Today I unfollowed someone on Twitter. He is a relatively good journalist (no naming and shaming, sorry), but he is a rubbish Twitter user. Let me explain. As those of you who use Twitter know, it only allows 140 characters per message. Many of us take Twitter for granted now, but even a couple of years ago questions were being asked about its relevance and usefulness. How can you express yourself in 140 characters? Well, we’ve learned pretty quickly how to be concise and informative at the same time; witty and useful. Some people shorten words, some manage to write very precise tweets and remain eloquent within the 140 character limit. There are URL shorteners, image uploaders and other tools which make it possible to condense so much information into 140 characters.
Yet some cannot really understand that Twitter is a different medium with different rules. The guy I unfollowed was one of them.
He’s a seasoned journalist, has been writing for newspapers for almost two decades, but is unable (or more likely – unwilling) to change his habits for Twitter. He posts very long thoughts which he splits into several, usually four or five tweets.
I dip in and out of Twitter and I suspect many others do too. So when I see a half-finished sentence I don’t really understand it, I don’t want to wait around for parts two, three, four and possibly five. It doesn’t make sense. If you follow even a couple of hundred of people, your Twitter stream is constantly changing, constantly moving. Trying to find a tweet that was posted earlier to combine it with the one that has just popped up on your screen doesn’t make sense. Following someone who posts multi-tweet thoughts persistently doesn’t make sense either. Hence the unfollow.
In case he’s reading, here are some other alternatives for those pesky longer thoughts which don’t fit into a tweet:
Tumblr – mostly meant for short updates, very conveniently built to allow users to post either just text or video or audio or image or quote or link – or a combination of those. Used to host everything – from image-focused mini-blogs to portfolios and fully-functional blogs. Just like Twitter it allows you to follow other Tumblr users and reblog their stuff.
Posterous – just like Tumblr, but allows posting on the go by email. A nice gallery functionality too. Many people use it as their primary blogging platform, but it’s good enough for shorter posts too.
Use any of them, really, and then just tell Twitter. It’s that simple, seriously.
Just. Don’t. Split. Your. Tweets. It gives me a headache.
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