When I taught my first Twitter workshops back in 2009, I mentioned one of the many reasons why I was bullish from the start about using HootSuite as a Twitter client: It gave you the ability to seamlessly import RSS feeds. At that time, I mentioned that this was efficient for your blog content, although now I would say since you spent 2 hours (at least I do!) to create a blog post, you might as well spend a minute or two to customize your tweet to promote it. However, I also told those in the workshop that, should they not have enough time to be active participants but still wanted to tweet out content that was relevant to their brand and to their community, the option did exist to import an RSS feed from 3rd party content. However, I cautioned, unless you can vouch that the content is always from a trusted authority, on-topic and not overly-broadcasted, beware of automating your tweets.
Fast forward to 2011. There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere and Twitterville about a new automation tool for bloggers who tweet called Triberr. After hearing that “T-word,” some of you who know about it may already be cringing or there are some who could be excited to learn more. Either way, I wanted to share my own personal experiences of using Triberr in this review and what it has reminded me about what is important about Twitter. I also write this in the hopes that this review helps foster a better understanding of Triberr as well as provide a potentially different perspective on how the tool can be used.
What is Triberr?
Put simply, Triberr is a tool that aggregates the RSS feeds from all members of a “tribe” and then allows you to automatically or manually post them into your Twitter stream. The idea is that your tribe support each other by retweeting each other’s content. The process can be completely manual if the user changes his or her settings, and there is also an option of rating a blog post with positive or negative “karma” to inform other bloggers whether or not they should manually approve the tweet. The tweet itself is completely preview-able and editable before publication.
Why Use Triberr?
The prime appeal that Triberr has for most is undoubtedly the ability to get greater reach for your blog posts by having your tribe promote it in their Twitter stream. Many a blogger has wondered, “Why don’t I get as many views and/or retweets even though my content is better than [social media rockstar name]?” Triberr allows you to group together your efforts with blogger soulmates to extend your reach to potentially more than 1,000,000 followers, thus leveling the playing field for lesser known as well as up-and-coming bloggers. Some well-respected bloggers with more than 100,000 followers are also using the platform.
Why the Complaints Against Triberr?
Many see those who use Triberr as merely trying to game the system to get more retweets by automating the process of tweeting each other’s blog posts.
Why Did I Use Triberr?
My intent on using Triberr was simple: I recognized one of the bloggers who’s posts I often retweeted as a member, and then found out that he was in a tribe where I knew a few of the other bloggers. Why not join the tribe, I thought, to be exposed to similar bloggers’ content and vice-versa? While I cannot deny that the promise of additional reach was enticing, to me what was more important is that it offered a way for me to supplement my own content curation efforts by providing me the latest blog posts in a dashboard for me to conveniently review and then schedule to tweet. Actually, there are some bloggers that I support and tweet out pretty much everything they post because I know their content is relevant to my followers and I want to support them. To me, Triberr was going to be a natural extension to this: It is a pre-populated dashboard/mini-RSS reader from other bloggers who want to try to support each other.
What Have My Experiences Been?
I joined a tribe and left it shortly thereafter for a variety of reasons I will outline below. I then took a break from Triberr. After Triberr started allowing something called “inbreeding,” I then experimented on joining another tribe with different bloggers, expanded that to multiple tribes, left most of those tribes, and recently joined another. I can’t say that using Triberr doesn’t have its disadvantages – it really is about finding the right people to be in your tribe, and it is not an easy task for many reasons outlined below.
What Have I Learned from the Experience? And What Advice Do I Give to Triberr Users?
I am not trying to criticize those who use Triberr, but using Triberr has stretched my boundaries as to what I am and am not comfortable tweeting. To say otherwise would simply be a lie. However, I have also strengthened relationships with some bloggers and became friends with new ones. Each tribe even has a “Wall” which encourages the creation of a community for your tribe. With that being said, here’s what I’ve learned – and my advice for Triberr users.
#1 You are What You Tweet and Your Content Must be Aligned with Your Brand (Content Strategy)
Content curation is something which should ideally provide your followers with tweets aligned with your content strategy that you have personally curated. This is something that Triberr has the potential to help foster. The problem, though, is that not every member might be tweeting relevant content all of the time and that the content of some tribe members might be completely irrelevant to what you are interested in sharing with your community. Unless you join a tribe where every tribe member has content that is aligned with your strategy, you may be finding yourself introducing irrelevant and off-brand content to your community unless you’re in the right tribe and manually previewing each blog post before tweeting to be on the safe side.
#2 You Must Maintain the Quality of Your Blog – and Tweets (Content Quality)
No two bloggers are alike. Some might only post a photo together with one or two hundred words of text in Tumblr-esque fashion while others regularly blog posts with more than 1,000 words. While some might use their blog to make casual remarks or ask questions, others might make an effort to try to make their blog post as meaningful and resourceful to others as possible. Only you know what you consider to be “quality content,” but while some in your tribe you might already know and respect, there might be others who’s blog posts just might not be your cup of tea. Another reason that you should be manually previewing each blog post before tweeting to be on the safe side.
#3 Supporting Your Tribe is One Thing, But Do Some Exploit the Privilege? (Authentic Curation)
A lot of people complain that Triberr is all about what is bad in how some marketers exploit social media in quid pro quid fashion disregarding their community and treating Twitter followers as mere numbers. To be honest, the feeling of wanting to follow someone if they follow you as well as retweet the content of others who retweet yours is quite natural. It’s why you get thanked for retweeting other’s content as well as for mentioning someone on a #FollowFriday. I often look for content to curate from my followers who share my content with their community. That being said, I am not one who has ever been part of a “blog party” where we agree to comment on each others blog posts and digg/stumble etc. each others posts. I saw Triberr as being something different, which it is, as it is representing a retweet of content. However, Triberr actually has the potential to become an even more damaging artificial method of promotion. How? Because once a blogger realizes that they can broadcast a tweet out to more than one million followers, they just might start taking advantage of it. Perhaps they start publishing more often then they might normally be doing to take advantage of the situation. Maybe they don’t spend as much time on each blog post and craft shorter, quicker posts so that they can increase website traffic. A feeling of mutual support is one thing, but what if everyone is just not utilizing the tool in the same manner? You might get the feeling that others are trying to take advantage of you with such behavior, and if so, you really need to inform the tribe leader and/or leave the tribe and find another. Another reason to be manually previewing each blog post before tweeting to be on the safe side.
#4 With Reach Comes Responsibility, So Don’t Become the Firehose (Frequency Strategy)
The reach that can be had through Triberr is, simply stated, incredible. However, with the reach comes responsibility. I was a member of one of the largest tribes where I was amazed by how much my own content got retweeted. The cost of that, though, is the volume of tweets to review and thus tweet on behalf of others. I usually like to tweet out some informative links that I have curated to my followers, but I also like to have a threshold as to the maximum number of tweets I want to send out in a day. Joining any tribe over a few members will challenge your threshold, and in turn potentially the threshold of your followers. The problem is that nobody blogs at the same frequency. There are some who blog every day, while some only do it weekly. Aligning yourself with a tribe where bloggers tweet at a similar frequency is a must. All it takes is for one blogger to take advantage of the situation mentioned above or merely someone who blogs daily or sometimes twice a day when you don’t to ask yourself why the same name keeps coming up on your Tribber dashboard. And if you are asking yourself that question, chances are some of your followers might be as well. In such a scenario, can there be any other option other than to manually preview each blog post before tweeting to be on the safe side?
So my conclusion, other than the need to manually preview each blog post before tweeting?
First of all, I have nothing against any particular blogger as there is no right or wrong way with blogging, tweeting, or social media in general. I am not pretending to be an authority on any such subject, because everyone sees everything in their own way, and that is the way it should be. I only share with you my own experience in hopes that other bloggers can find truly aligned tribes while also adhering to what Twitter is all about.
However, my experiences above do tell me one thing: No two bloggers are alike, and no two tweeters are as well. The only way that a tribe can be a truly unified presence in light of this is if everyone agrees to automatically post each other blog posts all the time in the pursuit of the one thing that can unify the Triberr user: The promise of expanded reach. However, for the same above reasons, I find that this is a high price to pay and instead am looking for a comfortable medium with tribe members that I respect who also share similar beliefs and philosophies about blogging and tweeting
The developers of Triberr have put together a truly awesome platform which is quick, scalable, and supported surprisingly well by two developers who are only doing this part-time. The platform could develop into a “blogger’s alliance” type of world where companies wanting to engage with influential bloggers might just skip Klout and instead try to influence one of the tribes. How about sponsored tweets from tribes, similar to how platforms have been created to advertise for celebrities? Just as Twitter recommends those who you should follow, Triberr could also team you up with another blogger or two who’s interests and/or content is similar and create a blogger matchmaking service. Not to mention the potential for large enterprises who manage several blogs and multiple Twitter accounts to accurately track the engagement level in terms of retweets from each Twitter community by blog content source. It will be interesting to see how things develop, but one thing for sure: Unless Triberr is used responsibly by those who are active members, tweets coming from the platform may become ignored as much as those “RT @Mashable” tweets coming from Twitterfeed have become…
One could come to the conclusion that a perfectly aligned tribe is impossible because of the varying factors I mentioned above. I don’t believe this is the case, and I also feel that Triberr has its role as a content curation tool which comes with the support of a community of like-minded bloggers. I will continue to use Triberr as part of my social media experimentation efforts as I am presently happy with those bloggers I am in the same tribe with, but I am curious as to your comments and suggestions regarding this review.
What has your experience with Triberr been? Please share your review in the comments. Thank you.
(July 6, 2011) Afterthoughts: There have been a number of blog posts written about Triberr, and this post was in no way in response to any single one. However, I will say that I have had quite a few conversations with Judy Gombita about the subject that were thought-provoking (you should follow her on Twitter as well), and she pointed me to a thought-provoking post on Triberr from Kellye Crane which generated quite a lot of interesting comments.