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Why Twitter’s so Hard for Newbies

April 4th, 2011 · 7 Comments

First I’d like to start by saying a great big THANK YOU to my Twitter buddy @HELENSStudio for the idea for this blog post.  I Twittered that I was having trouble finding an idea to blog about today and I got lots of great answers, Helen’s idea struck a chord.

I have a very strong belief that Twitter is so hard for people to get started with because of one main thing.   They see Twitter from their perspective (meaning about 30 people for the typical newbie) where every tweet sticks out like a sore thumb.  When you are following 20 to 40 people, you may see as little as 10-20 tweets per day.  That’s not a stream that’s a trickle.

if you’re seeing the same tweets in your stream when you check it an hour later, then you’re not following enough people to make a stream that will be able to float your boat.

When you as a newbie look at your Twitter trickle, and you think about sending a tweet, it becomes intimidating.  Because you’re looking at journalists, authors and people you respect and admire in your tweet stream.  You don’t want to send out a stupid  tweet and have it sit on their tweet stream for half a day (like tweets sometimes do in your stream).  You as the newbie don’t realize that when they are following hundreds or thousands of people that their tweetstream is a rushing torrent, compared to your trickle.

I’m following close to 7000 on Twitter today.   If each one sends an average of only one tweet per day that’s a new tweet every 12 seconds for me. (Keep in mind that the recommended best practice is 7-10 tweets per day.) So if you’re seeing the same tweets in your stream when you check it an hour later, then you’re not following enough people to make a stream that will be able to float your boat.

The best advice I can give you is to follow more people.

A Recommendation to @biz and @jack, I think Twitter should start new accounts with 100 followers.  Let people pick broad categories they are interested in and give them 100 recommended people as the starter set they are following.  This way they will have a chance to see the “flowing stream” of information that so many of us have grown to know and love.

Image Credit: © Copyright John Lucas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License

NOTE: I also wrote about this here with some more suggestions on how to get started with Twitter.

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Tags: Marketing Monday · Reasons For Net Marketing · Twitter Thursday

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Helen Rittersporn // Apr 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Chris, Wow! Thank you so much for mentioning me in your post. I love how twitter lets us form online buddies!

    You’ve done a super job here with your post!

    It can be a bit undaunting when new to twitter to figure out the “you are here” perspective. You have an EXCELLENT recommendation to @biz and @jack to have Twitter start new accounts with 100 followers! In addition you provide further suggestion details on them letting people pick broad categories they are interested in and give them 100 recommended people as the starter set they are following.

    In the meantime (and ongoing!) someone could look at the many lists you are included in and would do well to follow one (or many) of them!

  • 2 Chris Kieff // Apr 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Helen, thanks. You’re right there a whole bunch of great lists out there to follow. I also wrote about other ways to find people to follow in the article “Getting Twitter” http://www.1goodreason.com/blog/blog/2010/01/08/getting-twitter/
    Have a great day!
    Chris

  • 3 Ike // Apr 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Allow me to refine your idea.

    By selecting those broad areas to get to 100, have that “First 100″ start as Provisional — which means that they start disappearing as you add your Organic 100.

    Each time you add someone new, a user will get a prompt:

    “You haven’t engaged (retweeted, replied, clicked link) with @LackLusterDude — do you still want to follow that account?”

    They can always choose to unfollow them manually, but this occasional prompt would serve a vital role in empowering new users with the knowledge that they CAN and SHOULD curate their streams.

    What do you think, Chris? Care to roll the addendum into the proposal?

  • 4 Lynette Young // Apr 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I love this idea! I especially love Ike’s idea of a provisional 100. Complaints I get from newbies is that Twitter is a firehose (looking at the main stream) or a trickle (no one decent to follow – or only following celebs, bot accounts or journalists).

  • 5 Chris Kieff // Apr 5, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Ike, that’s a brilliant suggestion. You’re absolutely right, with that kind of follower management newbies would definitely be engaged in managing and growing the people they follow. I think this is really close to the perfect system. If we can’t get Twitter to do it, we should find a find a developer and build an app to do it!

    We need to bring this to@biz’s attention, but I seem to have lost his number. Do you have it?
    Chris

  • 6 Tracy Lee Carroll // Apr 5, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Chris, great post! Twitter is so hard for newbies and very intimidating. I think you hit the nail on the head. I love Ike’s idea…and honestly; why have that only be for newbies? That would be a great addition overall, providing you have the option to “don’t show me this one anymore” on streams you merely observe and not necessarily interact with.

  • 7 Steve Woodruff // Apr 5, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Chris, I like this idea very much, along with Ike and Tracy’s additions. One step further – perhaps Twitter should always have a tab with a “Suggested” stream – this is the one you start with, but also, as longer-standing users, we can always drop into that tab and see tweets from people Twitter detects are similar to us (Twitter already does that with other suggested follows when you follow someone; why not make it real-time?) The AI behind it would be quite valuable, esp. when you add Tracy’s suggestion to “don’t show this one anymore” a la Netflix.

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