"The mandate is different on Twitter; you have to be interesting. You need to develop a voice, which is something Facebook doesn't ask of you." -- Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor
That direct quote from Yoree Koh's informative Wall Street Journal article: Twitter's Big Battle Is Indifference -- Social Network Leaves Many Individual Users Cold, summarizes a 1st-time Twitter user's two-part learning curve:
- Being interesting
- Earning followers
Earning Attention. Wasn't that the Point?
Learning How to Be Different on Twitter is Now a Liability. Hard to believe what made Twitter cool is now considered a curse. Taking time to find valuable content, sharing it with people who specifically choose us, and challenging ourselves to continue growing and retaining that audience's earned attention --- that's now bad?
That's no longer called opportunity?
Creating Content that Earns Attention. Learning to create and package interesting content takes time, practice, and effort (especially in 140 characters or less). After 3,100+ tweets, I'm still learning.
What Happened to the Joy and Challenge in Learning? The joy and challenge in learning to communicate on Twitter comes from other people choosing to follow your tweets. It comes from other people sharing your content with their followers (when they have hundreds of millions of other options). It's seeing how you can build direct relationships with people in another part of the world. It's the thrill in earning someone's attention and permission (versus interrupting it).
Making Twitter "Mainstream" isn't The Prescription
The Investment Analysts' View: Make Twitter a Mainstream Product. Why? So brands can cram the channel with as much advertising as possible. Investment analysts believe Twitter's sole key to long term growth is a traditional advertising model.
So interrupting users with unwanted, crappy ads (and pissing us off in the process) that's a terrific strategy?
Improving a First Time User's Twitter Experience --- That's the Right Direction. After registering with the service in 2009, I remember feeling overwhelmed and bewildered. I was clueless on what to tweet. That's why it's refreshing to read Twitter is running experiments to improve the user experience without changing the core platform.
Focusing On What's Important. A better user experience means rookie and veteran tweeters can focus on creating and sharing helpful, and valuable content. The challenge in a one-screen, digital-first world is don't suck.
Because if our tweets increase in educational, entertaining, or news-breaking value, they will earn our attention. Twitter's user growth will return.
Note: I invest in Twitter (and also tweet). The impact of my investment actions and holdings in this company (and others) are equivalent to a dog shaking off its fleas -- inconsequential.
Tony Faustino is a marketing and corporate strategist. He writes about how The Internet reinvents marketing strategy for organizations and individuals in his marketing strategy blog, Social Media ReInvention. Follow his tweets @tonyfaustino or circle him on Google+.