Getting Through Your Awkward Phase on Twitter

Why People Quit Twitter (from Quartz)

Graph from the article “Why People Quit Twitter” on Quartz

According to a survey conducted by the Deutsche Bank (and written about on Quartz), three of the biggest reasons people stop using Twitter are:

  1. They were getting the information somewhere else.
  2. There was no useful information on Twitter.
  3. There were too many tweets and Twitter wasn’t sorting or filtering.

The Quartz article says that these statements boil down to the person’s “inability to find and filter stuff that matters to them.”

People sometimes go through an ‘awkward phase’ when first getting started on Twitter. What would help people who would get value from using the platform but are being held back by these problems?

Getting the Info Somewhere Else

If the only way a person’s ever used Twitter is to get news headlines, then this statement makes sense. I can also understand if the person only used Twitter to follow blogs that have RSS feeds.

But Twitter can be used to discover and share lots of other information too. Plus, part of the fun (and value) is getting exposed to things that you wouldn’t have known to look for in the first place.

More importantly, Twitter isn’t just about harvesting information. It’s also about asking and answering questions, sharing useful content, and networking.

If you’ve stopped using Twitter for this reason:

  • Reconsider what you hope to get out of it. Think about Twitter more as an exchange and an opportunity to make new connections (with information and people).
  • Branch out and follow more people and organizations who talk about the things you’re interested in. (Remember, you don’t need to be “friends.”)
  • Engage with people on Twitter. Even if you do it gradually, start replying to messages (especially if you think you can help) and sharing (or retweeting) interesting things that you think people will appreciate.

No Useful Info

As the Quartz article says:

There’s no shortage of information on Twitter, so Deutsche describes this as a “curation” problem, rather than a content problem.

There’s interesting stuff out there, but the person hasn’t found it yet. That’s a legitimate concern. It’s important to find and follow people who post about things you want to know about and discuss.

Here are some suggestions for finding new people to follow who aren’t celebrities or people posting about their lunch (unless you’re into that):

  • Do a search. Actually there are a couple of options here:
    • You can do a search for a topic or keyword right on the Twitter website and see what tweets show up. If you find something interesting, click on the name of the person who posted it. They might be a good candidate to follow.
    • Search for “top lists” in Google (or one of the other regular search engines). For example, if you’re really interested in finance, search for “best finance twitter accounts.” Someone may have already written a blog post or article with suggestions.
  • Check out who other people follow. If you’ve already found someone who provides interesting info, take a look at what accounts they follow. Chances are there will be an account or two you’ll be interested in too.
  • Keep an eye out. If you’re a big fan of a publication or company, go to their website and see if they list a Twitter account. Really enjoy an article online? See if the author lists their Twitter handle. Hear a good guest speaker at an event? Ask if they’re on Twitter. You might even have colleagues who tweet about interesting topics.

Too Many Tweets, Not Enough Filtering

It’s true that as you follow more accounts you’re going to start getting a lot of tweets flowing through your home feed. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t try to read everything. Many millions of tweets are posted each day. Even when it comes to just the ones your connections post, you aren’t obliged to read them all.
  • Accept that it’ll be messy. Twitter’s a pretty organic way of communicating, and with that comes a little bit of chaos. Don’t let that bother you. The people who you follow won’t always post gold, and that’s ok.
  • On the other hand, if you aren’t interested in what someone says over and over again, it’s ok to unfollow them. Following an account doesn’t have to be reciprocal and doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment.

Need to Tweet?

It’s not necessary for everyone to like using Twitter. However, some people might get value out of it if they could just get through the initial awkward phase.

Do my suggestions make sense? Any other advice for people who use these reasons for not getting involved on Twitter more?

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