I joined Twitter in March of 2007. It took about six months, but I eventually fell in love with the social media site. I joined Facebook and tinkered there too around this time, but Twitter won my heart. It gave us a way to instantly connect and have real-time conversations with, well….anyone that was on Twitter! The ability to discover new people and hear differing points of view on any topic imaginable was intoxicating
So for years, I spent almost all of my time on Twitter, and a bit of time on Facebook. LinkedIn was sort of the outcast. I never really saw the point as all it seemed to be was the same people I followed on Twitter, sharing the same content. Maybe a bit more focused on business, but it was pretty much a content stream, whereas Twitter was where you got the content AND the conversations around that content! An easy win!
But over time, Twitter got popular. REALLY popular. The celebrities found Twitter around 2010 when Oprah and A+K joined. Those celebrities brought more celebrities, and that also brought the mainstream media to follow them. The user experience on Twitter changed dramatically. The era of conversations had ended, the era of broadcasting had begun. One of the most popular posts I’ve ever written here was this one in 2015 lamenting that the organic conversations have left Twitter. It’s only gotten worse since then. Since 2016, Twitter has become a tinderbox of political arguments and fights. Every day the Twitter trending topics are dominated by political articles that are attacking this side or that side. And I still want to know what the New York Times’ secret for getting a minimum of one article to trend every single day, because they’ve found something no other media source can duplicate. (Sidenote: As I am finishing this post, the term “The Benefits of Boat Rentals” is trending on Twitter, with TEN tweets in the last hour. AFTER it started trending).
The constant fighting over politics really drained me. It’s basically driven me off Facebook, I log in once, maybe twice a week now, where I used to check Facebook multiple times every day. And it’s seriously killed my interest in Twitter as well.
So a few weeks ago, out of sheer desperation, I decided to give LinkedIn another look. What I found was a site that actually understands who its audience is: Business professionals. There was almost no talk of politics, the focus is on business. And I noticed something amazing about the newly-designed home feed: LinkedIn shows me what activity MY network is engaging in. It shows me when Tom endorses someone, or when Kelly Likes an article, or when Jim connects with Jessica. LinkedIn makes it easy to DISCOVER new people and new information!
This is the thing that made Twitter SO amazing as a discovery tool in its early years! For those of you that joined Twitter after say 2009 or so, you don’t know that Twitter used to let you see when people you follow interact with someone that you are NOT following. So if Kerry is chatting with Chris (who I am not following), I could still see her tweets to Chris. It was a wonderful way to meet new people like Chris, because I could see what Kerry (who I follow) was saying to Chris (who I wasn’t following). But Twitter decided that such a feature was DISTRACTING from the core user experience. In fact, Twitter has said all along that Twitter was never intended to be a platform for conversations, it was designed to be a broadcasting tool.
LinkedIn is changing into the discovery tool that Twitter used to be. That, plus almost all of the political nonsense is checked at the door. The focus is business, and connecting with and discovering new business contacts and information. LinkedIn even curates a Daily Rundown, which gives you a quick overview of the BUSINESS stories you need to know. Oh, and they now have over half a billion users worldwide.
It’s funny because when I started using and enjoying Twitter, I wanted it to get the attention I thought it deserved. I wanted companies to spend more time there, I remember being upset because it never got mentioned in the mainstream media. “Be careful what you wish for.”
LinkedIn is currently my favorite social media site, and the one that I find the most useful. Which social site do you enjoy the most?
UPDATE: It’s been very interesting to see the reaction this post has gotten on social media. I only shared it on LinkedIn and Twitter, and only once on LI. As you can see from the share counts, it’s far more popular on LI, but I guess that’s somewhat expected since it seems to be more favorable toward LI than Twitter. What’s fascinating to me is the vitriol I’ve seen on Twitter over this post. People have insulted me, told me I don’t know how to use Twitter, accused me of clickbait, etc. The clickbait charge I can somewhat understand but the title was more an analogy to dating, like Twitter isn’t my ‘steady’ anymore, now I’m seeing LI. And what I’ve really noticed on Twitter is most people are commenting on the title without actually reading the post. This happens far too often on Twitter. On the other hand, the reaction on LI has been far more measured and has actually sparked several deep and interesting conversations. The reaction on Twitter has mostly been that I am wrong and not using Twitter the ‘right’ way, and that I don’t know how to drive engagement. If anything, the reactions have helped solidify my decision to spend more time on LI versus Twitter moving forward.