Twitter, Please Stop Asking People What They’re Doing

Maybe I use Twitter differently than its intended purpose. I try to use Twitter as both a mass communication tool and also as a source of nearly instant conversion and chatter around a variety of topics, news and interesting/relevant links. Since very early on I’ve done my best not to update with “Eating a sandwich” or “starting the day with a cup of tea and inbox sorting” types of emails.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rsilfver/178134761/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rsilfver/178134761/

Unless I’m going to provide a link to the restaurant, the tea, or the GTD application that’s helping me achieve and maintain my inbox-zero status, I become one of the millions of people standing around yelling into this empty tunnel hoping someone hears me…or the reverberation of my nonsense. I have this visual of millions of people lined up with their heads stuck inside a big pipeline that stretches off into the horizon…and if you could see in, you’d see these million people just yelling things like:

  • “Just finished my coffee, off to class.”
  • “Loving this cake.”
  • “Think I’ll walk today.”
  • “I’m going home now. I’m bored, and hoping there’s something good on tv.”

Something tells me, if we could have something different next to the status update box, instead of “What are you doing?”, we might be able to reduce the amount of useless blabber. Maybe something along the lines of: “Anything interesting to add?”

I look down my list of tweets on my profile page from time to time to see how much red there is (red is my link color). The more tweets I have without any red…the more I’m one of those ostriches with my head in a tunnel.

Now, not everyone is going to find what I have to say relevant or interesting all of the time. I don’t presume to think that I’m that important. But I do know that there’s probably a reason that people follow me: either a) we’re friends in real life, b) know each other in the online space (or design arena), c) they’re following me because I follow them (in which case, they might not be listening at all), and/or d) they’re following me because they get something out of what I have to say.

So, in my mind, it’s my job to provide something of import or relevance when I tweet. A link. A picture. A reply to a question or conversation. Something.

But look, this is just my opinion. What do you think? How do you use Twitter? Do you try to provide added value to your stream and followers? What are you doing, if you’re not doing that?

Please jump in and get involved in the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment below and sharing/bookmarking this article. Thank you kindly.

I am more important than you

Yesterday, an interesting blog post went up on Loic LeMuer’s website requesting an advanced Twitter search and how you should be able to filter search results based on how many followers you have. He simply stated, “Comments about your brand or yourself coming from @techcrunch with 36000 followers are not equal than someone with 100 followers.”

I don’t want to get into the discussion about the filtering and advanced search, because I would clearly like to have some filtering features added to search.twitter.com. (And there’s already been a bunch of discussion around this…in fact, probably far too much. Take a look at what Robert Scoble had to say about the matter…and he also talks a little bit about the issues raised later in this post.)

I still think ranking by number of followers is a little odd, but that’s neither here nor there for me, because there are apparently a lot of people who will find value in that funtionality.

The conversation to be had, in my mind, is the underlying problem: the importance placed on the size of your following.

I’m not sure how each person goes about gaining followers, but I have done my best to purposefully NOT follow a thousand random people in the hopes that I’ll end up with more followers. Sure, I love seeing new followers pop up in my inbox just like the next person, but I suppose it’s even that much more meaningful to me because I’m going about this organically.

I like to think that I tweet about stuff that matters, things that add value to the greater stream, or in the least, may make someone feel good or think deeply on a subject. I hope that that is why I have new followers.

There are plenty of people I follow that don’t have a thousand followers who I feel add 10x the value of someone like Loic, whose tweets (not right or wrong, mind you) tend to be more of the personal status updating nature.

Of course, Twitter is used for a bunch of different purposes, but for me, I tend to search out people that are talking about social media, interactive marketing, design, philosophy, humor, etc. I like posts with links much more than those without, because I am largely on Twitter to learn and participate in the community, hopefully adding some value along the way.

I guess it’s just human nature to enjoy the feeling of celebrity that comes with having 10,000 people watch your every move. It’s something that a great many people are interested in attaining. And for those Twitterers/bloggers out there trying to earn a living from their time on Twitter and other social media channels, I totally understand why they think they need to grow their following by any means necessary.

I think all of us using social media are trying to increase our reach, but I hope that we’re working hard to make sure that we’re not gathering subscribers and followers just for the sake of building up the numbers.

For me, I’d much rather have a closer-knit community of people interested in furthering dialogue, conversation and cooperative learning.

So, if you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Twitter and tell 100 of your friends to do the same. ;) I would however, love to read your comments and thoughts on the matter.