Two Things That Are Killing Twitter

I used a nifty service called When Did You Join Twitter to figure out that I signed up on December 30, 2008.

After four years I have seen a number of changes in how I use it as well as how others do. Not all of them are good.

I Hate AutoDms

I don’t have any scientific data to share with you about what sort of impact the AutoDm has and can only tell you that once upon a time I was guilty of using them too.

It seemed like an easy way to acknowledge new followers and to start building a relationship with them but I found them to rarely give me the warm fuzzy feeling that makes me feel like anything but a number.

The AutoDm doesn’t show me that you have taken the time to read my profile or tweets so I haven’t any clue whether you find me interesting or if I am just another number you use to build your following.

I have built real friendships with people I met online and know that there are real people on the other side of the keyboard but those relationships started because of the personal touch.

Twitter is Like a Cocktail Party Or Barbecue

Twitter is like a barbecue or cocktail party. It is a place to meet people and talk. The AutoDm reminds me of the sleazy man/woman who approaches you at a party with only one thing in mind and it is never with your best interests in mind.

It is an immediate turnoff.

I don’t have a problem with Internet marketers, brands or businesses trying to sell things online. All I ask is that you at least pretend to care about more than what is in my wallet.

Problem Number Two- Broadcast Is Not Engagement

The second challenge and one that is probably far more serious is the proliferation of people/brands/businesses that are using Twitter as a broadcast channel and not for engagement.

Twitter is noisy and cluttered because it is filled with Tweets promoting posts, reviews, sales and all sorts of other crap. It wasn’t always like this and I am well aware that I am part of the problem.

That is because Triberr is one of the biggest sources of traffic for my blog and the primary traffic driver for promoting posts through Triberr is Twitter.

If I want people to pump out my posts to their followers I need to reciprocate so it means that I can send out a large number of tweets in a short time.

A Solution

My solution is two fold:

  1. I try to make a point to engage as frequently as possible on Twitter so that my stream is not all links.
  2. I try to make sure the content I share is relevant, interesting and useful to my followers.

It is not a perfect solution but at the moment it does the best job of meeting my needs without completely alienating the community I am working to build.

What About You?

What about you? Do you use Twitter? Do you like it? Do you agree/disagree with me?

 

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  • http://www.alidavies.com Ali Davies

    I find that those people who genuinely care, engage and are interested in other people stand out a mile on twitter because there are so many of the “me me me” brigade out there. For me it is all about building relationships from a place of integrity and caring

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Ali,

      Yeah, those people do jump out now don’t they. It is like a company that provides good customer service, painfully obvious.

  • http://extremelyaverage.com extremelyavg

    Awesome post. I don’t know that I have anything else to add, but I did want to thank you for the link that let me find out when my first twitter account was started. I don’t use @ecocandle much anymore, but see the date made me realize how much I’ve changed my Twitter use, too, since I started @ExtremelyAvg.

    The thing I do more now, than then, is to use a hashtag to enjoy sporting events with other people that aren’t part of my normal circle. Last weekend I met some great Buckeye fans during their win over michigan. (No, I don’t capitalize michigan.)

    I hope people listen to your wisdom and choose to engage.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Brian,

      You just made me laugh. People ride me for writing “celtics” and “giants” but unless I am getting paid for the article/post that is just how it is for those teams.

      I am rather fond of watching sporting events on Twitter in the same manner as you described. Haven’t done it a lot lately, but I do enjoy it.

  • http://www.fromtracie.com Tracie

    I don’t find that twitter drives a lot of traffic to my blog (not nearly as much as facebook), but I do tweet out links to my posts. Maybe if I was using Tribber, I would see more value in it.

    Mostly I use Twitter for socialization, following people who interest me, and sharing posts from other people that I enjoyed.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Tracie,

      I think the primary question is whether you are enjoying it and do you feel it provides value. If you can say yes to both of those questions you are probably in good shape.

  • http://ninabadzin.com Nina

    Hey Jack! Happy (late) Thanksgiving and (early) Hanukkah. As for your points about the need for Twitter engagement over something like autoDMs and constant blasting of links (whether the tweeter’s own or of others’) . . . I 100% agree!!!! You know that. ;)

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Nina,

      Chanukah Sameach to you too. What are we, about 13 days way or so. My kids are already starting to get a little starry eyed thinking about it.

      How are things in the land of snow and ice?

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    I did the same a few months ago and discovered that I joined in 2007, but I stopped using it after a few weeks. I just couldn’t see the point in using Twitter. Now, that’s a completely different story. I use it many times a day, but mostly by using Triberr.

    I don’t like auto-dm’s either and broadcasts works best for people who are famous. I like to use Twitter for conversations. And close to 100% of my tweets have a twitter handle. And that’s something I’ll keep on doing. To me, Twitter is a lot more personal than Facebook and it’s probably one of the tools I feel most comfortable using.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Jens,

      It is interesting to me how many of us have very similar stories regarding our beginning with Twitter and current status.

      Twitter is such a powerful tool, but its effectiveness is tied into the people that use it. Lately it feels like zombies have taken it over. I just keep getting blasted with automated garbage and very few real tweets.

      Maybe I just need to make a point to adjust my sleeping habits so I am on it when you are awake. ;)

  • http://www.ericpbutts.com Eric Butts (EB)

    The auto-DMs are a dead give away of someone who thinks they can automate their way to social media success, which completely sours my initial impression and results with an unfollow. There is nothing social about that in my mind.

    I agree with the broadcasting point to a certain extent as well but I can respect that people have businesses/blogs they are trying to promote. What I don’t like is when people only show up to engage during some obscure chat they created. For all the chatter you see on twitter about people being real and genuine, I’m disappointed not to see more of it.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Eric,

      Nice to meet you. Early on I was guilty of using the AutoDm to try and build connections. I had thought that it would be a nice way to acknowledge people and show them more about me, but it quickly became clear that it didn’t work well.

      Some of those chats really are disappointing because you see a “friendly face” for as long as it takes for them to determine if you are going to buy.

  • http://theviewfromhere.ca Ralph

    I like twitter.

    Ever since I have started to “engage” with people there my traffic has increased on my site. By engage I mean respond to shares, look at my respondent’s sites, ask questions, show interest. I have been trying this for a while and it has been working. Like anything all eggs in one basket is not good and like anything else nothing is easy. If you don’t want to focus on it then it may not work for you.

    Everyone has a different strategy and none of them are fool proof. It really depends on you experimenting and seeing what fits from the best practices you choose to rely on.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Ralph,

      Engagement is the secret sauce. When we build real relationships with other people it encourages them to spend time with us and to find out who we are and what we are about.

      We are on the same page about experimenting and finding strategies that work for us individually. It is not a one size fits all game.

  • http://www.foundingafather.com jetts31

    It is my favorite of all the Social Media outlets we have. I feel the same way as you do in that I have met real people, had real conversations, I feel like in some way I’m invested in their lives just like the friends I see on a daily basis. In fact, I’m probably closer to some of my friends on Twitter than I am friends at home.
    I agree we need to stay engaged and I think there can be room for the posts, reviews, and product placement too. Just not AutoDM’s. They suck.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Jimmy,

      I am fairly certain that Twitter is where we met. Since all we have our words it almost makes it easier to get to know people faster. Sure, people can hide behind the screen but we don’t let a lot of the other stuff influence our opinions.

      Looks and money play almost no part- it is kind of refreshing.

      Just takes more work now to keep it going.

      • http://www.foundingafather.com jetts31

        Agreed. Its easy to get bogged down in keeping up with updates, posts, etc. and forgetting about why it is we call it Social Media. Because we have to be social. Engaging. Without that, Twitter becomes a constantly updated billboard instead of a place where you can meet, engage with, learn from, and communicate with others.

  • http://joedegiorgio.com/ Joe

    I find myself being less patient wading through the Twitter stream. It seems most of the people that I follow just post links to different things, whether their own or someone else’s. And I do it myself. I really do need to use it more as a means to talk to others rather than promote blog posts.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Joe,

      It used to be a great place to share links because we would take time read them and come back to talk about them later. It just doesn’t happen as often as it used to.

      That can be changed but it is going to require a significant effort.

  • http://www.janemckaycommunications.com.au Jane McKay

    I just don’t have time to wade through all the self-promoting chaff on Twitter to get to the good stuff which is a shame as there is an amazing amount of valuable content to be found via the little blue bird.

    Whether you engage shouldn’t all come down to the tweeter’s headline-writing talent which in most cases it does. If I find someone I like on Twitter I RT then follow their blog/subscribe which essentially rewards them for providing awesome content :)

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Jane,

      Time makes a huge impact upon what I am willing to do and a lack thereof makes it much less likely that I will spend time sifting through all those tweets. I don’t think I am particularly different from a lot of other people.

      It is sad to think that headlines can have such a dramatic impact upon whether we get a chance to meet and interact with some very interesting people.

  • http://mothereseblog.com/ Kristen

    I’m souring on Twitter as well. I still use it as a way of finding good things to read, but I’m also turned off by the Auto DMs, not to mention the Twitter parties that seem to take over my timeline every evening. But I’m not on Facebook or Google+ so for me it’s my main social media outlet and I’m not ready for a divorce quite yet.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Kristen,

      It is frustrating to me because I really like it and overall I have had nothing but good experiences. It has been the source of friendships and work so there have been multiple benefits.

      I am not ready to give up, just looking for a better way to use it.

  • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

    Twitter is dead and I’m sorry that I had to say it. But our friendship requires me to be honest with you. I won’t bore you with an explanation. That too – a courtesy of friendship.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Stan,

      I appreciate you. Good friends are invaluable. Can it be resuscitated or is it beyond saving?

      • http://stanfaryna.wordpress.com Stan Faryna

        Instinctively, I am an optimist. I can see the silver lining in an overpriced bottle of Bulgari’s Rose perfume. Or mistake a note of damascus rose for a silver lining. [grin]

        Why did Twitter fail? Here’s my quick and dirty list.

        1. Twitter didn’t build a reliable, open ecosystem for third party apps developers.
        a. Twitter fed on the the suckers that tried to make Twitter relevant.
        b. Itself, Twitter was always a limiting social and network ecosystem.
        c. Twitter continues to lack of a business model and economic ecosystem for users.

        2. Twitter failed to effectively collaborate with Google, etc. – tweets are irrelevant to search.

        3. A user currently needs 1000 retweets (by followers with at least 200 human followers each) per week to compete with the noise.

        None of which means that Twitter is going away. But I know for a fact that you can get a minimum increase of 100 new readers and/or subscribers per week via a clever Facebook strategy. And FB Private Messages will enable you to make stronger connections with those people – if you should desire such.

  • http://elsetimeandotherwhen.blogspot.com Renee

    I still love twitter. I takes a little more time to go through the feed than it used to, I make sure to follow only those have more than links in their tweets.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Renee,

      That is a smart way to do it. Kind of sad we have to take more time, but I suppose if we want to use it for something more than broadcast it is worth doing.

  • http://bridgetstraub.com bridgetstraub.com

    I have come to dread Twitter. I feel as though I don’t really know anyone on there and it’s nothing but promotion. I’m guilty of it too. I smoetimes try to comment on things but you rarely get a real response.

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Bridget,

      Yeah, it is hard to get a response. Sometimes I tweet things that are wild/obnoxious just to see if anyone is alive.

  • http://afterbedtimeblog.com Vanita

    i miss those days on twitter where i just BS with my network. funny, back then, which was like last year, people would unfollow me and then post tweets about having to unfollow others because twitter’s not a chat room and that others should get a room.
    can’t please all the people all the time…
    i liked engaging on twitter. i still do when i find actually people plugged in and not just their posts.
    i also use your two step method.
    it’s the best i can do for now. :-D

    • http://www.thejackb.com Jack

      Hi Vanita,

      I remember those people. I still hear from them from time to time, the snarky, obnoxious whiny ones who complain about people and get upset when we make fun of them.

      They suck, the bastards.

      That two step method seems to be working, but I do miss the talking. It was fun.