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  • Twitter Friday: Is There Already a Twitter Backlash?

    Feed the Birds, Creative Commons image by McBeth .

    When two weeks ago Steve Rubel was arguing that Twitter is peaking I only read the analysis without really being concerned much. Now I already seem to perceive what he was talking about. Is it just me or is there already a Twitter backlash?

    When approx. 6 months ago I joined Twitter as a “late adopter” there was an amazing energy surrounding Twitter. People coming up with new ways of using it for all kinds of purposes or even writing crowdsourced posts. Now it seems the daily routine is creeping in.

    • People reply less, they just rehash others’ tweets retweeting in a “he say she say” manner, sometimes without even checking the link thoroughly enough.
    • New followers appear out of nowhere sometimes based on misunderstandings or automatic keyword matching. In my case all kinds of chefs are following me just because my nick name is Tad Chef. I know what’s cooking on the Web but I’m not a cook.

    These people are passive it seems. They rarely really converse but Twitter does not work without conversation. Of course I’m not exempt from it. Ever since I noticed that other people, especially in the SEO and marketing field love to get retweeted I retweet more links by others than I add my own.

    So is Twitter already becoming stale like Steve Ruble predicted? Are these the first signs of the MySpace phenomenon where mostly late adopting “me too” users without much fervor populate the place?

    Here are some things to think about:

    Retweeting more than a few stories does not work, as nobody can visit and read articles all the time. Twitter is for short and concise conversation. So when you have to read a large chunk of copy each time the conversation gets stuck.

    #followfriday was meant for introducing one user per day who you should follow. You were meant to explain why this person is a “must follow”. Nowadays I get several tweets with 5 or 6 names each Friday. I seldom click the names as I only see random names. Why should I care for them? Why should I follow them? I’m not into collecting random “friends”.

    Replies: Having 800 followers and receiving no replies to my tweets truly astonishes me. When I had 200 of them I got many more to talk to me. I’m not a TV set. If you’re there just to consume my tweets you should rather read my blog or my posts here on SEOptimise.

    Of course it’s not all bad on Twitter now:

    Self submission is not needed. I can use Twitter like I did StumbleUpon and Sphinn a year ago. No self submission is needed. My blog readers tweet my posts. I didn’t submit my latest post to Twitter at all. I got around 10 tweets anyways.

    High quality links rule. I’m still surprised about high the signal to noise ratio is on Twitter. The people I follow provide very targeted and valuable links in their tweets. On other platforms the urge to promote themselves or clients is often overwhelming it seems. On Twitter people have found a healthy middle ground between self promotion and promotion of valuable resources.

    Cross pollination happens. People from outside of SEO follow me Twitter. This is different from other social sites where I provide mostly SEO related content. I have been quite multi-faceted on StumbleUpon and still mostly SEO people follow me there. On Twitter I talk mostly SEO, blogging and social media but nonetheless I get people interested in me from related fields like web design, overall marketing, the broader business community as well as completely unrelatd followers.

    So all in all there still is a balance of pros and cons but let’s try to keep the enthusiastic conversation on Twitter alive. Otherwise this tool loses its value. I don’t visit Twitter just for links, other sites provide that as well and in far more organized way. I’m on Twitter for the conversation. I guess I’m not the only one.

    How about you? Do you think there already is a Twitter backlash? Or did I just fail to use Twitter properly in the recent weeks?

    Make sure to come back next week for next Twitter Friday. Due to the Easter festivities it might appear on “Twitter Tuesday” after Easter though.

    I help people with blogs, social media & search. I help you succeed on the Web. I've been online publishing for 15 years. I started back in 1997.

    16 Responses to “Twitter Friday: Is There Already a Twitter Backlash?”

    1. People follow you because they think you’re a chef, that’s superb!

      No wonder I get followed by a right bunch of monkeys :D

    2. No Black Eyed Peas or Man U fans follow me. Probably a good thing :-)

    3. David Harris says:

      We’ll look back in a few years and say “I remember the days before xxxxx when we used email, twitter, facebook etc”. I think Twitter has captured the imagination, but it’s just a slightly clunly step on the way to the next ‘big thing’. I’ll keep playing for now, and try to guess what the ‘big thing’ might be.

    4. Tad Chef says:

      Kevin, you really made me laugh. Richard I envy you for the first coincidence.

    5. great article. i really do think building a solid Twitter network of people that share common interests as you takes hard work. one can not expect to hit a magic button and get amazing results. i have, however, been working very hard to design a tool (with my 10 years of marketing experience) that people can leverage themselves with and achieve great success at this. i’ve received many testimonials from people thanking me for finally creating a tool that has freed them up from mundane processes and instead allowed them to focus on their core business. because lets face it. twitter is one of the most underutilized marketing platforms available today.

    6. Rhonda Bleems says:

      Twitter burn out to reality.
      You think everyone is reading your tweets; but then you realize you don’t read more that a few tweets from your followers. Then you realize they are probably doing the same thing – not reading what you write.
      Then you check your stats to your website/blog to see what the “Twitter effect” is on traffic. Gulp, not much. (in the last week of March I got 75 visits from Twitter people to my blog. I could change a keyword on my website metatags and get more traffic)
      Then you think about how much time you put into it….and time to do something better:
      Two twitter accounts – one for public, one smaller closed-one for family and friends.

    7. Daniel says:

      I like the #followfriday suggestion. I’ll try to explain why i suggest folks to follow from now on. Although, overtime change is inevitable and the original intent sometimes becomes obsolete or unable to keep up with the growth.

    8. Christi Glaser says:

      I think as more uses of Twitter are discovered, people’s “twitter purpose” will change. I’ve noticed groups whose objectives start out as “recruitment” or “resurgence” and they end up only talking amongst themselves. Still, it serves as a tool for them, and it evolves to fit their apparent needs. I think there are still people out there using Twitter as a conversation tool. You just have to be more selective in your follows to hear them and keep the conversation going.

      Great topic!

    9. Nick DeStefano says:

      Hey Tad. You may have hit on something there. I also am a “Late-comer” since I joined in Oct ’08. At that time it did seem that the ‘twitterers’were of a different caliber of folk. They seemed more interested and less ‘daily routine’ as you phrased it. There is more RTing but I’m hoping it’s because the RTers see some thing of value worth repeating, which is why I do it. The RT that gets me is the one the RTs
      the followfriday list of six someone has sent…That is lazy.
      An infusion of a new group of Twitterers is needed that are more ‘passionate’ about their subjects and people,….every once in awhile one does show up and I try to engage that person and ‘train’ him/her right…lol Just doin my part……..
      Twitter is there for the long run and when they understand that it can be monetized
      without getting in the way of the users it will become a solid really lasting entity.

    10. Tad Chef says:

      Wow. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I should do more posts that analyze and discuss phenomena like these.

      @Jonathan: How do I know whether I can entrust you my password? Why should I take the risk.

      @Rhonda: You err a little. Most of the Twitter traffic comes without refer so you can only assess it. I use bit.ly to track my links to know more but there are more advanced ways to track Twitter traffic.

    11. @olirh says:

      I find Twitter is going the same way as everyother internet fad – it gets populated by idiots who change the dynamics of the tool from its original concept. If you are able to adapt to this, you will be ok, however, this doesn’t normally happen – and they will all jump on the next bandwagon.

    12. Johan says:

      Great post! I get quite annoyed by all those follows by people who have 10.000+ users in their list. All they are interested in is for you to follow them back, if you don’t, they will remove you from their follow list after some time.

      Surely for some web-celebrities (such as Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble) it is understandable that they have thousands of followers, but I really don’t get the focus on follower numbers by others.

      It really does not make a big difference for the conversation whether you have 10 or a 1000 followers, what matters is that you interact with other users and not just spit out links to your own blog posts.

    13. I was a Twitter early adopter (rather by accident) and I do miss the “old days” when I had 50 followers and there were vibrant *discussions* each night — like a chat room, but substantive, and easier to have multiple threads going at once but only contribute to those that interested you where you could. Now, I’m well aware that I don’t see 99% of the tweets in my following stream, and I don’t expect that others are hanging on my every word — though it is odd to note that with 4,000 followers a question I put out is apt to get fewer responses than back when I had 50.

      A big problem is the lack of tools available for filtering. For example, I’d like to get a stream of all my followers’ tweets with a question mark symbol in them — so I could give answering questions first priority. (Mahalo Answers is doing some interesting stuff in this space, but it’s not what I’m looking for.) The idea has also been bandied about that there should be a way to indicate “most important” tweets — say, by including the ^ symbol — so people could subscribe to either my entire firehose or just the infrequent tweets that I really want to share. Tools like TweetDeck and Sideline are a good start, but Twitter itself really has to start considering this usability problem if they expect to grow.

    14. Seth says:

      To answer your question, apparently yes.


    15. Jringo says:

      it’s the nature of the beast. It seems twitter is becoming what used to be called a “link dump” to much, to fast. ultimatley it comes down to those who manange the site. as long as it does not effect their traffic and growth in a negative way it is allowed it seems. I guess like a relationship – enjoy the early days of excitment and lust for soon it turn to reality.
      I do however miss the days when you could spend hours chatting , BSing and just burning time.

    16. I inevitably get football fans checking out my Twitter page. Most leave quickly but many find themselves interested in my photography and continue to follow me (and even reply to tweets!).

      The main problem for me is people who I’m genuinely interested in who reply to tons of messages which mean absolutely nothing to me. All I see is a page of messages which make no sense unless I’ve seen the original message.

      Twitter hasn’t even caught on in many countries like it has here and the US yet. I think it’s a long way from peaking.

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