Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 11, 2011 4:03 PM

Twitter Is Random

I'm not very good at Twitter.

I understand it. I use it. But, I just can't make it bend to my will. You have to know why you're doing something to really get the value out of it, and I've made a decision that while I love having so many people follow me on Twitter and I do love posting little snippets and thoughts that don't flesh out into ideas for clients or Blog posts or Huffington Post columns, that I'm not great at the real-time heat and action that comes from Twitter in how it has evolved. I'm not good at thanking all of the people who say kind things about me and I'm probably a little worse at responding to every question simply because when I finally get around to it, I feel like the Twitter feed has moved on. I'm pretty weak at the whole "public chat" that Twitter is and I'm humble enough to recognize which platforms work for what I'm trying to accomplish with my agency, Twist Image. That being said, Twitter is one of the best platforms for brands to do all of the above (and yes, they don't have an excuse like I do ;).

Twitter is not Facebook.

MarketingCharts ran a very interesting news item today titled, Tweeters More Engaged With TV Shows, that said:

"A considerably higher percentage of Twitter users who tweet while watching a TV show discuss the show they're watching than Facebook users who log in during a TV show, according to May 2011 data from TVGuide.com. The TVGuide.com User Research Study indicates 50% of Twitter users discuss a show they are watching, one-third more than the 35% of Facebook users who discuss a show they are watching."

It makes a lot of sense.

If you're lazying around watching a TV show, odds are that you are flicking around on your mobile device too. Twitter's true innovation was that it was an equally great platform on mobile as it was on the Web... in fact, I would argue that Twitter is actually better on a mobile device than the Web experience. Facebook on mobile isn't so easy and simple (have you tried the Facebook iPhone and iPad app? Exactly). Beyond that, the types of interactions that work best on Twitter are those that are happening in real-time, whereas Facebook has that capability, it truly is something that can be enjoyed in a non-real-time environment.

Think about it this way...

If you were going to a concert, you might mention it on your Facebook status and you might even follow that up with a status update when you got home along with uploading some photos, but if you really wanted a digital experience to complement your concert experience, odds are you would not only be tweeting from the show, but following along with the hashtags as well (you just never know who you can meet or how much more fun a live event is when you can have a shared experience with others). Don't even get me started on how cool Instagram is when added on to that live experience.

Easy wins too.

Twitter allows you to publish those random thoughts on the fly, but they also made the platform incredibly easy. I'm not saying Twitter is better than Facebook. I am saying that Twitter is different from Facebook. That news item from MarketingCharts proves it. If there were no Twitter, I'm sure the activity on the Facebook status functionality would be on the rise, but Twitter is much easier for the randomness of life (and it's one of the main things people like about it - the serendipity of it all).

The question is will easy and simple always rule the day?

(and, for the record, I'm not all that great at Facebook either).

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Mitch Joel

    I think easy and simple do rule the day, that's why Likes and RTs are done more often than comments and check-ins, the same goes for watching a video compare to reading an article.

    The problem with Facebook status update is that only your friends get to see it unless you open your profile account which most people probably don't now a days. For example to find out what's happening in Egypt, I would have turn to Twitter to follow the conversation live, of course there is always the language barrier.

    Reply
  • Posted by Parth Shukla
    Mitch Joel

    I can relate to it Mitch, with a constant stream of "other info" flowing int at you during a workday--I find it next to impossible to keep up with the twitter conversations.

    Though I do use it in a few specific ways that have worked for me:
    1-Ask a question and get a almost real time answer
    2-Find good talent (spread the word about open positions)
    3-Meet interesting people and hear their thoughts--people I would not have met otherwise.

    Would be interested to know if habits are changing on Twitter especially in light of another forum(google+)??

    Parth

    Parth

    Reply
  • Posted by Madison Norton
    Mitch Joel

    Definitely rings true with me. Twitter is the best way I find to engage in anything real time as you said, concerts, TV shows, etc.

    The best example was attending The Art of Marketing Seminar in June in Vancouver (which Mitch spoke at, awesome by the way) and being able to connect with a number of people I've followed on Twitter for months but haven't been able to meet in real life. It made the experience even MORE human, as I feel that Twitter is the closest thing to live interaction as it gets.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bobby Hewitt
    Mitch Joel

    A real time world means real time commitment and real time tools but each tool (twitter, facebook, etc.) requires it's own strategy. You've got to embrace what your best at.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rosemary ONeill
    Mitch Joel

    I'm crazy about Twitter, but I get frustrated by the auto-DMs and scheduled Tweets (even though I occasionally schedule myself). Sometimes I peruse the stream looking for someone to interact with, and it's a steady blast of automated content (no-one's behind the wheel). Perhaps it's the pressure of being "on" all the time that drives this, keeping Klout scores up and staying visible in everyone's Twitter feed, but it does make it more difficult to have real conversations sometimes.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ann Hawkins
    Ann Hawkins

    I LOVE the whole maniacal randomness of Twitter. It has me howling with laughter and persuing things I didn't know existed but I never automate or schedule anything and I don't follow people who do that. In fact I don't follow any business logos or names, only real people with real faces. Most of them are in business but get the whole social networking thing. We all get business from twitter but its a real P2P connection that does it.

    So, how about Goggle+ ? Takes the best of FB, LinkedIn and Twitter and makes it easy to blog, chat, post videos, etc., etc. I reckon I'll abandon FB pretty soon.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mary Tod
    Mitch Joel

    Your comment that Twitter is public chat really struck a chord. In order to 'chat' one needs to interact as closely to real time as possible. Those of us who are occupied in relatively full time work, can't always slice off the tiny bits of time necessary to feed the Twitter beast. I think I'll stick to blogging :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Bryan
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch: Went to a concert recently, and uploaded a photo via Instagram. Think I cross-posted to Twitter with the hashtag. But I didn't want to follow the hashtag *during* the concert; I was too into the music!

    Reply
  • Posted by Alexa Ronngren
    Mitch Joel

    I also find Twitter to be too time consuming and random in general. But for specific moments in time, I love the platform. I use it most when I am on a great webinar and want to both share the info I'm learning, and improve my retention rate. For me, it's been a great way to interact with fellow marketers. But because I follow a lot of people with great content, it's very easy to get sucked into reading their content instead of creating my own!

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Also not so good at FB, better at Twitter but it's because I don't think it's random. They are different and it'll depend on how you use them as to which you think is better; all based on what we want out of them. Yes plenty use Twitter to just randomly live stream whatever they want, others have more crossover in FB mixing old, current friends with business buds (I try to keep it separate) but I think a lot of users come to the networks with some purpose. If your online interests are about a hodgepodge of your everyday life, sharing with old school friends and family you rarely see, then maybe FB. If your interests are more specific, then as you say Twitter can easily help you find your niche and chat with those folks talking about it right now be it a sporting event, TV show or some business topic. I think simple and easy will coexist right along side more robust and complicated, but not sure any one can always rule the day; think everyone will always have their own reasons for using networks as they do.. not better, just different. FWIW.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    These are really impressive ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    Reply
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