The big news this week is the launch of Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button. Similar to the spread of the Facebook ‘Like’ button across the web, Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button is now available to add to any website. However, Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button shows more promise and depth than Facebook’s ‘Like’ button. Facebook’s button merely allows for the one-time action of liking something. Some may argue that Twitter’s new button is a one-time action, but it has long-term results. Gavin O’Malley reports that this button allows Twitter users to instantaneously follow a Twitter account without leaving the web page they are on http://bit.ly/l6VEqA. What does this mean? It means not having to visit Twitter to search for the Twitter account associated with the website, company, brand, etc. you are seeing online. Also, by following them you are receiving their updates in your Twitter feed. This is a constant reminder of the company, brand, etc. while the Facebook ‘Like’ feature is not. There are no updates connected to the fact that you chose to click the ‘Like’ button. The ‘Like’ button leaves engagement up to the Facebook user while Twitter makes sure that it does not lose anyone. Clicking the new ‘Follow’ button on a website links a Twitter user directly to the ongoing feed of the user they wish to follow. A smart move. Why redirect someone to Twitter when they can interact with you by following your Twitter account via your web page. Making Twitter more accessible means more Twitter followers, more traffic, and more engagement overall. Twitter is also revamping search by allowing Twitter users to sort tweets by relevancy and those with links, and Firefox users can search by username and hashtag http://bit.ly/kdktV1. This is a similar concept to an idea I had about a year ago, as you will see when you read My Suggestion for Twitter. Searches will also turn up related videos and photos because Twitter is introducing photo-sharing as well http://bit.ly/jzVECs.
At the same time Reuters reports that another ‘Follow’ button is gaining acceptance online, and that is Mashable’s ‘Follow’ button. Mashable’s ‘Follow’ button, launched in April, is similar to Google’s +1 button (which went public yesterday). Both are in the same category as Twitter’s Follow button but they have a slightly different focus. Mashable’s and Google’s buttons are more concerned with following news while Twitter is all about business. Not that Twitter’s button cannot be used for other things, but that was the focus in launching it. Business will benefit the most from the spread of the Twitter ‘Follow’ button. Google’s button may have launched publicly yesterday but it has some ground to cover before it catches up to Mashable’s button. Mashable’s has already gained 10,000 users who can keep up on news and share it with their Twitter, Facebook and other social networks simultaneously with the click of a button http://reut.rs/km7i33. If I were to rank all of these buttons here is what they would place. 1) Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button: Not only does it have applications for business, it competes with those more geared towards following news and can also be used to promote one’s LinkedIn site or blog. Most importantly, eliminating the two-step process to follow someone and interact with them has tremendous benefits for all involved. As I said, more followers, more traffic, and more engagement overall. 2) Mashable’s ‘Follow’ button: Ease of use for those with multiple platforms to share topics of interest, similar to programs like HootSuite and TweetDeck which allow for something to appear on all of a user’s social platforms. 3) Google’s +1 button: It’s a great concept for search, and draws more people into the topic, but is limited to Google. Read more on my thoughts in my entry Facebook 0, Google +1. 4) Facebook’s ‘Like’ button: One time engagement, need I say more? A great base concept but not self-sufficient. Based on this analysis I would say that Twitter’s features are very competitive with similar ones that are already up and running. Being that it is so innovative, and now seems to be moving in the right direction, Twitter should stay competitive. Gavin Dunaway predicts some paid search advertising type of product may be in Twitter’s future http://bit.ly/kdktV1. Regardless of whether that happens, Twitter’s new features will ensure that its popularity and relevancy can only go up from here.