Since the whole (Twitter-)world is in turmoil about the #beyond140-issue, I wanted to write up why I actually like and use the product, as well what is missing in my opinion.
After all, we can complain about increases in characters, polls, or changes in the chronological timeline as much as we like, the company, Twitter, can do as they please. We do not own anything. In case some of you have forgotten.
Before I start to give you my opinion on why I like Twitter and what may be missing, I have to admit, Twitter is my favorite Social Media platform – by far. Hence, this post will not be neutral, but that is why you are here. That is, why you use such platforms, because of the opinions – at least some of you.
What I like about Twitter
- Decent (professional) public short Bio (Simple About Me): Not all people have websites or about me pages. Hence, Twitter is a great way to read about a person. Plus, with its character limitation it also forces you to focus on the most important things.
- Short, precise, pragmatic: Twitter’s timeline with its characteristic short post (Tweets) also forces you to be short and precise. This makes it very pragmatic. If it does not fit, kill it or revise it. Nowadays, some media does not fall under the 140 character limit and the Tweets get longer through pictures and rich snippets. Nevertheless, there is not much more to it. Short little posts. Maybe Messaging. The limited characters minimize the overload.
- Lists for various interests and groups: Twitter lists are a great way to read up on certain topics or to keep up with specific groups, like your closest friends, your colleagues, or people you met somewhere. Or just people that post funny stuff. Totally up to you. For me, this is kind of like a feed reader as well. Sort what kind of information you want when and where. Imho, this makes algorithms for Tweets unnecessary – if one uses lists correctly.
- Unfiltered & opinionated: As briefly mentioned above, Social Media is essentially people sharing opinions and moments of their lives. Twitter in that regards is unfiltered, except if you block people or do not follow them. There is no algorithm (yet) that sorts Tweets most relevant to you. Of course, Twitter (try to) filters hate speech and such, but remains relatively objective and cautious about interfering with freedom of expression. But that might change.
- Turning Social Media into real-life relationships: I have met so many amazing people online on Twitter. There are even meetups and communities that get together on a regular basis (e.g. #tweetup)- or for special events.
- #Followerpower: You have seen hashtags before – I assume. They are a great way of marking something interesting. One great usage that developed is #followerpower, which basically means you need help from your fellow Twitterati. Mostly, this works very well. People on Twitter are extremely helpful and open.
— Blogchicks (@a_haeusler) November 23, 2015
Translation: “I love my Twitter lists.”
man muss nicht jeden tweet erklären. — itspurplegreen (@purplegreen183) September 15, 2015
Translation: “You do not have to explain every Tweet.”
What is missing on Twitter
- Spam control: There is an increasing amount of Spam on Twitter. Not nearly as bad as Instagram, but it would be nice if they could ante up the spam control.
- Filters: I’d love to see more Filters. You can Filter streams on Tweetdeck, but not on Twitter itself, let along within Twitter lists. I am well aware that this creates an even smaller bubble, but also adds clarity.
- Notifications for Hashtags: Because of the social aspect, there are a lot of events “trending” on Twitter. Sometimes I wish I could set notifications for a specific event (hashtag) to not miss out.
What’s killing Twitter
- (Automated) Posts / Spam: Hereby, I am not necessarily talking about really evil spam, but about ordinary Twitterati that just post too much – especially through third-party services like Buffer, IFTTT, paper.li, or what have you. I mean, seriously, who is actually reading those stupid automated paper.li “newspapers”?I am well aware of the fact that I am using tools as well (e.g. Buffer & IFTTT), so I am being sort of an hypocrite. However, I am trying not to post too much. Some people spam their followers, like an automated tweetstorm. Imho, Twitter needs a Tweet cap more than more characters. Maybe like 10’000 characters per day. Use it on as many Tweets or combine into a single one.
- Too much “Marketing”: I am working within (Digital) Marketing as well, so – yet again – this is can be seen as hypocritical, but those masses of stock photo images and stupid sales Tweets is getting annoying. Buy now! Cheaper! Twitter is called Social Media for a reason. You just wouldn’t try to sell cheap watches or insurances at your friends party, would you?
- On making money: The tough one. Twitter itself struggles with this the most. While they try to figure out how to increase Ad revenue, they should make an opt-in available for a “pro”-account. After all, some people, especially the core, would possibly pay a small amount to use the service. Similar to Spotify (even though they are not profitable yet).
- Focus on growth: No, not what you think. Twitter does not have to grow more – necessarily. Growth for growth sake, go big or (and) go home, the Silicon Valley motto, is wrong. Quality over quantity. But that is hard if investors’ expectations are solely focused on growth. Is the market saturated already? Possibly not. But looking for unlimited growth in a pretty much limited world is idiotic. The focus should be on relevance and integration. The network effect does not only apply to people (hint: Google).
- Identity: Twitter does not really know what it is, as users use it as they like. I still prefer the term microblogging platform, as blogging itself is diverse. Each author uses it in a unique way. Some really log their feelings. Some share insights. Some do Marketing. Imho, that should be the focus, not becoming the next Facebook.(c.f. Give Twitter a Slogan)
Even though I did not want to write about the issues and concerns of people regarding changes, I cannot resist to share some opinions with you. Have fun.
- David Roberts, Vox (Jan 6, 2016): This one change would improve Twitter without losing its essence
- Will Oremus, Slate (Jan 5, 2016): Twitter Isn’t Raising the Character Limit. It’s Becoming a Walled Garden.
- Chris O’Brien (Oct 1, 2015): Can Twitter save Jack Dorsey?
- Martin Weiger, meshedsociety (Sept 22, 2015): Should Twitter remove the 140-Character Limit? 11 Arguments for and Against
- Keith Collins, Quartz (Oct 13, 2015): Missing from Jack Dorsey’s memo: The five upgrades Twitter needs most
- Om Malik, The New Yorker (Oct16, 2015): Jack in a Box: Can Twitter Be Saved?
- Samuel Gibbs, Alex Hern and Jonathan Haynes, The Guardian (Oct 5,2015): Jack’s back: 11 things the new Twitter CEO needs to improve
- Umair Haque (Oct 13, 2015): Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)
Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic (Nov 2, 2015): The Decay of Twitter
- Lastly, some developers also had an idea of what the Social Media platform needed(s) to improve, following Twitter’s round of questions labelled #helloworld
Not a fan of embedded content like Instant Articles oder AMP (they privatize opinions), but #Beyond140 is imho the stupiest way to do this.
— Tobias Schwarz (@Isarmatrose) January 6, 2016
— Jack (@jack) January 5, 2016