The sea change in Twitter sentiment

I thought it was just me and thus I wrote about the rise of the transactional conversation of Twitter on Monday. Then yesterday David Binkowski threw a post up on Shamable  about gaming social media.  At the same time Hubspot put out it’s 3rd state of The Twittersphere report.  And Todd Defren lastly writes about moving the needle on Twitter.  All of these posts and reports and what have you, alluded to something that may be occuring before our very eyes and that’s this:

Conversations on Twitter have deteriorated into flat out unadulterated pimping of one’s wares, or the company they work for.

As new marketers and companies flock to Twitter, their predisposed notions of how to use Twitter have been fueled not only by us subconsciously, but also by other marketers and individuals who “think” that the best way to use Twitter is as a one to many broadcast mechanism.

Subconsciously, we have become a party to and have embraced traditional marketing on Twitter.

The conversations have eroded into flat out pimping, so has the spirit of what all of us celebrated no less than a year ago. The conversation and ensuing relationship. But not, for some of us, we’ve become jaded, and wary of what it it that you want. For some of us,  the quality of the conversations are few and far between and it’s our fault.

I know, some of you are going to fire back and say “What conversations?”  You’ll say, “Twitter is not a platform for conversations and never was.” You’ll say,” Who can have conversations in a 140 charcaters or less?”

The interuptive interaction?

And maybe that is what the true evolution of what Twitter is or what it should be?… A way for brands and individuals to pimp themelves and try an extract something from the engagement.

Instead of learning more and developing a relationship with the people you follow and that follow you, Twitter now just might be turning into one big drive in theater to make out in now. Who needs conversation?

16 thoughts on “The sea change in Twitter sentiment

  1. Are you jaded my friend? Yes.
    Are you right that Twitter’s been infested with old-school marketers trying to impose their own heavy-handed processes here? Yes.

    It’s exactly like having this great town you moved to a few years ago. Everyone knows everyone else and it’s a little paradise for you. Suddenly, someone releases a “Best Places to Live” report and your town is flooded with people from Southern California who can’t drive, Your neighbors are whining about “Gang Activity” and their children being corrupted, and you’re wondering if you shouldn’t move farther north to Vancouver before it cost too much to live there.

    But like any great town, you can set up your own neighborhood watch, maybe bring in the Guardian Angels to help control the gang activity, and continue to encourage that the rules of the community be upheld, and clearly identify that yes, there are communications professionals on twitter who are indeed “experts” of sorts in how you could and should communicate here. Like any great online service, or big city you’re going to get a flood of people who have no idea how to behave, and they’ll be saying things like “MorF?” and “Whut are u wearing?” in no time, just like the hordes of lounge lizards you’re about to see appearing at your local tavern and insisting they be served Budweiser and fruity drinks instead of the Dominion Ale and single malt scotch you know and love.

    This is very much a social situation and we can all learn a lot about the success stories driven by towns and cities that have managed to keep their personalities and growth in the process.

    Cheer up bro, this town just got popular, and the early adopters are just feeling a little jaded.

  2. Pingback: Is Marketing Perverting Twitter? « Daily Social

  3. This topic is all about subtlety, nuance, and value propositions. Essentially, authenticity.

    We’re all “marketing” (verb) in one way or another. That could be as simple as marketing ourselves as individuals to attract like-minded personalities, to as complex as positioning yourself as a social marketing expert not by explicit pointers but via intelligence in your overall dialogs. Both are examples of subtle maneuvers designed to *prove* your worth through your actions. They are also much more easily said than done. Your tweet linked people here. But nothing they find here says “buy my services”. What they find (hopefully) is intelligent conversation around a topic they are interested in, and in the process move you up their esteem ladder if you’re successful in delivering on their expectations. You can then leverage that esteem.

    What I think we’re talking about here are those in the middle. Those that *are* screaming to “buy me!” in explicit measures, and whether that has a place in a medium in which the very moniker contains the words “Social”. In some cases this is done through ignorance as you’ve suggested, in others quite purposeful, and in yet others I would argue it’s done because there are persons who’ve entered the social fray to market something…yet that ‘something’ isn’t well suited to the social dialog style of marketing.

    The ignorant ones will learn, the inappropriate ones will fail, and the purposeful ones are up to us to decide on. No sale equals #fail. If they find enough sales traction through these methods then they’ll be emulated. The “rightness” of these methods however must be regulated by the social free market, for good or bad.

    If I follow a restaurant on twitter for the express purpose of getting a periodic coupon, that would seem a legitimate exercise. My expectations and the value derived are in sync. I don’t expect conversation, nor do I want it.

    If I follow/friend/fan you based on the premise that you appear to be a intelligent, unbiased, reviewer of electronics and then discover that you’re actually a shill for Sony then the value proposition has been thrown out of sync. The authenticity of the transaction is kaput.

    Let’s take a more personal example. If 75% of your social media dialog is relevant to me and provides value, and the other 25% of your dialog contains links back to your own services/site/ads which may or may not provide the same value is the value proposition still in sync? What about if the first line of your article started with bold letters stating “Click here to buy Marc Meyers services”? What if there was no article and only the link to buy?

    I think your argument/displeasure revolves around your perception of those instances in which someone is breaking the expected value proposition or where authenticity is lacking. In which case, I would whole-heartedly agree. On the flipside I could also make a strong argument regarding the slippery slope of this train of thought. e.g. Is socializing for the sake of benefiting oneself professionally really socializing? If we’re focused on truly the social aspects of the discussion then wouldn’t any type of marketing have to fall into a separate bucket? (no matter the value)

    A great philosophical discussion, thanks for tweaking my brain today.

    – @techguerilla

  4. This rising trend is partially why I’m taking a Twitter break ( ).

    I refer you to something Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote advancing the new year:

    In particular: “Many people have assumed that Twitter is just another social network, some kind of micro-blogging service, or both. It can be these things but primarily Twitter serves as a real-time information network powered by people around the world discovering what’s happening and sharing the news.”

    Who’s to say, Marc, that sharing the news must be conversational and not broadcasted? The key is it be punchable for others to retweet it, or at the least, click it. If a link does not inspire a click, it does not lead to sharing and may not be newsworthy in the first place.

    Like Jonathan commented above, you drank the Kool-Aid and are tired of drinking it. You’ve witnessed (and continue to see) the shift among early adopters of Twitter insisting things be a certain way and how newcomers are trying to do things their own way, learning as they go. There is no one way to tweet… and there is no one way to express sentiment.

    I realize this comment may not be the answer you seek, Marc, but maybe if you take a break like I am you can appreciate the changes.

  5. I agree with Jonathan Firestone above.

    I am a really early adopter of Twitter; I joined in 2007. I’ve seen it change and yeah, I got my nose out of joint. Then I realized that Twitter, like Facebook, can be the greatest things since sliced bread and the National Hockey League.

    Expanding on Jonathan’s example, my opinion is it’s up to the resident of the town to make the best of a changing situation. Yeah, the town is changing and growing but the heart of what matters hasn’t changed at all– the importance of friends, family and community.

    It’s OK not to be “friends” with everyone you meet on Twitter or Facebook and it’s OK to burn a few bridges. Not too many but like in real life, sometimes online relationships have to end forcefully and without remorse.

    You know that old cliche, “you can’t take it with you”? Truer words have never been spoken and that is why life experiences are really about “quality over quantity”.

    I figured out that it’s OK to be ruthless sometimes and to trust my instincts. I will unfollow people and business with abandon and enjoy it because I know that the few people I do “friend” and “follow” are all worthwhile relationships to invest my time and experience in.

    Hope that helps.

  6. or a similar question to ask could be

    has the pursuit of capital taken over from the pursuit of happiness?

    good post by the way..

  7. Hi Marc,
    I’m merely pointing out a fact: Twitter’s growth and success came at the hands of marketers and techies. Go back and read the blog posts from BL Ochman, Techcrunch et al and you’ll see what their strategy was – engage early adopters and monetize later. Because the platform hasn’t evolved the conversations have, as you pointed out, become a place for brands to pimp their wares. Unfortunate? Yes. Self-created? Absolutely.

    What’s that old joke about a bus full of 100 lawyers going over a cliff and no one caring? My feeling is that the joke could be updated using Twitter and marketers.


  8. Interesting, since my own personal experience with getting brands talking on Twitter totally involves real conversations, not pimping.

    Remember that people choose who they follow on Twitter, so it has a better chance at personalization of the entire experience. My feed doesn’t include anyone pimping wares. Well, except for us Shamable authors. 😉

  9. Christy, the key is that “you” are getting the brands. You are the exception. You know what you’re doing when you get brands talking. That’s not the rule. I can point to thousands of examples. My point though, is that at the end of every conversation exists a transaction, be it virtual or not, but there is one there.

  10. @ David Self-created is the key and from that examples are set. We lead and we follow by example. If one person sees another throwing links out, w/ or w/o a headline or an opinion, another is sure to follow. Is that effective? Perhaps for them, but marketers know only one thing and they’re under pressure to do that one thing. Conversations? Ok I’ll have a conversation with you, but only if you click on my link.

  11. @Sonja I’m not so sure it’s about burning bridges as much as it’s the increase in noise and the increase in people who know better, who are contributing to the noise. But your last paragraph is key and is telling. Good points!

  12. @techguerilla You nailed it with this…” the displeasure revolves around your perception of those instances in which someone is breaking the expected value proposition or where authenticity is lacking.” It’s more the former than the latter, but it’s about preserving the sanctity of why we connected in the first place and the dissipation of that..sad but inevitable.

  13. Social media should be about creating communities that fit your corporate culture. If your members want conversation, then you should be conversing. If they want promotion, then you should be promoting. Your community has to work for its members, not outsiders that have preconceptions about how it should work.

    I spent months monitoring twitter’s leaders before I started participating. I found that almost all of them promoted things they didn’t practice.

    – They talked about conversation, and then ignored everyone outside their inner circle. Questions and comments directed at specific individuals were never answered.

    – They talked about never being self-promotional, and then masterfully promoted themselves using passive aggressive techniques.

    – They talked about transparency, and then pushed affiliate products without identifying them as such.

    I’m not faulting anyone (or even complaining about it.) If it works for them and their community, they should keep it up. I’m simply saying that twitter as a whole was never about having conversations where everyone (or anyone) could participate. Pretending or wishing that it were doesn’t make it so.

  14. @Debra There is true gold in what you speak Debra. Though it may it have never been about having conversations where everyone (or anyone) could participate, it is and I would also venture that perhaps Ev and Biz did intend for it to be a conversational tool, however it’s morphing into something completely different. Does that make it bad? It depends on how you intend or were intending to use it. Great great points though on the Twitter thought leader observation. Dead on!

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