Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What’s Wrong With Twitter

Jeff Johnson:

When I rejoined Twitter, I already knew who to follow, because I had people I followed during my previous stint. For completely new users, however, the first hurdle is figuring out who to follow. Twitter unhelpfully suggests celebrities. These suggestions are self-defeating, because celebrities are almost guaranteed to ignore you. They have way more followers than they can respond to personally. So you can follow celebrity accounts, tweet to the celebrity accounts, and ... nothing. That gets old quickly. You can try to “personalize” your experience by telling Twitter your interests, but the categories are so broad (e.g., Music) that you end up with more celebrity accounts anyway. And you can upload your contacts to Twitter in order to discover your contacts on Twitter, but what if you don’t want to provide your address book to Twitter? And while uploading your contacts may be a good way of finding people you already know on Twitter, it’s not necessarily a good way of finding people you don’t know. What if you’re interested in, say, Mac programming, and you’re new and unknown in the field, so you don’t have any existing contacts? Indeed, what if you’re signing up for Twitter in order to meet other people in your field? Good luck with that.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

IMHO, that's such a weird piece.

- Twitter's problem is that it's not Facebook.
- Twitter's problems would be solved if it was Facebook.
- Not being Facebook is a fatal flaw.

I'm mean, jeebus. I'd never go on Facebook in a million years. I love Twitter. I know full well that Twitter is never going to be as popular as Facebook because they're different things with different appeals.

What's Wrong With Craft Beers? They're Not Budweiser.

Chucky, you misunderstood what I wrote. As I said, Facebook is terrible. I don't like Facebook, I'm not advocating Facebook. My point was that, as terrible as Facebook is, it keeps you hooked, because your family is there. Twitter doesn't keep you hooked. It doesn't give new users a reason to stay. And if you don't stay on Twitter for a long time, you'll never accumulate enough followers to make it somewhat appealing.


Genuine thanks for the feedback! I did indeed employ some unfair hyperbole.

"Twitter doesn't keep you hooked. It doesn't give new users a reason to stay. And if you don't stay on Twitter for a long time, you'll never accumulate enough followers to make it somewhat appealing."

Yeah, but to try to make my point in a more reasonable manner, sure, but so what?

Twitter is simply not "sticky" in a way that'll make it a world-dominating force. But, again, so what? As long as they can make enough money to keep the lights on, who cares?

For a long time before I signed up, I was a Twitter lurker. Superb reading material. Read the feeds of both prominent and fringe folks who I thought had smart insights. Got tons of super-valuable info from educated folks who had similar / tangential interests to mine that I could've found nowhere else.

Now I've signed up, and post frequently. I've got few followers, but I've got a bizarrely large audience for anything I post. I attribute this to thoughtful interactions with educated folks, and thoughtful posts on my part. That means that even though I don't have followers, plenty of non-followers are pulling up my feed periodically. I've got knowledge on a few topics, and that's what makes the whole thing work for me.

In short, Twitter is a bit of a niche thing. That's what makes it great! Its niche is educated folks who want to delve into the weeds on specific topics. And folks who crack pithy jokes. If they try to change it to make it appealing to a mass audience / newbies, they'll kill precisely what makes it so very valuable and special.

"[Facebook] … keeps you hooked, because your family is there"

That's one of nice things about Twitter: your family isn't there.

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