Five reasons Twitter users want to quit

Social networking platform Twitter has many uses – staying in touch with friends, catching breaking news live from the scene, networking with potential business contacts, finding feedback, help and general rubbernecking.

But lately many high-profile users are abandoning the interface, and the reasons are just as varied.

When I put a call out on Twitter about twittexhausion, I thought I had a fair idea how this blog would turn out. Well, I was wrong.

I was inundated with messages. It seems there’s a fair amount of long-term, high-level users who are about to put Twitter onto semi-permanent hiatus. Why?

Shortland Street called, it wants its storyline back

“Did you hear @someone just lost their job?” “OMG did you SEE her tweet?” “I heard that @suchandsuch has hooked up with @thatguy!” “My life sucksssssssssssssssssssssss.”

It’s exhausting, and yet we get sucked into dramas and whines that aren’t even ours.

“So many gloaters, whiners and gossipers,” one user said. “When did it get like this?”

“I’ve almost stopped tweeting as was getting so worked up reading other people’s comments. My stream full of whining! Time off = good for me,” another user tweeted.

“The ridiculous immaturity of some users at times. The gossip. The scandal. The negativity. The drama,” one user said.

“I was worrying and getting angry about things that just weren’t important or getting sucked into dramas without even contributing to them, or knowing the people involved – dedicating head space to the dramas of strangers is just stupid,” another person messaged.

This leads nicely into point two:

Twitter fights, bullying, and inappropriate messaging

Several high-profile tweeters were targeted recently by a bully who posted inappropriate content about them, and a group of young women were targeted by a local tweeter who wanted to see nude photos, then chastised them for not sharing.

“It’s hard. It makes me feel gross. I’ve blocked him now but I feel uneasy when I see other people talking to him,” one user said. “I want to tell them all what he said to me but I don’t want to bring it all up again. I’d rather leave it alone.”

“Enough with the faceless, nameless people who hurl abuse!” another high-profile tweeter said.

I am not my workplace

For those who use Twitter openly for both work and personal use, the pressure to stay “on brand” and above-board can be overwhelming.

As one community manager puts it, “people keep asking me work questions on my own account. I was hoping for some time out but there’s no down time when people know where you work.”

“People’s expectations don’t match reality and that’s taken the fun out of Twitter for me,” another user writes. “People expect me to be on call for them 24/7, and then they abuse me when I’m not. I’m feeling frustrated, sad, overwhelmed and over it.”

Twitter is not the Olympics.

Why are so many Twitter users focused on measuring tools like Klout, follower numbers, RTs and the like? It’s exhausting.

“The need to be the most RTed, or replied to or doing that thing where you don’t RT properly and you mangle my carefully crafted tweet by shortening words,” one tweeter said. “Or worse: Make it into a tweet that uses or twitlonger, just so you can get your name in front of it. That still pisses me off.”

You don’t have to be first with breaking news. You don’t have to have 100 Klout. You don’t need 10,000 followers. You aren’t playing for a trophy. It’s not a competition.

The fakes and the wannabes

“The charlatans, the fakes, the really fucking bad writers who publish blogs about writing and engaging with people but with spelling mistakes. It is as damaging to your brain as watching the E! channel without any of the shows, just the loud, shouty, vacuous promos,” one Twitter user said. “And even though you don’t have to, you’d find yourself clicking links and ingesting the rubbish.”

“Twitter is getting overwhelmed with social media gurus who are regurgitating the same stuff, then wanking each other off over it,” another said. “New Zealand is too small for that kind of crap. It puts me off them and using Twitter.”

“The bigger twitter gets, the more it reminds me of High School, and then [I] worry I’m not cool enough,” another user wrote.

Simone McCallum has blogged about her experience of nearly giving up Twitter – give it a read.

So what can we do about twittexhausion?

Here’s five steps I suggest you take to relieve some of the Twitter fatigue

  1. Have a break. Turn the Tweetdeck off, go for a walk or watch some telly – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t tweet your rage.
  2. Re-assess Twitter’s place in your life. Recognise which of your buttons are being pushed, and why, then deal with that by talking it through with a friend, writing it down, or however you process.
  3. Make a private list, and fill it with people who make you smile. Use that as your main feed.
  4. Assert yourself. If you don’t like the way someone is tweeting at you, tell them – and if you have to, block them. Be polite about it, but don’t stand for behaviour which makes you uncomfortable.
  5. Go out for drinks with like-minded Twitter users and have a big bitch. Get it off your chest, then have a laugh about it. You’ll feel much better knowing that you aren’t alone.

Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Care About Twitter Follower Numbers

Why do we judge the quality of a tweeter by the amount of people they have following them? And why do we pay so much attention to our follower numbers? It is such crap, and here’s five reasons why.

1. Follower numbers are easily inflated.
Here’s how easy:

The follow/followback principle (you follow me, so I’ll follow you) is nice in theory – after all, it’s polite to follow someone who follows you – but it’s also a really easy way to quickly boost your follower numbers. You’ll recognise these people as the ones who follow you, then unfollow if you don’t reciprocate. They’ll probably follow you again tomorrow.

You can hit certain keywords, hashtags or magic bio words which cause bots to follow you. They’re fake followers, and there’s a lot of them.

You can create an army of accounts, and have them follow you. People do this for business reasons, or potential SEO reasons. It’s not as uncommon as you’d think.

Buying followers is also reasonably common. $100 and a credit card can see you gain 10,000 followers in a matter of minutes.

2. Follower numbers are not engagement numbers.
Are your followers actually hitting your website, buying your products, or using your services (if that’s your goal)? Are you getting retweeted or replies? That’s what counts on social. Measuring tools like Klout might be considered helpful, but really aren’t the be all and end all. Don’t look at a tweeter’s 50,000 followers and think that automatically translates to website UBs and sales – or even intelligent tweets.

One important factor: Lists. Just because someone has a lot of followers, does not mean those followers are ‘subscribed’. You may be on private lists which means you’re being ‘subscribed to’ without actually being followed – and vice versa! Follower numbers do not equal eyeballs to your messages.

Another factor is “speciality” – I don’t know a thing about cars, so if I advised my followers to buy a Mazda, they’d probably laugh at me. Jeremy Clarkson advises you to buy a Mazda, you nod in awe and buy a fricken Mazda. Even if I had more followers than Jeremy Clarkson, which do you think matters to Mazda? It’s not about follower numbers.

3. Investment in
This one is simple: The more time you spend on Twitter, and the longer you’ve been on, the more followers you’re bound to have. Some people can’t spend all day on Twitter, so naturally they’ll have fewer followers – unless they’re Carolyn3News – when is that woman going to tweet?

Sometimes it’s about quality, not quantity!

4. Maybe you’re not mainstream flavour
You’re a round peg and Twitter is a square hole. Who really cares? If you tweet heaps and that loses you followers, it’s not the end of the world. Just have fun and be yourself. You’ll never please everyone, and if you lose followers for it, then so be it.

Unless you’re publishing your foursquare updates to your feed. No one wants to see that shit.

5. Emotional well-being
Obsession with follower numbers is nothing but damaging. Your drive for followers is probably coming from some other unmet need. Want to be famous? Respected? Well-liked? Listened to? Answer that need and you’ll find your obsession with or friendorfollow will die off.

It is not a personal slight if someone you’ve never met thinks your 140 characters shouldn’t appear on a timeline of a social media tool they look at twice a week.

If you only have 100 followers and think that’s somehow a poor reflection on how lovely you are, think again. It’s not. There are some dipshits with thousands of followers out there.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a lot of followers. It’s human nature to want to be popular and liked. Just keep it in context.

And don’t get me started on Facebook friends.