Exploring Social Media: Twitter is Broken, Now What?

Filed as Features on February 24, 2009 3:39 pm

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Within the last few hours, Robert Scoble announced that “Twitter is broken” on his @Scobelizer Twitter account.

@loic: Twitter is broken and we all know it. But we muddle along anyway. Bring us better tools so we can view groups we care about.
Scobleizer – Robert Scoble

scoble-twitter is broken

We’ve talked about a lot lately here on the , including Oscar ads on Twitter feeds, asking why Twitter is useful to you, explaining social media and Twitter to your parents, about a UK company offering Twitter business resources, how Norway is using Twitter to fight with Microsoft, Twitter pop celebrities, $35 Million to keep Twitter going, Twitter phishing scams, the BBC Mumbai Twitter Debacle, the US Presidential Election coverage on Twitter, and how Twitter is still a niche but moving into main stream.

Even with all this Twitter news and information coverage, at the heart of it, Scoble is right. Twitter is broken. Now what?

Fixing Twitter

twitter is broken alertIn “If Twitter Breaks in the Woods and No One Can Tweet About It, Is It Really Broken?” Paris Lemon said:

We’re all used to Twitter outages, but this is something different. Something behind the scenes is misfiring, but only just enough so that not everyone realizes. On top of that, I have this weird feeling that some people are tweeting less because they think no one else is. Twitter might be like a yawn in that regard – when you see someone else do it, you do it. If you don’t, you might not.

…Twitter broken. Needs fixing. Help!

While he is referring to a specific error, the reality is that you may be using Twitter and not even know it is broken – which is evidence that something is indeed broken inside Twitter – but this is just the surface of the problems with Twitter.

Will McInnes says, “Twitter is broken inside,” adding:

Twitter is like the person you once cared for deeply and still think of fondly, but who couldn’t change, and was never quite right inside. Something, somewhere, was broken. And despite huge efforts and ‘changes’, nothing changed.

With Twitter broken, what are our alternatives?

Robert Scoble is a fan of FriendFeed, which does offer a lot more features and options for social media interaction, yet has been very slow to be adopted by the masses.

Josh Bancroft agreed, saying, “Twitter is old and busted. FriendFeed is the new hotness.”

FriendFeed finally sucked me in this week. I finally “got” it. It’s the next logical step up from Twitter, because it is a superset of Twitter – I see my friends tweets, often before I do through Twitter itself, and I can reply to them once, and have it go to both places (FriendFeed and Twitter). Plus there’s so much MORE FriendFeed can do – import and show people’s blogs, shared items, photos, etc. It kicks ass, seriously. I highly recommend you give it a try…

The thing that got me to accept it (I’ve been resisting for a while now) was there was finally enough “social gravity” – enough of my network was participating there, and there were conversations happening on FF (a LOT of them) that I was totally missing out on because I was staying completely in Twitter.

In July of 2008, ReadWriteWeb predicted that Twitter fans would flock to FriendFeed due to all the outages and problems with the microblogging, communication service, and TechCrunch reported Twitter users abandoning it to head to FriendFeed. However, the statistics tracked by Compete analytics report that adoption of Twitter is actually increasing. It’s confusing, though. Use of FriendFeed is up 3327% over the last year compared to Twitter at 812%, yet the chart shows Twitter has increased to almost 6 million users while FriendFeed is just barely reaching their first million.

The adoption rate for FriendFeed is probably up not because people are finding FriendFeed a better communications, networking, and interaction social media tool, but because FriendFeed makes it so easy to announce blog posts to Twitter automatically. While the service is no longer online, Friendfeedstats reported in May 2008 that 54% of all content aggregated on FriendFeed is from Twitter, connecting the two through automation a lot more than participation.

FriendFeed is enjoyed by many, but it isn’t the perfect tool yet. So if Twitter is broken, and FriendFeed has room to improve, what is?

Popular social media expert in Portland (PDX), Oregon, @verso summed it up on Twitter last year:

I’m wondering how much longer #pdx will take it from Twitter. “Come on baby, you know I love you” won’t work forever will it? Alternatives?

Verso is right. If Twitter is broken, then let’s get specific. What needs fixing? How can it be fixed? If it needs fixing, why isn’t Twitter fixing it? Why are they relying so much on third-party programs to improve Twitter functionality?

Is there really something better than Twitter out there? Then why aren’t we using it?

What would make you move away from Twitter? What features do you most rely upon?

Instead of whining about how Twitter is broken, let’s look at how and why and make suggestions on what we really need for an instant messaging, microblogging, communications, social media tool.

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