How I Use Twitter Has Dramatically Changed Recently

By @TheMarkDalton

I have laid off Twitter for a couple of months, you know, give them a break from the constant bashing because thats what it feels like I am doing most of the time. I’m not going to start beating on them again (well not that much anyway) because Twitter will always have a special place for me. 

It was the first social media platform that I really enjoyed using and that I felt somewhat of an addiction to. Twitter had all the potential but failed to execute successful product development in its prime and as a result they have fallen behind the pack.

A host of A-list celebrities have abandoned ship, that is a big deal for a platform looking to grow. Just look at some of the names who have decided to ditch the platform – Leslie Jones, Ryan Tubridy, Darron Gibson, Emma Stone. Then we have celebs who have quit and now returned but most of them choose to have accounts managed by PR teams instead. Last week, Ed Sheeran revealed he has also quit Twitter as he said the following about the platform:

“I’ve actually come off Twitter completely, I can’t read it. I go on it and there’s nothing but people saying mean things. One comment ruins your day. But that’s why I’ve come off it.”

He is not wrong either, just look at the replies that any celebrity account receives and you can see why they struggle to put up with it. Then you have the number 1 “celeb” on there at the moment, Donald Trump, spewing abuse and harassing journalists which in turn rallies his followers to do the same. It all makes for an unsavoury experience. Not something we would expect from the president of the United States but it seems to be common place now. With Ed leaving Twitter it caused me to look at my own use of the platform and when I did that I was kind of surprised to see how my use of it had changed in recent months.

How much time do I spend on Twitter now?

Not a lot. I skim through the feed to see what is going on but I rarely post live tweets in comparison to what I once did. Much of the content through my Twitter account is automated through Buffer. I basically use it to flush links to my website and blog through Twitter because the reality is that if you want traffic to your site you may as well put yourself in as many places as you can.

Load up Buffer in the morning with tweets, let them roll. If someone I know interacts on Twitter then I of course interact back but apart from that I only check the feed maybe 2-3 times per day. The compulsion to come back for more on Twitter is gone because for me, the platform provides a lot less value than what it once did.

I have not been on the receiving end of an excessive amount of hate but like most of us using Twitter I have experienced it. I tweeted a link to a post earlier this week about why Donald Trump should be banned from Twitter and honestly I did it with one eye closed not knowing if and what the backlash from it would be like.

Do I interact on Twitter?

Yes, but not a lot. The best way for me to put is that you can reach me on Twitter but if you want a guaranteed response there are better options. Not that I am trying to be rude or anything on Twitter, it is just a platform where I am most likely to miss notifications if anywhere. You see Twitter interactions can be a dangerous place, you never know what you are going to find when you dive in. I have my notifications off for Twitter so I only see what is there when I login to the app. I interact with people I know or with people that I happen to see who are legit. DM – I tend to stay away from them for the most part, I answer people I know if I catch them but even at that there is no guarantee you will get me through Twitter DM.

If you want to be sure you can reach me your best bet is either email or Instagram. If you want to get through to me fast then hit me up through Instagram and I won’t be long in getting back to you. Serious business going down in Instagram DMs these days, it is almost like my email account now with the business going on down there.

Twitter is mostly text based

This was a point that I took note of last week and reflected a bit on it. Yes, Twitter is heavily text based and there is less of an emphasis on video and photo unlike Snapchat and Instagram and that in itself causes problems for Twitter as a service. It is no secret that we have and continue to move towards more visual content.

Twitter knows this too, why else would they be going in so hard on their live streaming service (Periscope)? Because of the emphasis on text it gives rise to hordes of keyboard warriors. People who think they can say whatever they please behind the anonymity of a keyboard and there are no ramifications. It could be argued that maybe in that case, Twitter has a tougher job trying to moderate and control them.

That is something for Twitter to figure out because as long as the problems are so rampant on the platform, growth will always be limited. People believe Twitter is a big social network, it is and it isn’t. They have grown to an average number, they hold their own (just about) but when you compare them to the competition, the reality is that we are playing in a small corner of the internet.

The blue tick has zero value

While we are on the subject of Twitter in general I feel the need to address the Twitter verification badges. I get asked about how to get a blue tick constantly because I have one. People congratulate me for getting Twitter verified which to be honest is a bit strange.

So for starters, I don’t know how you can get verified so please stop asking me for tips. I got verified before the application process was opened up when I was a part of the Irish Tech News team. Oh and by the way, there was nothing special going on there either, I wasn’t verified specifically because I wrote for Irish Tech News. I was verified because someone on the team had a contact with Twitter – that was it. I have never valued the verification tick too much but at the time I thought, “this might be good to have seeing as it is an exclusive thing” and then around two weeks later the application process was announced.

Now you see so many verification badges on Twitter, the value of it has completely vanished. If you think that having a blue tick on Twitter gives you more pull in the industry, makes you more trustworthy among your peers and raises the chances of you landing new gigs for work you are a bit deluded on that front. The only reason I still have it is because I like my Twitter handle @TheMarkDalton. Change the handle and the tick vanishes but I don’t know what I would like to change it to. Don’t stress about blue ticks on social media, if you want it and get it then cool. If you don’t get it then don’t even fret about it.

Why don’t I just leave and stop moaning about it?

Like I said, Twitter has a special place in my heart and as much as I hate how the platform has developed and as much as I am frustrated with how they failed to develop the product in their prime – it is hard to completely walk away. My use has drastically declined, my interaction has drastically declined and so much of what I have going on there is automated with the sole purpose of pushing traffic to the website.

The simple reality is that the way the platform is at the moment, anything you tweet means you run the risk of being jumped on, harassed and abused. It is all there to see in black and white, jump into the replies of any high profile account and you will see it yourself. Twitter has tried to tackle the problems with more user control and filters on what you see. The problem now more than anything else is that the negative tweets vastly outnumber the positive tweets. Last year, Disney decided not to pursue an acquisition of Twitter in part because it thought that the bullying behaviour of some users would damage the film company’s image.

I still jump on Twitter, I still tweet but how I do it has changed a lot. I tweet when there is a sports event on for the most part, Twitter and live TV is where they can make big gains if they really focus in on it. I might tweet some random thoughts now and again but I’m not “into it” like I once was.

So I’m there but I’m not there, if you want to catch up on my content or an occasional random musing of mine, or follow my jargon through a Manchester United match or a Patriots game then I’m there but if you want to reach out directly? Hit me up on another social platform…Facebook, Instagram, Anchor…literally anywhere else (sorry Twitter).