Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Twitter stumbles, and comparison to Facebook provides insight into what people now expect out of social media

There is some hype now on Twitter’s layoff of over 300 people, and why Twitter is apparently struggling, especially when compared to Facebook.  Timothy B. Lee weighs in on Vox with a missive here.

The biggest point (apart from friendliness to 3rd-party app developers) seems to be the usefulness of the newsfeed.  Facebook uses a proprietary (read “patented” with USPTO, presumably) algorithm (and one unique enough to deserve a patent, despite all the controversy about software patents) to prioritize other friends’ or “followee’s” posts into a news feed based on user behavior.  (It would be a good question if “do not track” interferes.) 

Twitter right now serves tweets in reverse chronological order, although it is working on refinements. 

I’ll add that I shoot my tweets over to Facebook (to increase audience) and about 30% of these don’t get into my own personal news feed, although they (usually) show up on timeline (although that can take a few minutes). 

My own social contact lists are small:  38 friends on Facebook, and 275 followers on Twitter (following 339).  Many of my Twitter followers are other self-published authors pushing books and some companies in the self-promotion business.  The end result is that I don’t see a lot of tweets that I want to see unless they are addressed to me (some users allow both private Messages and direct tweets, and I allow both).   The news tweets (from companies like Vox) get overrun by the self-promotion tweets. 

I make most of my tweets about news stories, or about quirky little stories or incidents (not overly personal) that I think will interest readers.  Only rarely do I try to “sell directly” through tweets or Facebook postings, as I would expect this to be annoying, so I’m surprised to see the volume of silly deals on Twitter.  (“It’s hard out here for a pimp.”) I would rather comment on, or read about, something of substance.  But, yes, a stray female tabby cat coming to your house and wanting to have her babies is “news to share”.

Many of my own tweets do get favorited or get answered. 

There are perhaps ten individuals (followed) whose Twitter feeds are interesting enough that I frequently glance at them.  Generally, I’ll make a point to look up the feeds of people who I know actually say something original every day, and don’t just push sales.  Some (not all) follow me.  At least one is conscious of the idea of "My Twitter Life".  And another seems to on the verge of becoming a comic-con character. 
Tim Lee makes the point that Twitter works well for journalists who want to see all the news as it breaks.  But most “average” social media users are much more interested in persona news among their friends or connections than in the “outside world” which they may perceive as beyond their control (except for “solidarity”).

I have to wonder about this.  I wouldn’t generally expect my friends to share “very” personal news, and there is only so much to gain by sharing pictures of pets or vacations, or even baby showers.  I have some friend for whom I would just as likely prefer not to learn personal details of their daily lives (and generally I don’t).  That’s how it has always been.  Except that now we can all be “alone together.”

Here's another question:  I do send my tweets (which turn out to be only those not directed to a specific Twitter account) to both my doasdotell domain and to Facebook.  Many people think it's "rude" to send tweets to Facebook (article), because Facebook is more "personal" and has lower volume.  I don't really use it that way (most of my posts, although they have some travel pictures, are not really that "personal").  But sometimes I do make posts only on Facebook.  Likewise, my YouTube comments go to Google+.  

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