I love Twitter. I was lucky enough to sign up relatively early in 2007 and since then I’ve posted from about a dozen accounts both personally and professionally.
For eight years it was an exciting journey – watching what was essentially a one-to-many text service grow to become one of the most influential media channels this side of the millennium.
But towards the end of last year I felt the magic fading.
The professional accounts were still zinging along nicely, but my main personal account lacked that social spark. From 150 new followers a month at the start of the year, I was languishing at 10 or fewer a week by the time Autumn came around.
I was posting with the same frequency thanks to the holy trinity of Twitter applications: Buffer, Pocket and Hootsuite. But something was missing. I was no longer – now what was the word, ah yes – engaged.
With my Twitter mojo fading, something had to give. But how to recapture the spark from the original bluebird encounter in the middle of the last decade? It was time to get back to basics, to recreate the Twitter environment of 2007.
So since the start of 2016, I’ve parked some of the essential social tools that I know and love. All of my curation and scheduling apps are on the social backburner (don’t worry guys, I’ll be back soon) and I’ve taken a trip back in time.
At the same time it wasn’t all that easy because some of the atmosphere has gone forever. I haven’t powered up my up my old Samsung slider phone and lobbied for the restoration of free text to Twitter integration, for example.
But I am sticking to the following five rules.
1. Only use the Twitter web and iOS apps: No Tweetdecks, Hootsuites or Tweetbots. This is 2007 folks although I am going to cheat and allow photo attachments (anyone remember yFrog?).
2. Tweet in real time only: For the past week or so, I’ve dipped in to Twitter for about 20 minutes at breakfast, at lunch and in the evening. No scheduling allowed and no lists either, by the way.
3. No curating apps: All links will be based on my own reading or I’ll be retweeting links posted by other Twitter accounts. No daily email recommendations, no reading preference algorithms. Be gone the lot of you.
4. Share opinions (I’ve got a view and I’m going to post it): Back in 2007 the mainstream media had yet to discover Twitter. But once they did get on board it became all to easy abandon independent thinking and simply retweet their wisdom, or lack of. Time to make my voice heard again.
5. Engage, engage, engage: As I scroll through my real time Twitter stream, I’m looking for every opportunity, heck any opportunity to reply, retweet, repost or like. New year, of course, is the perfect excuse to reply to a tweet. No doubt some of the people I follow are bemused by the greeting, but isn’t that the point? Wasn’t that the wonder of Twitter in the first place – being able to connect with thousands of people at the world’s largest cocktail party?
I’m going to try and stick with these for the rest of the month, and I’ll let you know how I get on.
One last thought. Rereading the list, I’m struck by how all-of-a-sudden obvious it seems. How the simplicity of the original concept has been overtaken by feature creep as Twitter struggles to compete with ruthless competitors. And part of me wonders how long Twitter will exist as an independent entity as Facebook and others swallow the web.
You don’t what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Let’s get back to Twitter basics and rediscover our micro-blogging mojo folks. You never know how long it will last.