Twitter: You’re Doing It Wrong

There’s been much conversation lately about how Twitter is dead, and how nobody clicks anymore and how engagement is a thing of the past. I won’t disagree with the gist of the sentiment, but do you know what I find ironic? The folks leading the debate are the same folks who are killing it. Yup. I’m talking to you – all of you – brands, influencers, media: you’re doing it wrong. But you have the power to restore it back to the glory that it once was. Oh, Twitter circa 2010, how I miss you!

When Twitter first launched, I equated it to the bloggers’ locker room. We’d all perform our best “on the field” (our blogs), but we’d regroup in the locker room and simply chat. No links, no self-promotion…just banter. We got to know one another in a much more unbuttoned, casual way. My network of 13 bloggers quickly grew to hundreds, then thousands. However, somewhere during that time, I noticed a change in how people used Twitter. They were no longer having multi-tweet conversations; they were using the platform as a broadcast channel. This saddened me because I look at Twitter as a big party. People jump from conversation to conversation in a fluid manner, finding conversations that interest them – jumping into conversations where they have something relevant to offer, making connections with others. But now, it is becoming a room with people standing around shouting things, oblivious to everything around them. It is causing my fondness for Twitter to diminish.

The reality is this “shouting at a party” thing isn’t working, and I hope this blog post (which I will talk about on Twitter) serves as a wake up call for people to return to what made Twitter so appealing to begin with: casual connection. And truly, I think this is a good thing. As marketers, our holy grail is emotional connection. When we look at other metrics, we try to ladder them up to this qualitative thing we call “brand affinity.” You cannot build affinity without an emotional element. You cannot tap emotion unless you have a connection (click to tweet).

Look at the most successful brand tweets and I think you’ll find that most are moments of banter – with both other brands and consumers. These are the memorable moments that make consumers feel that the brands are “at the party” and interacting with them, making them feel like they matter – that they listen, that they truly care about you. Links don’t do that. RTs certainly don’t do that. Real time, relevant, witty, informative, or otherwise engaging conversation does that.

I hope that the recent insights surrounding the “ineffectiveness” of Twitter serve as a wake up call to brands to re-think how they use Twitter (and all social media for that matter). It’s easy to look at social as a broadcast channel, and this is why so many brands haven’t seen the pay off. They are simply doing it wrong. Social is, and always will be, a connection channel. In a literal way, it can connect any one person to any other person or brand instantaneously. But brands need to look at that in a figurative way as well. Use it to connect by doing what we as humans have always done – be social.