When Twitter first announced they were removing share data, I have to admit I was scared. After working countless hours perfecting content, optimizing share buttons and tweeting late into the night; I felt a deep sense of loss.
Twitter was our main channel for shares and with it’s absence came a wealth of questions. How can I validate my work without that ever-growing number showing me the love I was receiving? What will our readers think when they notice that number dropping significantly? Where will I go for that small dopamine release now? And most importantly, should I even bother with Twitter any more?
As it turns out, finding the answers to these questions helped me not only better understand marketing but also my own priorities in life.
Letting go of instant gratification
We are a nation of addicts. Not to any specific ingestible or injectable but rather to instant gratification. When we’re even the littlest bit hungry, we eat. When we notice ourselves becoming the slightest bit bored, we open a new tab in our browser and laugh at cat videos. We’re all guilty of this and there’s no real rhyme or reason as to why it’s happening. What is important is that we’re aware of it and acting on becoming immune to the temptations we’re surrounded by. Never in history have we had more options for entertainment, indulgence, satisfaction. While this may initially seem like a good thing, the reality is that our brains are just not wired for this modern environment. Maybe in another 10,000 years of evolution, but not yet.
Twitter choosing to remove the share number may be the best forced therapy we can endure
As a result we’re all addicted to dopamine, the habit forming hormone released from anticipation. Whenever you reach for that box of cookies, that’s dopamine lifting your hand. Whenever you rush to check how many shares your last article got, that’s dopamine clicking the mouse. That small share count box floating on the side of your blog is a personification of this issue. An addictive substance of sorts constantly calling your name and giving you an instant and easily understandable satisfaction. We, as marketers have to distance ourselves from this shallow weakness. Twitter choosing to remove that number may be the best forced therapy we can endure.
Now many are left wondering what the whole point of twitter is. Without the number to show our progress on the site it’s going to be hard to validate our efforts in any one tangible format. While I agreed with this sentiment at first, and was preparing to drop twitter all together, I remembered what got me interested in marketing in the first place. I didn’t decide to pursue marketing because I like growing arbitrary numbers, I loved marketing for the human element. Listening to what people are saying about the work we put out and interacting with them on a personal level.
Twitter is still and likely always will be the best channel for one to one interaction on a wide scale. It’s in large part responsible for keeping social marketing…social. It was never meant to be the viral marketing platform that it slowly digressed into. Twitter is about meaningful communication and now they’re focusing us to embrace their true calling.
Twitter’s true purpose
When you think about Twitter’s role in social media it really makes sense they’d want to distance themselves from the ‘viral’ community. Twitter wants to be the conversation hub not the spam-fest it was slowly growing into. Their recent decision to change ‘favorites’ into ‘likes’ helps prove my point. They want people to focus back on speaking rather than parroting. We all follow those accounts that spam post article link after article link, this is not at all what twitter is about fundamentally. Twitter is forcing us to take a step back and reframe how we approach their space.
Now you’re likely wondering how to get started in the brave new world of Twitter. Well the first thing to do is to go into your scheduled tweets right now and cancel them all. Sharing articles no longer has a real purpose (unless you genuinely believe your following will love and talk about what you’re sharing). Go back into your now empty sharing calendar and fill it with ideas; conversation starters, daft opinions, personal updates and most of all depth. After your posts have been shared, your only job is to listen. Go into the notifications tab and see who’s talking to or about you. Take a few minutes to think of a response, focus on being slow and thoughtful. Then close your browser and go for a walk to reflect on the new insights you’re gaining from brilliant minds the world over. This is really the only reason anyone should be on Twitter anymore. Without ‘confidence boosting numbers’ it’s only reason for existing is to act as the world’s best networking conversation hub. And it’s doing a damn good job at that.