Twitter – Everybody’s Shouting, But Is Anyone Listening?
Where is twitter heading? It was a bubble that grew with such a pace that the growth went out of control. And now is it about to burst and leave the rest of us wondering, was it even worth it?
When twitter started, it was amusing to be online on my favorite TweetDeck application that allowed me to say whatever I wanted, without thinking too much before writing it down. The first few days were somewhat addictive, when I followed each and every conversation happening and tried to make more friends, read tweets by famous people I liked, and gain “followers”. But soon enough, the euphoria ended. I started getting bored of the constant chit-chat, senseless hash tags, increasing number of spam messages, and above all the timeline that flowed and changed like a stock market ticker.
I believe many people are like me. I would like to connect with people I “know personally” on Facebook, and rest of the “business contacts” on LinkedIn, which is more serious and professional. I like to read the news by setting RSS feeds of my areas of interest. Now what do I use twitter for? Having conversations with strangers; passing time (which is already in deficit), shouting about my new blog posts that hardly gets any visitors from twitter, or for bugging people by re-tweeting famous quotations every minute of the hour.
Twitter’s defects are now very apparent. Though it was meant to meet the inherent need of every netizen to have meaningful online conversations and share thoughts, it is now slowly failing to do just that because of all the distractions, and problems like:
No more meaningful conversations: Although some updates are thought provoking, the rest of 99% of the times, it’s just worthless chatter. I do not want to know if you are staring at a wall now, which incidentally you were doing five hours ago too. I also do not want to read that same old copy-pasted one-line wisdom again and again. I do not want to read the running commentary and collective grunting and cursing every time a match happens. I know, you can control who reads your tweets, who follows you, and whom do you follow. You can even follow people and ignore their tweets by putting them in lists that you never read. But then the essence of having conversations is gone; and not to mention that this requires a lot of work and time too.
Too little value as opposed to the time spent: We are information hungry, but we do not have time to sift through running junk to find a few compelling thoughts. Twitter demands time, if you want any good to come out of it. The moment you start following a few active twitter users, your timeline starts to run like Bolt. There’s no way you can read the feed by spending five minutes a day on it and perhaps that’s the reason why about 80% of the twitter accounts have activity nearing zilch and 60% of new users stop using twitter after their first visit.
You have to follow people you don’t want to: Celebrities and famous people gain instant followers as soon as they open a “verified” account, but the rest of the world has to follow others in order to be followed back. It’s a vicious circle which promotes the philosophy of mutual back-scratching. I have to read what you have to say, in order to make you read what I have to say. And there’s no point of twitter unless you have a following of people who read what you have to say. So, a normal twitter user would only have 2-3% of real useful online interactions. And the chances are that it’s with people he or she already knows. So, why not switch to Facebook or good old email.
It’s easy for your message to get lost: Just like you, other users also have timelines that are changing incessantly, unless they are following approximately five inactive users. If you send out a useful piece of information, the chances of it getting lost in the clutter are quite high. In order to get heard you start sending the same piece of information repeatedly. I consider that annoying when somebody else does it.
Is it useful for businesses? Big companies are using it to send out company news, product info, and useful tips for customers, but what are the returns? People who are interested will anyways search online to find that information. So, here’s a thought: wouldn’t it be more useful to spend more time on search engine optimization of your content, rather than twitter?
Twitter is not gone till now, but there’s something drastically wrong with the whole system. People get excited about it, join it, explore it for a while, lose interest, and walk away. I have seen many who have done just that. Twitterville is populated mostly by youngsters, and people who have time to kill. Thought leaders and celebrities frequent it to send out messages, but it is hardly ever a two-way conversation. And the most important twitter user is the invisible eye of a marketer. He sits silently to observe what is being said about the brands he is studying and do something useful with the insights that are generated. How much value it has generated is still doubtful.
But there are some ways twitter is helping business owners – the other side of twitter. I will talk about that in my next post.Tweet