Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Social Media Marketing

3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria

social media strategy balloons 244x300 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the HysteriaAs it grows up, is Twitter taking the fun out of it?

Lost in the hysteria over changes to Twitter’s reply handling scheme are several other adjustments that were more quietly unveiled/discussed in recent days that are likely to prove much more important.

1. Follower Notices in HTML

Notifications that you have been followed by Twitter users are now being delivered in email via HTML, rather than plain text. These emails enable Twitter to maintain a more consistent visual presentation, but the driving force behind this change may be of a more economic bent.

If emails are delivered as HTML, banner ads and/or sponsor logos could easily accompany them in the future. Sure, a sponsor could be inserted in the old, plain text versions (as seen in Peter Shankman’s HARO updates, among others) but the large brands that would likely gravitate toward Twitter sponsorship (Dell, Southwest) are much more interested in graphical ads than text links, to satisfy their own brand police.

These follower notices also contain slightly more information that they did previously, including follower avatar, follow/following count, and number of updates. Note, however, that these new emails do NOT include bio, URL, or recent tweets. That information would make follower notifications much more useful, because you could a semi-informed decision on whether or not to follow back based solely on the email. This of course would diminish or eliminate the need to click through from the email to Twitter.com, reducing traffic.

2. URL tracking

And speaking of email click-throughs, Twitter is also now using a click tracking system on follow notices. Previously, the URL when you clicked on a link in a new follow email was simply the address of the user: http://www.twitter.com/jaybaer But now, the URL is something like this:
http://twitter.com/jest1?utm_campaign=twitter20080331162631&utm_medium=email&utm_source=follow

Twitter is using parameters to note that the click came from an email, what type of email it was, and probably other information stored on the back-end. This data will be useful to provide average click-through rates to potential sponsors, and possibly to determine variances in click-through likelihood by day-part and/or device.

3. All Tweets are not created Equal

Taking a page from the Twitter Grader and Twitalyzer playbook, Santosh Jayaram -the new VP of Operations at Twitter (and an ex-Google VP) – said at a TieCon2009 event last week that Twitter will be extending and enhancing search.

To make Twitter search more relevant and comprehensive, they will begin storing and aggregating not just tweets, but the Web pages to which tweets link (either themselves, or through their partnership with bit.ly). And, the most eyebrow-raising inducement of them all was a simultaneous mention that Twitter search will adopt a “reputation” ranking, that will influence the order in which tweets are listed in search results.

Details are being worked on, but you only have to look at the data that Twitter does and doesn’t have at its disposable to assess how this reputation ranking might be calculated:

  • Length of time on Twitter
  • Number of Followers
  • Number of Followers to your Followers
  • Percentage of your tweets that are retweeted (how viral are you)
  • Number of Followers of people that retweet you (how influential are you)
  • Percentage of your tweets about a particular topic (how focused are you)
  • Possibly, the percentage of your tweets that include links or @ replies (how social and sharing are you)

All of this points to a Twitter search – and therefore a Twitter community – that is more news-oriented and “serious” where sharing (a good thing) and tweets as reporting (debatable) are valued by the algorithm. While this move may improve Twitter’s chances of becoming the de facto, “real-time” global search engine, relegating Google to arbiter of yesterday’s news, it threatens to squeeze out the color that made Twitter different and interesting.

There’s always been complaint about personal inanity on Twitter – usually by sniffly media pundits who have never logged on. “I don’t want to know what you had for lunch” is the common refrain. I don’t necessarily want a detailed account of the dining preferences of everyone I follow either, but mixing in your real life with business and news is a Twitter best practice (according to me at least).

I want to know that your kid won his soccer game. I want to know that you were sick, but are feeling better. I want to know that you’re just as frustrated by Lost as I am. And I want to know that you love a particular kind of tequila (especially that one).

Putting forth a 360-degree representation of your self – your whole self – is what puts the social in social networking. And when Twitter squelches the oddball, unique, and downright crazy stuff in favor of becoming the 140-charcacter CNN, I won’t count it as progress.

How about you?

(photo by Pink Sherbet Photography)

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  • http://www.mariareyesmcdavis.com/ Social Marketing

    I’m personally very excited about search enhancements, less from the technology stand-point and it’s relationship to Google — but more for what it will hopefully do to at least attempt to address the issue of spammers/marketers who inflate their following simply to show up in search results, or stay “visible.” Once Twitter starts ranking on reputation, depending on how it’s all going to work, I’m hoping we start to see search results that are much more meaningful.

    Thanks for seeing past the commotion and highlighting some important aspects of upcoming changes.

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

    Social Marketing’s last blog post..Choice Theory and Influence on the Social Web

  • http://www.mariareyesmcdavis.com/ Social Marketing

    I’m personally very excited about search enhancements, less from the technology stand-point and it’s relationship to Google — but more for what it will hopefully do to at least attempt to address the issue of spammers/marketers who inflate their following simply to show up in search results, or stay “visible.” Once Twitter starts ranking on reputation, depending on how it’s all going to work, I’m hoping we start to see search results that are much more meaningful.

    Thanks for seeing past the commotion and highlighting some important aspects of upcoming changes.

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

    Social Marketing’s last blog post..Choice Theory and Influence on the Social Web

  • http://www.mariareyesmcdavis.com Social Marketing

    I’m personally very excited about search enhancements, less from the technology stand-point and it’s relationship to Google — but more for what it will hopefully do to at least attempt to address the issue of spammers/marketers who inflate their following simply to show up in search results, or stay “visible.” Once Twitter starts ranking on reputation, depending on how it’s all going to work, I’m hoping we start to see search results that are much more meaningful.

    Thanks for seeing past the commotion and highlighting some important aspects of upcoming changes.

    Maria Reyes-McDavis

    Social Marketing’s last blog post..Choice Theory and Influence on the Social Web

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  • http://www.socialmedialand.net/ Katie Van Domelen

    The HTML email and email tracking points totally support an arguement I made a few weeks ago that Twitter is trying to position itself for advertising and that their update to the UI is a bid to get higher traffic numbers to their actual site, rather than third party apps. Check it out and let me know if my thoughts are in line with yours – http://www.socialmedialand.net/2009/05/04/new-curiousities/twitter-search-function/

    As for your third point, I agree. Twitter has the potential to be a powerful news engine, and I’d argue it already plays that role in some ways, but the color and personality are what make it special.

    Katie Van Domelen’s last blog post..Social Media Goes to College

  • http://www.socialmedialand.net/ Katie Van Domelen

    The HTML email and email tracking points totally support an arguement I made a few weeks ago that Twitter is trying to position itself for advertising and that their update to the UI is a bid to get higher traffic numbers to their actual site, rather than third party apps. Check it out and let me know if my thoughts are in line with yours – http://www.socialmedialand.net/2009/05/04/new-curiousities/twitter-search-function/

    As for your third point, I agree. Twitter has the potential to be a powerful news engine, and I’d argue it already plays that role in some ways, but the color and personality are what make it special.

    Katie Van Domelen’s last blog post..Social Media Goes to College

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  • http://www.socialmedialand.net Katie Van Domelen

    The HTML email and email tracking points totally support an arguement I made a few weeks ago that Twitter is trying to position itself for advertising and that their update to the UI is a bid to get higher traffic numbers to their actual site, rather than third party apps. Check it out and let me know if my thoughts are in line with yours – http://www.socialmedialand.net/2009/05/04/new-curiousities/twitter-search-function/

    As for your third point, I agree. Twitter has the potential to be a powerful news engine, and I’d argue it already plays that role in some ways, but the color and personality are what make it special.

    Katie Van Domelen’s last blog post..Social Media Goes to College

  • http://www.javanx3d.com/ James

    Its interesting to watch Twitter at this stage, knowing what we know about Facebook and Myspace. The big thing to me is how much ‘buy-in’ they are going to achieve from Twitterers before making significant changes to format, ads, etc. If only there was some way to not rewared the number of followers but quality of followers would be the first thing I could think of for the next steps mentioned in the article.
    It will be fun to watch and be part of though!
    Cheers, James

    James’s last blog post..Work at Home Freelance Writing About Cooking

  • http://www.javanx3d.com/ James

    Its interesting to watch Twitter at this stage, knowing what we know about Facebook and Myspace. The big thing to me is how much ‘buy-in’ they are going to achieve from Twitterers before making significant changes to format, ads, etc. If only there was some way to not rewared the number of followers but quality of followers would be the first thing I could think of for the next steps mentioned in the article.
    It will be fun to watch and be part of though!
    Cheers, James

    James’s last blog post..Work at Home Freelance Writing About Cooking

  • http://www.javanx3d.com James

    Its interesting to watch Twitter at this stage, knowing what we know about Facebook and Myspace. The big thing to me is how much ‘buy-in’ they are going to achieve from Twitterers before making significant changes to format, ads, etc. If only there was some way to not rewared the number of followers but quality of followers would be the first thing I could think of for the next steps mentioned in the article.
    It will be fun to watch and be part of though!
    Cheers, James

    James’s last blog post..Work at Home Freelance Writing About Cooking

  • http://www.AlohaARleen.com/ Arleen Anderson

    Aloha Jason!
    Excellent Post (whom @GeeChee_Girl AKA Leslie Poston brought my attention to).

    RE Point 1: Twitter sending out HTML emails will encourage Twitter users to use HTML to view email. This opens users to more virus, trojan, and spyware attacks. Personally I view my email in text for this reason. HTML viewing allows cookies to be crammed into your computer. No thanks!

    RE Point 2: URL tracking is used by Google. When you do a Google search the results are not unbiased. They are based on your location, your interests, and all info Google has collected on you. This makes it impossible to consider an Google research as UNbiased. It’s about what Google wants to show you. Now Twitter will be taking that path. IN other words… the distribution of information to you is controlled!

    RE Point 3: All tweets not equal… all but ONE (that I have found) of the Twitter”analyzer/ranking” applications have a SERIOUS flaw making their value and reports near fraudulent! Though NOTE – it’s not their fault! It’s Twitter’s. Why?

    Many Twitter user accounts are so FUBARed that their are BLANK pages of followers and following!! Most users are unaware that they have the problem.

    Example: My account has over 6 sections of 100-148 PAGES each in the “following” that show the page number BUT is BLANK! None of the people show up! The result is that all the analyzer programs that “dig” into such data STOP where the 1st batch of blank pages start! Thus, the data it collect is faulty! Therefore, ALL comparisons of user accounts are faulty!

    Twitter does need to and should monetize on the data it collects… HOWEVER, by using the methods you review, Twitter goes from being a social media haven for freedom of information to a company of controlled distribution of information. The results will take the sense of community out of Twitterville and end up giving those collecting/distributing the information back only what they put in… skewing the results.

    I think I’m going to get more friendly with FriendFeed!
    Mahalo for your insight!
    Arleen Anderson

    Arleen Anderson’s last blog post..The Real Scoop on TweepMe.com

  • http://www.AlohaARleen.com/ Arleen Anderson

    Aloha Jason!
    Excellent Post (whom @GeeChee_Girl AKA Leslie Poston brought my attention to).

    RE Point 1: Twitter sending out HTML emails will encourage Twitter users to use HTML to view email. This opens users to more virus, trojan, and spyware attacks. Personally I view my email in text for this reason. HTML viewing allows cookies to be crammed into your computer. No thanks!

    RE Point 2: URL tracking is used by Google. When you do a Google search the results are not unbiased. They are based on your location, your interests, and all info Google has collected on you. This makes it impossible to consider an Google research as UNbiased. It’s about what Google wants to show you. Now Twitter will be taking that path. IN other words… the distribution of information to you is controlled!

    RE Point 3: All tweets not equal… all but ONE (that I have found) of the Twitter”analyzer/ranking” applications have a SERIOUS flaw making their value and reports near fraudulent! Though NOTE – it’s not their fault! It’s Twitter’s. Why?

    Many Twitter user accounts are so FUBARed that their are BLANK pages of followers and following!! Most users are unaware that they have the problem.

    Example: My account has over 6 sections of 100-148 PAGES each in the “following” that show the page number BUT is BLANK! None of the people show up! The result is that all the analyzer programs that “dig” into such data STOP where the 1st batch of blank pages start! Thus, the data it collect is faulty! Therefore, ALL comparisons of user accounts are faulty!

    Twitter does need to and should monetize on the data it collects… HOWEVER, by using the methods you review, Twitter goes from being a social media haven for freedom of information to a company of controlled distribution of information. The results will take the sense of community out of Twitterville and end up giving those collecting/distributing the information back only what they put in… skewing the results.

    I think I’m going to get more friendly with FriendFeed!
    Mahalo for your insight!
    Arleen Anderson

    Arleen Anderson’s last blog post..The Real Scoop on TweepMe.com

  • http://www.AlohaARleen.com Arleen Anderson

    Aloha Jason!
    Excellent Post (whom @GeeChee_Girl AKA Leslie Poston brought my attention to).

    RE Point 1: Twitter sending out HTML emails will encourage Twitter users to use HTML to view email. This opens users to more virus, trojan, and spyware attacks. Personally I view my email in text for this reason. HTML viewing allows cookies to be crammed into your computer. No thanks!

    RE Point 2: URL tracking is used by Google. When you do a Google search the results are not unbiased. They are based on your location, your interests, and all info Google has collected on you. This makes it impossible to consider an Google research as UNbiased. It’s about what Google wants to show you. Now Twitter will be taking that path. IN other words… the distribution of information to you is controlled!

    RE Point 3: All tweets not equal… all but ONE (that I have found) of the Twitter”analyzer/ranking” applications have a SERIOUS flaw making their value and reports near fraudulent! Though NOTE – it’s not their fault! It’s Twitter’s. Why?

    Many Twitter user accounts are so FUBARed that their are BLANK pages of followers and following!! Most users are unaware that they have the problem.

    Example: My account has over 6 sections of 100-148 PAGES each in the “following” that show the page number BUT is BLANK! None of the people show up! The result is that all the analyzer programs that “dig” into such data STOP where the 1st batch of blank pages start! Thus, the data it collect is faulty! Therefore, ALL comparisons of user accounts are faulty!

    Twitter does need to and should monetize on the data it collects… HOWEVER, by using the methods you review, Twitter goes from being a social media haven for freedom of information to a company of controlled distribution of information. The results will take the sense of community out of Twitterville and end up giving those collecting/distributing the information back only what they put in… skewing the results.

    I think I’m going to get more friendly with FriendFeed!
    Mahalo for your insight!
    Arleen Anderson

    Arleen Anderson’s last blog post..The Real Scoop on TweepMe.com

  • http://www.sonnygill.com/ Sonny Gill

    Interesting points here, Jayson. Twitter search is exciting and scary for me at the same.

    It’s exciting because as mentioned, the spammers and irrelevant tweets will get thrown to the bottom, while the meat of the topic that’s being searched will be right in front of us to read and take in.

    On the flip, the scary part of Twitter integrating a reputation management system of sorts is the issue of gaming. It happens already with people hoarding followers and utilizing 3rd part apps to do so. It happens on other social sites (eg: Digg). But initiating a reputation system, to me, would open the flood gates to users wanting to game the system just for their rep.

    It may be inevitable regardless of the platform, but this definitely would give people more the reason to do so.

    Sonny Gill’s last blog post..Ears Plugged

  • http://www.sonnygill.com/ Sonny Gill

    Interesting points here, Jayson. Twitter search is exciting and scary for me at the same.

    It’s exciting because as mentioned, the spammers and irrelevant tweets will get thrown to the bottom, while the meat of the topic that’s being searched will be right in front of us to read and take in.

    On the flip, the scary part of Twitter integrating a reputation management system of sorts is the issue of gaming. It happens already with people hoarding followers and utilizing 3rd part apps to do so. It happens on other social sites (eg: Digg). But initiating a reputation system, to me, would open the flood gates to users wanting to game the system just for their rep.

    It may be inevitable regardless of the platform, but this definitely would give people more the reason to do so.

    Sonny Gill’s last blog post..Ears Plugged

  • http://www.sonnygill.com Sonny Gill

    Interesting points here, Jayson. Twitter search is exciting and scary for me at the same.

    It’s exciting because as mentioned, the spammers and irrelevant tweets will get thrown to the bottom, while the meat of the topic that’s being searched will be right in front of us to read and take in.

    On the flip, the scary part of Twitter integrating a reputation management system of sorts is the issue of gaming. It happens already with people hoarding followers and utilizing 3rd part apps to do so. It happens on other social sites (eg: Digg). But initiating a reputation system, to me, would open the flood gates to users wanting to game the system just for their rep.

    It may be inevitable regardless of the platform, but this definitely would give people more the reason to do so.

    Sonny Gill’s last blog post..Ears Plugged

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  • http://www.ddmcd.com/ Dennis McDonald

    I’ve turned off receiving follow notices via email since so many are from spammers. Delivering them in HTML doesn’t change things.

  • http://www.ddmcd.com/ Dennis McDonald

    I’ve turned off receiving follow notices via email since so many are from spammers. Delivering them in HTML doesn’t change things.

  • http://www.ddmcd.com Dennis McDonald

    I’ve turned off receiving follow notices via email since so many are from spammers. Delivering them in HTML doesn’t change things.

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

    @Maria – I agree about search. I, too, hope the flood of get-rich-quick twitterers will be brushed aside. It’s getting annoying.

    @Katie – Great post! Nice job, as always. I agree that the master plan is to make the site more useful and stem the tide of third party usage. Tough to force that cow back in the barn, though. They lived by the API, and now it seems like they want to reverse course.

    @Sonny – Indeed, it’ll change the rules. No question. True, people will try to game it, but they already are, aren’t they? And if the reputation algorithm doesn’t totally suck, you can still try to game it without the whole house of cards falling in. That’s the way I look at SEO. You can try to do the right things to improve your ranking, but you’re not going to “beat” Google at its own game. I just hope Twitter’s engineers have enough on the ball to do the same.

    @Dennis – I am almost ready to join you. Percentage of email follow notices I receive where I follow back is going down FAST. Sure would like to see a way to follow/not follow using an AJAX list on the Web site (or in Tweetdeck or Tweetie).

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

    @Maria – I agree about search. I, too, hope the flood of get-rich-quick twitterers will be brushed aside. It’s getting annoying.

    @Katie – Great post! Nice job, as always. I agree that the master plan is to make the site more useful and stem the tide of third party usage. Tough to force that cow back in the barn, though. They lived by the API, and now it seems like they want to reverse course.

    @Sonny – Indeed, it’ll change the rules. No question. True, people will try to game it, but they already are, aren’t they? And if the reputation algorithm doesn’t totally suck, you can still try to game it without the whole house of cards falling in. That’s the way I look at SEO. You can try to do the right things to improve your ranking, but you’re not going to “beat” Google at its own game. I just hope Twitter’s engineers have enough on the ball to do the same.

    @Dennis – I am almost ready to join you. Percentage of email follow notices I receive where I follow back is going down FAST. Sure would like to see a way to follow/not follow using an AJAX list on the Web site (or in Tweetdeck or Tweetie).

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

    @Maria – I agree about search. I, too, hope the flood of get-rich-quick twitterers will be brushed aside. It’s getting annoying.

    @Katie – Great post! Nice job, as always. I agree that the master plan is to make the site more useful and stem the tide of third party usage. Tough to force that cow back in the barn, though. They lived by the API, and now it seems like they want to reverse course.

    @Sonny – Indeed, it’ll change the rules. No question. True, people will try to game it, but they already are, aren’t they? And if the reputation algorithm doesn’t totally suck, you can still try to game it without the whole house of cards falling in. That’s the way I look at SEO. You can try to do the right things to improve your ranking, but you’re not going to “beat” Google at its own game. I just hope Twitter’s engineers have enough on the ball to do the same.

    @Dennis – I am almost ready to join you. Percentage of email follow notices I receive where I follow back is going down FAST. Sure would like to see a way to follow/not follow using an AJAX list on the Web site (or in Tweetdeck or Tweetie).

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  • http://twitter.com/chadnilsson/status/ chadnilsson

    RT @AndreaDoria1021 RT @Twitter_Tips: 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost iHysteria: http://cli.gs/yQeA8q –Share these changes: http://bit.ly/15jcC3

  • http://twitter.com/rschooler/status/1817663568 ricci schooler

    RT @RwR_B: 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria: http://cli.gs/yQeA8q –Share these changes: http://bit.ly/15jcC3 (via @Twitter_Tips)

  • http://twitter.com/contentgirls/status/1821065503 Xaviera Ringeling

    Reading: "3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria" ( http://tinyurl.com/qd3aq2 )

  • http://twitter.com/chloediaz/status/1823072554 Chloe Diaz

    RT @Twitter_Tips 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria: http://cli.gs/yQeA8q

  • William

    Personally would love it if they hid follower counts. All of the other measures are fine. Racking up thousands of followers is pretty easy, and it isn’t really an indication of ones relevance.

  • William

    Personally would love it if they hid follower counts. All of the other measures are fine. Racking up thousands of followers is pretty easy, and it isn’t really an indication of ones relevance.

  • William

    Personally would love it if they hid follower counts. All of the other measures are fine. Racking up thousands of followers is pretty easy, and it isn’t really an indication of ones relevance.

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  • http://twitter.com/m_amyknits/status/1839521946 Amy Cates

    RT @Iconic883 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria http://bit.ly/zqLiC

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  • http://twitter.com/swhitley/status/1844570189 Shannon Whitley

    Check this out to see where Twitter is heading — RT @vBSetup: 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria http://bit.ly/fh0Jz

  • http://twitter.com/stopthespam/status/1844758468 stopthespam

    Reading “3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria” (html new follower email, click tracking, reputation ranking) http://bit.ly/12yRxt

  • http://twitter.com/ktoddstorch/status/1845598512 Todd Storch

    Reading: 3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria http://bit.ly/fh0Jz (via @swhitley RT @vbsetup)

  • http://www.socialalliancenetwork.org/ Bill Jacobson

    I agree that I too care what someone has for lunch, who is going to soccer practice, and how they get there. Being one self (I) is important, and something that went out of fashion long long ago.

    As John Trudell says, “Elvis was my Hero. He taught us how to dance without having to know how. We simply stood up. Two world wars, korea, had put people to sleep. And then Elvis came along and woke us up. But not to be undone, the powers that be threw out Pat Boone to put those standing up back to sleep. White buckskins and all.

    Twitter has helped us to be us again. To not be asleep. To be who we are, to share our passion. To simply say what is on our mind.

    Status Quo will try hard to put the brakes on this community exchange.

    Spirit will prevail.

    BTW: I had a great taco salad for dinner at Maria’s in downtown Grass Valley tonight.

  • http://www.socialalliancenetwork.org/ Bill Jacobson

    I agree that I too care what someone has for lunch, who is going to soccer practice, and how they get there. Being one self (I) is important, and something that went out of fashion long long ago.

    As John Trudell says, “Elvis was my Hero. He taught us how to dance without having to know how. We simply stood up. Two world wars, korea, had put people to sleep. And then Elvis came along and woke us up. But not to be undone, the powers that be threw out Pat Boone to put those standing up back to sleep. White buckskins and all.

    Twitter has helped us to be us again. To not be asleep. To be who we are, to share our passion. To simply say what is on our mind.

    Status Quo will try hard to put the brakes on this community exchange.

    Spirit will prevail.

    BTW: I had a great taco salad for dinner at Maria’s in downtown Grass Valley tonight.

  • http://www.socialalliancenetwork.org Bill Jacobson

    I agree that I too care what someone has for lunch, who is going to soccer practice, and how they get there. Being one self (I) is important, and something that went out of fashion long long ago.

    As John Trudell says, “Elvis was my Hero. He taught us how to dance without having to know how. We simply stood up. Two world wars, korea, had put people to sleep. And then Elvis came along and woke us up. But not to be undone, the powers that be threw out Pat Boone to put those standing up back to sleep. White buckskins and all.

    Twitter has helped us to be us again. To not be asleep. To be who we are, to share our passion. To simply say what is on our mind.

    Status Quo will try hard to put the brakes on this community exchange.

    Spirit will prevail.

    BTW: I had a great taco salad for dinner at Maria’s in downtown Grass Valley tonight.

  • http://twitter.com/webmarketingla/status/1959061681 Web Marketing LA

    3 Key Twitter Changes Lost in the Hysteria http://bit.ly/cAbkY

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  • letstalkandchat

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