While social media is engrained in nearly every part of our culture today, recently, Twitter has appeared to take on center stage. Every day, it seems like the media, and often the world, are focused on what President Trump has tweeted out that day or what the latest outrage-of-the-day is. Twitter has grown beyond simply a form of social media and is now used for amateur news reporting, business marketing, bridging the gap between celebrities and their fans, and rallying people behind a cause in 280 characters or less.
The social media giant has been around for over 13 years, and at times, it seems even to take on that role of contemptuous teenager. Regardless, the platform is here to stay and businesses around the world are quickly learning how to optimize their tweets and maximize their marketing potential. Despite its ever-expanding role in the business and professional world, I still have quite a bit of disdain over Twitter. Below are the 10 reasons why I hate Twitter.
Lack of Conversational Flow
The whole premise behind Twitter is to act as a running feed, broken into small sound byte chunks. While the responses can be viewed in chronological order, replies are often hidden in a maze of @replies and sub-threads. Having to click through each sub-threads to read comments means that many replies are simply going unread. The conversational style we’ve come to count on with Facebook and blogs isn’t available with Twitter.
Defaulting to Top Posts
One of my biggest complaints about Twitter, and really most social media platforms, is the move away from chronological order to a “top posts” format. When you see top posts, your feed is determined by some unknown algorithm of what Twitter thinks you want to see. This often means missing a significant number of posts you actually want to see but the algorithms weren’t worth showing. While Twitter does let you switch to chronological order, it is currently not the default and there is no way to save your preferences. This means every time you go back on Twitter, your feed returns to “top posts”.
As any good CEO knows, the most effective ads are targeted to a specific audience. Ad space is also expensive and thus, when an ad is shown, it’s important that the people seeing it are the ones likely to be interested in the service. However, many times, ads on my Twitter feed are nowhere near targeted to my interests or demographics. Even if they were, the ads are often uninteresting and don’t catch my eye long enough to make me want to learn more about the service.
Parking Lot for Bandwagons
If there’s one thing a running feed of small byte-sized chunks of information is good for, it’s the creation of bandwagons. It seems like lately, all it takes is one person to post something so outrageous while claiming it as fact, and within hours, there are thousands or even millions of people hopping on board the bandwagon rallying for change. While this is great when the issue truly is based in fact, it’s often the case that the original viral tweet was exaggerated and the issue didn’t warrant instantaneous worldwide anger and attention. Viral tweets and Twitter bandwagons have the potential to impact the narrative on important issues, and that impact is not always a positive one.
While Twitter recently doubled its character limit from 140 to 280, the character limit still makes potentially meaningful conversations abridged and unable to truly be life-changing. Tweets can be conversation starters, certainly, but they are unable to be full meaningful bits of information. To counteract this, many have begun using Tweets as clickbait to drive traffic to longer blogs hosted elsewhere. If your platform thrives on directing people off the platform for information, it becomes difficult to stay engaged.
Its Purpose Isn’t Unique
Twitter doesn’t actually replace any other platform out there. Often, the same posts on Twitter are also put on Facebook and other platforms. But its purpose of providing a running commentary or real-time ticker of what’s happening in the world is well-served on other platforms that also offer additional features, such as groups or event planning. Instagram, for example, was founded for the purpose of sharing and discussing photos. This proved to be advantageous over Flickr, whose social networking potential was lackluster at best.
Creating Content is Too Easy
Twitter makes it easy to share things quickly and easily. While this can be great when you need to get the word out about something fast, it makes it all too easy to create sloppy, uninteresting, or non-substantial content. Twitter users tend to create many, even dozens, of short messages throughout the day. This might make it easy to stay connected to your followers, but it can quickly overwhelm them. It also limits their attention span for truly well-written and informative content.
Lack of Personal Connection
It seems like one of the goals of Twitter is to rack up as many followers as possible. However, rather than building up an expansive network of contacts, these followers are often unknown to you and might rarely even interact with your content. When your audience is unknown, tailoring content to meet their needs becomes difficult, and with the rapid news ticker-like format of Twitter, forming meaningful connections with followers through conversation is nearly impossible.
Admittedly, this isn’t a problem specific to Twitter. For those new to the platform, Twitter lingo is enough to leave you lost and confused. Be prepared to need a crash course in what @ (how you reply to someone’s tweet), # (a link to other posts on the same topic), DM (a direct message sent privately between users), RT (retweet), #FF (Follow Friday), HT (hat tip), or MT (modified tweet) mean.
Valuable Content is Quickly Lost
Twitter is well-known for creating viral content, but a great majority of these viral posts are not actual meaningful or valuable content. The sheer number of tweets on your feed in any given day can quickly bury valuable content. Some days, you might have to sift through hundreds of tweets on your feed to find one that is meaningful to you and catches your attention enough to make you want to interact with the content.
Why Be on Twitter at All?
So if Twitter is that bad, why am I on it? Despite all the platform’s flaws, it is a popular tool that can have significant professional benefits. While it may not produce extensive networking opportunities or deep conversations, it is a good way for users to look for content, companies, and people they are interested in. It also allows a company’s users to interact directly with the company, helping them feel a personal connection. It’s still a good way to connect like-minded strangers and quickly catch up on what’s happening in the world, often before it hits the news. Despite its flaws, the platform is here for the long-term and learning to optimize it just might be a company’s best way to reach a new and diverse population.