Hashtagify Pro private beta

Lately I’ve been hard at work on Hashtagify Pro, a new tool that lets you track a specific campaign or subject (not limited to hashtags) on Twitter and analyze which influencers are impacting it and how.

Today is a big day: We are ready to start a private beta!

You can go to pro.hashtagify.me and take a look at the new website, where you can also find a Demo/Tour that shows the kind of analysis you can do with Hashtagify Pro.

If what you see interests you, you can apply for a free beta account using the link in the home page. Beta accounts will be activated as soon as there are free resources on the server.

We’re also very interested in your feedback: Comments, glitches, ideas, suggestions. Hashtagify Pro is still in evolution and your suggestions now can have an important impact.

So, let us know what you think!

PS: Hashtagify Pro works best with a recent browser. IE only works with version 9.

Bootstrapping hashtagify pro: How I doubled my workweek productivity

Creating a startup while working a full time job has its pros and cons. Among the pros, you don’t have to use a lot of your time minding your investors (or looking for them), and you can devote your energies to just make the best possible product. Among the cons, progress is slower and it is very difficult to be productive on workdays, when you already spend 8 hours or more on your day job.

But a week ago I read a comment on HN (edit: thanks to raju in the comments for pointing me to the exact link)┬áthat inspired me to rethink how I’m organizing myself , and with one simple change I doubled my productivity on workdays. How? Instead of working on hashtagify at nights, after getting home from my day job, I’m starting my day two hours earlier, and doing 2 hours of programming in the morning, before going to work.

I’m usually a night person, and have always been very productive at nights, since when I was just a student. But after eight hours of work, it is difficult to have that kind of focus that you need to program, and the two (or two and a half) hours in the morning have been much more productive than the equivalent time in the evening.

After coming home I still do some lighter work, and don’t go to bed without having scheduled a task to do the next morning; this way when I wake up I don’t have to think what to do and I can be immediately productive.

So, the bottom line is that work on hashtagify pro is proceeding very well: now I’m making as much progress during the workweek as I usually make during weekends, while before I only made major progress outside workdays. This means that soon enough I’ll be able to release the first beta. Stay tuned!

Evaluating a Twitter Campaign

If you’re doing a marketing campaign on Twitter, how can you measure its real impact? And, specifically, how can you evaluate the individual contribution of single campaign participants?

This is something that has been asked to us, and we think we’ve found an interesting solution to visually show this information by leveraging the hashtagify technology. So, if you’re interested in this kind of analysis, stay tuned. And, if you have specific suggestions or requests related to this, don’t hesitate to contact me writing to @hashtagify . First come, first served…

Be seeing you!

Top influencers: The new visual exploration tool (beta)

Influencers graphDid you even wonder who the top influencer about the #debt crisis is on Twitter? Is it a Republican? A Democrat? An independent – maybe an official news source?

I did, and to answer that question – and countless more about other hashtags – I just published on hashtagify.me the first beta version of a new “top influencers” feature.

With this feature, when you visually explore Twitter hashtags, following their relationships, you can also see up to 6 of the top influencers for the selected hashtag. These users are listed by name, ranked by their estimated influence, and shown on a graph where you can also see their relative influence (y-position), how specialized they are on that hashtag (x-position), and how many followers they have (bubble size).

This feature is still in beta and the hashtags usage data is still being collected: This means that, especially for the less used hashtags, the influence estimate isn’t very precise. Still, while I’m working on augmenting the data collection rate for this kind of data, you can already get an idea about the influencers on your topics of interest. And a similar feature is in the works about the top websites for an hashtag: Stay tuned!

Oh, and by the way: It looks like the top influencer about #debt is @MikeBloomberg, the Republican mayor of New York, followed by @WestWingReport, an independent White House journalist – you can see it for yourself here. Where are the Dems??

Are hashtags too geeky for Google+? A meditated answer to Loic Le Meur

I was able to join Google+ last week, and found it very interesting for three reasons:

  1. Circles
  2. There are mostly early adopters, and this generates some very interesting conversations
  3. It isn’t blocked at my office yet, so I don’t have to resort to dirty tricks to use it like I have to do with facebook – yet

Is it all good then? Of course not, there are many useful features that could be added. But the one I really miss is tags. I fell in love with tags since I first started using del.icio.us (before the yahoo-less-licious days) and were delighted to see them spreading to more and more uses. It’s no coincidence that I created a website completely devoted to (hash)tags!

Today I found out I’m not alone when I stumbled upon a post on G+ about the use of hashtags on G+ itself. After all, the use of hashtags on Twitter started exactly because there wasn’t a tag feature there, like on G+ now. And, as I discovered later, the same Chris Messina who first proposed their adoption on Twitter did the same for G+ just four days ago.

Not everybody agrees, though. Loic Le Meur commented on that same post where I first read about the debate that “hashtags are geeky and they shouldn’t be added to G+”.

I answered that hashtags are geeky, but simple tags aren’t. But, on second thought, the real answer should have been: Hashtags can’t be “added” to G+; they weren’t even “added” to Twitter, only half-heartedly supported after their use became widespread.

So the real question should be: Should tags be added to G+? I definitely think they should; is there any better way to allow the discovery of interesting conversations? And: Are tags too geeky for G+? Considering that they’re also used on Facebook, I guess they really aren’t.

So please, Google, add our beloved tags to G+; and, while you’re at it, also add a sampling streaming API for public messages so that all sorts of interesting research could be done and, why not, so that I could also add the data from G+ to hashtagify.me :)

Working on hashtags/users data… and a little setback

These days I’ve been working on getting the data needed to show the top tweeters/influencers for an hashtag.

For the less used hashtags that’s not easy, but for the more common ones I was already getting some interesting enough data and I was thinking about the possibility to publish a first beta this weekend.

Unfortunately, while working on this new feature, something got corrupted on Redis – the database where we collect our data – and had to go back to an older backup; you might already have noticed that the number of examined tweets displayed on hashtagify fell from over 50 to 43 millions.

Nothing serious, but this means that we’ll need to wait some more time for the first beta. I just hope to be able to publish something before I’ll leave for a 2 weeks vacation to Russia next week… but don’t hold your breath!

While working no this I also learned something interesting about how to execute batch jobs on node.js: I expected some complications from the non sequential nature of node, but I hadn’t forseen the full extent of the surprises! I’ll try to share this to thos interested in this kind of technical details an upcoming post.


The next feature

The poll we ran about which features I should add first to hashtagify closed today, and the winner is… “Find top tweeters/influencers for an hashtag” (49% of votes).

I wanted to thank everybody who voted for the poll, and add that I’ve already started thinking about how to implement this new feature. I’d like to show this information in a highly visual and usable way, and I have some interesting ideas about that.

Gathering significant users’ data for the more than 1 million hashtags already categorized by hashtagify will be a real challenge, but at least for the most used ones I expect to be able to have something useful in a few weeks.

I’ll keep you posted about the developments. In the meantime, if you have suggestions or related requests feel free to post them here or to write on twitter @hashtagify

Have a great weekend. Cheers!

Poll: Vote a feature for the next upgrade of hashtagify.me!