The Problem with Twitter

The largest communication platform in the world hasn’t created a way to utilize it’s most valuable asset and I’m tired of sitting on good ideas.

Yeah, I know, everyone has their opinion about Twitter. Great. Let’s talk about facts. Facebook has the largest social graph in the world, nearly 2 billion monthly active users. Cool. And, all those people “like” stuff. However, those “likes” are meaningless. People “like” their friend’s band, or a photo, or someone’s friend’s mom’s new small business page. Does everyone actually like this stuff? No. On occasion, sure. But usually it’s a form of acknowledgement or someone just being nice.

With that said, I’m a firm believer that Twitter actually has the largest interest graph in the world. I assume most people only follow other users on Twitter because they’re genuinely interested in what those users posts.

Logical deduction: A like on Twitter is exponentially more valuable than a like on Facebook.

In addendum, following someone on Twitter carries much more weight than friending someone on Facebook. My guess, 50% of your friends on Facebook are obligatory. College acquaintances, co-workers, every person your wife is related to, etc. Another guesstimate, the average Twitter user follows 80%-90% of users because they actually want to follow them.

Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I’m totally wrong and have no clue what I’m talking about. Maybe not.

Back to Twitter. I’m somewhat of an edge case user. I’m a completionist. Yes, since September of 2008 I have read every single tweet from every person I’ve ever followed. This is why I only use Tweetbot, they have cloud-based feed syncing, so I can always pick up right where I left off, on any device. But, this also means I keep my follow count low. Before following someone, I will legitimately estimate their tweets per day average. Like I said, edge case user. However, I have a ton of interests that extend well beyond the list of people that I follow. That’s the problem.

PROBLEM: People have more interests than they can keep up with.

SOLUTION: Create different ways people can stay connected to more of their interests without cluttering their daily feed.

EXAMPLE: I love music. I probably like at least 200+ artists, and I would probably even go see most of them in concert. Do I follow any of them on Twitter? No. I don’t want my feed cluttered with self promotion.

One possible solution could be Twitter lists. I could put all the artists that I like into a list so I have them all in one place. Brilliant. Tried it. Doesn’t solve anything… But it could.

What if Twitter had a calendar? All those people in my “Music” list could post events and shows, and then I could filter the events that are only scheduled near me.

Problem, solved.

Then, you can use your stupid “important tweets algorithm” and put all the popular tweets from my “Music” list at the top of the list. This solves multiple problems:

  1. I don’t have to actually follow 200+ more users and sift more through clutter.
  2. I have a central calendar where I can see all the events happening around me, filtered by location and list.
  3. Your algorithm doesn’t f*ck up my feed. I can still enjoy being a completionist, but you can still utilize your algorithm to show me the important tweets from the 200+ people that I have in a list when viewing that list.
  4. Finally, lists have value.
  5. Twitter gains more insights. You’re welcome. More interests, more targeted marketing, charge money to post events in volume, revenue sharing on click-throughs and ticket sales, more money for Twitter. Again, you’re welcome.

AND THAT’S JUST MUSIC.

Ps. Don’t give me that look. I remember the Twitter music app. It was nicely designed, but it was a piece of shit. That’s why it’s gone now.

Twitter, you’ve been around for over a decade. You’ve proven your value in media. Tweets are used in every episode of Sportscenter, in articles across the internet, in print, and in news broadcasts around the world. Somehow, you still have a flailing business.

I think you forgot about your users. I think you prioritized monetization over user experience.

Again, the problem: People have more interests than they can keep up with.

I’m not gonna hold your hand through the dozens of ways that this problem can be fixed, but you’ve been sitting on a goldmine for years and it’s getting to a place where you’re just embarrassing yourself.