RANT: Trying Really Hard To Give A Damn About Twitter

Photo by Guillaume Flandre on Unsplash

When I finish this article, a WordPress plugin will spin some well-oiled virtual gears, connect to satellites in high Earth orbit, and through a series of flashing lights, sparking contacts, and ringing bells, will announce the fact on social media. It’s a handy thing, saving me the time and energy for more important things, like pondering the point of it all.

You see, every few months or so, I decide I need to reinvigorate my efforts to use social media for “brand building”, “community building”, and the ever popular “finding my tribe”. I have many friends, young and old, who are terribly successful at this, and seem to achieve it effortlessly. I’m essentially a very private person, even face-to-face, so the paradigm shift to living life online has been difficult, and not entirely successful. I’m able to consort on Facebook with a number of friends and acquaintances (though the Public post is still somewhat rare), and have made recent forays on other social media platforms to expand my personality onto the Interwebs.

But no, sorry, I still just don’t get Twitter.

I try. I have tried. I am trying. The faithful bot herald that dutifully trots out and proclaims I’ve published another article here makes a stop at that venue. But I just really can’t bring myself to give a damn about it.

Twitter is not the sole recipient of my disdain in social media. I am equally disinterested in Snapchat, among others. I am mystified that so many third party companies focus themselves on Twitter as the be-all marketing tool. As someone whose been doing marketing and promotion for the better part of three decades, I can’t see where the numbers make any sense.

First of all, the signal to noise ratio on that channel is just horrendously bad. Everyone you’ve never heard of is on Twitter. They’re all retweeting political divisiveness, celebrity snarkiness, or product promotions. None of these hold my interest, anymore than what Captain Kirk had for lunch. It’s like going to a bad high school party with everyone talking loudly at once, but there are millions of guests.

I must admit I’m no expert at hashtaggery (having called it a “number sign” for probably the first year it was operational). I frequently forget to tag posts, and I sometimes suspect hashtags are a mixed blessing. Consider, if you pick something unique, most users will never search it, and if you pick something popular, you’re lost in the crowd. Meanwhile, numerous AI systems out there are culling through those hashtags looking for ways to sell you something. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a good capitalist, but if I pick a hashtag to promote my brand, I’m not fond of the idea that an ad-bot is poised to use that tag to pitch my potential customers.

While I don’t consider myself expert on Facebook either, at least I get what is going on. There’s a conversation there. It’s defined, and organized, and even if the algorithm buries my content, I’m fairly certain that when it does¬†get shared all the relevant commentary is going with it. On Twitter, I’ve yet to find a means of isolating a particular exchange and insuring I see all parts of it. It’s like standing in a room where someone is talking on the phone. You get their half of the conversation, and may not clearly follow all of that. Actually, it’s like that person is talking on the phone, at that high school party.

I grant you Twitter’s mass audience is, well, massive. There’s a vast number of eyeballs on the thing. So it’s easy to argue that “you must be on Twitter because EVERYONE is on Twitter”. And, yep, I’m on there for that reason alone. But I can’t help that nagging voice in the back of my head repeating the old “if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff….” refrain.

I welcome someone to prove me wrong. Rather, I am open to being educated on how this thing actually works, and can be made to effectively build your brand, organize your community, and find your tribe.

Because I’m too old and crusty to believe it.


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