Are "Social Mentions" And "Twitter Trackbacks" Just Taking Up Space?

You may have seen some of the following solutions installed on some of your favorite blogs:

The idea is to bring all comments about your posts into the posts themselves in an effort to centralize the conversation. This seems like a great idea until you put it into practice.

The main problem with most, if not all, of these solutions is that Twitter tends to overpower the rest. What we need is an effective means of filtering Twitter for quality comments, otherwise they should not be pulled into the post at all.

Are people seriously going through the “Social Media Comments” of the comments section and scanning through them for quality input? Good luck finding any quality input from Twitter. Just for kicks, go to this mashable post and count the number of quality comments from Twitter about that post. You more than likely saw the ridiculous number of trackbacks and didn’t even bother counting.

But what if, for the time being, we just excluded Twitter from this count. I mean, what benefit, if any, are they providing to the discussion. The only tweets worth including in comments are usually the comments that were sent to Twitter using Disqus, IntenseDebate or CommenTwitter.

However, there are sites that do provide quality comments worth importing into your posts, like StumbleUpon and Digg. These sites separate the promotion of the content (Digging/linking) from the commentary. ReTweeting is like Digging something. You wouldn’t display each individual Digg on your site below the comments, but you might use the Digg widget to represent the total number of Diggs received and then display any comments about the Digg in the comments of your post. This is how we should handle ReTweets. Use a site like TweetMeme to display your total RT count and then leave the ReTweets out of the comments.

As the filtering and organization of commentary across the web becomes more centralized we will hopefully see great improvements in the way we go about displaying them on our blogs. Until then, let’s just be smart about it.

-Photo by victoriapeckham

One reply on “Are "Social Mentions" And "Twitter Trackbacks" Just Taking Up Space?”

You are definitely right on this.

This was an experiment for us too, as we had no idea what to expect when bringing in all of these comments. It does seem like Twitter mostly brings in noise, and that’s why we’re now treating retweets differently (just count them and thread them, you can see them only if you want to.)

It’s interesting to see that although Twitter provides value, people still prefer meaningful comments to just many comments.

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