The popularity of Twitter boggles my mind. Why do people like it and use it for everything from personal updates to site management and website branding?
My Personal Experiences with Twitter
I tried it as a personal social media account for six months, about 3 or 4 years ago, and didn’t really care for it. At the end of six months, I had around a hundred direct copy-pastes of status messages from Facebook and maybe 2 followers. I had nobody I was following, because nobody I knew in real life used Twitter back then. I rarely went on it and rarely updated it close to the end of my time on there, because all the things I could do on Twitter were things I could easily do on Facebook better. I just DIDN’T GET what was so hot about it.
I still have a Twitter account for my City of Heroes fansite, but again, I rarely update it and rarely go on it, even though it’s connected to the Facebook page for my site. It’s just so…BORING in comparison to Facebook. (‘Course, I have no idea how to manage a social-media presence for something that’s not alive anyway, but that notwithstanding…)
Several major issues with the Twitter interface bug me, both as a potential personal user and as a social-media/website-branding user. Mind, it wasn’t as popular when I had a personal account (I was an early adopter), certainly not as popular as it is now. But I just don’t know if I want to be a super-late adopter and fail at it again.
My main gripes about Twitter:
- Why does the 140-character limit exist? Why was this arbitrary limit picked? It severely hampers my ability to write coherently (and by “coherently” I mean “without tons of abbreviations everywhere”). I feel like I’ve barely begun saying anything before the number of characters left turns red.
- Who needs a “micro-blog?” I need a macro-blog. I’m quite verbose (as you might have already gathered, :P)
- What’s the point of “following” people? Just because you’ve followed them doesn’t mean they’re going to follow you. You can read all their smallest updates, but until they follow you back, they don’t see yours unless they navigate to your page. I would rather befriend people on Facebook or make a Page to “like”, and have that “followed/following” connect automatically.
- How can you effectively communicate with people using only @mentions and direct messaging? Facebook’s Wall posting and commenting is a lot easier–not as many links to click to follow the thread of conversation. (Please update me if this has been changed on Twitter’s interface–keep in mind, it has been a while since I used it personally)
- What’s there to see and do besides read 140-character updates? I can do that just as easily on Facebook, AND I can post pictures without having to go to a different (yet still affiliated) site, AND I know all those people in real life so I actually care about what’s going on with them.
But to each their internet own
I realize I’m probably one of the only people in the world who doesn’t understand why Twitter exists or its social draw.
For some, perhaps the 140-character limit per tweet is more than they will ever use (that concept is unfathomable to me, haha). For some, perhaps, following minute updates of sports figures and celebrities is part of their daily news intake–I grant that. And, for others, Facebook’s privacy-wallowing interface and deluge of apps/photos/likable pages is just too much, and they prefer the minimalist, mobile-friendly Twitter approach. The last counter-gripe about Facebook, I can definitely understand.
For those who use Twitter and love it, I apologize for this rather bemused article; you may not understand the use or need for Facebook just as much as I don’t understand the use/need for Twitter.
Twitter’s just not my bag, baby (with apologies to the Austin Powers franchise)
Personally, I find Twitter to be just a poor copy of Facebook status updates. Not that I didn’t give it the old college try way back when–it’s just I tried it, and nothing really sparked for me. It was too much like posting to Facebook, except I had to sign in to SOMETHING ELSE and manage ANOTHER social profile, and you could only do a small fraction of the activities you could do on Facebook. Same thing with my City of Heroes site’s Twitter, @skiesoveratlas–I often forget about it because it’s rather alien to me.
As for my personal Twitter, I finally became frustrated with having to sign in to 5 or 6 different services to report on my life, and finally just downsized, getting rid of my accounts on Twitter, Flickr, Stumbleupon, and a couple other services I don’t even remember (that’s how little of an impact they had on my life). I have since reinstated Stumbleupon since it’s a great way to skip across the Internet to find sites, and Facebook doesn’t offer that kind of service. But I have no need for a photo service or a status-update service, since FB does all that AND I can share it with people I know in real life.
How does Twitter usage relate to web design?
Many of my fellow web-designers use Twitter as their main vehicle for updating their sites, as well as for their own personal usage. I have seen these public site-related Twitter accounts, and wondered whether I should jump on this particular bandwagon like I did with Skies over Atlas, but again, the management of yet another profile and the user interface’s weirdness stand in my way.
Also, many bloggers make their presence known on Twitter and get more readers for their blogs in this way. I feel like I’m missing out on something huge that could really help Crooked Glasses get more readers, and yet…I feel like I’d just update it every blue moon or every solar eclipse or something, and nobody would follow it anyway. The push for web designers to use every single source of social media out there is overwhelming, and I’m way behind the curve.
Is it so wrong for me to dislike signing in to 15 different pages, just to keep people “updated” on me and my sites? Am I doing myself and my online work a disservice by not being as vigilant? I have no idea.
Am I just crazy? Am I an old fuddy-duddy, having trouble adapting to new technology and new manners of presenting updates and data? I don’t think so…I just don’t see why one would need two toothbrushes to scrub the same mouth every day, or why one would need two TVs in the same room to watch the same show. That’s what Twitter and Facebook feel like to me–too similar to need both.
Please post your opinion on this matter in the comments thread below–I would like to know if my perceptions are in error, or if I’m just too much of a Twitternewb to use it properly yet. (Be kind to this old dialup-using dinosaur, though–if you had to prioritize your Internet because it blocks a phone line and loads at 5kbps a second, you’d hate signing into tons of similar social-media sites, too! LOL)