If you missed the news, Twitter is reported to be testing a $99 subscription service. It’s not very pretty.
I’ve been an active Twitter user for over ten years. I’m even verified which makes me special (I joke). What got me into Twitter in the first place was the community. The community has dropped off considerably over the last several years.
Anyone who follows the technology space knows that Twitter has had many ups and downs trying to find itself since its launch in 2006. Back then our biggest issue with Twitter was its ability to stay up. I immediately envision kittens with screwdrivers thinking about all of the down time.
From Microblogging to Link Promoting
I liked the term “micro-blogging” because that defined what Twitter was. A place for people to share what’s on their minds - or what they were doing (or eating). It was more about connection, community, and writing than pushing links.
And yes, I do this too. I’m guilty as well. I constantly share links to interesting articles and promote my own content. I do this more than I engage because the engagement has dropped off considerably since the good ole days. And now we are all fighting to be heard through the noise. I'm such a sellout, right?
Every so often, I will ask a question on Twitter. I usually get one or two replies. When I ask the same question on my Facebook profile, I get many more replies. I’m in denial about this because I *want* Twitter to succeed. But without the engagement and with its wonky algorithm, its value as a social network has deeply diminished to me.
I still think there is value in connecting with specific people by mentioning them or writing directly to them. But the group chatter is more like the sound of a group of crickets now.
Twitter Link-Free Fridays
Here’s an idea. What if Twitter removed the ability to share links on Fridays? I bet this would substantially increase user engagement. Instead of having the ability to include a link, Twitter could prompt you to ask a question or share what you are doing.
Or, as a test, Twitter could add an option to turn off tweets with links. A simple switch to remove any tweet with a link. They could then see how many people actually use it to gauge user’s interest. Not a bad idea!
Ah yes… users. Twitter sucks at interacting with their own users. This is something that has always irked me. Why not reach out and ask us?!
I would love to see Twitter become the social networking water cooler once again. The place to pop in and out of to send some messages and to share what’s on our minds. Twitter could return to the place where we keep in touch and meet new friends.
So the latest news? For $99 a month, Twitter will offer some accounts to promote up to ten tweets a day in addition to running month-long Promoted Account ads to increase followers. Sounds like a cash grab to me. More followers are lovely but I want quality over quantity. I'm over the vanity metrics anyway.
Meh, I would just like to see engagement return to what it was. And yes, I’m putting my own sentimentality ahead of my understanding that Twitter has investors to please. But if all of the tweets become link-bait ads… I’ll probably just return to Facebook for the conversation instead and I bet most people will too. And without users, the investors won't be pleased.