Are the Social Media Experts Helping or Hurting Twitter?

Recently, I’ve noticed that there is more onus on Twitter users to deliver “value” than users on other social networks. This could be attributed to the fact that Twitter started off as the playground (and still has some remnants) of the early adopter crowd. Other social networks like Facebook don’t have the same history (or baggage) and the closed nature of these sites probably promotes more non-judgmental sharing because of the perception that “you’re among friends”. Originally, the most frequently cited argument against Twitter was that it’s for folks who want to “tweet about what they had for lunch” although, the same type of sharing was and is still perfectly acceptable on Facebook.

Twitter has evolved since its early days and so has the criticism. Now the popular opinion is that it’s become a propaganda channel for media, celebrities, and social media “experts”, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the Top 100 Twitter Users are mainly from the first two groups. According to Mashable, there’s also been a surge in the social media “experts” population on Twitter over the last year and they counted over 15,000 social media “experts” on Twitter, increase of 250% in appx. 7 months.

I have to confess that I am in biased in favor of Twitter, mainly because I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some very amazing and talented folks who are now part of my professional network. However, I also have to admit that the micro-blogging site is rife with self-professed gurus who are extremely opinionated and not afraid to vocalize their thoughts.

Here’s an example from my recent experience: I had started sending FourSquare updates to my Twitter stream, when out of the blue, one of the “experts” contacted me and asked me stop the updates as they “added no value”. Needless to say, I was baffled as I hadn’t realized that some folks think that the purpose of my tweets is to provide them with some “value”. What I also found most perplexing is this – if you wouldn’t go up to someone in the offline world and say, “Can you please stop talking about your cat because it’s annoying?!”, then why do some folks think it’s acceptable to do that on Twitter?

Nielsen reported its findings last year on Twitter’s high churn rate where they said,

“about 60 percent of people on Twitter end up abandoning the service after a month.”

This news wasn’t received very well by the vocal users but regardless how you slice the data, the reality is that Twitter is intimidating for new users. I’ve heard many (geeks, nerds, tech entrepreneurs included) confess that they just don’t get it.  I’ve been on Twitter for a while, so unsolicited feedback doesn’t bother me but one can’t help but wonder how damaging this self-righteous attitude can be for new users. The site is daunting enough for them, without having to worry about some “expert” policing and critiquing their every tweet.


16 responses to “Are the Social Media Experts Helping or Hurting Twitter?

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  2. The next time some doofus on Twitter bitches about somethng mundane like that tell them to get a Twitter client that let’s you filter out the stuff they don’t like. That’s what I do .. no more foursquare.. no more other irritating (to me) messages .. simple.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Steven. I’ll be sure to do that next time 🙂 I was surprised that this person decided that rather than unfollow me or use the filters, he would try to dictate what I should tweet about, which was somewhat disturbing.

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  4. First, I’m not a SM expert! Second, Twitter is daunting at first; I started in ’07, was very clueless, and ignored it for a few months because I didn’t ‘get it.’ Then, after studying it and reading more to educate myself first instead of throwing myself at the mercy of the wolves out there, I cut my teeth, and stepped back into the Twitter rapids. Very glad I did for the simple (but not only) reason that the volume of information on Twitter is huge, and I have learned more on and through Twitter than I ever expected. If I were you, I’d ‘Cowgirl Up’ and, like Joy Behar, just say ‘Who cares?’

    • the “Cowgirl” expression. TBH, I live and work in this space so it doesn’t bother me one bit. It does answer (in part) why so many newbies find it difficult to navigate this micro-blogging site and also, explain the popularity of Facebook, which is non-judgmental and there are no rules imposed by the “experts”.

  5. The greatest thing about social media like Twitter is also the most unfortunate thing about it: no intelligence screening required. Everyone can participate. Thus, we will get the self-appointed critic who enjoys pointing out what annoys them rather than just delete, unsubscribe or unfollow. The “value” they offer is devaluing others.

    • Agreed. Although, I have to admit that I am a Twitter fan despite its shortcoming because it has given me the opportunity to connect with many talented people. The problem is that when everyone claims to be an “expert”, it diminishes the value of those who really are the experts.

  6. Twitter is an online community, and the social dynamics there are no different than they are on any other online community, like a forum, for example. You’ve got the old timers, the noobs, the people who are genuinely helpful, the attention [blanks], the people who think they SHOULD be moderators…

    As for the churn issue, I would bet a significant number of those 60% dropouts come back to the service later. Most of the people I know who really love Twitter didn’t get it at first, dropped it for a few months, and then went back and for some reason, it clicked with them the second time around. Not sure why, but I hear that a lot.

    • Good point but the ones who typically give it a second chance are folks with a compelling reason to do so, which in most cases is business or entertainment. The moderation that you’ve referred to is exactly what makes Twitter so different from other social networks. On Facebook you have the safety of sharing with a select group while on Twitter you are exposed to a much wider network of strangers, which increases the chances that some folks think it needs policing.

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  8. Twitter is an online community which has more rating than any other

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  10. No doubt Marketing is become one of the effective strategy for brands and Twitter is now also a part of social media so it won’t hurt. Nice info

  11. I think social media is helping twitter. Twitter is a great tool for gaining and sharing knowledge in for of links also it’s becoming a great tool for social media marketing.

  12. Awesome……I Love It!

    Most people talk about Twitter in terms of getting to know people, building lists and using followers. But for marketers and business owners, that’s just the start.
    You’ve only got 140 characters to work with, so you have to be concise. This works in your favor because it simplifies your message in the same way an AdWords headline does. Simple is good.

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