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Three Reasons Twitter Is Beginning to Suck

By: Guest | June 14, 2011 | 
224

Times change. Often, it changes the things we most wish would stay the same.

Most recently, the winds of change are touching a place that I’ve held quite dear…Twitter.

I’m beginning to come to terms with the reality that, perhaps for me, Twitter just isn’t ever going to be what it used to be.

Following are the top three reasons (I think) Twitter is beginning to suck.

  1. It has reached a saturation point. Sure, there are new accounts being opened daily and Twitter is still, essentially, “growing.” From what I’m seeing, though, we’ve reached a point where the people who are going to be active users are there, and the new accounts are robots, un-engaged brands, or spam. Take a look at the results of the recently conducted Social Habit study; Only eight percent of Americans are using Twitter, which is the least used platform among Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn. Even when we cringed as Ashton and Oprah were “bringing Twitter to the mainstream,” 92 percent of people have yet to take interest. I’m one who visits the Twitter page of new followers to determine whether or not to follow them back. Lately? Not a whole lot are making the cut.
  2. It has become an echo-chamber. Compared to a few years ago, Twitter has become filled with a lot more noise, and unfortunately, that noise is not original content. As our networks grow, it stands to reason that we’ll automatically share content from our friends and contacts. And, when we create our own stuff, we’ve learned that tweeting it multiple times will give us greater reach. Even the Twitter interface itself has changed to reinforce the noise with the “new” RT feature and “suggested follows.”
  3. Some people have stopped playing altogether. A handful of thought-leaders who I used to really enjoy having in my timeline have grown their networks to the point where the possibility of engagement is almost non-existent. When you have more than 20,000 followers, you can’t really stop using the platform. I think that, in order maintain presence, their content has become very robotic and sanitized, void of any true engagement. My guess is that they’ve moved to other platforms for their engagement and are doing so with a smaller, more manageable (and “elite”) group.

Today’s “Twitter newbies” will have a very different experience with the tool than the one I had when I started a few years ago. The reality is, it’s just not the same atmosphere and there’s more change on the horizon, especially as Apple has introduced the integration of Twitter and iOS 5.

Change is inevitable. I don’t fault anyone for changing the way they use the tool or developers for trying to advance it. “Twitter is going to change” was something I heard going in, and I knew it to be true then. It used to make me a little sad, but now I’ve just come to accept it.

What do you think?

Kary Delaria is a digital PR strategist and social media research analyst for Kane Consulting, a communications firm specializing in integrating social media into marketing and communications processes. She can be reached via email or well, still on Twitter.

 

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224 Comments on "Three Reasons Twitter Is Beginning to Suck"

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StuArte
StuArte
5 years 3 months ago

I don’t follow any superstars, just people whom I find interesting. I have conversations on Twitter, swap tips, have conducted a couple of interviews and all-in-all I find it increasingly useful. I don’t really care how many gazillions of people are on it, or not, as long as the ones who are there are interesting and interact.

Corianda
Corianda
5 years 3 months ago

This is why I will never make it a priority to follow numbers in the thousands. Growing my own followers (and “network”) isn’t worth drowning out the people I actually want to hear! steverubel made a fantastic point at a speaking event recently: we’re now feeling the need for thought-leaders and curators of information, again. Now that everyone can (and is) joining in the chatter, the totally democratic model is sometimes more chaotic than helpful.

jaykeith
jaykeith
5 years 3 months ago
Kary, Love this post, and will disagree (slightly) with you on one thing. It hasn’t stopped growing, and that’s why “some people have stopped playing altogether.” For me personally it’s reached a saturation point (and probably many others, including you) where it’s becoming really difficult to engage with real people and develop real relationships because in all honesty, how can you really keep up using just Twitter? I think the value moving forward for Twitter will be in introducing/connecting people of similar likes/interests and starting the conversation, then it will be fostered and continued on other mediums (including facebook) where… Read more »
Wittlake
5 years 3 months ago
Kary, I agree, parts of Twitter are beginning to suck. However, it isn’t just Twitter that is the problem, Twitter is going through the same kind of evolution that other open platforms go through. Online, we can tell the difference between really good content or information and spammy, low value content at a glance. We instantly see the difference between spam emails, blast marketing and one to one dialogue. On Twitter, we see the differences, but we don’t have the benefits of spam filters, priority inboxes or even PageRank. Twitter desperately needs these filters, and the companies and individuals that… Read more »
kmskala
kmskala
5 years 3 months ago
What was once my favorite platform, has quickly become my least favorite. And for the three reasons you stated above. It’s become dull and full of repeat content being shared. At least for me, that is. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if Twitter is still around in 3-5 years. The game has changed and we as a society have changed. This is going to cause people to be turned off from Twitter. Having worked in the financial industry and having seen/worked through the housing bubble, I actually see a lot of similarities with the social bubble. While social isn’t… Read more »
GetOuttaMyHead
GetOuttaMyHead
5 years 3 months ago

Your point on having a different user experience for the new twitter adopters is spot on! I wrote about similar thoughts not too long ago. http://getouttamyhead.com/2010/12/02/why-twitter-sucks/ I still think that Twitter will survive however it wont be by pushing content but having creative instant debates, personal recommendations or just being there to chat with your clients/patrons.

keithprivette
5 years 3 months ago
Kary hey there! I think I disagree with you. I think what you may want to do is readjust your following counts by using some clean up tools. I have been ding the similar thing abut checking bio’s and tweet patterns to follow back, but yeah similar results. I do believe some companies and people still have a campaign mentality when it comes to twitter. They don’t understand the long term benefits to the relationship and sharing of information across this platform. They start up accounts for a campaign then leave once the campaign is over….wrong! I often wonder about… Read more »
bigteethvideo
bigteethvideo
5 years 3 months ago
I think I’ve had a very familiar experience to you Kary. When I joined I had to tweet constantly. I felt if I was away for a while people would forget me. After months of tweeting and engaging with actual people it finally turned into a legit tool for me to make real business connections. But over the past probably year I’d say that I do the same thing of looking at new followers and rarely follow back. They usually aren’t people who share my interests or want anything more than just numbers (who cares about numbers on Twitter anymore!).… Read more »
jaykeith
jaykeith
5 years 3 months ago

@kmskala Predicting the death of Twitter? I love it. I don’t agree with it, but I love it. Twitter is going to be around in 5 years, it’s just going to be a much, much different platform than what it is now. It’ll have to be as more and more people flock to it and it continues to scale.

annedreshfield
5 years 3 months ago
Interesting post, Kary. I think this can easily be true if users don’t broaden who they follow and choose to interact with. For example, on my private Twitter account I stick to a small circle — family, friends, celebrities I (guiltily) follow, businesses I love, and that’s about it. Occasionally I’ll follow someone new, but my public Twitter account is growing exponentially in comparison. Since that account is for work, I’m always finding new people to interact with and enjoy, so Twitter doesn’t feel as stagnate there — yet. I don’t even mind how it is with my private account,… Read more »
faybiz
5 years 3 months ago

Sure this wasn’t @ginidietrich? Been asking her for the reasons for Twitter’s demise.

@karyd, I’m with you similarly. I have found the listening experience to be declining. You have to do more work in order to not have all the junk

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@StuArte I definitely think that since the majority of my network is comprised of marketers, pr folks and social media enthusiasts, I suffer from “over-exposure” more than others, and, it’s my own doing. I find it reassuring to hear that your experience is still a good one. I like to hear the word “useful” – implies more than just banter. Thanks for commenting!

patmcgraw
5 years 3 months ago
Been feeling the same way for the past 6 to 9 months. Too much noise, not a lot of conversation – which is why I started refining my lists and focusing my efforts. Yes, I am missing a lot but my feeling is that it is a lot of noise and if someone wants to interact with me, they can start off with a mention or direct reply rather than blasting off a comment and hoping I find it. I guess it’s important to remember quality is more important that quantity, and we all need to change in response to… Read more »
KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@Corianda Excellent point. And, it reminds me of when I would read posts a while back in which people described why they did not have a liberal follow-back policy. I “get it” way more, now. Still, my follow-back policy is a liberal one, and I know that’s my choice. Twitter lists can be a helpful way to organize the chatter as well.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@jaykeith Thank you, Jay. And, excellent prediction! I agree that there’s a point of saturation, and if you’re going to extend/grow/develop a meaningful relationship, it’s likely going to start here, and then close engagement will occur elsewhere. I love what the spinsucks folks did with my bio by adding “sill on Twitter,” because yeah, I’m not going anywhere. But, things are changing, no doubt about it.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@Wittlake Great insight. While I appreciate that Twitter let policing spammers to the community, it really hasn’t prevented any spam. I guess it wouldn’t surprise me to start to see some introduction of spam filters as the platform begins to grow. One thing I’ve been telling companies lately is that there’s going to be a shift, and if you’re relying on pushy marketing speak (not even spam, necessarily) you’re not likely to make the “cut” when the change takes place.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago
@jaykeith @kmskala Ironically, Twitter is still a platform on which I concentrate a fair share of my social media engagement…but, what I put in and what I get out has shifted from what it was 3 years ago. (Side note – I’ve connected w/ some great people and, yes, primary engagement with them is now occurring elsewhere or on the back channel.) I don’t see death of Twitter on the horizon, either, especially given the iOS5 integration, but certainly, death of Twitter as we know it today. I also think that where once Twitter was sort of open playing field… Read more »
KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@GetOuttaMyHead Sadly, I don’t think it’s likely that Twitter will return to its’ roots as a pure social networking platform, void of brand marketing. It grew, and brand wanted a piece of the pie. I don’t blame them. And, I agree that Twitter will survive, it’s just going to be a very different place. Perhaps more of an “introduction” platform, like @jaykeith mentioned.

KevinVandever
KevinVandever
5 years 3 months ago

#ICompletelyAgree!

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago
@keithprivette I love disagreement! Fuels the conversation 🙂 I’ve been using clean-up tools, lists, etc. to filter the noise and yes, it does have an impact. However, I’m noticing a more global shift in the way people actually engage. There’s just…less of it. Less of it from the people who used to be quite highly engaged. More of a formulaic “must tweet post,” “must RT X, Y, Z,” “insert snark comment here,” etc. You’ve got a great challenge, here, and one that makes me realize I’m as guilty of these things as anyone. Yes, if one makes the effort (like… Read more »
KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@bigteethvideo Yup…pretty much describes my experience to the letter. And, call me cynical (I know @ginidietrich would 🙂 but I just don’t see it gong back to the “good old twitter” any more than society is going to return to “gold old days” of horse and buggy. Change is inevitable, and progress is necessary for advancement of people, business, intellect, society (woah…I’m rambling)…Anyway, you get my point. I think it’s just…changing.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@annedreshfield You raise an interesting point in that, perhaps, I’m not using Twitter in the same way others are. I made the choice to have one account, and blur the lines (at least a little bit) between personal and professional. As such, I have a wide network, that is diverse yet quite industry focused. I said it in one of the other comments as well – clearly, I’m still on Twitter and no, I’m not going anywhere. I think the changes kinda suck, but they’re inevitable.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@faybiz Ha! Yeah, you got us. ginidietrich stole my headshot so I’d have to take the heat! Joking aside, your comment about listening is near and dear to my heart and one I talk/write about often. Perhaps if more people/companies understood the opportunities, there, we’d see more quality engagement overall.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@patmcgraw So, the list refinement has helped your engagement? I ask because I’ve been going a lot of that as well, and while it does help to organize the noise and prioritize the content, I’m still sensing an overall change in the way people and brands are engaging on the platform.

You’re absolutely right – quality is important. And, if you’re not concerned with producing quality, you’re likely to be silenced.

annedreshfield
5 years 3 months ago

@KaryD Right. Again, I think my situation is fairly unique. My brother is the only other person I know who does this (and honestly he’s the person I got the idea from!). A few of my friends have mentioned that they’ll think about doing it, but I’ll be honest — sometimes following two Twitter streams can be daunting and time-consuming. I’ve made it work for me, but it may not work for everyone!

rachaelgk
5 years 3 months ago

@KaryD @patmcgraw I agree that refining my lists have made a huge difference, BUT it’s still changing. My torrid affair with Twitter has been a long and happy one though, and I will keep fighting to keep it the Twitter I first fell in love with (or as close to that as I can) by managing filters.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@annedreshfield Yeah – kind of a catch 22, I think. Hard to maintain voice and content for two feeds, but perhaps worth it in the long run? I’m not sure I don’t think I could do it.

dariasteigman
dariasteigman
5 years 3 months ago
Hi Kary, I’m going to have to disagree with you. From my perspective, Twitter remains a vibrant platform for connecting with people. My strategy has always been to grow my Twitter community slowly: I only follow people I find interesting, and because I’ve added people gradually I’ve been able to get to know who they are. I also participate regularly in several tweet chats with really smart people and leave the conversations with lots of food for thought. If you think of Twitter as a big giant stream of tweets, it will always suck. But if you follow wisely and… Read more »
KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@dariasteigman I can appreciate your sentiment. And you’re right – I don’t have to focus (or even include) any of the junk in my stream if I don’t want to. And, I do use lists to filter and organize the content I want to see. But I’m sensing an overall change in engagement from the people who I’ve grown to appreciate, and I think that’s the part that’s sticking in my gut right now. I don’t want to eliminate them, because their content is good/relevant/newsworthy – but, I miss the level of intimacy that used to be there.

dariasteigman
dariasteigman
5 years 3 months ago

@KaryD Lately I have been rather ruthlessly culling people who once had conversations but now just throw stuff into their streams. I figure that if something is valuable enough, someone else will point me to it. 🙂 Meanwhile, it’s cut out a lot of “noise.”

bradmarley
bradmarley
5 years 3 months ago

Amen to the thought leaders who have gotten too big…uh, though.

Twitter is a tool for conversation, right? Well, once you lose the ability to carry on a conversation, what’s the point?

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@bradmarley Precisely. But…what should one do once their network has grown to that size? It becomes difficult for me, and my network is minuscule in comparison to some.

amandacdykes
amandacdykes
5 years 3 months ago
Ha! I was thinking yesterday, “Twitter was more fun last summer.” I think you covered all the reasons why last year was completely different. So right now I am sitting here tweaking a presentation for tomorrow on why educators should tweet, I keep reflecting on the importance of twitter yet watching the stream of “crap.” I am tired of superstars with 4000 followers and only following 25 asking for help. I am tired of “you need to take this place more serious” and blah blah. I think 3 years ago when twitter was rule-less and all about starting a community… Read more »
TheJackB
5 years 3 months ago
I disagree. It is not much different to me than the suggestion that blogging is about to die. The blogosphere has changed dramatically since I started in ’04. For a while I used ot be irritated by some of the changes. It felt too commercial. RSS, Twitter, FB and other distractions cut down on the actual visits and comments began to dry up. Less sharing and less engagement seemed to be the norm. But what I found was that it really meant that I needed to adjust my perspective and how I used it. And now I get more out… Read more »
jeanniecw
jeanniecw
5 years 3 months ago

I do miss the days of the early adopters. I think there was something fun about the semi-secret society who understood what hashtags and @ replies meant. However, I appreciate that now I can cast a broad net on Twitter and see who’s listening – at that given moment. Twitter will adapt because its users adapt. I for one am enjoying the ride, but I certainly understand what you’re saying and look back with a fair amount of nostalgia! Nice post, KaryD! Tweet with you soon!

timotis
timotis
5 years 3 months ago
Kary, The study you cited really shows what it’s always been. Twitter has always owned about 4-8% of people’s attention, but it’s never built beyond that — unless of course, we’re talking in the context of breaking news. Sadly, that can’t offer consistent attention, as news by definition, is unpredictable and always-changing. I guess we’re not as ADD as I originally thought. I love the fact that you shared this, as I think that a lot of people are reaching their tweeting point. It’s about the noise; it’s too much and it’s making it more important to couple Twitter communications… Read more »
KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@jeanniecw Thank you, Jennie. I think “nostalgia” is a perfect word. A little silly how, given how fast things move in this space, we harken back to old times that were only a few years ago. And, I think it’s worth pointing out that you’ve been a connection of mine since then. Yes, we’re changing, adapting and…that’s life. And yes, I will tweet with you soon because even thought it’s evolving, there are connections there that I don’t want to be without.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@TheJackB I’m not suggesting that Twitter is going to die. I just can’t ignore that it’s not the same thing. And yes, we all need to evolve with it, and some are going to do it better than others. Those who do it well will stand to be “heard” through the noise. Appreciate your comment!

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@amandacdykes So lovely to see you here! I totally agree. I used to be quite a Twitter evangelist. And, truth be told, I still think it has a place. And, maybe it’s about culling and listing and aggregating the specific content we need in order to maintain the communities that are rewarding to us, personally or professionally. I do think that with this evolution, the bots and echo chambers are likely to have less of a chance of survival.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@timotis Ah, Tim…you and kiethprivette think a like! You’re right – with change, we can either stand stubborn and refuse to bend, or we can adapt to it. Those who adapt well are most likely to survive. I so appreciate you jumping in to the conversation!

SoloBizCoach
SoloBizCoach
5 years 3 months ago

Kary,

I tend to agree with you about this. I use twitter to get to know people that I want to get to know. But, it is a really inefficient communication tool. Sometimes it feels like my tweets are billboards in a ghost town.

DavidBennett
5 years 3 months ago

The end was foreseeable in the beginning. After all, it is a fad: It’s grown and become something that seems valuable, and it has proved its value from time to time, but so many sites and services have come and gone, and who remembers them? With so much to choose from, it was inevitable that the big T would decline in the end.

I may come back at some time in the future and laugh at my wrong analysis, but as far as I can see – I will be proved right.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@SoloBizCoach Great analogy. And, really makes me thing more about what @jaykeith said about Twitter becoming more of an “introduction” platform than an engagement one.

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@DavidBennett Hum….two things… 1) I don’t think it’s a fad and 2) I don’t see a foreseeable end. Just a significant change. But, I could be proven wrong. 🙂

amandacdykes
amandacdykes
5 years 3 months ago

@KaryD Bots and echo chambers have no emotional connections and without that they will receive no attention in the long run. They will burn out, same reason I rarely get spam email, it doesn’t work and humans are too smart for that. So now just crossing my fingers it will eventually go back to community 🙂

DavidBennett
5 years 3 months ago

@KaryD Yep, could be. I’ve just set this post in my ‘Things’ calendar for June 14, 2012 and we can carry this on then 🙂

DavidBennett
4 years 2 months ago

 @KaryD  @DavidBennett Mmmmm… Twitter is still here. Better set the calendar for 2013….

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@DavidBennett I love it! Let’s do that!

tkstrategy
tkstrategy
5 years 3 months ago

I like the article and I wonder what will happen now that Twitter is going to be such an integral part into the new iOS?

KaryD
KaryD
5 years 3 months ago

@tkstrategy Yeah, that remains to be seen. Again, it’s why I don’t think Twitter is on it’s way out – in fact, the opposite. It’s going to change a lot pretty soon. For better or worse.

thecitizeNY
thecitizeNY
5 years 3 months ago

I think you nailed it.

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