16 July 2009

Why Twitter could be the first social network I ditch

A week or so later and my initial Twitter enthusiasm is beginning to wane. It seemed so promising. A combination of the worlds biggest forum and instant messenger. So why is it failing me?

Part of the problem is its simplicity. It seems as though almost everyone on the planet is taking to twitter because it's so easy. This will also be the reason for its demise. There are too many people out there using Twitter to push products. Every other person who opts to follow you is some sort of marketer just trying to persuade you to part with your hard-earned. They do it with jokes, with funny images and links and then they also just happen to mention a great product which they found out about by accident which they decided to start selling. It's the same as when the internet took off and all of a sudden it became more difficult to find anything useful or of value because some early marketers realised the potential of being on the first page of the search engines results. It annoys me no end to search for something on Google, only to follow a promising link which turns out to be an affiliate page which has somehow got ahead of the real pages with content.

Can twitter ever be saved? Well I've already discovered posts and web-pages mentioning automated tweets which totally goes against Twitters terms of service. It will be interesting to see if Twitter does anything about this. I have heard they suspended some accounts a while back but got the algorithm wrong and so suspended a lot of people who they then had to reinstate. The marketers would do well to remember that the text box on their tweet says "What are you doing?" not "What are you Selling?". Then again what would someone reply if they were busy trying to sell products? Perhaps Twitter should consider its policy on commercial use instead. After all who would want to watch a TV station which screened nothing but advertisements? This is the tunnel that twitter is approaching. All these automated product adverts are not what we as a society want. We are being deprived of the interesting stuff out there because of the 'Rogue Element' as I will refer to them. Two recent webcasts I have enjoyed learning about via twitter and watching were also plagued with tweets spamming film download sites.

In short Twitter needs to offer channels. By this I mean complex filters and priority tweets. There's a certain amount that can be accomplished with favourites but it doesn't go far enough. You see it's the mundane everyday which causes the problem. My friend Bob McAnyone from the other side of the world might be doing lots of interesting techie things while he's at work and then when he goes home I'm getting tweets about watching the yankees or his local league baseball results. In short, I know Bob is a nice guy and I can learn from him but I might not be that interested in what sports he follows. This is where filtering comes in. Removing his sports tweets means I get useful comments from all the people I follow. I might be interested in hearing anything the 1-2,000 people I follow have to say about Silverlight but that doesn't mean I want to hear their Mac experiences. Fortunately there are applications out there like Tweetdeck which allow you to see your friends and favourites in different boxes. If only it had multiple filters!!!!