Tweet Tweet – connecting with Twitter

Published on 24 May 2008 in , , ,

Martin Belam has recently been experimenting with Twitter, and has blogged about his month long experience of using it.

I was particularly interested in his decision not to integrate Facebook and Twitter so that Twitter tweets appear as Facebook status updates. As he mentions in his post, the two are different micro-audiences so he didn’t.

It is a decision that’s the opposite of the way I decided to attack things when I joined Twitter in February this year.

For me, it was actually increasing frustration and annoyance with Facebook that made me start looking elsewhere.

The one thing that I did like about Facebook was the status updates, and I quickly subscribed to a feed of them in Bloglines and soon was only going into Facebook to do my own.

But then there was the great Facebook application arrival and very quickly I was getting rather fed up with ploughing through several invites to join pointless and useless applications, profile pages that were about 20 meg in size, and just the sheer time to do anything.

Knowing of Twitter of old (I think a colleague at work mentioned it to me about two years ago) I decided to take a look, however for me integration with Facebook was a key criteria as a substantial number of my close friends use it, and use the status updates (you’d be amazed at how regularly conversations start in the pub based on them). The Twitter Facebook application solves the problem nicely.

The readership

What happened next was interesting, unexpected (by me) and ultimately inevitable. The audience changed.

Whilst in my mind, my updates via Twitter were still going to various friends and colleagues (or indeed colleagues who are friends), going “public” suddenly saw the arrival of several new readers. Out of my current Twitter followers, half are people I know and have spoken to (mostly in the flesh, but a couple only electronically). Then there’s another half who I have no concept of who they are.

Some of them are obviously “serial” followers – when they follow 45,000 people (in one case) then they’re clearly not that interested in what I write there. But most are just normal people who follow a reasonable (i.e. less than 100) number of people on Twitter, and I am one of them.

This is clearly a direct contrast to my readership on Facebook which is completely controlled by me. But whilst I could lock down those who read what I Tweet on Twitter, there wasn’t much point because of what I had thought about doing.

Blog integration

I’m a fan of integration. Frankly I’m not that keen on having goodness knows how many different “pages” on the internet. I have a website; I have a domain name; frankly I might as well use it.

So it made sense to me to try and give my micro-blog updates to the widest audience as possible. Which meant integrating with this blog as well.

Which is why, if you have a recent browser with JavaScript enabled, you’ll see my latest update in the sidebar of this blog.

I thought through several ways of presenting my Twitter updates on this site, but decided in the end that as micro-blogging is a very “right here, right now” activity, just putting the latest update on this site made sense. Facebook style basically. Those that wanted more could click through for more, or use the feed.

Whether anyone has even noticed it, is of course another matter. But it’s there and it’s on my own piece of the web.

Writing style

One of the problems with integrating Twitter and Facebook was writing style. Facebook’s third person, Twitter tends to be first person. Obviously this blog could be either.

For some time, the Twitter Facebook app prefixed all updates with “is twittering: ” meaning you could happily launch into the first person on Facebook. However that recently changed and left me with a quandary because first person on Facebook doesn’t look good or read well.

After some contemplation, I compromised. The presentation style of Twitter means that if you put third person, it doesn’t look too bad. Noticeably a handful of other people are doing similar too. It’s not perfect, and frankly I’d rather go back to first person – it’s much more liberating. But until Facebook allows me to go that way, third person it is.


And that compromise does rather sum up the experience. By sharing the same text between blog, Twitter and Facebook you compromise – both on style, audience and technology. Twitter for example, has a nice reply feature. However it looks rather odd on Facebook or when put on your own website, so a key part of the Twitter proposition is removed from me and I’m not exactly making the most of the technology available to me.

However that’s the sacrifice that I’ve taken. I’m not personally going to be able to move my Facebook contacts onto Twitter, and why should I duplicate text between different services when they can all be used together?

The result ain’t perfect, but it will do…


  • I’ve partially tackled the first/third person Facebook/Twitter problem by writing my own script that filters my Twitter RSS feed for “undesirable” Facebook statuses, then pushes the rest of them to a secondary Twitter account, which the FB app Twittersync then synchronises to Facebook. (Or at least, it would if Twitter hadn’t disabled their API Jabber support yesterday).
    Basically, I’ve set it up so that if I start a message with the first character as lower-case, it’ll assume its a FB status “is doing something”, for example, whereas if its upper-case, the script assumes that its meant for Twitter people only, or is part of a conversation or something.
    This has also meant that I can correct the grammar on things like Twitpic, which post to Twitter automatically, before they get cascaded down to Facebook.
    Essentially, I’ve got too much time on my hands.

  • Kirk says:

    When I used Twitter (just before it got really big, slow, and unusuable), I used to use the third person anyway.

  • Nona says:

    I really wish Facebook would drop the third person thing. Remember when they forced you to use “is”? They should just drop starting the status sentence with your name altogether and leave it totally open like twitter.