Twitter is building for the most users, not the users who use it the most

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The Twitterati is up in arms this week about changes to some versions of Twitter that insert tweets the people you follow favorite, and some of the people they follow into your Twitter timelines. This has caused some “will this change how I use the “favorite” option?” handwringing.

How can I be too pissed about “Earth or Tatooine?” showing up? I can’t imagine Corey Powell is too upset about it either (but I didn’t ask him).

I mostly use Tweetdeck (on a desktop, I’m a dinosaur) which isn’t affected and the iPad mobile app which also hasn’t been updated with these changes. But the first time I saw it on the iPhone about a week ago I did have a “what is this!?” reaction.

To be fair, I’m not sure I’d have even noticed it if the favorites being added to the top of my stream weren’t hours older than the otherwise at the top of the timeline. Once I noticed it I didn’t love it, but mostly what I didn’t love was they didn’t give me a way to turn it off.

Despite not loving it, I don’t blame Twitter for experimenting with making it the default behavior. We can debate whether Twitter should give folks the control to turn it off. Since I don’t work at Twitter “control freak Robert” is going to win the argument vs. “product development Robert” but the product developer in me does respect the changes.

Below are the first three columns of my TweetDeck setup. I’ve got the “activity” stream in a column prioritized over notifications about my own tweets and my activity column is set to show, wait for it, what the people I follow are favoriting and who they are following. Many times that column is more interesting to me than what those people are actually tweeting and I’ve long held that Twitter needs to figure out a better way to surface more of that content in the hopes of getting more users more engaged.

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Sure, you can get to some of it from the iPhone/iPad apps, but default behavior of most users being what it is, most people will never see it.

I can’t think of a way that Twitter can solve the problem of exposing more stuff to get users more engaged that won’t alienate some of its power users. But upsetting some of its power users is no reason to avoid trying. Not when the goal is more, happier users.

2 thoughts on “Twitter is building for the most users, not the users who use it the most

  1. My primary issue is a simple one – it clogs a feed I’m already having enough trouble managing between following (only) 47 accounts and working a full time job that keeps me away from both a computer and a mobile for much of the day. Of course, some of that is because I choose to keep using the default version of the site instead of a third-party app (a choice I’ve made because I keep hearing horror stories about Twitter nuking compatibility w/ those apps for reasons unknown).

  2. I can’t speak for Android, but on the iPhone, it doesn’t clog up your stream. If you haven’t looked at Twitter for X time, it will load up a lot of recent tweets without inserting any favorites/this person follows into your timeline. If you scroll back to the last time you’d looked, you won’t see any of that. Those tweets don’t show up until you begin refreshing and then they show up at the top of your timeline.

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