Fixing Twitter’s Noise Problem & Regaining Consumer Attention: My Letter To Jack Dorsey

There once was a time where you could send a tweet out saying:

“Hey, go follow one of the hardest working smartest entrepreneurs in the game Gary Vaynerchuk

And out of 1000 of your followers you’d get 400–500 following back and engaging.

Now we all know if you send out anything of the sort today that number turns into something like 8–22. You’re being drowned out by the noise. Our attention on Twitter has been conditioned in a way that results in us paying very little attention to 90% of our feed.

We see the exact opposite on Snapchat where you will typically get about 90% of your followers on Snapchat engaging with your story. But regardless of this Twitter has a very big value proposition within culture.

“The world needs a water cooler, you can’t use FaceBook, Instagram and Snapchat during the NBA Finals — not in the same way Twitter works” — Gary Vayerchuck

Twitter is the water cooler of social media. It’s where people gather around to discuss and gossip on the worlds trends and events in real time as its happening. There’s really no other social media platform you can do that in the same way as Twitter. So Twitter will have it’s relevancy within that aspect of our culture. But there’s no question Jack Dorsey and his team wants Twitter to be more than the virtual water cooler.

But it’s going to have to adjust to it’s rapidly changing environment before someone else innovates well enough to replace it.

There is a clear noise and attention issue with Twitter. People following hundreds and even thousands of people are not consuming half of their followers content in the storm of Tweets sent out every second.

1. Introduce a Following Cap

Often we follow, like, subscribe to content from people we don’t 100% care about and trust. There is a reason why I’m only following one person on Medium and only double digits on Twitter. Personally, I try to be ultra selective with the people I consume and interact with, because as people we become who we surround ourselves with. Thus I pay much greater attention to the majority of the content in my feed because I’ve hand picked each person with a lot of forethought to join my ‘virtual family’.

Now there’s no reason why the following cap can’t scale to the amount of influence you have. For example, if you have less than 1000 followers, you get 100 people your allowed to follow. 10,000 followers — 500 following, etc etc.

This will most likely result in nearly everyone losing 10–50% of their total followers. As a result of that superficial stat largely decreasing, many will be upset. But they’ll eventually realise that those followers where never paying attention in the first place and they’re actually at a gain. Less people may be following them, but more care.

This can all be summed up in one word: ATTENTION.

You create a following cap and suddenly people are paying much more attention to their feed and not taking their virtual family for granted anywhere near as much.

2. Only 1 Tweet Per 24 Hours

Decades ago there used to be 3 old white guys that told us what to think and how to think it. They controlled the newspaper, TV and radio. That was the main source of information for the world for a large period of time in the 20th Century. Now, we have hundreds of outlets to consume and release information from. This creates A LOT of noise. Something the human race is still trying to adapt and co-exist with. This is a gift and a curse in itself.

Because now Twitter is flooded with 500+ million tweets per day (January 2015). Regardless whether the cap is 1 or 2 tweets per 6/12/24 hours, the specifics aren’t the most crucial thing here. They can all be adjusted and scaled to your followers count just like above. The most significant thing is creating a restriction on people’s mouths to create the following benefits:

  1. Creating a cap that limits the amount someone tweets massively limits noise.
  2. People take A LOT more care and thought to whether what they’re about to say is actually important.
  3. It forces people to become efficient and creative raising the bar on quality dramatically.

Implementing both the following cap and the tweet cap at once is a questionable tactic. The consumer will most likely become quite confused and many may jump ship. If anyone from Twitter was to somehow read this and seriously consider the ideas, from a consumers perspective looking in, it would probably be wise to execute off just one to test the waters adjusting accordingly.

Any change like the above will likely cause very mixed reactions because humans often despise their freedom being constricted. But in the long term, people will be rewarded because they will be seeing the most valuable relevant information to them and actually be really care about it.

Both these proposed changes force you to think hard about what is truly important and relevant to your consumer. Combining both ideas could be it’s on social media app with the potential for massive success. Maybe you’ll be the one to create it?

Moral of the story: Attention is the game, noise is the opponent.

Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour. youtube.com/emmanualalexander

Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour. youtube.com/emmanualalexander