Social networking software

Official Tweet Button Challenges Digg, Facebook, and Tweetmeme

Twitter is launching an official Tweet Button that shares Web articles and tracks how many times a URL has been shared. The Tweet Button is expected to be released sometime this week, according to Mashable.

Mashable obtained the embed code for the official Tweet Button and tested it out. The embed code works, but the retweeting process doesn't.

Only a few Twitter accounts have the feature enabled, according to Mashable's sources.

Here is what we know about the Tweet Button (click on any of the screen shots -- from Mashable -- below to enlarge them).

Purpose

The Tweet Button is intended to broadcast Web links, articles, photographs and more. By clicking the Tweet Button, you will automatically be sent to a retweeting page wherein the URL you landed on is shortened using Twitter's t.co service, which was launched earlier this year.

The ultimate purpose behind the Tweet Button is similar if not identical to its competitors, which we'll get to later.

Process

Twitter says the Tweet Button is "built for publishers" and promises easy installation. The Tweet Button is one line of code that "just works;" is similar to embedding a YouTube video or another form of Web media; and launches "in minutes." There's also a Scribd document detailing the installation process.

Twitter seems to be asking for beta testers and early adopters for the Tweet Button.

"We're hoping you'll try it too, and be a part of our upcoming launch," the Twitter graphic says. However, Twitter hasn't posted anything about the Tweet Button on its official blog, nor has it yet responded to requests for comment from Mashable, so it's uncertain as to how users can begin tests.

Features

The Tweet Button comes in three different graphic sizes:

  1. Horizontal with count (110 x 20 pixels)
  2. Horizontal without count (55 x 20 pixels)
  3. Vertical with count (55 x 63 pixels)

It also has five optional settings to configure the button:

  1. Via: Your Twitter account will be @mentioned and recommended for the user to follow
  2. Related: A related account (such as the article's author) that is recommended for the user to follow
  3. Text: Default Tweet text (i.e. "Check this out!")
  4. URL: Custom URL to use in the tweet
  5. Count: Your selected form factor, as in horizontal, vertical, or no count

Competition

The official Tweet Button poses a threat to various Web site relay tools, including Digg.com's "Digg" button, Facebook's "Like" button, and the ShareThis collection of URL broadcasting tools, among others. The developer hardest hit by the Tweet Button is Tweetmeme, which until now had the go-to retweeting tool (oddly, at the time of this writing, the Tweetmeme site was down due to "unscheduled maintenance"). Tweetmeme and the Tweet Button have the exact same function.

Mashable posits that Twitter and Tweetmeme had a conversation about the official Tweet Button, but I find that unlikely. Since when do opposing forces have a polite dialogue before a product launch?

Twitter's relationship with third-party developers has shifted from friendly to shady this year. Ever since Twitter acquired Tweetie and created an official Twitter app for iPhones and BlackBerries, third-party developers have become nervous about future collaborations with the microblogging site. The impending release of the Tweet Button can only throw more fuel on the fire.

That said, the official Twitter smartphone app is pretty stellar, so one can imagine the Tweet Button will boast the same high quality.

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