I’ve been tweeting since Sept 9th, 2008. That’s a long time. My first tweet was an enlightening ‘finishing up work’. Thankfully, I’ve broadened my tweet horizons since then. I’ve been a devoted user over the years, racking up 37,000 tweets. The 140 character network has actually brought me many great things in my life (more on that here), however I recently found myself slipping out of love with Twitter.
First and foremost, the conversation and interaction just isn’t the same as it used to be. That, of course could be down to me and my activity, but speaking to other users (such as @gary_rae below) would suggest similar experiences. Even two years ago I used to be able to spark great debates and discussions with the mere flick of 140 characters (or less). Now, I’ll often experience a total tumbleweed moment. Apart from being slightly embarrassing, this leads to further Twitter dissatisfaction.
People are busier than ever online – there are way more platforms vying for our attention than there were ‘back in the day’. Look at the rise of Instagram, (more users than Twitter, kind of), another place for people to spend time. Instagram has a massive advantage over Twitter – it’s 100% about images, something us humans love. Twitter is a cocktail of text, images, videos and spam. That aside, the sheer volume of people on Twitter means it can be like trying to have a conversation in a busy bar, squashed up against a chap with suspect personal hygiene while verbally battling the sound of a DJ with a even more suspect choice of music. Not easy, or fun.
The rise of Favourites
I have a theory. Over the past 18 months, I’ve noticed far wider use of the ‘favourite’ function – effectively a Twitter bookmark. I’ve had tweets starred that in the past would have garnered a response, leading to a conversation. A favourite is almost saying ‘yeah I see you and I’m with you bro, but I’m not going to respond’. It’s a cool function, but it shouldn’t be used as an alternative to having a blether. As I was writing this, Nicola Balkind (@robotnic) tweeted me backing up this thought!
Twitter used to be a place that allowed one to be exposed to great content, but now it can be very, very hard to find the gems. There’s more content in the world than ever (2.73 million blog posts per day) which is of course spewing itself across Twitter, but it’s the way that people share content that turns me cold. For example, using scheduling tools to automate a high volume of tweets throughout the day without any personal touch added to them (yes, I can be guilty of that), it just doesn’t compel me to click or interact with the tweeter. Another issue here is seeing the same content from the same sources being blasted about willy-nilly. This may be down to the fact that we are in a state of content shock brought on by content marketing (nasty people those marketers) and people are finding it hard to discover the really good stuff, thus resorting to vicious circle of sharing.
Those two areas led to my love for Twitter lapsing. The spark was gone. We were barely speaking. Things were looking bad.
Rekindling the romance
What have I done to bring the early-years passion back?
Had a following cull – this sounds very callous, but I’ve followed far too many people over the years, I felt I had to follow everyone back. My Timeline was a mess, completely unfathomable. Now I follow a lot less and a quick dip into my Timeline tends to be a worthwhile exercise.
Revamped my lists – I’ve always been a big advocate of using lists to segment Twitter users that I really want to hear from. I’d let the management of those lists slide, they were outdated and not giving me what I needed. I’ve now got four lists that take most of my Twitter time, one of which is dedicated to people I actually know in ‘real-life’ which is a nice way to keep in touch. You need to use something other than the official Twitter apps or .com to view and manage lists though. I use TweetBot alongside Sprout Social. This is something that @craigmcgill, @AlexDRoberston and @fatblackcatspaw agree with.
Went direct – I’ve started tweeting directly to more people, I don’t mean via DM, but just trying to have one on one chats, as opposed to always putting a question etc out to a broad audience.
Joined in a couple of chats – In the past I’ve been reluctant to get involved in Twitter chats, but I’ve been partaking in #sproutchat and #bufferchat regularly and they are a great way of getting to know other Twitter users and having a chat about things I’m interested in. Find one that suits you using these tips.
Hope that helps you to fall back in love with Twitter. I have and it feels good! Have you had similar Twitter relationship issues? Feel free to share them in the comments below. You’re in a safe place.
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