Twitter has recently launched a user profile directory and an embeddable timelines widget. The two features are fairly unrelated, but since we had the opportunity to converse with Mark Schaefer, author of The Tao Of Twitter, we thought we’d pick his brain about them.
The Twitter Profile Directory
“It has been frustratingly difficult finding users on Twitter unless you know their precise handle — so any improvement will be welcomed!” Schaefer tells WebProNews. “I’ve tried this new directory and still find it buggy but presumably it will be a great help to discovering Twitter users.”
“I think there is also a built-in benefit here to search engines,” he adds. “Twitter has made a number of search-friendly moves in the last few months and this is an example of this strategy. Of course, many Twitter profile pages have been indexed by the search engines for some time now, so it’s too early to say if the new directory is helping them find any unindexed profiles but my hunch is that is going to provide much more visibility to Twitter profiles on search.”
In the book, he had some good things to say about Twellow, which is certainly a more user-friendly way to discover Twitter users based on category and/or location (disclosure: Twellow is owned by WPN parent company iEntry).
The Embeddable Timelines Widget
“I have a very strong opinion about that,” says Schaefer. “I think in most cases, it’s really ineffective to embed a Twitter stream on a website for two reasons. First, if you’re using Twitter correctly, you’re having a conversation right? Why would you post one side of a conversation on your website? What good is that? At that point it seems like a gimmick just to show you’re cool or something.”
“The second reason is the potential risk,” he adds. “I was on a friend’s site and he had his Twitter widget front and center on his company’s landing page. Well, his latest tweet was a joking comment about the foremost users of Twitter that simply said ‘PORNOGRAPHY!’ Is that really what he wanted on the front page of his website? The tweets are completely out of context.”
“There could be some interesting applications to allow people to see tweets from a conference or something but again, a conference of any size is going to attract spammers to a popular hashtag,” he notes. “You run the risk of posting tweets that are inappropriate or even damaging.”
For more of our conversation with Schaefer, see: