Twitter Isn’t Really a Network Anymore…

In the early days or say the first year or so of Twitter’s life it really was a way to get to to know people. The motives were pure. Twitter provided a way to get to know people. You could build a network.  Conversations were abundant. As the number of people exponentially grew, the number of “real” conversations exponentially decreased. Sure people still talked to each other but the conversations changed.

Why?

Because the perception and usage of Twitter changed without anyone really doing anything internally to change it. First the perception changed by the notion that the more followers you had, the more relevant or important you were. So when perception changed conversations were altered. It became a race to add people and not talk to them. The network or the notion of a network was altered.

Second, the usage changed from  a vehicle or platform for dialogue, to a vehicle or a platform to talk at people. Call it the great migration of marketing to Twitter. Relationships were not as important as a RT of a link. A funny thing also occurred along the way as well. The early adopters also fell into this trend as well. In fact if you ask the developers of Twitter, they themselves will tell you that Twitter is a media consumption platform. We all use it to push content.

That’s too bad.

Though the people that I follow on Twitter is not that large a group (About 850) I would like to think that I know 100 of them pretty well and could call them, have a cup of coffee with them, or sit down to dinner with them. Could you say the same?

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10 Responses to “Twitter Isn’t Really a Network Anymore…”


  1. 1 Jason Peck September 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Hey Marc,

    You’re definitely onto something that I’ve had a feeling about but wasn’t able to put into words as well as you have here. At first I felt like Twitter was a social network but I agree with you that when people started focusing on getting followers (the rise of some of those sketchy follower adder services definitely contributed to this, it became more about a platform to push out content than conversations.

    Then again, for the majority of Twitter users who don’t Tweet at all or regularly, it’s a platform to consume news and information and to be informed and entertain.

    For me, the right way to use Twitter is to have a balance of listening, contributing to others’ conversations and promoting others’ good content and your own good content. I still have found that it’s not hard to build relationships with people and take those relationships offline, but it definitely takes effort–and I don’t think most of the people on Twitter approach it this way.

  2. 2 Beth Harte September 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Marc, seems like Twitter has come full circle, doesn’t it? When I first joined years ago, there was NO conversation other than:

    Here’s my post
    My mom’s a lunatic
    Here’s what I am eating

    Now we have:

    Here’s my post
    My client’s a lunatic
    I just checked into…

    Luckily, I have met great folks like you and Jason Peck over the years. Solid relationships were formed that I am grateful for. And still get to meet new folks offline once in a while. But you’re right the conversations aren’t happening.

    While I’d love to have great conversations, it’s rare during the day because I have work to do and social media isn’t my full-time job. I get the sense it’s not the full-time job for a lot folks.

    I think we need to learn how to adjust to what’s happening on Twitter today and any other communities that morph over time.

    Beth Harte
    Serengeti Communications
    @bethharte

  3. 3 KATHLEEN September 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I hate to think of myself as the exception to the rule, although I usually am. Yes, I use Twitter for News, Entertainment and to promote what I find interesting, enjoyable or worthwhile… but I also find Twitter is still the quickest way to start a conversation that leads to a tweetup. Where else can you stay informed about what’s going on right now in your neighborhood and within seconds RSVP to your friends?
    Not only that, Twitter has opened the window on the production process and we are for the first time able to witness the creation of art, music even history via ISS tweets.
    Kudos Twitter, for making the World smaller, one tweet at a time.
    Love,
    @Superglrl

  4. 4 Mark Juleen September 27, 2010 at 2:40 am

    Like everything, it has changed. It seems like just yesterday I had conversations with people like you and Beth, and although we’d never met we were compelled to chat. While Tweetdeck helps me filter you and Beth into an “Old Skool Twitter” column, it’s still not the same.

    That said, throughout the many hours I spent on Twitter in the past it was always an issue of what the value was. While conversation is good, I often found myself questioning the value of the time spent.

    It’s been an interesting ride to say the least. I’m happy to say I was an early adopter, and that I met (virtually) some really cool people along the way.

  5. 5 marc meyer September 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    @Mark I just wrote about the ambient nature of conversations. I will have to agree with you. You were one of the first set of folks where we talked or chatted semi-regularly…

  6. 6 marc meyer September 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    @Kathleen, I don’t think you’re the exception, you’re more the portion of those who “get it”, who understand the big picture and the multi pronged usages of Twitter. I’m all for you Kat- Just looking at the evolution…:)

  7. 7 marc meyer September 27, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    @Beth You bring up a great point-how do you adjust? How do you or can you continue to fold Twitter into a business as a viable tool-when there is more noise and more tools that can be applied to it. Did we really have that much time on our hands back then? No. It was just a smaller island. Or was it a petri dish? :)

  8. 8 marc meyer September 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    @Jason I agree with your last sentence. It takes effort, though its not hard to elevate the convo, and yet most are falling into the trap of push marketing.

  9. 9 Charlie October 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I fully agree that Twitter has changed since it first emerged. Originally it was a means to communicate with someone, as is Facebook, however, with Facebook there is a more involved element to it I feel. More in-depth and more likely to remain a means of communication because of it. Whereas Twitter has really been destined to become the internet equivalent of a bleeper. The ability to not get into too much conversation but just enough to let people know what you`re up to. Now of course it is being used as a handy SEO and advertising tool. So it has developed into something different from it`s original form but it is a powerful tool that is continuing to grow and grow.

  10. 10 marc meyer October 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    @Charlie, I agree but I look at it as a media consumption tool now more than ever,


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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