Extremely popular, and every day more so – Twitter currently has an obvious monopoly on microblogging. Not that it is very surprising, because it is an incredible website.
It’s proven its usefulness in incredibly diverging scenarios, ranging from loud egocentrics to real-time news aggregation during disasters. For a more extensive read on Twitter, check out the MakeUseOf PDF Guidebook to Twitter.
Nevertheless, it’s always refreshing to see a Twitter alternative hit the market and challenge the active powers. After all, competition lies at the very foundation of progress.
Meme, Yahoo’s new microblogging platform is a Twitter-challenger that should be taken seriously. Even though it’s been running a short while in Portugal, it’s just recently been launched for the English-speaking public. I was lucky enough to receive an early invite.
The opinions on Meme deviate – it’s been called a serious Twitter-killer by some, a superfluous clone by others. In this article we’ll try to compare the features of both platforms – not to blatantly conclude which is better, but to look which prevails in what area.
Where Meme Beats Twitter
There are a few areas where Meme makes Twitter bite dust – a few features that aren’t included in the latter contestant, or not as actively.
Media-rich and extended post functionality
Contrary to Twitter, which is mostly text-based, this Twitter alternative not only supports, but focuses on media-rich posts.
There are four different kinds of posts; text, picture, video and audio. The latter three allow you to post media from your hard drive or an internet location – as well as supply it with a caption. Video and audio players are embedded in post overviews so you can play everything on spot.
Obviously, Meme also supports text posts. The main difference to Twitter, however, is that you can type up to 2000 characters – the equivalent of roughly fourteen tweets.
Meme also supports basic HTML mark-up, allowing you to type in bold, italic and create links.
Reposting and commenting
Another defining feature of Meme is the reposting functionality. Sure, retweeting is possible as well, but it’s far more limited.
Next to each post you’ll see a repost button, as well as the number of times it’s been spread around already. By clicking the button, you instantly repost the item to your stream. As you can in the screenshot below, you can attach a personal comment to the repost – this will be visible to the source, as well as your followers, but will not be carried in any subsequent reposts.
Each repost also includes two names at the bottom – the one who you reposted it from, and the original source. This ensures that the spiritual ‘legacy’ of a post is always carried on, no matter how many reposts have passed.
Of course, reposting isn’t the only way to comment on someone else’s activity. Every post in Meme also gets its own page. On there, multiple people can comment in a threaded view.
Where Meme Fails Twitter
Every coin has two sides, and Meme is still far from perfect. There are a number of areas where the Twitter alternative still fails Twitter, due to missing features or functionality.
I hate saying it, but Meme is still far inferior to Twitter in terms of content. A large majority of people on Meme just post ‘funny and cool’ pictures all day long – which is entertaining at the start, but quickly gets tiresome. At the time being, there’s a huge shortage of people who have something meaningful to add. Looking solely at content, Meme might be heading the same way as Tumblr.
Of course, this is not a permanent conclusion. Twitter started out the same way, and quality of content is bound to improve over time. Nevertheless, it can’t be ignored.
The searchability of Meme is very limited at the moment – not to say ‘nonexistent’. It’s not possible yet to search posts, or search ‘topics’ like in Twitter.
Twitter’s real-time search is one of its great strengths, and because of its complete absence in Meme, this is an obvious failure.
Last but not least, third-party applications also aren’t available. Where Twitter is supported by an abundance of online and offline client applications, as well as hundreds of cool ‘bots’, Meme is completely stand-alone. The biggest (and only) link to the outside-WWW is RSS functionality.
There are a few wins, a few fails. Whom you regard as the winner is completely subjective. You’ll have to carefully consider which features you value most in a microblogging platform. Personally, I’m a Memer – what are you, and why?