Matt Stockton
Twitter - What it shouldn't be used for

When I started using Twitter, I was excited. I saw it as a great medium to share information with other people who share the same interests as you. My usage has since tapered off, and I started thinking about why this is. To me, it seems that there are problems with how users can measure their ‘success on Twitter’. Users seem to measure their success based on their number of Tweets and their follower count. This leads to some incredibly annoying behavior, which has, in my opinion, significantly weakened the value of Twitter. Here are my biggest pet peeves with regards to Twitter usage:

Using it as a popularity contest

Who cares how many people follow you??…yet I always see messages like  ‘I’m about to get my 100th follower’ or ‘whoever is my 1000th follower I will RT you’ — really? This is just noise, and does nothing productive. To me, the value in people following you is that you get to see what they are up to. It is likely they followed you because you have some common interest, and when they follow you, you have the opportunity to see what their spin is on that common interest. I have seen other users talk about / try to boost their follower to following ratio. Clearly, you must be really awesome if a lot of people are listening to you, but you don’t listen to very many people…clearly..

Using it to generate noise

I cannot believe how much noise is on Twitter. I only follow ~50 people as of now, and there’s still too many Tweets to manage. I see Twitter as a great opportunity to share, but people need to use some restraint. This includes:  1. Not sharing what you have for dinner every day 2. Not sharing when you go to the store and what you bought 3. Not sharing when you woke up or went to bed, etc. etc.  As a general rule for restraint, ask yourself — if someone else sent this Tweet, would I care? – if the answer is no, maybe you should think twice. In my opinion, Tweeting about everything really degrades the value of Twitter.

I always see messages like ‘about to make my 1000th Tweet, how should I use it?’ To me, this is ridiculous – you are congratulating yourself on making more noise on Twitter. Unfortunately, follower count and number of tweets are the only real subjective measurements that Twitter has….so people tend to measure themselves based on it

Complaining That People Unfollow You

This is not middle school. If you get unfollowed, it just means that person doesn’t see value in what you’re saying. No big deal — if you were walking down the street, yelled out some random information, and no one turned to acknowledge you, would you be pissed? No, you wouldn’t…so don’t be pissed on Twitter. No joke, I read a Tweet where the user was debating not patronizing a store anymore because the owner unfollowed them. Wow…just wow.

Promoting your ‘new blog post’ or new website tons of times

Okay - We get it, you wrote a new blog post. I totally respect Tweeting about it once or twice (as I do as well when I make a new post). But making 10-20 Tweets about it is ridiculous. If people care what you’re saying, they will find a way to find your content….you do not have to spam them. Unfortunately, the reason why people do it is that there is so much noise in the first place

Having conversations that no one cares about

People getting into conversations (non DM) on Twitter that aren’t interesting to anyone besides the two involved users gets annoying very quickly. Take it somewhere else (that is, unless other people are likely to care about it)

Anyway, enough complaining for the day. I am sure that I am guilty of at least one behavior described above at one point or another — the problem is that seeing the behavior in other users will just reinforce the legitimacy of your behavior – a never-ending cycle.  There are numerous other problems I see, but I believe there are a few easy things that Twitter can do to help resolve the problems, and enable users to extract the most value out of their service. Don’t get me wrong — I believe Twitter is in the process of revolutionizing the sharing of information — I just think there’s a few kinks to iron out. Now that Twitter is really hitting a tipping point, these kinks are becoming more and more obvious. For my next post, I think I’ll talk about some ideas I have on how Twitter can solve some of these issues.