April 10th, 2009
Jennifer Web Design Tags, , ,

Why the retweet will kill Twitter?

I was once a Twitter evangelical nerd.  I sat on the mountaintop and preached that if anyone was well positioned to “kill” Google it would be Twitter.  It made perfect sense to me.

To recap:

  • Twitter can provide an instantaneous index of the current landscape of the Internet…  Google cannot.
  • Twitter can provide user generated filtering of Bull poopy where content that is cream of the crop will float to the top.
  • Twitter can contain the verbose and force them to stick to a few good points.

I still believe in Twitter, but just like anything else in this world, once it gets popular and gets under the microscope the imperfections get amplified.  The retweet is a gigantic Zit on the Supermodel nose, and there is no Clearasil in sight.

For those of you that don’t know what a “retweet” is;  a retweet is when one person copies a tweet from someone in their Twitter network and shares it with the people in their own network.  For those of you that don’t know what a “Twitter” is; I would really like to understand how you get your cave wired for cable.

In theory the retweet is the definition of “word of mouth” advertising.  The more people share something with others the more relevant or important it becomes.  It makes sense.  However, there is a missing element in 90% of the retweets that I get from people.  Most people don’t add WHY they are retweeting.  A retweet without context is a sandwich without bread.  Non-contextual retweets fall into the “White Noise” category of information.

It’s gotten so bad lately that I have been “de-friending” the habitual retweeters.  In fact, there have been a few folks that only retweet.  In my opinion, a genetically engineered Gerbil could be trained to only retweet.

I understand that Social Media gurus teach this a way to “get the word out”.  I appreciate the sentiment of the idea, and agree that it might be successful in the short term, but in the long run it is absolutely the worst thing to happen to Twitter.

Why is it so bad?

White Noise retweet posts without context will become the “boy who cried wolf” of the internet, and eventually people will just start tuning them out.  This will kill the potential power of the search tool Twitter has at their fingertips.  It will be ruined by the tribes that can assemble enough people to retweet inane posts, and influence the search capabilities.  It is no longer user-generated content, and now becomes user-manipulated content.

How it can be fixed?

Add context for your retweets.  Tell people why you think they are important.  Without context to our retweets, we are nothing more than social media capable genetically engineered gerbils.