How Can Twitter’s Chaos Benefit Us? #RIPTwitter
I’m sure you’re aware that #RIPTwitter has been trending for some days now.
We have all been astounded, perhaps spellbound, watching the constantly changing news about Twitter. It’s like a soap opera: entertaining, unbelievable, outrageous, and with so many different views abounding about by experts, so-called experts, and anyone else who wants to have their say.
That is the nature of social networking. It is a free house for opinions, stories, observations, announcements – and all of it immediate! People expect instant gratification, whether it is producing, publishing, reading, answering, acknowledging, or sharing it; it all has to happen NOW!
I suspect there have been trillions of opinion pieces written about social media over the years since its existence. It has provided a non-stop flow of content about its increase, effects, opportunities, afflictions, tragedies, and social and mental destruction. But how many have touched on its demise?
This is the second article in our series on Twitter’s slow-motion train-wreck.
Here is the first: Life and Business After Twitter (and Facebook?)
Breaking It Into Bite-Sized Pieces
A dangerous exercise. Doing this may arouse many reactions around the blogosphere. But I am focusing on three elements this recent furore has brought to my attention:
This is important because we have grown accustomed to the monopoly some social networks have created for themselves. Ask a blogger where they would like to promote their newly written blog post, and the answer would invariably be Twitter and Facebook.
But I’ve noticed disgruntled mutterings from people who have noticed how the algorithms, those pesky mathematical bots, have been ruining their experience over the years. It seems to be a constant battle to understand and cooperate with them, only to lose out once everything changes again.
And yet we are chained to our allegiance to the ‘big boys’ (which is exactly what they want). It is too scary, too much of a risk, to move elsewhere to try our luck. Perhaps we need this kick up our backsides to venture further afield…
What About The ‘People’ Involved In This?
It seems to me the primeval element of social media is often neglected, forgotten, or ignored. I’m talking about the ‘social’ element. In other words, people.
Everybody seems so wrapped up in doing stuff: opinions, stories, observations, and announcements (see above), they are oblivious to who is creating this material. To me, social media is about communicating with people. Having conversations. Actually talking to each other. And you know what? Real-time makes this as possible as sitting in a coffee shop next to each other.
Yet it appears people are still working in isolation. They still like to spout out what’s on their mind into the ether. If they are lucky, have accrued a goodly following, and regularly interact with other people’s opinion pieces, the algorithms will take kindly to them with a reasonable amount of reach.
OK, there are plenty of conversations going on, which is a really good thing. But I feel the social online world would benefit from more of this. Better acknowledgment than emoji likes. More sharing with an explanation or another kind of response. Coming out with your own opinion, as long as it is kind, considerate, and relevant.
What Is Engagement Really About?
A lot of marketers get very excited if they see large spikes in traffic. Getting lots of visitors to your website, blog or whatever means you can produce a positive graph from these stats. But is it really?
How many of these ‘visitors’ actually interacted with your site? Were any questions asked via your commenting facilities? Did they move to another page to find out more? How many payment buttons were clicked on? Did anybody fill out the review section?
Getting people to ‘do’ something can be counted as engagement. However, encouraging them to make the effort is another thing. You could ask them, make your offer irresistible, or provide exactly what they want, or you could appeal to them through your relationship with them.
We all know about the ‘warm list‘ of newsletter subscribers. There is no reason why you can’t extend this concept to people on social media. Plenty of groups with lots of interaction cultivate advocates for brands, followers, fans for influencers, and regular and happy buyers for your products.
To read about how to handle Digital Customer Service when the future is uncertain,
Where Are Other ‘People’ Hanging Out?
Does this always have to happen on Twitter and Facebook? Because of the monopoly they have created, it is in everybody’s mindset to go there first. Perhaps, with Twitter disappearing or changing beyond recognition, this will force people to go elsewhere and give other social channels a chance to prove themselves, to rise in the ranks, and to adapt what they offer to appeal to an emerging audience.
I have read lots of posts recently talking about this, all putting forward their versions for alternatives. I’m not going to list them here because some of them will succeed and others will dissipate into the general mire. It will be interesting to see in the coming years what does happen.
But people may gradually have to move on. Twitter may become a hellhole because of the lack of moderation. It may vanish because of a dearth of advertisers. It may fold onto itself because of not having enough manpower. Elon Musk may think he’s creating Twitter 2.0, but how do we know he’s right? Will it become a social network people will want to continue using in the future?
Whenever we face adversity, we need to find another way. Like reverting to another brand if your regular becomes obsolete or too expensive. Transfer with your friends if you want the same company to converse with. People naturally feel safer in communities, so gather together your favourites and cross the divide en masse. It’s always better with people you already know.
Is Collection Culture Damaging?
And this leads me to the next concept I want to explore. Over the years, we have collected many ‘friends’, ‘followers’, ‘connections’, or whatever you want to call them. For some people, it’s a badge of honour to crow about how big your collection is.
This is similar to the marketers who wet themselves due to a massive increase in traffic. How many of these people do you actually know? What was the last conversation you had with them? How is their family, latest campaign, love life, visit to their favourite restaurant, their pet cat, or some other personal information you gleaned from them?
It may sound strange, but do you think you could gain from having a smaller circle to engage with? Forming a proper relationship with these real, purposeful, useful connections. Having meaningful conversations, from which you gain knowledge, offer help, solve problems, and answer questions. Understanding everything about them (within reason) so that you can talk about them to others, and they to others about you.
The apparent demise of Twitter, which is indeed massive because it is open to all and sundry, could help us with our ‘social’ networking in a more positive and relatable way. Knowing who your connections are and allowing natural Word of Mouth for expansion will protect your interests, command a more realistic reach, result in useful conversations and compatible connections, and block out anything unsuitable or undesirable at the same time.
Content Can Become King Again
Every blogger and writer of marketing content wants to publicise their work to get readers reading it. Naturally, we place the link within social media in the hope someone will see it, be interested enough to click on the link, and enjoy the goodies within.
But recently, this hasn’t been the case. Twitter and Facebook no longer provide the necessary publishing space for posts that should be placed in front of our friends, at the very least. The algorithms, in their peculiar reasoning, seem to skirt around this, so it seems like pot-luck whoever gets to see our hard work, if at all! Unless you have a lively, devoted fan base, all of which are constantly present and participating, your content is abandoned to its fate.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a social space where we know we can get our work read, appreciated, and commented on? Also where we can see others’ contributions, which we can engage with in a similar fashion. There are platforms like this that are regularly used by the committed, but the spectre of Twitter and Facebook, with their destructive algorithm provision, tend to overrule and overshadow them.
Let us find, welcome, use, and invest in other platforms, to name Quora and Reddit as examples, where, with suitable engagement activities, we can relish in recognition, acknowledgment, appreciation, commenting, and discussion once again.
Money Is The Root Of All Evil
Unfortunately, not everybody can be altruistic all of the time. We all need to feed our families, pay the mortgage, send our children to school, and even have some R&R once in a while. And this all means money. And if certain billionaires like to toy with people’s lives by sacking them on a whim, without any consideration for their welfare, it is inevitable the consequences will not be favourable.
Hopefully, others will think the same. Who wants to participate in an environment where you know people are being mistreated, there is little or inadequate moderation, blue ticks no longer have the gravitas they once had, and algorithms rule the roost, all within a playground for an entrepreneur who works on impulse?
I tread very warily here. I am not financially motivated. If I were, I would not be a blogger. I do not understand finances, and leave that to others who are more capable. But a social platform that loses its appeal to advertisers, is dominated by bots and AI, and has half of its moderators leave en masse, doesn’t seem to have much of a future to me.
Harping back to the concept of ‘people’ and ‘social’. People are needed to provide content, engage conversationally, and work effectively behind the scenes, or nothing can thrive or survive. A social platform needs people to contribute, self-regulate, police, participate, and communicate, all in a social manner. This isn’t a numbers game or a robot’s game; it is a people’s game, a social game.
Could We Survive Without Twitter?
Of course, we could! It won’t be easy at first. But I would like to stress, let’s not make the same mistakes as Twitter and Facebook. Focus on people, sociability, conversation, and natural reach and expansion, with necessary and strict control on hate, trolls, business spam, pornography, and anything else undesirable (you can see how little I know of this world!), and the social online world will become a better place.
This may all sound lovely and idealistic, but it will be hard work. We need to learn how to engage and interact again. We have forgotten and become insulated, self-centred and selfish. And we only care about ourselves and our points of view. It’s time to break out of this rut, force our brains to think of others, focus on positivity rather than negativity, and ignore and reject abrasive, irrelevant, and unsuitable content.
Ah, poor thing, she lives in a fantasy land! – you think. And maybe I do. But with the (apparent) demise of Twitter, other social platforms could be given a chance, and people will be able to adjust how they communicate socially, with others in mind. Social media is for networking, relationship building, and helping others, not somewhere for self-promotion, advertising for personal gain, a realm for robots to take over much-needed jobs which really only a human can do!
We need somewhere for people to break free of an automated and personless world, where information can be passed where it is not available elsewhere, human to human, people to people, comments to comments, socially all around. The world has ballooned to 8 billion souls, so why not use these people properly within the social world once more?
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