Twitter: A Nuclear Testing Site

Nuclear weapons test in Nevada in 1957 A 37-kiloton balloon shot fired at the Nevada Test Site in 1957. Credit: US Government

In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, our hero finds himself in a strangely quiet neighborhood.

It looks like people are in the houses watching TV and the kids are playing outside. Upon further investigation they’re only posed mannequins.

For the sake of argument, let’s run with Scott Stratten’s analogy that “automating tweets is like sending a mannequin to a networking event.” That premise accepted, it is my belief that Twitter is in danger of becoming a nuclear test site.

Why? It’s simple. There’s a whole lot of tweets, but not a whole lot of conversation.

I’ve noticed in the past six months or so that while scrolling through the home feed, it’s difficult to find tweets that are candidates for response or retweet.

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I’ve already talked about ways to be retweetable and if you’ve ever seen my feed I am no stranger to telling people to stop tweeting from Facebook.

Although one of the main reasons I don’t retweet Facebook links is that not everyone on Twitter is on Facebook, the problem is bigger. I think people are using cross-posting as a way to make social easy.

I tweeted to a local car dealership two weeks ago. No response. Not surprisingly, their tweets were “posted” from Facebook.

At best “tweeting from Facebook” is bad form. But if you never come back to Twitter to see if anyone responded, then why are you even on Twitter? Keeping up an appearance with no engagement is like living a lie.

Sure, you can maintain Twitter in just five minutes a day, but if you spend the time, you will see the benefit.

Facebook isn’t the only culprit by any stretch of the imagination. We all tweet with some degree of frequency our foursquare and yelp checkins, Instagram photos, and Pinterest posts.

Be intentional. Choose which Instagram shot you want to share with your following. Post some (not all) of your check-ins and make them count. Tweet out a link to your new Pinterest board. Mix it up. Be interesting.

Be Present. Spend more time reading and responding to tweets from your home feed than posting about yourself.

Just like the fake neighborhood in Indiana Jones, the infrastructure is there for our habitation and enjoyment. Whether or not we use it to build community, is up to us.

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