Twitter Will Die And I'll Tell You Why

Proponents of Twitter would have you believe that it is a useful tool. You'd be smart to listen to the opinions of these folks as they've proven time and time again that they know what they're doing in the online space. The message has been so loud and clear that even those that were initially skeptical have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. And yet despite my efforts to convince myself that I should use Twitter, I find myself more and more inclined to shut down Twhirl and move on.

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

Much of what gets posted to Twitter is not valuable to the community. I'm not saying that there has to be a money-making idea in ever message, but a message to your network should at least be of value/interest to more than one person. I don't need to know that you'll be calling so and so at 9:00pm tonight. Send an instant message instead or use the direct message feature.

Messages are Transient

E-mail, forums, blogs, and even instant messaging allow for asynchronous conversations. If you're a night owl and I'm an early bird, we can still have a useful conversation by sending messages to each other via e-mail with each of us responding when it is most convenient. Forums and blogs accomplish the same thing with people coming and going as they please and give everyone a chance to speak their mind. With Twitter, if I'm not looking at the screen when you post your message, it's unlikely I'll ever see it. It'll get bumped by the 17 posts (see Blah Blah Blah below) from the next person.

Blah, Blah, Blah

The Twitter creators have imposed a 140 character limit per message. Pretty cool idea when you think about it. People are forced to succinctly describe their thoughts or activites. Oh wait, no one actually pays attention to that limit. Rather than being brief, it's easier to just type 17 messages in a row. Get a blog people!

A Rip in the Spacetime Continuum

Twitter is like TV. You can park yourself in front of it, become really engaged, and hours later wonder what you did during all that time. I had a 1 week period where all I did was check Twitter instead of checking my RSS feeds. I can't rememeber a single thing I learned from Twitter nor did I bookmark anything for reference. Contrast that with the incredibly useful AND entertaining items that come through my feed reader and I'm having a hard time justifying continued use of Twitter.

Too Many Followers

We've all seen the contests that encourage people to become followers, right? The only beneficiary of such activities are those that are being followed. I can guarantee you that after a few hundred followers, it's impossible to remain part of the conversation with everyone. Instead, these popular people are likely to just focus on the people with which they had a pre-Twitter connection. Twitter then just becomes another medium to push one's blog posts or other message i.e. one-way communication.

One Way Conversations Get Old

I follow a bunch of people in the SEO/SEM space. I do so because I've come to respect the content on their blogs. The problem is that many of my messages to these people go unanswered. I'm sure part of the reason has to do with the items described above, but the other part is that these people aren't following me and/or aren't open to receiving messages from me. At least on their blogs I've got a good chance of getting a response when I post a comment. If I want to talk while being ignored, I can accomplish that by setting up a meeting at work :-)

Lastly, I want to be fair and acknowlege that Twitter has been useful at least once. After all, I did get this blog post out of it.

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24 Comments

  1. I clipped my left big toenail - I better tweet and post about this - so everyone following me or friends with me will know. I work 40+ hours a week, sleep 56 hours a week, and spend a least 1 hour each day eating 3 meals. Who has time to care about everyone and their tweets and posts. Life is short.. chances are your obituary won't contain a tweet or post and nobody will remember them - but they will remember the impact you made on their life!

  2. Completely agree here!! Cant wait until Twitter dies. I prefer Facebook (business pages) since everything I can do on Twitter I can do on FB and not be limited to 140 character, etc. It still surprises me how Twitter continues to live on in spite of FB's much greater functionality. MySpace, Friendster and Twitter should all merge!

  3. I find it funny that you feel that way and have a: Follow Me On Twitter button on your page!

  4. I hate Twitter... Hopefully it will die this year, I mean like anyone want's to know what your doing right now because no one cares. It's like the Verizon commerical when the dad is twittering to his son that "he's sitting on the patio" when the son is right beside him.

  5. It's been a year since you wrote this, when is the funeral ?

  6. Hi, If Twitter survives, it will need some serious tweaking. As far as I'm concerned it's virtually dead already - like Jaan every time I go to Twitter the server is down. A couple times last week when I was actually engaged in a useful conversation, Twitter bounced me off the server. Very frustrating.

  7. Twitter is like the 1990s version of the web. Everything with blogging today is better and can be followed better with about 99% more information (not saying that blogging provides a lot mind you). Twitter's value add was that it was easy to post and follow through multiple devices--make that program for blogging and there's no other point to it beyond branding/marketing pushes.

  8. Marios, I agree on the points you make about Twitter, but I'll disagree on the failure part and I will explain why. For the moment I can see the following three useful ways of using it: a) when attending some event to get updates of it from Twitter and communicate with fellow attendants, b) as a small RSS feed from Twitters like @MarsPhoenix, @BarackObama, @CNETNews, some weather stations and so on and c) Searcing Twitter's posts through one of the already developed engines can give you real-time information on breaking news such as earthquakes. I would have mentioned it is also a marketing tool, but it wouldn't be so accurate. It is a marketing tool for a very small number of professionals that have a large # of followers aka sheeps. Can we live without it? Definitely. We already do. Now as you probably read Jeff Bezos, among others, just invested on Twitter (another Greek hehe). While it is very common VCs and entrepreneurs to risk money on such projects in hope they will turn out the next big thing... in this particular case I believe they saw Twitter not as just another IM, but as a communication protocol/platform on which new services and applications are going to be developed. Time will tell as always.

  9. I agree with you. I just don't see the point. With all the options available to communicate with someone why do you need to use "twitter" or what ever random hot site of the moment? Since you can only use 140 characters why not just send an IM, text or how about and email....ooohhh that's idea..HA! Seems easier to me. I'm not knocking it but I really don't see the point. Seems like just a waste of time and energy to me.

  10. I understand where you're coming from with your comments and agree with some of them. If you can't get the message out in 140 characters, take it to email or Google Talk. Also, I'm a firm believer that Twitter needs to be two-way communication, and not just a broadcast tool. However, by broadcasting messages (as some of the SEO/SEM people you follow probably do), it engages you as a follower to visit their blog and open up a dialogue. From my point of view, I've actually met and made friends with more people in my local community through Twitter than any other medium or channel in the past six months. I also tend to use Twitter as a news source and a filter for the blogosphere. If something is noteworthy enough, it will pop up on Twitter. And, if you think Twitter is bad, take a look at some of the Plurk strings going on. They appear to be even more random and less relevant than most Twitter messages.

  11. I've received a tonne of work projects and public speaking/workshops through Twitter. My messages are usually targetted on subject not recipient and therefore answered. I can ask questions and get answers much better than Google search. I don't use it much as a testimonial ("I am answering the phone") but more for having interesting links brought to me - weeding through RSS is unsocial. I like the open discussions - not one on one, but a few people jumping in. I particularly like it when a bunch of us converge on a site to discuss it! Twitter is not to be used as an abrupt quick IM tool, but a genuine way of socialising to build relationships. I only really found Twitter useful once I reached around 1000 followers/followed. hope this helps.

  12. I have significantly more followers than I follow (about 700 to 100) and to keep up with the 600 or so I don't follow, I follow the term 'duzins' which is my twitter name. Anytime someone @s duzins, I get it in my twitter stream and can respond. Of the 100 I follow, I only keep up with 20 or so on my phone. When I first started twittering, I followed them all and that got old real fast. This way, I can keep current with my close friends, follow cool people when I have time online, and respond to followers w/o cluttering my own experience. I <3 twitter and already am at a point that I can't imagine my day without it.

  13. I too have struggled with the real value or utility of Twitter, and can see your points Marios. I do think though that it can be useful if you use it within its framework rather than trying to fit it into other frameworks like email, etc. In a blog post Jeremy of QuitYourDayJob claims Twitter is the #2 traffic generating site for him, so there is definitely something there. So, after laying off of it for a while, I'm going to get back in and give it a serious whirl.

  14. Well written points. But I like Twitter and will continue using it, even though it ain't perfect.

  15. Very good article, similar sentiments to mine (see link). Hopefully some smart people will find ways to incorporate Twitter-like communications into productivity software or social networks, instead of as a stand-alone feature. It would also help if Twitter didn't crash seemingly every day. In this case they didn't even finish building it before the masses came. Now that it's built (sort of), the masses are realizing it might not have been worth the time investment to begin with.

  16. Thank you for putting into words all the vague misgivings I've been having about Twitter. If it survives, it will need some serious tweaking. As far as I'm concerned it's virtually dead already - like Jaan every time I go to Twitter the server is down. A couple times last week when I was actually engaged in a useful conversation, Twitter bounced me off the server. Very frustrating.

  17. Twitter is a tool, how you use it is up to you. Follow people who interest you, people you interest follow you. There is no reason that there has to be intersection between your followers and who you follow. The people I follow post links to interesting blog posts (like this one). Conversations are best carried on using direct messages, IM or email, not with Twitter.

  18. Ya, one of the biggest problems I see with it is the fact that you cant organize people into groups as you might on AIM. That would be helpful, but then why not use AIM? Oh well. I'm using it anyways :p - always room for improvement.

  19. I tend to agree more with Mr. Wellbelove, that Twitter may eventually come to disuse through over-use. All things eventually die, even online services. Twitter is fun and can be interesting. If you want it to be only of commercial use you missed the point. It is about community.

  20. The article seems to imply that a twitter is only valuable if it is a two way conversation 'The problem is that many of my messages to these people go unanswered.' My take up on Twitter was that it can be used for a multiple of things including being similar to Facebook status. I don't think that it is necessary for a twitter to be interesting if there is a two way conversation. I also do not mind the 'what I am doing' dotting between actual information. It is quick and easy to sift through these and at least shows you are dealing with a real person and not just a marketing machine. Let people use Twitter for whatever they prefer, thats the wonderful thing about it and it certainly wont die - more likely to fall over from over use.

  21. I agree with Marios, SEO blogs are interesting.

  22. Marios Alexandrou

    @Jaan Good point. If I had thought of that one I'd have hit the magic number 7 for lists :-)

  23. I gotta admit - I am one of the people who just doesn't "get" Twitter. Maybe that will cost me in the long term, and maybe I am so dumb that I need it spelt out for me, but it just seems like a time waster. I hope I am proven wrong.

  24. It will die because it goes down every 10 hours.

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