Notifications from any app or Web site can be annoying. By default, most of them leave virtually all notifications on from the start. That means stupid pop-up windows on your phone or an inbox full of e-mails about things you have zero interest in. With Twitter, for quite some time, notifications were clunky and even a little overbearing, but they are gradually becoming more sophisticated and even helpful.
The latest is the notification for a tweet that is favorited in which you are mentioned. If that sounds a little convoluted, it basically means that if someone mentions you in a tweet and it's favorited by someone else, Twitter lets you know. This may sound like a really obscure thing to notify someone about, but looking deeper, it makes a lot of sense.
Whenever a person is mentioned on Twitter in any way, having that knowledge is important, particularly if the mention is unflattering. It gives users the power to know what is being said about them and when. For a business, it is damn near a necessity.
One of the wonderful things about Google Alerts is that it helps keep track of every mention of a particular word or phrase. Business names, individual names, taglines and any number of other words and phrases can be monitored. In news, that means reporters can be notified if stories they cover are mentioned virtually anywhere on the Web.
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Because Twitter is about your handle -- even if it is your actual name -- being alerted can mean you are better able to address anything that pops up. If you own a business or are in the public eye, that could mean the difference between getting in front of a damaging story or lagging behind. Personally, it means you find out when something good or bad is being said at a moment's notice.
The best part of the changes is that Twitter lets you have all the control. Visit the settings portion of your account and you can manage every notification option, and there are a bunch of them.
Perhaps more encouraging is the fact that Twitter has migrated these changes to its smartphone apps, both Android and iPhone. These long-ignored apps needed an overhaul and it's great to see Twitter taking them seriously again, even if Ecofon is still better.
It's a far cry from when Twitter started and it was hard to tell who had even responded to you, with a notification or otherwise. The more control we as users have, the better off we are.