I am relatively new to Twitter, I joined in May 2016 and been idly active by reposting my blog articles. I have roughly 70 followers and follow more than 200 accounts. I’ve always been interested in this platform, but had no real social incentive to put any effort into growing my network. Simply put, none of my friends tried to contact me there, none of my professional groups used it regularly, none of my information came from it.
Therefore, this does not qualify me as an expert of any sort, and I might be wrong in telling such a harsh tale about such a big social media platform. Nonetheless, some of you might be interested in the following beginner’s views:
My initial impression was that Twitter seized to be a mainly social network, and it practically became a bot network. According to this article, Twitter admits that 23 mil. user accounts (approx. 8,5%) are bots or at least bot-managed. Meaning? Well, people on forums say that account names that contain digits are usually bots. Then, even if the account is started by a real person, most of the common people in their right mind use software solutions to manage their activity on Twitter. Such software, for example, will take over your account and would, based on rather simple algorithms, like or re-tweet posts, follow or un-follow, send thank you DMs and so on. Is this right? Not really.
What has all this led up to?
First of all, the network seems to reward you for the simple fact that you are a human. Meaning, if you start acting like a human on the network your following will start to move up. But not enough to make you a star, and not if you don’t keep going non-stop.
Second of all, the network behavior is not at all rational, making people feel disarmed at it’s works. We all dive-in in search for community, acknowledgement, acceptance and even success. Nonetheless, the network leaves you powerless in front of the huge informational tsunami. Again, unless you are a bot, you cannot discern the huge amount of information that is coming your way. For my particular account where I am following around 200 accounts, I get a few hundred new tweets every 10 minutes during awake hours. I cannot reasonably expect anyone on Twitter to read my content unless it gets picked up by various strange working algorithms, in conjunction. So, why bother creating?
Meanwhile, I can see a great use for Twitter in the case of public entities and celebrities of all sorts. It is a simple and efficient way to trigger an informational wave, but only if you have a considerable following.
The meta-data is also particularly interesting and eye-opening and there are plenty of software solutions out there that will help you figure out the workings of the world and get a feel of what is happening in a community by simply typing in a two word query. Nonetheless, things are bound to change in the near future and this data will stop being as reliable as more and more people will give up contributing to this “information slaughtering machine” and turn to other platforms. When you tweet on Twitter you feel like a fan at a huge football (soccer) match, when the crowds start doing the specific waves in the tribunes. It doesn’t matter who you are and for whom you cheer, how you look and how loudly you shout, as long as you stand up when the wave comes your way, i.e. you react to what the network is doing as a whole. Therefore, the act of tweeting is more important than the content of the tweet itself. Then again, the topic might be of interest. But the algorithms will stop at that. They are not interested in your leaning, your feelings or your hopes. Surely, they will not work towards making you a network celebrity. The game doesn’t work this way.
On top of that, in order to stop you from drifting away and hook you with some content, Twitter sends regularly to your email inbox tweets and accounts that it figures you might be interested in. How does it figure what to send you? You are right, through algorithms or bots.
This was not meant to become a harsh criticism of Twitter, although it did end up to be a little too critical, and rightfully so. Moreover, for sure, this isn’t an original opinion, many have stated it. The Twitter story might end up to become even more relevant as other networks start going down the same losing path (Instagram might be next, in my opinion).
As a conclusion, we need to review our investment in these particular networks, especially time investments and realize what we are up against in case we willfully decide to fight the battle for influence and followers. Good luck to all of you who are willing to do that!
P.S. A few more articles for you in case you want to read more about the topic.