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What Should We Do With Our Twitter?

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Dave Lee | 13:00 UK time, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Editor's note: Dave Lee will be co-editor of the BBC Internet blog while Alan Connor works elsewhere in the BBC for a while (on BBC News' Magazine). Make Dave welcome!

The BBC's website has increasingly been using Twitter to help readers and viewers get involved in what we do.

It seems to be working -- so many people commented on the US election coverage last night that "BBC" registered as one Twitter's hot topics, alongside the likes of "Obama", "McCain" and "Palin".

The frequency of 'tweets' about the BBC far surpasses feedback on the Internet Blog. Using the pageflakes page, we try to keep on top of these discussions as best we can and sometimes showcase them on the blog.

A couple of days ago I reactivated our own Twitter account (@bbccouk). Hopefully the 105 of you that already follow it will have noticed updates giving notification of a new blog post.


However, we don't want to just use our Twitter feed as a means of telling you when there is a new post -- that's what our RSS feed is for.

We'd much rather use it for more useful purposes. Problem is, we're not entirely sure what those purposes should be.

How would you like the @bbccouk Twitter feed to operate? What would be useful to you? What would you absolutely not want us to do? Should we call it something else?

Any answers gratefully recieved.

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog


  • Comment number 1.

    I don't know if there's a separate Twitter feed for iPlayer, but maybe @bbccouk could inform people when important programming is added?

    Not only do I forget to watch TV, I also forget to check iPlayer, so the odd tweet here and there might be a useful reminder of what's on offer.

  • Comment number 2.

    With most things on iPlayer anyway, I think that would be a waste of a good tweet or two!

  • Comment number 3.

    Some people may not use RSS but do use Twitter, so why not just set up twitter to automatically feed rss info via tweets?

    Cant really see any other use for it.

  • Comment number 4.

    why not use it to announce new site launches / rebrands of existing sites into barlesqe?

    I'm aware of the BBC Vision blog but IIRC that only coveres a subset of new site launches?

  • Comment number 5.

    Dave, use it like the rest of us - ie in all sorts of ways, to announce things, to build relationships, to link to cool stuff, to have a laugh - stop thinking about it as a broadcast tool and start being part of the ongoing chatter.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear BBC,
    Please implement laconi.ca to host your own microblogging site so we get out of this silly walled garden approach.

    Then we might at least get real-time news updates rather than having twitterfeed take RSS feeds and posting that to an unsupported twitter account.


  • Comment number 7.

    Please can you sort the "owl logo" on bbccouk so it faces the correct way and crop it properly please?

  • Comment number 8.

    "Dave, use it like the rest of us - ie in all sorts of ways, to announce things, to build relationships, to link to cool stuff, to have a laugh - stop thinking about it as a broadcast tool and start being part of the ongoing chatter."

    I like your thoughts, Lloyd. This blog is all about starting discussion, and a lively Twitter feed is a part of that.

  • Comment number 9.

    Some late night thoughts:

    1. I'm inclined to agree with Lloyd in comment number five. Twitter's about dialogue. (Sadly I wasn't able to find Lloyd's Twitter profile - perhaps someone could advise)

    2. I see the thing as an opportunity to engage in various types of conversation (this can mean fluff, serious stuff or just rants) with a whole variety of people for whom hierachy means nothing and boundaries are almost non-existent.

    3. Twitter is like Facebook without the incessant spam and ridiculous invites, not to mention the totally pointless targeted marketing. (I'm civil-partnered. I'm not interested in going on a blind date with a bear dressed in nothing but a pair of leather chaps).

    4. if you tweet me then I'll tweet you. If I tweet you and you don't respond then I'll get the impression that it's a bit of a one way thing.

    If I think it's a one way thing then i'll start getting grumpy. And if I start getting grumpy I'll almost certainly start clicking on the unfollow button (I'm petulant like that).

    (I note that I haven't received a response from my *extremely* complimentary email I sent you last week. If this continues to go unreplied I shall visit you at your desk. I do that kind of thing. Ask anyone. I am *that* annoying.)

    5. I'll always visit the BBC Internet Blog because (a) my name's on the blogroll and (b) I like to read what's being written about so that (c) I have something write about myself. Consequently, there's probably no need to post links to blog updates on the bbccouk twitter account. (Other tweeters may feel differently about this point.)

    Mine's an Americano coffee, with milk and one sugar. You're buying mister. ;)

  • Comment number 10.

    Good words above from Lloyd and Thoroughlygood.

    Common thoughts are be to be free, without boundaries and create dialogue.

    I have an RSS/Twitter dilemma, in that I use both for both, if you see what I mean. This means I double up on a lot of incoming information, but what the hell. Just need to streamline things a bit and I'll be sorted.

    Also depends what technology one is using at any one time. I'm an Apple laptop or iPod Touch bod, using each when appropriate or available. Am I at my desk or feet up, radio on?

    I'd like to see reminders for new blog entries etc (I don't always remember to visit the site), contentious opinion (would again refer to the site, can't rant entirely successfully in 140 characters, although it's a good exercise), above all information and news. Anything that enriches and encourages exchange.

    That's me.

  • Comment number 11.

    I like the idea of 'deconstructing' the news process and opening it up. You get a sense of the news "as it happens" with rolling news on TV and on radio especially around breaking news stories. Oddly, considering the web is made for distributed conversations, media organisations struggle to move beyond 'notification' (i.e. broadcast) for online media. I think that's where twitter can help (disclaimer: I'm working on a project at Rattle with News on a breaking news project). I like what C4 and No.10 do on twitter to say what's they're up to but I really want more than notifications, I want (as Lloyd says) the kind of tittle-tattle that 'ordinary' people use twitter for and to *see* that around a story, all very doable with the existing grammar of twitter e.g. @ and the time stamp afforded by summize / search technology.

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm with technogoggles on possible ways of using Twitter to deconstruct things. That's really valuable. Extra value, almost.

    I think the key to Twitter is the language and the content. I'm noticing with Yammer that a very serious, almost impenetrable approach is taken to the stuff posted up on there. I think that's counter-productive as it only creates barriers rather than breaking them down.

    Mind you - look what's happening here. There's a dialogue here ... that's important.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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