If I Ran Twitter

If I ran Twitter, the prompt wouldn’t be “What are you doing?”

Because, honestly, and with no offense to my Twitter friends, I don’t care what they’re doing. I don’t care that they’re at a Starbucks working, I don’t care that they’re eating oatmeal for breakfast, I don’t care that they’re at an airport, I don’t care that they’re playing soccer, and I don’t care if they’re playing Xbox.

If I ran Twitter, the prompt would be “What are you thinking?”

That’s what I want to know from my Twitter friends. What did you just read that sparked your interest, or ticked you off? What nugget of data crossed your desk today that you found surprising? What’s your reaction to the latest news about … whatever? What’s your mood right now? Why?

That’s what I would do if I ran Twitter — change the prompt. Because what my Twitter friends are doing doesn’t generate conversation. How am I supposed to respond to “I’m at a Starbucks working”? With “Oh wow! I once worked from a Starbucks, too!”? I don’t think so.

What my Twitter friends are thinking and feeling generates conversation. And that is — by far and away — the most valuable thing about what Twitter does.

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17 thoughts on “If I Ran Twitter

  1. I was on Twitter a long time ago and quit because I was frustrated and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of “where I am and what I’m doing” tweets. I joined back up when I realized I was missing some good info related to my industry. Thanks for being a great Twit to follow.

    If I ran Twitter I would make tweeting about sports (except for Longhorns) and video games illegal. I would require equal parts estrogen to testosterone. I would also make name-dropping a punishable offense.

  2. Great post. I have a few associates (can’t even go as far as to say “friends”) who have asked me to join Twitter, but it always seemed a bit elementary and annoying… somewhat self indulgent…

    On the other hand, if the conversation led somewhere with a prompt like that, I may have to rethink it…

    “What are you thinking?” – causes conversation.


    Keep Cooking!

  3. I would also add a limit to the number of “self promoting tweets with links” allowed in a given time span. (Not talking about total elimination…just capping it at like once a month or something.)

    Honestly, if what you wrote/did/podcasted/videod is good enough, chances are someone else will mention it on twitter.

    I like this “fictitious company leadership” role!

  4. @Ron: I like so how some (like OSCU) have setup separate twitter accounts that only do the “I just posted” alerts. (We have one for Banktastic too…though sometimes we do double post from our personal twitters.)

    I think this methods allows you to use your personal twitter to highlight really amazing stuff and not get tuned out as “just another update” for those that already follow your blog via other mediums.

    Those are just my thoughts on it. 😉

  5. Ron

    – the “just posted” tweets? Sorry but that’s why RSS works so well right?
    – self promotion, Guilty as charged.
    – sports. is that a gender thing? whoops, sorry.

    – quick feedback like BarCampBankDallas today and TextUs a few weeks ago. The wisdom of crowds thing and noticing works well.
    – general updates on any issue. Yeah the Starbuck’s thing but then when Charlie told me he was going to a German restaurant I could give him a good recommendation on food. It worked there.
    – sports. keeping the bookmakers honest or trying to make a dollar from the ignorant. Guilty.

    – what are you thinking? Twitter with mind melding.
    – what are you feeling? Twitter on steroids
    – what are you seeing? Twitteryoutube. Imagine 67 small screens of people talking, like the Matrix
    – waiting for the limited 131 character jokes.

    It’s Friday mid-afternoon gotta get home, gotta get home.

  6. I consider this the other day but talked myself out. I think although the ‘thinking’ tweets would definitely more profound and thought provoking, the random outlying tweets add to the persons whole.

    Yes, I know Ron is a damn good marketer/blogger that talks mainly about the financial industry. But due to his randomness, I also know that he’s writing a book (that’s possibly getting reviewed by Seth Godin), recently got fired from a job, and has friends that are doing research in the field that I work in. I wouldn’t get any of that without those random tweets and to me, those are AS important as the thought provoking ones.

  7. I’ve had the honor of being a part of a few social media conversations about Twitter. It’s interesting that, just as many people “use” twitter for different purposes, many people have different expectations of what they want to see in a Twitter stream. I’ve heard some people say that they won’t follow someone unless their business to personal tweet ratio is no less than 90:10. Others say they can tell if a person is worth following by looking at the frequency of “@” tweets. Someone who doesn’t engage with others is less likely to be a good person to follow. And of course the other key when trying to figure out if someone is follow-worthy: The following to follower ratio. Are they a superstar and follow 50 with 6500 followers, are the “normal” and have an approximately equal following to follower ratio, or are they a stalker and follow 4700 people and only have 89 followers? There is also debate on whether or not announcing blog posts is worthwhile or redundant. (Since if we are following your blog, we’ll see new posts in our RSS readers.)

    Here are a few resources on Twitterquette:

    The 10 rules of Twitter
    Red Hand Software on Twitterquette

  8. Hey! Am I the “west coast cmo” who doesn’t like “I just posted on my blog” tweets? For the record, I don’t mind them – IF they are used judiciously.

    Random story about twitter – while in New York City, I was talking to someone about my book and they were asking me about how I use my blog to promote it. The conversation turned to who reads my blog and I admitted that it was mostly men. When she asked me why, I said, ‘well, because most of my twitter friends are male”. The look she gave me spoke volumes. (she had no idea what I was talking about).

    I compare twitter to what it was like when I lived in the dorms in college and I would have short conversations with my friends in the hall or in line at the cafeteria – not blog length discussions, but points of communication nonetheless.

    If I ran twitter, maybe my into line would say “talk with me”.

  9. @Brad: “conversation-provoking” doesn’t have to be some esoteric, intellectual, “thought-provoking” comment. And when I wrote this post, I was VERY conscious that there might be some people w/in our twitter circle would might be offended by my comments here. Of course, I didn’t let that stop me. I value the conversation a lot more than the status alerts.

    @Shari: Yep, you’re that CMO. I didn’t think it was appropriate to attribute that to you w/o your consent.

  10. I had the wordpress plugin for posting alerts to twitter when I updated CUHype.com.

    It lasted about 2 hours before I turned it off. It irritated me and they were my own posts 🙂

    Twitter is interesting. I started, then dropped out now I am back in trying to catch up. It is a time eater though. Even now I am talking about it when I should be writing copy.

    I should bill twitter for my time

  11. My boyfriend told us about your article…you’re right!!
    I think that is very interesting what people think when there sitting in a town, at work, at home, maybe even in bed…
    I care about what my friends think. Well…I don’t twitter…think it’s boring to say all day to people what I do and think.
    I walk rather outside, in the sun…or do funny things with my friends or even call them up and hear there voice.
    But twitter brought me and my boyfriend together again…because he said what he felt and thought about me.

  12. Ron good point! Natascha who responded above me, is my girlfriend and we did get back together because I twittered my thoughts and she did the same on her blog… ah, the wonders of internet 🙂

    But all too often I catch myself twittering what I am doing and not what I am thinking. I will make sure to make a note of that and watch what I write down in the future!

    Take care!

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