Let’s Be Honest About Twitter

Twitter has become just a marketing strategy to many ...

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[ Social Media]

Twitter is a great new tool for the Internet savvy but it may already have past its prime as a way to keep in touch. Just looking around at Twitter profiles shows that most users are following hundreds of people which means your Twitter screen on the web has all new Tweets about every five minutes. Not exactly user friendly!


Twitter - Picture

Twitterers following thousands of people like Robert Scoble (16,188) and Jason Calicanas (8,916) can’t possibly read all of the Tweets they sign up to follow. Let’s be honest, most people are Twittering as a strategy to either promote themselves or their business. Twitter has become much more about talking than listening for many people.


The general perception is that the number of Twitter followers is similar to an email list or a feed count. In other words as Twitter evolves it’s changing from a social networking tool to a marketing strategy. Evidence of this is the number of links you are seeing in tweets.

Nothing is wrong with this, but if Twitter is to prosper as a social announcement tool rather than a new way to blast a self serving message then options on filtering posts and prioritizing posters is needed.

Some of these options are available in outside apps, but these are used by few compared to the number of people Twittering. For Twitter to catch on with the average person features similar to an email client with files, folders, deleting, sorting and searching need to be incorporated in Twitter upon sign up.

Many people still do use Twitter effectively by being selective about who they follow and which tweets go to their mobile device. Twitter is often used like a public IM to send messages to one person but where everyone can read them. Twitter is fascinating in both how it is used and its tremendous growth.

However, I think the writing on the Twitter wall is that more and more users see Twitter as a new free way to promote, promote and promote.

Follow this author on Twitter:  twitter.com/richord

Let’s Be Honest About Twitter
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  • http://www.ruudhein.com Ruud Hein

    You write; "…can’t possibly read all of the Tweets they sign up to follow"

    The idea isn’t to catch-up or follow it all. It’s like entering the buzz of a bar, catching a part of a conversation and joining in or not. The idea double check what everybody has been talking about the last 2 hours is unreal.

    • Rich Ord

      Good point, but I don’t see it that way because there really is no conversation … everybody is just randomly tweeting. I think what originally got people using Twitter was the idea of letting friends in on what you are doing or thinking that would sometimes lead to real-life interaction.

      If you have 15,000 tweeters to follow that are just flickering rapidly across your screen is this really possible?

  • http://blog.impactmt.com BigPappa

    I couldn’t agree more.  I just signed up for Twitter and I soon realized that most of the people that I found to follow are not following me ending up in a one way conversation.  Since they are not following me, they don’t get the replies that I make.  So i am a little confused.  In addition to marketing your blog, you need to go out and market your twitter so people will get your mini-posts?

  • http://twitter.com/status_girl Melanie

    Hahaha. Loved the ‘follow this author on twitter‘ plug at the end.

    Twitter is about interaction with peers and contrary to popular belief, there ARE actual conversations taking place. If you’re one of those people though, like the ones mentioned in the post, you’re not going to get that type of experience out of it and thus it may not ‘float your boat’. Follow the right types of people, and you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for (for example, my followers are privy to SEO info and tips I wouldn’t normally just hand out – like the harvard.edu backlink info last week).

    2 cents.

    • Rich Ord

      Great advice. Since Twitter is so new many people including many WebProNews readers are still struggling to understand it. Thanks.

    • http://www.netndx.com sean

      I caught your harvard.edu tweat(I think) through shoe’s website. Although for the life of me could not figure out where and how you got the .edu backlink. oh well small world. 

    • Guest


      How can I find out about the Harvard.edu backlink?


      dentalgil http://www.brooksidedental.com


  • Jason Lee Miller

    But I’m okay with that. :-)

    I use Twitter more to get a snapshot of what is going on at any given point in time. I do the same thing with Google’s Hot Trends page, which shows bursts in search behavior. It’s a good way of keeping up. It’s impossible to keep up completely; talk about information overload! But I treat a bit like running into friends on the street who point over to something that’s going on around the block. I’m not going to stand on the street (in the stream of consciousness as it were) and query everybody, but somewhat in the loop as opposed to completely out of it can yield some interesting results. I don’t worry much about the conversation side of it, but instead just let the bits of info come pouring in. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes not.

    In a smallish network, it could be an effective, real time communication device, but I fail to see it’s advantages over instant messaging, unless it you use it as intended: a one to many broadcast device. However, as MacWorld proved, Twitter needs to be more on the ball to handle sudden bursts of traffic. There might be, though, an efficiency advantage in social networking, allowing people to make contact, via following the followers, with people they would otherwise have difficulty reaching…so long as you can believe an avatar is who he says he is. :-)

    Like everything else, it’s more complicated than it looks and like Twitter from the beginning, it’s more useful than it appears, but even that usefulness has its limits. What will be fun is when it reaches some kind of critical mass. Then we watch the abuse begin as gamers flood the system and Twitter comes to a screaching halt. Until then, we party.

  • http://www.netndx.com Sean

    I think you are right on with the marketing comment. I have been trying to figure out whether I wanted to twitter or not and it seems like it is evolving to a short message blast of "look at me and my product" drivel. I thought just this morning that political candidates could and probably will use it to "get out the vote" on election day or some other message.

    And I agree completely about the inability to make sense of all of the intertwined snippets of conversation. I saw info on some new sites as you mention that are trying put tweats in context…they seem interesting.

    But in the end I decided I am not going to twit. I really don’t want to be that connected. Of course, I am not into SMS either or friending into the thousands. So maybe I am not the target demographic anyway 

  • Guest

    that is why you follow many – but only get notified by a few

    never look at the web page

    • Rich Ord

      Definately, that’s what a lot of people are doing. My point is that more people are signing up for Twitter with only one purpose in mind … marketing. Nothing wrong with that but that was not the initial purpose for Twitter.

      • http://www.mcbuzz.com Mark McLaren

        The original intent for Twitter may not have been marketing — although I can’t imagine that it didn’t occur to some of its creators early on — but that was not the original intent for the World Wide Web, either. And we all know where that has taken us.

      • http://www.emersondirect.wordpress.com Marc Meyer

        Rich I don’t think the original purpose of social media/networks was to extend brands, but not only is it used for that, but the SEO community has enveloped social media in a veil that forces us all to step back and scrutinize every post, every sig, and every website.

        Nothing annoys me more than to see the comment spam on my blog and on others but thats the reality.  Just as the brick and mortar society has it’s scammers, corner-cutters, and the people who want to make as much money as they can doing the least amount of work, our online brethren see the potential in social media. Either embrace it or shut it down.


        Street smarts count as much online as they do offline.




  • http://globalneighbourhoods.net shel israel

    Actually, you may be looking only at the Comet side of Twitter and missing avery long tail. According to co-founder Biz Stone, the Average Twitter user, as of three weeks ago, followed about 10 other people and posted an average of three times weekly.

    What is true and is of concern to me is the current surge of people trying to use Twitter as a brand extender, or as a marketing push device. About half my followers in the last week are from brand names and aliases, not people. How this comes out on Twitter remains to be seen or so it seems to me.



  • http://www.brooksidedental.com Guest

    Exactly how useful is twitter for a fairly small business, even one that may have a dominant regional market position?  Just curious, because I’m not sure I see the advantage of using it just as a marketing tool if no one looks at your product or service.


  • http://www.digitalvegetarian.com KRONiS

    Just because someone has 15,000 followers doesn’t mean that those people are following thousands of people. It’s a fun thing and if you don’t like it don’t use it! i responded elsewhere today about this saying that those who think it is a stupid trend that has passed its prime likely don’t have a lot of people following their twittering.

    it’s also a great waste of time!

    who seriously has 15,000 tweets to follow… well i guess if EVERYONE responded at once, but come on.


    Rock out. – KRONiS

  • Jay

    Interesting that there’s a link to follow you at the end of your article. Hmm…

  • http://poseidonprofit.blogspot.com Poseidon

    Website owners,bloggers,forum posters come to my blog to get useful info about SEO tips and news….

  • http://www.m4s73r.com/ Internet Marketing Indonesia

    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

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