I believe that Twitter has a major branding problem.
As I have written before, Twitter’s biggest barrier to entry is its own branding. I have recently suggested to a number of my friends that they sign-up and join Twitter. Although they enthusiastically check it out, their use of Twitter generally lasts less than a week. During that time they typically make 10 posts.
Do they not get it? Are they not cutting-edge enough? No and No. The reason they loose interest is because they follow the directions. They literally answer the question – just as Twitter requests – â€œWhat are you doing?â€� and nothing more.
In my opinion Twitter’s value as a service has shifted since its launch. The Twitter community has made the service much more rich by pushing it to be what people are thinking, not simply what they are doing. Twitter is a flow of intermittent conversation where anyone can jump in and out anytime. Leave the lame status updates to a service like Gchat.
My personal experience (similar to most others I have spoken with) has been that my big breakthrough with Twitter has only occurred after 1) adding a significant number of followers and 2) beginning to converse through the @ symbol and direct message language.
In its current state, Twitter is first and foremost an active community of dorks (of which I am one). Secondarily, but key to mass acceptance, is its secondary community; the people not using the service as they should be. These â€˜newbies‘ often suffer doubly: since they post so infrequently, when they do begin to follow a more popular user, the veteran user won’t add them back because it seems they are some infrequently posting lame-o. In truth, they just don’t know how to use Twitter. Unless a new registrant is plugged into the tech scene, or happens to follow a particular meme like South by Southwest, they likely have no sense of this richer potential for participation.
Do I have the solution? No. However, I hope that Twitter’s requests for â€˜submitted stories’ will guide them to a more clear understanding of what Twitter’s branding should be. One small change I’ll throw out would be Twitter suggesting memes to be followed and commented on by new users in the sidebar. Or suggest memes being followed by the people you are following. Also make it easy for people to know when someone has sent them a message (@).
I love Twitter so the point of this is not be a diatribe. I simply want to stresss to new and potential Twitter users that the value isn’t on an individual level. Twitter’s value is in conversation and that requires interaction with others.