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In the last week, all Twitter users were given the Twitter List functionality. What are they? On the surface lists look like an extension of what Twitter already does, essentially giving the user more timelines. In reality, the simple add on has a lot of uses, including:

  • The ability to de-clutter and organize those you’re following
  • The ability to get updates without having to follow someone in your main stream
  • A great way to see what others are doing and find new people

In a sense, this move has made Twitter more useful and immediate. It gives the user the ability to switch views from the immediate and constant to custom streams that can be viewed occasionally. Twitter was a great tool at the recent Planningness event (check out the twitter search results to see how it unfolded). A tool like lists would let you isolate all those people and view it in a stream without also hearing from your other friends, news sources, and misc. tweeple you might follow.

The New York Times jumped on the bandwagon early and developed all kinds of lists from a complete list of their tweeting staff (@nytimes/staff) to specialized lists on technology (@nytimes/nyt-technology-bits-blog) and the World Series (@nytimes/nyt-world-series-2009). I’ve seen plenty of other lists out there as well.

W5 hasn’t created any lists yet. While we will, I think it would be more interesting to see what our followers might want to see from us. Any ideas for the types of lists you’d like to see?  Leave them in the comments or send me at e-mail mmolloy@w5insight.com if you’re shy.

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planningness

For those of you who are attending (or thinking about attending) more detail behind the sessions for Planningness is filtering onto the website. It’s an interesting array of topics and speakers that will get the participants to think a bit. I’m sure there is more to come leading up to the event. If you haven’t registered yet, do so here.

Personally, I’m looking forward to both Garry Tan (CEO of Posterous) session on building web experiences and Joe Lambert’s storytelling session.

Slowly but surely, Google has been updating it’s various features to be more and more social. From adding more robust functionality to Google Profiles to adding the Like button to Google Reader, Google is becoming more and more about sharing information with friends and strangers. With Facebook buying Friendfeed this week, Google seems to have decided to fire its next salvo (in addition to boosting its search engine via Caffeine) into the marketplace.

iGoogle SocialIts not active on all accounts yet, but now you can add social gadgets to your iGoogle page, enabling (for now) you to play games, share todo lists, see what your friends are doing, etc. While in many ways the functionality isn’t all that impressive, it signals yet again that Google is moving away from search being the core of its business. The site is becoming more and more about managing information through one portal and then sharing it with like-minded communities around the world.

What is exciting is how Google is breaking down information and removing the limitations placed on it by form and format. With its advances in communications (via Gmail and the forthcoming Wave), its organizational tools like Reader and Google Docs, and the combination of Maps with content and suggestions (Google City Tours) Google is both presenting us with more information but working toward preventing overload and making it all more useful.

If you go to the Skittles homepage you’ll find that it takes you to their results on Twitter Search. In addition to that, you can go to their other social media sites (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube) via a pop-up window. Overall, it’s generated a lot of buzz, much of it negative.  I thought I’d weigh in with my own two cents.  

So far, I think it’s a great success.  It’s a low-risk, low-cost means of generating discussion and of starting a conversation with its consumers.  If it doesn’t work, it’s not that big of a deal.  It’s unlikely to drive teens away from the product.  More importantly, it’s got people outside of their demographic actually talking and thinking about Skittles.  I can’t remember the last time I thought about the product.  It was likely Halloween, when I was trying to figure out what to give the droves of kids that come to our door.  Consider how difficult and expensive it would be to generate that kind of awareness and discussion using traditional means.

The only mistake they may have made is placing Twitter at the forefront of their strategy. From what I’ve seen and read, Twitter seems to be most used by those in their late 20s and up. Not exactly the target demo for Skittles.

Before you go off thinking how original the idea is, it’s been done before.  Our friends over at Modernista! have done a pretty nifty job with using other sites to build the content for their website.