Business Software

Hey Twitter: Give Us 140 Words

The more Twitter appears in the headlines, the more useless it seems to become. When Ashton Kutcher, a so-so actor, better known for being Mr. Demi Moore, can become the first million-follower man, I have to wonder if there is something about a world presented in 140-character bursts that makes people simple.

Here is an idea: Change Twitter's 140-character maximum length to a 140-word maximum. Let's make all these tweeters with diarrhea of the fingers or the "like" button actually have to give some thought, meaning, and even context to what they want to share with the world. (Here word 116 in this post).

OK, maybe a 140-world maximum would be too much. Maybe a 140-character minimum would be a better idea?

Too many tweets that I receive are mere URLs with little context as to why I should care. Unless you are one of my very best friends, I do not click on these. Why? Simply because I lack have the time. And the interest.

I have always been skeptical of social networks because of the time commitment they require. How many networks does anyone really have time to keep up with and participate in?

Facebook was on its way to becoming an uber-network where you could expect to find people you know. However, the more Facebook emulates Twitter, the less I find myself using it.

With so many of us unemployed, I can see some of Twitter's attraction--start following a bunch of people and all those hours that you used to spend can be filled with activity. No paycheck, just activity.

Yes, I do understand the 140-maximum is part of what makes Twitter attractive. The 140-character maximum is a crutch that makes it much too easy to tweet first and think later.

Or as a friend used to say about his radio station's two-minute newscasts: "All the news, quick as wink, for all of you people who don't want to think." And two minutes is an eternity compared to 140-characters.

Twitter is the obvious outgrowth of celebrity and gossip culture. Most people I see on Twitter are promoting something, usually themselves or something that puts money in their own pockets.

Alternately, they are sharing details of their lives that are either too intimate (or inane) to share with the world, or intended only to impress their less wealthy and connected friends.

As a business person, I can appreciate Twitter's commercial appeal. Nevertheless, as a quality marketing tool, I believe Twitter will prove a short-lived phenomenon. The real value may be in using Twitter to keep a relationship at least vaguely in the customer's mind on a nearly constant basis.

This will require sending the right sort of messages to the right customers at the right time. This, in turn, will require a much more demographic approach to tweeting. But, isn't that what an RSS feed is supposed to accomplish?

It is possible that I miss Twitter's point entirely, but my hunch is that Twitter must either change dramatically--and become smarter about what it sends people--or it will flame out. Or find itself attractive only to people with really short, as in

140-character, attention spans.

But, here's a warning: I have ADD, and I last longer than that.

David Coursey's diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder explained a lot to his friends. He is still trying to find a way to tweet meaningfully. Follow him on Twitter @dcoursey or send e-mail using the contact form at www.coursey.com/contact.

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