What if Twitter became Twitterer?

1 Sep

Reading Jay Baer’s post yesterday got me thinking about the level of conversation that can actually take place in an environment like Twitter.

How much conversation can come out of fixed 140 character tweets or private messages?

Not much. It can’t even compete with email, let alone phone calls or face to face.

So what if Twitter doubled the length of the allowable post? What about 280 characters? How would making the platform “Twitterer” change the nature of the engagement?

My guess is that people would like it less.

Oh sure they would cram more stuff in, use fewer abbreviations, put more of their character into their tweets.  But I don’t expect they would use the extra length to expand on points and ask questions that might create deeper conversations.

Tweeters like the hit and run environment. There is something about the tight constraints of that 140 characters that challenges people and has created its own culture.

Where Twitter doesn’t facilitate conversation is not in the limited number of characters, but in the nature of the dialogue. Twitter can facilitate introductions and chats, start relationships, serve up nuggets, break news…but you have to go somewhere else to go deep: links.

I honestly don’t think users will change their behaviour significantly when invited to become more long-winded.

Making it more Twitter will only make it less Twitter.

What do you think?


8 Responses to “What if Twitter became Twitterer?”

  1. Janis La Couvée September 1, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    It’s a very good question! After a year and a half, I even think in Twitter-ese, and would agree that lengthening the tweet will not improve Twitter.

    As you know, in Victoria BC we’ve built a very active culture of people who meet face-to-face once they’ve “met” on Twitter. It’s definitely been responsible for boosting business for the people who choose to take those relationships to the next level.

    I’ve also seen growth in the area of personal and business blogs, Facebook pages, vlogs, YouTube channels – anywhere that people can expand on the conversation.

  2. whiterose52 September 1, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I agree, making tweets longer won’t improve Twitter in the least and overlooks the fact that Twitter’s success is due to it filling a specific need in it’s present format. The critics look at how teens use it to tweet mundanities but isn’t that the stuff of their lives at that age?

    The 140 characters gives a glimpse into the life of the person tweeting and opens up the lines communication. Anyone wishing to have a more in-depth conversation has the option of blogging, Facebook or in some cases, exchanging emails. Twitter is bumping into friends at the grocery store, Facebook has become heading to Starbucks for a coffee.

    I like to think of it as an old fashioned party line in a small town (yes, I actually remember–oh so vaguely–such things). We keep track of our ether-neighbors, who’s found a job, who’s going to the doctor. We can eavesdrop on the rich and famous and learn, for the most part, they are human just like us. Or we can listen for our distinctive ring and reach out to friends.

    What you don’t want broadcast, you don’t put out there.


  3. dougbrowncreative September 1, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    Great comments. For the detractors I would say that Twitter is as Twitter does. It only works if you work it. From my experience of your tweets, I would say that both you, Janis and Moe, are ideal Tweeters to follow: lots of good content and no trouble finding a way to your personality through the character limit.

    Love the metaphor of the small town gossip Moe. Can I integrate that into my descriptions of the platform please?

  4. whiterose52 September 1, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Be my guest…anytime I can be of help, let me know…my brain is always happy to be stormed…


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