It’s Not You, It’s Me: Is Twitter Breaking Up With Connectors?

Change is a funny thing. We all love to wax philosophical on it when someone changes something in a manner that befits our tastes, but we tend to, in varying degrees, react differently when the shoe is on the other foot. Take me for instance.

When I’m facilitating a workshop on ’21st Century Learning’ ¬†I’m all, “Oh, change is the new black, dontcha know” and “If you’re not willing to change, then [insert metaphor here].” But start putting avocados and bean sprouts in my should-be bacon, lettuce, and tomato burger, or ask me to start using Microsoft Office since that’s what everyone else is using, and I might get a bit…

wolf is angry, man

So that face you see above? I’m starting to make it to Twitter (as in, Twitter Inc.), our beloved platform for connection. Rather than a sea change, what we’ve started to notice are minor ripples in the water which may or may not be harbingers of things to come.

Recent changes:

Impending/rumoured/let’s-try-it-and-see-how-they-react changes:

Well, why shouldn’t Twitter continually seek to improve itself, responding to the needs of its users and the market? If you’re not moving, then you’re at risk of drying up in the Silicon Valley desert, right?

I completely acknowledge all of it. Moreover, I am not oblivious to the impact and demands of shareholders on such a valuable commodity as Twitter. Still, I don’t know about you, but it seems pretty obvious to me that the bigwigs at Twitter Inc. in San Francisco, CA increasingly see the platform as one for projection over connection. Let’s deconstruct the changes a bit more.

Photos are the New Text

It’s a fact: photos and images make a huge difference to how likely a tweet and any included links are to be read. Most savvy online publications now make it a rule to post a provocative image to entice a click on one of their tweets. What is more, the entire redesign of Twitter and accompanying apps visually favours tweets with images and video. Basically, if you ain’t Tweetagramming you’re like the social media version of an old codger. Don’t even bother showing up to a Silicon Valley cocktail party or mineral water fiesta or whatever. I wonder if a preferance for images signals a bias for the ever-sought after 18-35 set. And what about four pics per tweet? Without an impact on your 140 characters? Good gracious. And tagging? So, another metric to gauge one’s popularity? The kids are coming! The kids are coming!

Promoted Tweets Everywhere

You can pay to advertise on Twitter and let their clever algorithms go all Google on finding your customers. What’s more, you won’t be able to avoid these soon. Again, I don’t begrudge any business for seeking greater revenue streams. Just a reminder, though, that money talks, baby.

@-Replies and RTs and Other Esoteria “Scaring” Off the Newbies

Frankly, I don’t buy the scaring off the newbies party line on this one. I suspect, in line with some of the other changes, Twitter isn’t the fondest of conversation on Twitter. Maybe you can’t monetize a 12 tweet thread? Just the threat of taking away the @-reply is a good ol’ fashioned drawing of a line in the discursive sand, I feel.

I’m wondering if, in general, Twitter increasingly sees its space as one where there will be a distinct stratification between users who send out content, and others who consume it. Perhaps that already exists. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m losing my mind down a rabbit hole of paranoia. A man can get like that when a technology¬†he loves starts getting all “It’s not you, it’s me” on him.

I’m watching you, Twitter.


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  1. says

    Well, I am glad you wrote this post… now I have a place to complain and go GRRR :)

    As I see the changes and proposed changes to Twitter I often think they go against what I like about Twitter. I didn’t mind when pictures could be linked to a tweet and could be opened by clicking only. But now they are larger like on FB and seem like clutter to me. I find that I am more reluctant to tweet a picture now. On web it can look like a FB feed sometimes. I love visuals too, but not what I am looking for on Twitter. I think you are right regarding “enticing clicks”. I doubt the pictures help new users to navigate any better.

    And yes, we (as users and PLN’ers) value the conversations and the @ and the # that help those connections and conversation threads, but I suspect they are not of the same “value” to Twitter and advertisers. Will it become a more passive experience rather than interactive?

    I can get tired of Twitter from time to time…. and changes that I am seeing don’t help. Over time I seem to keep seeing social media platforms trying to be like other social media platforms. I think they lose what is unique. But I guess we see that trend in the business world too…. sigh.

    Watching too…

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