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Twitter Rules: Are They Changing?

Twitter is one medium with many different categories of users. In the Exact Target report on Twitter X-Factors, they listed a dozen unique user groups when explaining Twitter attrition rates. It’s true that many people use Twitter for different purposes and its evolution has been well documented. Brian Solis did an extensive report in December on Twitter’s new direction. Social media is growing up and becoming more sophisticated. Are users following the new rules?

The two largest user groups I see on Twitter are marketers and curators, people who collect and re-tweet news or information (like a Twikopedia). Some do both successfully.

Marketers who lack sophistication are still functioning like megaphones. This was okay when Twitter was in its infancy, much like the crying baby who needs to be changed, but now that sort of blatant broadcasting is offensive to most Twitter communities. Scheduling tweets that are identical day after day asking us to come in to your flooring store is not a good use of Twitter. In “9 Ways to Build a Twitter Community With Substance”, Amber Naslund said,

“Remember: Twitter is just the medium. These same principles apply across many things, online and off. It all–always–comes down to your honest intent to build a network of people to talk to, to learn from, to share with. ALL of this depends on your desire to use Twitter that way, and not just to amass a collection of people that you can pimp your junk to.”

Somewhere along the line, the megaphone marketers never got that. Twitter users may have tolerated those abusive bombardments in Twitter’s infancy, but anymore, they are considered tasteless and intrusive. Learn the culture, plot a strategy, reap the rewards.

Curators, on the other hand, are becoming a dime a dozen on Twitter. I say that with affection, as I consider myself a Twitter curator. When Twitter was in its infancy, the number of curators was small and most of them were cautious about “sharing too much.” Content was unique.  This too, has changed.

Curators are information pipelines. But, there is a great temptation to think that the more information I have, the more informed I am. No, they are not the same.

I did a post a while back inspired by Chris Brogan’s challenge to simplify about culling out repetitive people on Twitter. For instance I was following one guy who just re-posted everything that Social Media Today posted. I was already getting SMT’s daily emails as well. Talk about repetitive. I’ve tried to get more conscious of who I am following and what they are tweeting. All curators are not created equal. But then again, the person I choose not to follow on Twitter might be a necessary pipeline for someone else. That is the beauty of being able to pick and choose. But we need to do that, curators–pick and choose.

I think the reason I like following people like Amber Naslund (@AmberCadabra) and Jason Falls (@jasonfalls) is that their tweets are substantial–not just about tips for business and new media, but also personal things as well. I like seeing pictures of Jason Falls’ kids posing with a giant taco (the scariest mascot ever) at the Yum Center and hearing about Amber’s home life as a working mom. They add value to my day in a way that I can digest easily. Not intrusive, not abusive.  So I make that my goal as a curator–to add value to peoples’ days. Am I doing that? Only my followers know that. I sure hope so.

Those of us who use Twitter need to keep up with the culture. The rules are changing…or are we all just growing up? Are we becoming more sophisticated in what we expect from people on Twitter?

  • Doug Cleek

    Good article. Especially how you identify different user groups on Twitter. I believe the value proposition that curators provide and for those who follow them should be based on whether the info is worthy of sharing to their audience. Careful consideration should be a part of this process. I agree with you on your observation that there is blatant overlap of info and RT's. I consider this methodology of curating without analysis or comment as lazy and repetitive. At least there should be some effort and thought that adds value and insight. Otherwise, what's the point?

  • Chris Syme

    Good observations, Doug. There are spamming curators out there. My idea of building credibility is to try and provide info that my followers can use, not necessarily to add velocity to what is already being retweeted out there. Although I have been known to retweet something really clever or funny on occasion. I think one of the traps of social media is that it is free–I think that can (but not always) gives way to a little laziness. I wonder how that will play out in the future of Twitter.