How to save Twitter

January 31, 2010

You get an email from Twitter. “Bob Brown” is now following you!

So exciting, somebody is actually interested in you, in what you have to say, they will read everything that you write.

Then you click on to see Bob’s Twitter page. Bob is following 14,865 people. And 14,201 people are following him.

Actually, Bob will NEVER read what you have to say. In fact, Bob is most probably using a bot that follows you, and if you don’t follow him back, unfollows you. This is how ‘marketers’ build their Twitter follower numbers.

Twitter is going downhill to becoming a very crowded room where everyone is talking constantly. If everyone is talking and no one is listening, what is the total value of posting your thoughts and brilliant insights there?

For a while, I’ve been trying and keeping the number of people I follow to under 100. I can read most of what these people are saying and I can interact with them. And since my limit is 100, I am very selective about who I follow. “I am having coffee”->unfollow. “@dave yea!’->unfollow. “Here is what I had for breakfast’->unfollow.

Twitter should limit the number of people you can follow to 150 (which is Dunbar’s number). Dunbar’s number is the theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.

This will make Twitter a very clean and nice room where people are listening to each other and will increase the overall experience.

Now, when someone follows you, it will mean something. It will not be a spammer, a social media ‘guru’ or someone who just wants you to follow them back.


One Response to “How to save Twitter”

  1. Ozlem Says:

    Yes, it’s frustrating there are bots, lots of spam accounts and junk in this sea (some claims it’s an information hell), Twitter, as it is in the Internet in general. Yes, it sometimes feels like “everyone is talking and no one is listening”. So, although I agree with lots of points you made here, I had the urge to add couple of things about the rest… If you don’t mind… 🙂

    Your description of a place that’d be more enjoyable intellectually immediately brought one place into my mind: LinkedIn.

    As you know very well though, Twitter is a medium for people who wants to engage with people not only professionally and/or intellectually but also socially, even emotionally. Twitter combines all these… and makes it a more life like environment for the ones who (have to/like to) spend time on the internet. As you pointed out, people don’t want to engage with bots, we want people. The people with needs and wants and emotions and actions and reactions and interactions, not the bots; no. I believe that is why although Twitter came into play after LinkedIn, it’s much more popular and that’s why LinkedIn started to utilize same kinds of tools like Twitter, such as status updates.

    Any/every social media gadget presented weaknesses and these provided the environment for new ones to flourish, even better ones. Myspace->LinkedIn-> Facebook->Twitter. Darwinism? Maybe or maybe not… But it seems like, we cannot save Twitter and/or we shouldn’t save it for the sake of better ones that’ll come in the future.


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