Rev up your Twitter bio; Twellow is here

Twello.comI learned today, from a Facebook group about Twitter, of a site launched on June 24, 2008, called Twellow. Twellow is named for “Twitter Yellow Pages.” It’s a searchable directory of Twitterers, aka Twits, aka people who use Twitter.

I was interested in this new web site because just recently someone said that a twitterer version of Alltop.com ought to be created. Lo and behold, a few days later, here it is in the form of Twellow. I scanned the main categories and they looked like a typical yellow pages. There was no category on the home page for ‘finance’, and none for ‘social media.’ So I really didn’t give it a second thought. However, some of my twitter friends (CUWarrior and Christopher Stevenson) were more thoughtful, and plugged ‘credit union’ into the search field to see the results. The results showed 15 credit union twitterers. By default, people are shown in descending order by the number of followers. At the time of this writing, the Top 10 results were: @CUWarrior, @TonyMannor, @weatherchaos, @RobWright, @CreativeBrand, @Clint_Williams, @mfagala, @markiev33, @Kent_CULifer, and @BenJoeM.

I took at look at who was being listed, and have deduced some of the ways in which the site works to list people.

Up until now, the only real purpose of your Twitter bio (limited to 160 characters), was to be interesting. If someone was interested in being your Twitter friend, their decision might be influenced by your bio. But if Twellow takes off in popularity (Mashable calls Twellow the people directory that Twitter itself ought to have built. Review hat tip: Ginny Brady), then your Twitter bio becomes much more important.

Twellow uses your twitter bio to categorize you.

Suddenly a creative bio is much less attractive than a straightforward bio if you are interested in being listed “well” in this directory. Each of the 15 people on the search results for ‘credit union’ had (surprise, surprise) the word “credit union” in their bio. This prompted Tim McAlpine to question why he wasn’t on the list. The answer is that right now Twellow is DUMB when it comes to singular vs. plural. Searching for “credit unions” yields a different list of five people than “credit union”, and includes Tim. We’ll see how long Twellow remains “dumb” in this way.

One last point about how Twellow categorizes people: Twellow has an algorithm that puts you into certain categories based on the keywords in your twitter bio. This is different than the simple and straightforward search (i.e. searching “credit union” yields the results of those who have “credit union” in their bio.) Keywords have been sorted, so that the word “CEO” in your bio puts you into three categories: Management, Management -> Executives, and Management -> Executives -> CEOs. Check out the categories that other people have been put in, and examine their bios to deduce what keywords have put them there.

I have updated my twitter bio armed with this new information. I am wondering how long it will take for Twellow to re-index me. I’m guessing I’ll be waiting for a re-index longer than it takes the Twellow programmers to get “smart” about singulars vs. plurals.

***Update 11:50 pm***
@William Azaroff cracked the code after reading this post, of how to get Twellow to re-index you after you change your Twitter bio. Once you’ve changed your Twitter bio, go to the Twellow page Get Listed, and submit your twitter username. Twellow will give you an error message, saying that the name is already indexed. However, within a couple of minutes, Twellow will re-index your profile and get the latest information available from twitter, including latest tweet and bio. Within five minutes, your changed bio will be reflected in Twellow’s search results. Feel free to mix, experiment and optimize how you want to be found on Twellow.

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8 Responses to “Rev up your Twitter bio; Twellow is here”

  1. Tony Mannor Says:

    This is a pretty cool tool. I wonder if this will prompt twitter to offer a more robust profile system.

    I am really curious how twitter will end up monetizing itself. They recently got an influx of VC. I am starting to hear more buzz about twitter outside of my immediate sphere. It is almost mainstream.

    Twitter has something by the tail. I hope they can hang on to it.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    It seems right now Twitter is focused almost exclusively on eliminating Fail Whale sightings on the core service that it currently offers. Once they’ve got that ironed out, maybe we’ll start to see them develop other things like this. Here’s a blog post on the latest round financing.

  3. Ginny Brady Says:

    Tony and Morriss, here is another post from Mashable which describes how to create what they’re calling an extended profile. I started working on one last night but my bed time came before I could finish it.
    http://mashable.com/2008/06/30/twitter-enhanced-profile/

  4. Morriss Partee Says:

    @Ginny – Interesting idea about the extended twitter profile. I think I’d prefer the idea of a single link to a profile page for more info/links, rather than a non-clickable graphic background.

    @Tony – BTW, I think Twitter is fairly sticky despite the ubiquitous Fail Whale. Witness last winter’s attempted migration by half the CU twitter-verse to Pownce. Despite great enthusiasm from a number of CU twits, the migration failed miserably because of how entrenched Twitter already was in connecting so many people with their friends and acquaintances. It’s EXTREMELY difficult, if not impossible, to replicate a network. The more the network grows, the more entrenched it becomes.

    General update: This morning, WebNewsPro (the creator of Twello) CEO, Richard Ord started following me on twitter. Must be because of this blog post. Also, Twello has started a blog of their own. I get the feeling Twello wasn’t fully expecting so many people to start using the service and spreading the word so quickly.

  5. Michel Savoie Says:

    This is my bio: # Bio Host, RBC p2p (Blog Manager), love internet, jeep, food, reading.

    I’ve somehow ended up under “Food” on Twellow…

    I’ve updated my bio, having removed food and added “Social Media Consultant”, so we’ll see what it comes up with after the update!

  6. Samer Forzley Says:

    I like this tool, I looked up a couple of people and it was bank on, one of my friends was a bit off, but overall its a nice place to go for a quick look.

    Great blog as well.

    Samer

  7. Morriss Partee Says:

    @Samer -Thank you very much for the kind words.

    Here’s an update from Twellow founder Rich Ord (@richord): You can now “claim” your twitter profile on the Twellow site, and add up to 10 categories to your bio. This is completely independent of what categories Twellow itself assigns you based on the words in your bio. Note: since “credit union” is not a category, in order to appear in the search results for the term “credit union”, you would still have to have those words in your bio. No word yet on when Twellow will get smart about pluralization, i.e currently the results for “credit union” differs from “credit unions” depending on which words a person has in their bio.

  8. Isabel Barros Says:

    Thanks for the tips.
    I am twittering this article http://twitter.com/Barros_Isabel
    Isabel Barros
    Wexford, Ireland

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