How Twitter Failed Me: Thoughts of a Facebook Convert

“I love Twitter.”

I smirked.  I’ve heard this so many times by 20-something year old girls I meet around campus.  These creatures, however, are the type who have visited the site once – to set up their account and link to phone.  They tweet rarely, and always about weird occurances in their day.  They follow close friends, and if they ever use an @reply, it’s to tell a friend (always a friend who has an account but has sent <5 updates) something they should have just texted – or link that they are having lunch with said person.

textually_active_ijustine

Nothing about that experience screams “I love Twitter!”  In fact, to me, it screams “I can’t stand this nuissance – I’ll text my friends instead!”.  But texting your friends doesn’t make your thoughts visible to the world.  That is, of course, the appeal of the micro blogging site.  Quick updates that appeal to our diminished attention spans and a platform that requires no logging in, no thought process, drafts or publishing issues.  Type up a text, hit send and you’re done.  Confused about the picture to your right?  Read on…there is a point.  If not, it’s always good practice to put pictures of hot girls in your posts – smaller bounce rate and longer page times.

The truth is, while NO ONE cares how your assistant principle was flirting with your mom while suspending you (or what “#WhereDeyDoDatAt” means), someone is reading.  Heck, I just linked you up on a blog – a blog that a few people actually read, no less.  All you link-sharing Twitter snobs think I’m stretching the truth?  Try protecting your tweets for a week.  I did, and the results were quite surprising.  Turns out, not as many friends were reading my stuff as I thought.

I shared 2 tech-related links – one on August 26th while my Twitter account was protected, and one September 10th while it was open.  The result?  A 300% increase in clicks when the account was open for all as opposed to it being protected to just approved followers.  Now, a lot of factors weigh heavily on statistics.  August 26th was a Thursday, September 10th a Friday.  Research shows that, while more updates are posted on Thursdays, more re-tweets are performed on Fridays.  You also have to consider the fact that more people may have been genuinely more interested in the September 10th tweet.  Regardless, a 300% increase is significant, and speaks volumes (especially when combined with similar data I gathered with the rest of my updates) about the visibility of unprotected accounts.

So what does all that mean?  Well, if you’re like me, it means you’re not as important as you thought.  It also means that your Twitter relevance is much lower than you probably guessed.  Try this out:  post a link, story or funny encounter on Twitter and Facebook.  Be sure to post it word for word at the same time of day.  Where do you receive the most (let alone relevant) feedback?  Chances are, 9 out of 10 times it’s going to be Facebook.  Even if you only receive a few likes, you at least know a few people who have watched and appreciated your video.  True, Twitter reply’s may be more in depth, but you’re not going to get near the amount of talk back that you do on Facebook.

Now, as this is a blog post, you should know that I’m just conjecturing on most of this.  I have a hypothesis (Facebook is more relevant, reliable and informative than Twitter) and I’m trying to persuade you.  Instead of taking the time to find solid arguments, I’m going to be lazy and give you my reasons.  Namely, Facebook makes stuff prettier and people spend more time on it.  Quickly (I’m imaging only 2 people make it this far in the post – if you’re one of them, leave a comment to prove my point), I’ll explain why I think this.

Facebook really does understand link sharing like no other.  That’s why things go viral on Big Blue.  Would Bon Qui Qui or the Bill Cosby Southern video be so popular without Facebook?  Not a chance.  As humans, we’re visual creatures.  Men included.  Really – you thought iJustine was famous for her tech thoughts? (checkout picture above if you’re not sure who I’m talking about).  When you share a link on Facebook, you get the option to include a photo or embed the video from the site – right onto your post.  Facebook single handedly turned the internet beeper (link SHARING), into an iPhone (link EMBEDDING).  Forget clicking off-site…you can watch the video with even scrolling down the page!  The result is a smorgasbord of funny videos and philosopher-wanna-be’s – not to mention all of the Facebook-specific posts (pictures, updates, relationship updates, etc).

(via The Oatmeal – click image for post)

As a result, people spend an unholy amount of time on the site.  Scrolling through my phone contacts (which are linked to Facebook profiles), I rarely come across an entry that does not have a Facebook.  My grandparents are on Facebook (and I’m beginning to think they are on more than I am).  Last year, my self-righteous history professor ripped the 100+ person class for not protecting our Facebook accounts.  Later that day, I looked him up and read all of his updates from the past 2 weeks.  Not interesting (he’s a jerk on Facebook, too), but still something that needed to be done.

My point is this: people love Facebook, and that bright red notification icon makes us feel good.  Twitter is great (heck, I wouldn’t have my current job if it weren’t for the site), but it doesn’t compare.  Short or long run.  To borrow geek speak, it fails hard in comparison – which is why, I believe, it’s on it’s way out.  In the past few months, it’s become nothing but a delayed instant messaging account and story teller.  I, Ryan Bowen, have become  a TwitterTween.  All hope is not lost, though.  I’m still clinging to the fact that I don’t know a single top 40 song.  Seriously.  I looked it up.

Rybo’s Top 10 Ways to Get Facebook De-Friended

We all have them – those Facebook friends who just don’t seem to get it.  Whether it’s posting pictures of their drunken vomitting or sending you 50,000 Mafia Wars requests, we all know a guilty party.  With a little peer pressure and embarrassment, maybe we can get them to stop.

So without further ado, here are (in no particular order), the 10 best ways to get defriended (at least by me) on Facebook.

Checking in EVERYWHERE.

I honestly don’t mind the occasional check-in update from FourSquare or Gowalla.  However, when I log in and am greeted by every place you have visited in the last 3 days, we have a problem.

‘Sentences’ like: “m3 & g0D boUt 2 giT tIgHt liK3 cRediT cArD dWn $tRiPPa b00Ty”.

True story.  Really happened.  Honestly, though, we’re still friends because her statuses are so entertaining.

Tagging me in “which one of your friends this best describes” pictures.

I’m not a Pokemon.  I’m not an Amstel Lite.  I swear, the next person to tag me as an alcoholic beverage, cartoon character, or sex position gets blacklisted.

Posting garbage on my wall.

I treat my Facebook wall like I treat my car (I can stick whatever I want on it) and like you should treat my fireplace mantle – don’t post anything you wouldn’t want Grandma and the family to see when they come over.

This also applies to Mafia Wars, Farmville and Restaurant City requests.  It’s bad enough I have to deal with those stupid requests – don’t post that ish to my wall.

Excessive swearing.

I strongly believe there is a time for harsh words.  Dropping 10 F-bombs per status not only makes you sound like an internet 9th grader who just got his heart broken, but it drains you of any respect and credibility I may have once granted you.  Refer to previous item when contemplating this nonsense on my wall.

Religious Views:  “God.  2Pac.  Lil Wayne.”

We get it – you have no morals, you’re an internet thug, and you just made it to high school.  Stop being an idiot.  On a related note, I’d love to sit down and discuss how you can serve both God and Weezy F Baby at the same time.

Self-Taken Pictures.

There are a few reasons as to why anyone in their right mind would post dozens of self-taken mirror shots to Facebook.  Political correctness would restrict me from detailing any of these…but when have I ever adhered to that anyway?

  1. You are vain.  This applies to 90% of the shots.  If you have…um…assets and want to show them off, please do so in the privacy of your own home and not via a self-taken shot from above.  Don’t forget we can still make out your muffin top.
  2. You are trying to create an online identity.  The sad fact is that by taking a picture of yourself in a flat-brimmed hat holding stacks of money and a toy AK-47, you’re actually negating the very imaging you’re trying to put off.
  3. You’re in 7th grade.
  4. You’re in 8th grade.
  5. You’re in 9th grade.

Please keep in mind that one or two self-taken shots is OK.  However, if you have an album entitled “ME (t00 pRe$H! <3)” that contains 55 photos of yourself…it’s time to quit.

Druuuuuuuuunken picturessssssssssssssss.

Rule:  If you were too drunk to remember it, we don’t want to either.

Liking every page you see.

If a page’s title is a conversation or full-out thought, please do not clog up my wall.  You’re not as deep as you think you are.

Changing your name every 3 days (or having a ridiculously stupid middle name phrase).

I know “Swaggalicious” ain’t the middle name yo’ momma gave you.

*Honorable Mention:  Calling me an ape.

Yes, this has happened to me before.  Tip:  if you want to stay fake-Facebook friends with someone, don’t publicly refer to them “picking bugs out of [their] hair”.

As an afterthought, I’d like to say that I love writing posts like this for a few reasons. First, they don’t require too much thought, and the research/work done to publish is usually pretty entertaining. Also, these posts generally get the most traffic, and they look like they took a lot of effort (due to pictures or formatting, they’re usually a lot longer).

Lastly, I’m a pretty sarcastic and cynical person.  Posts like this, while they might not gain me much tech credibility, allow an outlet for that type of unhealthy thinking.