I’m a big Twitter user. That’s why my Twitter feed is embedded into this web site (usually) and it’s recently been added to the various versions of the For the Love of Tech apps. I love Twitter. It’s unique.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the stories. The 140 character limit is going away in favor of a 10,000 character limit, supposedly. That’s not to say that everyone will use all 10,000 characters, but you’ll have room to write more. It will be more like Facebook.
This news, assuming that it’s true, tells me one thing. Twitter (the company) doesn’t understand Twitter (the social network). They don’t understand why it’s special and they don’t understand why people don’t want to use it.
I’m a techie. Most of my friends aren’t. None of my friends use Twitter. Occasionally, one will sign up to see some of the content that I publish but they stop when they realize that they could get the same content through other means.
Others sign up and eventually give up. It leaves us the question of why doesn’t anyone want to use Twitter?
The answer is fairly obvious. No one wants to be part of a social network where no one is going to hear what they have to say. For example, on Facebook, I send you a friend request, you accept it, and now we will both see each other’s content.
Twitter is very different. Twitter relies on someone following you, so unless you’re a semi-public figure, you’re activities on Twitter will go largely unnoticed.
People, in a broad sense, are very narrow minded. They’ve been shown what a social network should be like through Facebook. They enjoy Facebook and they don’t see a need for another social network, especially one that’s not necessarily connecting them with their friends. After all, it’s not like a secondary social network can serve a different purpose in one’s life, right?
I’ve always considered Facebook to be the place where I connect with my friends. Google+ is the place where I connect with readers and viewers. Twitter is my newspaper. It’s the newspaper that’s constantly being updated with the latest articles.
Everyone has a news source, whether it’s Apple’s new News app, Yahoo News, or even Facebook, everyone has a source. With Twitter, you follow the folks you want to hear from and it’s combined into a single feed. 140 characters is perfect for a headline and a link.
The point is that Twitter is a social network that’s meant for consumption. It’s meant to see and also to discuss. After all, if there’s a single way to “get it”, it when you see something from your favorite author or blogger, respond to a tweet, and he responds back. There’s no other medium where you can have that.
Twitter ended up coming up with Moments, a curated feed of tweets. They thought this would make it more appealing to new users but it had one very big flaw: it doesn’t fix the fundamental problem, which is that people have a certain view of a social network and Twitter isn’t it.
If you talked to Twitter a few months ago, all they talked about is Moments. Today, two executives that oversaw the project are leaving the company.
So what’s the answer for Twitter? After all, there’s a ton of potential users for them, but no one wants to use it.
Is the answer to make themselves more like Facebook? To allow people to pretty much write a blog post on Twitter? Well, no. Twitter’s click through rates are terrible because it’s such a fast moving feed. It’s meant to be skimmed through, another reason why a 10,000 character limit doesn’t sound pleasant.
The other step then would be to curate your news feed. Twitter would have to start showing you content in the order they think you want to see it in, rather than chronological order.
The fact is that people don’t want another Facebook. just ask Google+. There’s room for more social networks, but it has to be unique. Twitter is unique.
So again, what is the answer? Well, it would probably help if Twitter tried to educate people as to what makes it unique, demonstrating some of the things that I’ve stated here.
Twitter also really has to start taking abuse seriously. There are plenty of people who enjoy Twitter but walked away simply because of the abusive nature of its users.
It’s generally assumed that Twitter hasn’t taken a serious stance against abuse because they need to show growth to shareholders. If you say something abusive to me, I can block you but you can just create a new account. Boom, Twitter just got another active user.
Just think about it. Twitter is everywhere. If you’re watching a TV show, you’ll see “Tweet with the hashtag #Whatever”. If you see a credit to someone, under their name you see “@xxxxxx”. When Bruce Jenner announced his new name as a woman, she had an official Twitter account alongside of it.
Twitter is everywhere. It’s powerful. So why isn’t anyone using it?