Why Twitter Is Evolving (+ the sky is not falling)

in response to umair haque’s Why Twitter’s Dying.

I never understood Twitter until a few years ago. In its early days I’d tried to use it to share some fiction, to squawk a little about this or that, and nothing happened. A few friends followed me and they were even less active than I was. My account sat for years, as untouched as my LinkedIn profile.

Then I got a job at an agency where I had to use Twitter, and to use it effectively to reach audiences for clients. A few pointers from the agency’s social media Obi-Wan and Twitter began to make sense. It was even fun.

For one thing Twitter is not Facebook. Abuse on Facebook is virtually a lock. The way sharing is set up, the tendency to follow people from your past with wildly different sets of values, and the long form responses guarantee one of your friend’s friends is going to say something awful. Twitter in contrast is a collection of people you selected, or who selected you, because of shared interests.

Twitter is dead. It dies everyday. But a new Twitter replaces it. Numerous Old Dead Twitters are paraded around Weekend-at-Bernie’s style by users unwilling to use it any differently.

From what I can gather of Twitter’s earlier days, fewer people were using it and the key to success was carpet-bombing your followers with a million posts a day. I still see those users and am fascinated by their strategy. Few favorites, few meaningful replies, just an onslaught of unquoted retweets and the same 3 promotional posts over and over and over.

That’s what Blocking is for. I don’t fight on Twitter. I don’t feel abused. Whether it’s one of my own accounts or an account I’m developing for a client, I have audiences made up of people who say and share interesting things, who seem genuinely interested in what I have to say. It’s civil, it’s stimulating, it’s entertaining.

I know there are abusive people on Twitter. There are also thousands of non-existent robots on there. It’s like a cable TV package with hundreds of channels of garbage and only a handful of things worth watching. Luckily it’s not exactly like cable TV. On Twitter you only get the channels you want.

Twitter is one of the best places to be exposed to new things. It’s not a destination or advertising platform. If you engage with users being jerks, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you have a real interest in what your followers have to say you’ll learn a little something, you’ll have a few laughs. Things are going to be alright.

Twitter’s market share will likely fluctuate as the Vines, Instagrams, and Snapchats of the world come to be. Some of those new social media outlets will succeed and fewer people will use Twitter. Some will fall into the Ello-abyss. Regardless of all that Twitter will continue to survive and change.