Twitter is more like “What’s important right now”

April, 2009

Twitter asks what you're doing, how about 'What's important right now?'

What are you doing?

I’m getting sick of explaining that twitter isn’t just a random collection of facebook status updates – that’s what I’m doing.

I think the biggest objection I hear to Twitter goes something like “I don’t want to hear about my coworkers lunch habits, or when they go to bed, or what their kid is doing.” This complaint often stems from the prominent question on twitter’s main page (as well as the “home” page) of What are you doing?

The thing is, twitter is so much bigger than that. I don’t know how many times I’ve told people about the amazing capacity twitter has for link sharing, information passing, and relationship nurturing & maintenance. After about 5 minutes of back and forth I can usually get this across.

But the conversation almost always starts the same. So maybe we can get twitter to nip this in the bud. Maybe twitter can change the question.

What’s important right now?

This is how I see twitter. I mean, sure I do see a decent bit about lunch or people’s kids, but it’ usually not the mundane.  If I hear about lunch it’s because someone has something of note to say, good or bad. It’s really about what’s important right now.

I’ve heard twitter described as hyper-local, and while I feel this has some validity, I’m not sure why it’s really more local than blogging, for example. But I would say that twitter has time-context that blogs as well as many other avenues lack.

The huge value twitter adds is bringing you information in the now, not whenever you stumble across it, or after it goes through several editors. Changing the main question, that helps to define twitter, could help to change new twitterers mindset and present them a little better to the market in general.

So Twitter, capitolize on what you are good, play up the now. You’re better than just status updates.

  • Jason Peck

    I like this explanation. I always try to describe it as not just being about what are you doing. It’s more about what do you want to share that will be valuable to others? And What do you want others to know about you? I think you’re right about the “right now” context being key.

  • Adam

    @jason Thanks. I think you’ve got a good point about what you want to share as well. There are just so many more appropriate and useful questions twitter could be asking!