I’ve been a Twitter user for a long time now. I joined the platform way back when #FailWhale was a thing. Now that is a relic of times long past, in modern frames of time. I’ve watched the platform grow and now every news station, almost every celebrity, every brand has a Twitter account. I even wrote a post a while back which included a few ways I though Twitter could improve. Now again they are in the dog house after lagging results in the latest quarter. I’m not interested in the financial aspect of Twitter I’m interested in the user experience aspect. However the user experience aspect is what will grow the platform and bring with it the financial side of things. Warning there is some pretty strong language and the use of a swear word or two. If you are offended by that please stop here now.
Twitter to me is like a sea of information. The more people you follow the bigger the sea gets. Users know the people that they are most interested in hearing. Constantly I see missed tweets from some of my favorite people I follow. Instead of Twitter trying to do all sort of things why not tap the users themselves. Offer the ability to check the 5 or 10 people they follow that will be “starred”. Then instead of starting with the main timeline start with the “Starred” timeline. The main timeline would still be available in another tab. But this enables users to see the tweets they are most interested in right away.
Increase the damn character limit! The change doesn’t have to swing from one side of the pendulum to the other. It doesn’t need to be 140 or unlimited. I think Twitter might be surprised at the reaction they get with just a 10 character increase. Most users have already developed Twitterspeak. But it is still super annoying when you type out a thought and it’s just 1-3 characters over the limit. A resistance to change in my opinion is stupid. Come on #upthatlimit!
It’s also time for Twitter to really take a stance on the rules of their platform. Define the rules about what is acceptable and make it widely known. Just dropping it in an updated user agreement is useless because no one reads that shit. Release the information on blogs, news outlets, mainstream media. Develop a team where users can send in complaints of abuse of the rules with screenshots as proof. Twitter messages of hate, racism, death threats or whatever Twitter decides should not be tolerated. Even if the user generating the hateful tweets deletes them. I’m sure Twitter employees can still see those tweets to corroborate the screenshots. The team would investigate each occurence and dole out necessary punishment. Meaning drop the fucking ban hammer! Twitter users value their influence on followers and the threat of being banned for a year or life will be a very good deterrent for many. Now when I say drop the hammer I mean contact ISPs with IP addresses etc. Take it seriously and make the punishment hurt. If the offender can simply make a new dummy account then the punishment will just be a waste of effort. I know the platform is great for freedom of speech and that is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about personal attacks on other users. Attacks that have the real potential to cause depression, suicide or fear of harm, etc. This is also the reason there should be a team or teams that will look at each case. Ensuring that appropriate tweets and tweeters aren’t simply flagged by haters. The greatest asset Twitter has right now is their users and taking steps for the benefit of all users is always a great thing.
When I think of new users I feel Twitter must be like you’re getting into something moving at the speed of light. Twitter needs to get the information out there to new users about how to use Twitter. New users need to be introduced to Twitterspeak and the meaning of acronyms, how Timelines work, the etiquette of RTing, Replying, Posting, how hashtags increase exposure of the tweet, knowledge of who is able to see Tweets, etc. Look at it from the perspective of a new user and what they might find frustrating. Then find a way to educate users about those things. Whether it’s a Twitter account/channel that is totally and completely geared toward those things with videos, tutorials, website links, etc. The twitter account/channel should start from the first post for each person who adds/joins it. This would eliminate the user’s need to search or go looking for the information.
When it comes to media in my mind Twitter could take a two pronged approach here. They need to find some way of getting media onto their platform. Not by adding it to Twitter but instead by creating seperate apps that work with Twitter. Instagram-like, Snapchat-like, Whatsapp-like apps. These current apps are not perfect so look at each app and make a better version for users. Then make them all intermingle with each other instead of being siloed off. Make it so that a user can view a picture or video inside Twitter without going out to the app where it was created. The second prong would be to make it so that all other social media content is viewable in Twitter. If a user can view their friend’s Snapchat from Twitter then there is no need to leave Twitter based on a notification. This might be difficult if they make a competing app so maybe this takes precendence over creating their own apps. Also many studies will say that people watch a huge amount of television. Twitter is missing out by not having some sort of check-in type feature. Users could check in that they are watching “Grimm” for example and they would get a new tab with only the other users watching the show. They could all see each others tweets and conversate. I’m talking about what the app GetGlue used to do before they changed and in my opinion became useless.
Finally security. If Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter can have his account hacked on his own platform there’s work to be done! In this age of leaks, hacks, compromises. Tighten up the security on the platform. Use a password strength meter, make sure all users enable 2 Factor authentication, do something. Users like convenience and until there is a better method of security passwords will remain the weak link in the chain. Most smartphones now have fingerprint readers maybe the app will require use of that authentication to open in the future? I don’t know, all I’m saying is take a look at the security on the platform and make it better wherever possible. People like to use a platform where they feel safe.
These are just some of my feeble attempts to make Twitter a more enjoyable platform for myself and other users.