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Is Twitter a Waste of Time?

If you’ve recently visited Twitter.com to see what all the fuss was about, chances are you left a little underwhelmed.  Or maybe, amid all the peer pressure, you signed up for an account, gave it a shot and never experienced that “ah ha” moment every Twitter advocate in your circle said you would.  You may have even come to the conclusion that you’re just not narcissistic enough.

What Are You Doing

If any of these scenarios describes you, you’re certainly not alone.  For the reasons why, one need look no further than the question asked of all new Twitter users (“What are you doing?”)

The assumption by the uninitiated is that Twitter is indeed a narcissistic endeavor.  Check out this video for what I’m driving at. It’s been circulating the web for a while.  I first saw it a couple of months ago.  I suspect you’ll laugh watching it, but it’s not even close to resembling how the majority of us use, and find value in, Twitter.

Okay, I too laughed at the video. After all, I don’t mind being the butt of anyone’s joke.  But I will say it’s too bad people insist on making fun of something they obviously don’t understand.

But the blame lies with Twitter.  The question the founders (@ev and @biz on Twitter) ask of all new users, and the fact they’ve not bothered to update it to reflect how Twitter is used by most today, is short-sided at best.  They again participated in diminishing the experience, in my view, when they did this.  I won’t even go into the day-to-day Twitter patterns of the entire Twitter crew.

Don’t let that deter you though.  If you’ve given up on Twitter, or never gave it a shot in the first place, I encourage you to do so for the reasons I’m about to state:

I would argue I’ve learned more and discovered more since joining Twitter than anytime in my life before that, and that includes having earned a business degree from one of the top 20 business schools in the country and the 22 years I’ve spent in broadcasting (and I’ve been on Twitter less than 10 months).

I’ve conversed with CEOs and many others I never otherwise would’ve been able to reach.  I’ve picked the brains of authors, business people, social media gurus, successful non-profit consultants and others from all over the world who have greatly enhanced my life.  And my experience is anything but unique.

In fact, if I were forced to funnel my entire web experience through Twitter and nothing else, I wouldn’t blink.  I’ll go so far as to say my surfing would not be diminished in the slightest.  My Twitter home page (essentially my own customized news feed) is filled with interesting links, unique insights and often valuable life lessons, as are the home pages of so many others on Twitter.

Ignore Twitter if you wish, but realize you do so at your own peril.  When it comes to your next job interview, you may find yourself competing against a graduate of “Twitter University.”  My money will be on them.

I’m About to Kick Twitter In The Nads (I Want My Collateral Replies Back)

First off, I must acknowledge @thebrandbuilder who is responsible for the title of this post.  He (Olivier) made that very comment in a tweet he wrote earlier tonight.  For whatever reason, he was slow to understand exactly what the Twitter crew had managed to mess with regarding our Twitter experience, but once he got it he was pissed.

BrandBuilder

And so was everyone else.  From @KrisColivin to @ConversationAge, all of Twitter is abuzz with what looks, on the surface, to be a monumentally DUMB decision on the part of Twitter.

Previously, under the “Notices” section of the Twitter.com interface, you could choose whether or not you wanted to see every @reply sent by someone you followed (regardless of whether or not you followed the recipient) or just @replies sent to others you also followed.

Apparently, in his May 12th Twitter blog post ol’ Biz believes a lot of us were confused by these options.  He even goes so far as to say, “receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable.”

Says who?  I say it’s one of the best ways of discovering new and interesting people to follow on Twitter, Biz?  How often do you actually use your own service?  And what about #followfriday when so many of us share with our followers new twitterers they might consider?  If my #followfriday tweets begin with @someonemyfollowersdontknow, they’ll NEVER SEE THE FREAKIN’ TWEET!

@ConversationAge said it best:

ConversationAge2

And then she followed it with this gem:

ConversationAge1

Since I started this post, ol’ Biz has added an addendum to his blog post:

Discovery Still Possible

Spotting new folks in tweets is an interesting way to check out new profiles and find new people to follow. Despite this update, you’ll still see mentions or references linking to people you don’t follow. For example, you’ll continue to see, “Ev meeting with @biz about work stuff” even if you don’t follow @biz. We’ll be introducing better ways to discover and follow interesting accounts as we release more features in this space.

While this example may be true, and is an obvious attempt to quell the uproar, it still doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to see the tweet by someone I follow that BEGINS with @soandso when I don’t follow @soandso.  Maybe I find these “one-sided fragments” interesting enough to click the “in reply to” link within the tweet.  I discover more tweets from @soandso and decide to follow.  That opportunity for discovery has been taken away.

My hope is the uproar is loud enough that Biz comes to his senses and puts the option back in.