All over the web and all over the media there are two social networks that go hand in hand- Facebook and Twitter. They’re presented as if they’re equal, as if anybody who’s anybody should have an account in both. Written and spoken media make reference to tweeting important events. Celebrities and newscasters are constantly mentioning their Twitter accounts in hopes of getting people to follow them. Or perhaps they’re paid for the name drop. You can hardly turn on the TV or radio without hearing mention about somebody’s Twitter account.
But all is not well in the world of Twitter. It’s time we ask ourselves the honest question, how often do we log into Twitter to read people’s tweets? For the vast majority of us the answer is never. People use Twitter for one way conversations, if they use it at all. They send out tweets with the sole intention of other people reading them. Precious few use it to actually stay in touch with others. Why? Because that’s what Facebook is for.
I have no idea who follows us on Twitter. If someone adds us and seems like a real person then we’ll follow them, dutifully. Together we’ll march in step in this grand facade as if we’re accomplishing something. We aren’t. They aren’t going to read my tweets and I’m not going to read theirs. Once we had a client who boasted 30K plus followers on Twitter. I was excited to see the result of having our article sent out on their network. Maybe we’d finally get some life out of this network. Those tweets wrought us one hit from their Twitter promotion efforts. This confirmed and sealed my already forming opinion that Twitter is a dead network. It’s saturated and inundated, if it ever was useful at all. Maybe it’s just that I got in too late to catch their heyday. My opinion is 140 characters isn’t good enough now and likely wasn’t good enough then either.
No, I suspect Twitter is an entirely contrived network. To marketers they make the promise that tweeting your articles will help them gain attention. To everyone else they say you can follow people’s tweets to somehow connect with them. But if no one ever reads tweets the connection is entirely superficial.
Other companies have begun to catch on to this. The large social news site StumbleUpon offers you the ability to register for an account with Facebook, but not Twitter. The same is true with social gaming site Kongregate. It’s refreshing to see Twitter and Facebook finally breaking up, even if in a small context. Those two examples may not by themselves represent a trend, but I think it matters. For years Twitter has enjoyed close association with a social network that people actually utilize. That connection is finally beginning to change.
By this time I cringe every time I hear a celeb name drop their Twitter account. I also roll my eyes every time a client says loudly and proudly, “I tweeted your article!!” It’s not like I don’t want them to tweet them; we’re marching in this meaningless parade just like everyone else. But by now I know it’s a useless and ineffective means of connecting with people. Twitter’s the great parade that everybody marches in that has precious few onlookers. It’s the grand placebo of internet marketing, a time consuming decoy that gives the illusion of connecting with others.
If you’d like to market something then you need to find a way to get it in front of real people. This includes StumbleUpon, which has real people looking for new content. And it includes Facebook, which has real friends sharing messages with each other. And then Google, which are people actively searching for content on the web. Twitter does not have real people. It’s just a bunch folks sending out inconsequential tweets to those who will never read them. Follow us if you must. We’ll be sure to follow back. We’ll even smile and send a happy wave. We do so to make people feel happy. And we leave the Twitter buttons up to give them the feeling of promoting our articles, though we know it’s mostly pointless. Those wanting to promote anything on the web need to find a way to get the message out to where people will see it. And based upon our observations, that’s not Twitter.