It’s not just about who you follow; it’s the culture

After a couple years of using it pretty steadily, I basically just stopped using Twitter last year. I joined pretty early on, maybe a 12 or 18 months after they launched. Twitter was completely different back then, and was really fun and enjoyable. It’s not anymore. A lot of folks I know who were on Twitter very early on have lamented the downfall of Twitter, and they’re always met with a chorus of responses that “you just aren’t following the right people.” To a certain extent, that’s true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story:

1. Twitter is big business now, and big business is on Twitter. This fundamentally changes everything.

2. Brands, celebrities, and social media consultants pollute the stream daily, making it harder to be heard.

3. It’s harder to find good people to follow, because the gradual shift of Twitter is away from conversation towards yelling. Even thoughtful people are now incentivized to build followers, to RT linkbait, etc. In a disposable medium with a half-life of 7 seconds and a 140-character limit, thoughtful conversation is a luxury that we can’t afford.

The culture of a community influences behavior. Hacker News is a great example of this; you can see folks from Digg and Reddit come in and quickly realize that it’s a place for thoughtful discussion, and adjust their behavior accordingly, or leave. And Twitter’s culture has long since moved away from a place for conversation to a place for marketing and sharing links.

I bet the ratio of tweets sent to tweets read is 1000:1. People aren’t really paying attention to Twitter anymore…they’re just yelling into it.

PS – I haven’t missed it.

Disclaimer: I’m part of the “problem” with MightyBrand, though part of what we want to do is foster relationships, and help brands find order in the chaos