Working with journalists on social media initiatives and devouring tech blogs that post a lot of social media analysis caused me to lose touch with reality a little. It’s easy to be in my bubble surrounded by people who easily switch between Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus while happily trying out whatever new social media wagon comes along next.
This morning on Facebook, my favorite chef, Michael Symon posted the following:
Chef Symon sends his tweets to his Facebook fanpage automatically, but still monitors comments and wall posts when he has time. Recently, he had shut down fans’ ability to post on his wall because of the ever-present troll factor that got to be too much to manage. I can see why he would prefer Twitter over Facebook for communication.
But the comments on his post above are interesting and eye-opening because his fans are not journalists, or tech mavens. They are teachers or stay-at-home parents, or students, or clerks – in other words they are a cross-section of the majority of everyday people. And boy, quite a few of them hate Twitter. Or they refuse to learn it.
Check out some of the comments:
All of these popped my little bubble, so to speak, and made me realize that as much as I love and adore Twitter, I really am not sure it will ever be what Facebook is (or what Google Plus hopes to be.) While frustrating, these people make good points about communication and ease of use. To me, Twitter is easier to understand than Facebook, but then I’ve been on it for years so of course I “get it.” Coming into it cold, however, I can now see why it seems overwhelming. There’s no immediacy of feedback like there is on Facebook. If I join Facebook it’s because I already know friends and family using it. If I join Twitter, I can pretty much follow celebrities I like but finding my friends and family there is not easy and if I tweet anything it feels like I’m tweeting in a void.
Now, I have always said that Twitter is what you put into it. That is the mantra for any social network. If you barely use it, of course it will be useless to you. You have to expend some effort – especially on Twitter and I think that’s where Twitter degrades for new users.
Twitter needs to educate “newbies” when they sign up – not inundate them with famous people they can follow. It feels like Twitter expects people to “get it” from the outset when it should be investing time and screen space in ensuring that they get it once they are fully signed up. It needs to find a way to hang onto new users and find a better way to connect them to people they already know and who will @reply back to them. Perhaps a dedicated group of Twitter employees to engage with new users or I don’t know, someone code a ‘bot or something that tweets back and forth with newbies and walks them through the language of ‘tweets’ and ‘mentions’ and ‘@replies’ and ‘retweets.’
I just don’t think Twitter is helping itself very much by just signing people up and expecting them to get it.