For the past few days I’ve been hanging out in Jackson Hole with a bunch of geeks and one thing I’ve noticed over and over is how boring Twitter has gotten when compared to Google+.
Why has Twitter turned boring?
I’ve found several areas:
1. First experience.
2. Pictures and videos.
3. Control over content distribution.
4. No API, no auto pushing of content.
5. Signals are visible from who you excited and pissed off.
6. Auto flowing webpage.
So, let’s take each of these areas on, and talk about what Twitter could do to make users excited again.
Forget everything you know about social networks. Now, visit my Twitter account. Then visit my Google Plus account.
Which one draws you in more? Which one shows engagement? Which one has a better about page? Which one shows passion, excitement, that something is happening? In all cases, Google+ is blowing away Twitter and it’s not even close.
So, what can Twitter do?
1. Buy Twylah. Look at my landing page there, it’s MUCH better than what’s on Twitter. Then, Twitter should add some stats on each twitterer. Stuff like “how many retweets has she gotten today?” or “how many @ replies does this user answer?” That would make Twitter more engaging and interesting.
2. Completely revamp the list idea in Twitter. If you follow one of my lists, which I’ve spent hundreds of hours on, they DON’T DO S**T ON YOUR ACCOUNT! This is so lame that it, alone, will get me to pour more time into Google+. But, what should they do? First, if you follow a list all those people’s tweets should be added to your home feed. Second, if you follow a list you should be able to send your Tweets to people on just that list. Third, if you follow a list, you should be able to send private messages to those people. Fourth, the people on the list should be able to tell the list itself whether that was OK or not.
3. Get rid of the freaking spam on search and give us amplification abilities and noise controls. Many new users will come because a blogger or someone will say “hey, we’re talking about the new iPad on Twitter.” Have you ever looked at a search for the word iPad? It’s full of crap and spam. There’s no way to say “only show me items written by people with a Klout score of more than 30 (which would get rid of the spam) or there’s no way for me to say “show me only items that say “Apple iPad” and that have a positive sentiment.” If there were, many new users would see the value in Twitter, especially around news and location. Instead, every search I’ve done lately is full of spam. Boring!
PICTURES AND VIDEOS
Google+ has beautiful photos and videos. Twitter? Just page after page of mind-numbing 140 character items. Now, Flipboard demonstrated to all of us that photos and videos CAN be added into the display, and the new Twitter UI does do some of that, but it just isn’t enough. Google+ is blowing Twitter away here.
So, what could Twitter do? Totally rethink the clients it owns, and rethink the stream itself. Let us add photos and videos into each tweet and, even, let us do that outside of the 140 character limit, which would let Twitter continue to blow away Google+ on where it is strong: which is on mobile.
CONTROL OVER CONTENT DISTRIBUTION
Google+ lets me publish a post to JUST A SINGLE PERSON +or+ to a small group of people, or, even, to a circle that has 5,000 members in it. Twitter has no such way to do this.
Why does this make Twitter boring? Well, because, my friends can feel safe sharing, um, “racier” posts with me on Google+ where on Twitter they either need to DM me, which isn’t as good as a group (my other friends can’t say “great photo” for instance) and isn’t nearly as nice.
What can Twitter do? Revamp lists. But Twitter’s management thinks lists suck, so I don’t see Twitter getting this feature anytime soon and that’s really too bad. It’s what will really put Twitter into a box and soon, you’ll see, how this affects search and all sorts of news. This is Twitter’s weakest point, and it will become more and more apparent that Twitter has blown a real opportunity here to make its system more interesting.
NO AUTO-PUSHING OF CONTENT ON GOOGLE+
I look at Twitter and a lot of it has turned into a boring RSS feed. I get items from news organizations, and even people now are using it to automatically Tweet (there are even systems that will send out tweets automatically at specific times). I don’t know who really posted these items, and I don’t get answers back from these people a lot of times because, well, they aren’t even online. Not true over on Google+. At least not yet.
This is one area where I’m not sure how Twitter can help, but Google has chat and “hangout” videoconferencing features, which help me see whether someone is really online and available (even Michael Dell has done a few hangouts and those really get people excited). So, I would add some interactive features into Twitter where the sender MUST be online and there to answer them.
YOU CAN SEE WHO YOU EXCITED AND WHO YOU PISSED OFF (and you can see same for other people)
On Google+ I can see if what you wrote excited or pissed people off. Why? There are comments right underneath it. As a writer this feedback makes Google+ extremely interesting. Why? Because I can change my behavior if I’m pissing people off, and my ego gets fed when I see 3,000 people commented and said “great post.” I am seeing a LOT of engagement on Google+ where on Twitter I can’t see that.
Quick, go visit Mike Arrington’s Twitter account and tell me of his last 20 tweets which ones pissed off the most people? Which ones thrilled the most people. But on Google+ that’s a simple chore.
What can Twitter do? List under each Tweet engagement statistics. How many times was it retweeted? Who retweeted it? Which one caused the most @ replies? What was the sentiment of those replies (there are lots of companies that can tell you whether a reply is positive or negative).
THE POSTS AUTOFLOW
If I open a web browser and put Twitter and Google+ side-by-side, one automatically shows me new stuff, one doesn’t. That makes Twitter look old and crappy. Yes, if you use newer Twitter clients you can get tweets to autoflow, but I’d rather have the web page do this like Google+ does.
Anyway, there are other things, as well. On Google+ the Notification page shows you anytime you get engagement. Twitter has nothing like that. It’s amazing how cool that is.
Are you finding the same thing? So far I’ve been asking the geeks I’m hanging out with here in Jackson Hole and they really are seeing these differences and wonder how Twitter will react to them.
Me too. So, Twitter, what you gonna do to keep from being seen as the most unexciting social network?
UPDATE: Here’s a post about this over on Google Plus so you can see the kind of engagement that I’m getting there.