When most of us joined Twitter, it was because it was an anarchy. Everyone had a voice. Twitter is now a two-tier society, with celebrities and the plebs, the general public. Twitter, the company, is very much pushing that – I don’t know how aware of it they are, but it’s ‘the blue ticks’ and ‘the audience’. When you sign up you get pushed to follow celebs, and you get the regular emails with people to follow, who tend to be celebrities.
Doing Twitter like we did it in the beginning, building a network of people you trust because you’ve met them, and extending it, making it really personal, is still possible. It can still be very useful for regular people, but it’s something new users have to be guided towards.
When I reflected on what was missing in my latest presentation, I realised I left out a note after saying that, in order to be complete, an online presence has to also include replies to other people. Those people we talk to shouldn’t be celebrities, for whom we literally don’t matter. They should be our peers.
If we are just joining, and if we don’t already have someone around us who can make this new environment make sense – who isn’t a celebrity but does online just slightly better than us – then we’ll meet someone at the next event we go to. If we add people like that to our network, go with the credibility and rapport thing and build trust by who we are online, we communicate in an entirely different mode – with the empathy and maturity that we are all now complaining about missing on Twitter.
But if I’m advising people to do that, I go against what Twitter, the company, itself constantly puts in front of them. It pushes all of us to follow celebrities and marketing accounts. Who pretend to care when it suits them, but don’t really. Which makes us all into angry little ranters.
Twitter has no place for the thing that made it attractive and useful to all of us. The anarchy of being able to build a network as a not-celebrity. There is no grassroots education movement a la Wikimedia, there are only account managers for The Big Guys. There is cake for The Big Spenders, there is no thought for us little people, the audience. There is no awareness that in order to remain attractive, Twitter has to be different to the mainstream.
Which is sad.
Can we talk to anyone at Twitter and try to explain this to them?