):):):):)” really cut it?

Source: a plague on the Twitter Romeo and Juliet

I think the above article, penned by Charlotte Higgins, fails to see the potential of the RSC’s Twitter project.  Personally, I’m pleased that the RSC are putting something out there that  makes Romeo and Juliet (and indeed Shakespearean literature) accessible to youngsters.  No, not people in their twenties or even late teens, I’m talking about the 12, 13, 14 year olds who DO talk in this way and who DO conduct most of their relationships over social networking sites in public.  OK, perhaps not secret relationships like Romeo and Juliet, but at least the story becomes more relevant and more interesting to this age group.

A quick look at some of my younger connections’ Facebook profiles and I find the the writing style of Romeo and Juliet isn’t too far off the mark.  Plus, who cares if ‘the whole thing’s interminable, it’s been going on for a fortnight?’  The Tweets will be archived, and in a year or so, kids will be able to go through the website and read them all like a book.  I’d even encourage the RSC to get their project printed up into book!

What’s your opinion?

Are you still at school?  Would you rather read the RSC’s account of Romeo and Juliet on Twitter or do you prefer a bit of Shakespeare?  Do you think it’s easier to understand?  Or is it a bit lame?  Let me know what you think!

Can Gravity be BIGGER than Twitter?

Today, I received an invite to the new social networking website ‘Gravity’.  It aims to connect people with shared interest and help them spark up conversations.  In their own words:Gravity Logo

Gravity connects you with people you should know and should be talking to because they share your passions.

Since signing up, I’ve decided Gravity could possibly be a rival to fellow social networking website, Twitter – but only if it’s marketed to the correct people.


I think Gravity does everything Twitter does, but fills in a couple of gaps that could leave first time Tweeters confused. After signing up to Gravity, you’re not left thinking ‘OK, what do I do now’. For that reason, I think Twitter quitters and Twitter avoiders will ‘gravitate’ towards this new site!  (Hahah, get it? Gravitate!)

Why Twitter Quitters will prefer Gravity:

I have dozens of not-too-techy friends who have joined up to Twitter because of the hype.   They’ve joined up to see what it is and they’ve just posted one thing, usually along the lines of:

“I’m on Twitter. So, what do you do now?”

And then they quit.  In fact, a Nielsen report from April last year claimed a staggering 60% of new Twitter users quit after the first month.Gravity Get Started

Some people just don’t get Twitter and they’ll ask stuff like:

  • What’s it meant to be used for?
  • What do you do on it?
  • How do I find people to talk to?

With Gravity, new users bypass those hurdles; right away they can connect to people with similar interests with very little effort.  For example, I invited my Mum so she can talk to people following the Dressage topic in the ‘animal world’ (she’s a horse enthusiast.)  I am currently talking to people about SEO, new technology and blogging.

By using a forum-like structure, Gravity cuts out all of the ‘noise’ of other people’s off-topic conversations.  You won’t read what everybody’s having for lunch, unless you go and visit the ‘food’ section of the site and actively participate in that particular discussion.

You’re ‘pulling’ what you want out of the site while finding like-minded people who share your interests.  It’s something that is very appealing about Twitter in theory, but in reality is harder to do.  It can take you ages to find decent people on Twitter and have a conversation.  Especially if you don’t already know people using the site in the first place!

It’s easier to get chatting on Gravity:

Conversation on Gravity is MUCH easier to follow.  I find it hard to keep track of Twitter conversations sometimes, even when using an app like Tweetdeck.

Starting conversations is easier too, as you’ll be tweeting it to a board of people who are likely to be interested in your topic, thus they’re more likely to reply.Gravity People

This is unlike Twitter, where you simply broadcast your message out and hope your followers (or random people) will reply.  Often responses are few and far between for newbie’s on Twitter as they only have a handful of followers.

As you interact with the site more, Gravity starts recommending topics you’ll probably be interested in.  Each topic will have lots of lovely people participating in them, making it easy for people to meet more like-minded people.

Reward based system:

Gravity allows people to collect shiny badges for their profiles.  While at first this isn’t the number one reason for using Gravity, it certainly will help first time users start to interact with the site more giving them reason to explore.  The more you do, the more badges you get.  Clever, eh?

But, wait?  Isn’t this just a forum?

Essentially, gravity is nothing more than a fancy forum with a fancy recommendation engine and a couple of shiny badges.  It needs to be marketed correctly so people will sign up in droves.

I don’t think marketing it to Twitter/Tech lovers is the way forward:  Hardcore twitter users are happy with what they’ve got.  The secret to Gravity’s success will be marketing to the Twitter Quitters and looking for people ‘who don’t get quitter’ and getting them on board.

I think the video on the homepage nails this effectively.  I got straight away what the site is used for – and the video doesn’t even contain words – it’s fantastic.

Monitising Gravity:

I’ve no idea how Gravity are planning to turn a profit, but with a recommendation engine that knows you’re interests probably better than you do, I think it’d be wise to add some contextual advertising.  For example, Gravity could input a sponsored recommendation tactically for a product or service where people are discussing a particular need.

For example:

X tells Y that they want to set up a new website soon. Gravity knows they like technology and new trends, Gravity shows an advert for cloud hosting.

It’d certainly be better than the ’25 and like pink?’ adverts I get on Facebook!

If Gravity makes enough money without annoying users, it could become extremely profitable, perhaps leveraging it above Twitter.  If Gravity had more users than Twitter and higher rate of participation, would Google, Bing and Yahoo take notice?  Would we instead see a deal for real time ‘Gravity’ search in the search engine results?  Interesting.

Get your hands on a Gravity invite:

As Gravity is currently in private beta, you need to be invited before you sign up.  I still have five invites left if you’d like to give Gravity a try.  The first five people who ask for an invite on this post can have them.

Your opinion:

Do you agree or disagree that Gravity could be bigger than Twitter, if marketed to the Twitter Quitters?  Have you used Gravity yet?  Do you like it or not?

Let me know your comments.

[All images copyright to Gravity and used here for illustration purposes.]

7 things I learnt from reading Twitter co-founder @dom’s book ‘140 Characters’.

Title: 140 Characters – a style guide for the short form

Author:  Dom Sagolla (@dom on Twitter)

Twitter Dom Sagolla Book 140 CharactersI purchased this book after seeing it recommended on a Squidoo lens.  I enjoyed parts of the book, but found others a little too abstract to apply to everyday Twitter use.  The author clearly has a love of language, but the idea of using Twitter to write poetry in 140 characters or less seems a little outlandish to me.

However, I did fall in love with the idea that ‘everybody is a writer.’  The book was trying to reinforce that the platform has the scope to be used for any creative output you desire; it is not just a tool for trivial and senseless updates about ‘what you’re having for dinner.’

Below are seven tips I’ve extracted from the book that should help you add value to your tweets, gain more followers and generally improve your updates.

1) Lead the conversation

When writing tweets, always lead people to reply to you. Don’t just assume they will.

Take this tweet for example:

In my CNN column this week, I ask if there’s a formula for viral YouTube videos -what do you think?

Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore has asked specifically for the reader’s opinion, instead of simply plugging his CNN column to loyal Mashable subscribers.  He’s leading a conversation, which is far more likely to obtain a response.

2) One thought per tweet

If you write web copy you’ll know that it’s best to stick to one point per paragraph. It’s the same with tweets too.

140 characters isn’t much – so don’t overcomplicate your tweets by trying to describe more than one idea at a time.

3) Would you write your tweet down and pass it to a friend?

With mobile phones hooked up to the Internet it’s pretty easy to tweet every inane thought.  So before tweeting, stop and think.  Is this worth writing down on a piece of paper and passing to a friend?

If you would write it down and tell a friend you can probably bet it is of value to your readers and worth tweeting.  If you only tweet valuable content, it’s going to earn you more followers!

4) Never demand attention, just politely request it

Follow Pete Cashmore’s example in the tweet I quoted above and only ever request attention politely.  Never demand your reader clicks the link you’re pushing into their feed.

Cashmore was plugging an article he wrote on a CNN to his Mashable readers.  He didn’t say ‘Go and read the article I wrote at CNN,’ he simply asked for the readers’ advice and slipped it into the conversation politely.

5) Stop counting your followers!

Stop worrying about your follower count and start thinking ‘how can I better serve my audience?’

Who is your audience?  What interests them?  What content are they retweeting the most?

Never automatically follow hundreds of people and hope they’ll follow you back.  It’s not about numbers; it’s about tweeting messages that your audience will value.  Your count will automatically grow from there.

6) Happy, fun tweets will get you more followers

People are naturally lured towards fun people, so boring and depressing tweets will lose you followers.

If you’ve got something negative to talk about, follow Hemmingway’s rule and try to turn it into a positive.  Estate agents do this all the time: a small house in the middle of the nowhere magically turns into a cosy rural dwelling.

7) Study your Twitter heroes

Is there somebody you’re following that you really admire?  Ask yourself what it is that draws you (and hundreds of others) to them.  Is it their style, or the content of their tweets?  Perhaps it is both?  Study the people you respect and emulate their good points.  You’ll soon have your own army of followers!

Final word:

If you’re a twitter user I really do recommend the book.  These are just seven tips out of hundreds more ready for extracting!