Twitter and I have an on-again, off-again kind of relationship. It took me quite a while to learn to like Twitter in the first place – I was “forced” to use it, initially, by a travel website I was working for! – and I still have waves of love and not-so-much-love for it. Just over a year ago I blogged about all the reasons I love Twitter and yet a few months ago I felt like I couldn’t really be bothered again.
Now I’m back on the Twitter bandwagon again, and I wanted to tell you what got me back to happy tweeting. There’s been a lot of discussion this year about how people miss the “old” Twitter – the Twitter of its first years where there was a lot of chatting between people, and a lot less of people just posting links to their blog posts or to other people’s posts without much in the way of useful comment. And I realised that this was exactly the problem for me, too.
|My tweets these days: links with comments, my thoughts, and discussions about wombats
How I solved my lack of Twitter enthusiasm
Once I’d realised that I missed chatting to people (one of my favourite parts of Twitter – not just “meeting” people but also getting involved in tweet-ups and tweet-chats) and I was sick of seeing endless links to stuff, then I decided on my solution. (Incidentally, I tried using Twitter lists as my solution, but this wasn’t actually the answer I needed.)
I just had to go and unfollow a bunch of people.
So, over the course of a couple of months, I’ve been looking out for people who don’t fit my requirements, and I’ve also used tools like ManageFlitter which can identify people you follow on Twitter who are spam, inactive, or various other undesirable categories, and my follow list has been cut down considerably. What a wonderfully cleansing purge this has been! Basically, I’ve unfollowed Twitter accounts which:
- Only tweet their own blog posts (I like finding about your new blog posts. But not if that’s all you tell me.)
- Only tweet links – whether these links are their own or someone else’s – and never have any comment to add to it. If you’re going to tweet links, add a few characters so I know why I should read it.
- Only auto-tweet stuff from Facebook. This is one of my true pet hates. If you don’t have time to be on Twitter then don’t be on Twitter! Facebook posts are so different to tweets.
- Never have conversations with other Twitter users. When I see a tweet that’s just an unexciting link (especially if I suspect it’s automated) then I click through to their profile – if their last few tweets are like that too, and no @ messages to other real people, then it’s an immediate unfollow from me!
- Barely ever use Twitter – because then they’re unlikely to get involved “properly” too.
And it worked!
The only problem now is that I am too tempted to spend too much time on Twitter, because it’s so much fun. In particular, having nearly-live conversations with people (as in, you reply reasonably quickly) is fun. Fortunately I realised a quick way around this was to simply leave Twitter open in a tab while I’m at my desk, but click on the Notifications tab – then if I get replies a little number pops up, and I can hop in and reply when I have a spare moment between other tasks, but without getting drawn into the whole feed and discovering new conversations I want to have when I really should be doing something else.
|Having the Twitter Notifications window open saves me getting lost in the Twitter stream
You can see in this little screen shot that the number of notifications shows up in the tab, so I don’t even need to waste time clicking there to check – it automatically refreshes.
How are you going with Twitter?
What’s your current relationship with Twitter? Do you love or hate it – and which bits do you actually like? Is there a way that you can set it up to only find the bits you love, like I have?