Archive for May, 2009

Twitter - the Internet Down the Drain

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

First off, I like Twitter. Love it. I used to hate it, before I actually tried it. I figured the concept of micro-blogging was just some lame version of status updates that would degenerate to the stupid mundane stuff. A lot of average users probably do just that and may be a chief cause of the reportedly high rate of user drop off. But in following my peers involved in search marketing I saw all those links being shared to great content. Lots of great content. Content I would have missed without Twitter.

So, yeah, Twitter is great. A game changer even. But as that game is changing it’s revealing some “issues” I have with Twitter.

Time and Productivity Drain

Twitter is addictive. Facebook, though it’s lost it’s luster as the greatest thing since sliced bread, lost it to Twitter in fact, generated so much buzz about its addictive qualities that slang names arose - FaceCrack and CrackBook were popular references. Perhaps we should rename Twitter too. CrackBird might be a good one.

Once you’re following a fair number of twits your tweet stream is a steady flow of information. If the majority of the people you are following are posting good stuff, and links to great stuff, it gets hard to pull away and get some actual work done. Great for increasing your knowledge base but you can’t turn that knowledge into productive gains if you’re stuck in that cycle of continually gaining more knowledge.

I recently had to take a break from Twitter to get some work accomplished. I’d fallen behind on some projects, partly due to the time spent on Twitter, and decided to stay away. Instead I went old school and just checked my RSS feeds for interesting new posts (noticed something about that which write about below). So now I have 4 days of info I missed out on. Do I scroll through the last 4 days of the stream to see what I missed? No, I’ll probably just scroll though the last day instead. Chalk the rest of it up to what I missed before I joined Twitter. But I know I probably missed a link to something I would rather have seen. Oh well, down the drain.

Link Juice Drain

Things go viral quickly on Twitter, very quickly. And it can send a lot of traffic. I’ve seen it first hand. It’s all those links being shared and being re-tweeted by the networks of twits. But it’s fleeting. It eventually gets buried and lost in the ongoing stream and corrodes your marketing efforts.

Twitter links are nofollowed so they pass no search value, and all those great people who thought your content was so fine that they shared it with all their friends, who shared it with their friends, and so on, did it in Twitter. They didn’t blog about it and give real links that pass link weight for search engines, links that exist on content with real longevity. Real links can continue to send traffic over time but links in Twitter eventually just get sucked down the drain.

URL Drain

Speaking of links in Twitter, URL shorteners are all the rage but they pose a significant long term risk for the web as a whole. Many have written about short URL services being evil, nontransparent for users, and tool bar shorteners that use frames are essentially doorway pages. But there is another elephant in the room. What happens when a popular URL shortener goes bust and closes down? Seems to me they don’t really have a solid business model. What happens to all those links out there? Poof! Gone. They disappear. Or worse still, someone buys up the failing site with it’s massive database of redirected links and re-redirects them to their own affiliate offers or porn sites. That story will send the twitterverse into a massive frenzy when it happens, and it probably will happen, and it will suck, like a drain.

Content Drain

I spend less time reviewing my RSS feeds because I often find those new posts on Twitter first. But I’ve noticed something else recently as I review my RSS feeds, especially over my self imposed 4 day Twitter moratorium. My feeds don’t seem to be updating as often. I could be wrong but I think many bloggers (the SEO and internet marketing bloggers I follow at least) are blogging less - because, you guessed it, they are tweeting more.

This, however, might mean an increase in content quality as the really good stuff gets the blogger to take the time to write a quality post, much longer than 140 characters. The lower quality and repetitive, rehashed drivel can thankfully/hopefully disappear down the drain.

Speculation Drain

The internet is just vibrating about Twitter. Everybody is speculating on Twitter’s next move, or complaining about the stupid moves, buyout rumors abound, real-time search will be the Google killer (not)….. It goes on an on. People are even speculating on how Twitter should go about making money. Uggg, my brain is going to explode and ooze down the drain.

Ultimately they are all just trying to produce link bait, mostly no-followed and shortened links at that, to take advantage of the current Twitter buzz. Fair enough I guess. I suppose this post even falls into that category.

As I finish typing this post on my laptop, connected to the internet, I can hear something swirling through that series of tubes. It’s a sucking sound as big swaths of the web get sucked down the drain. And in the background, little blue birdies are chirping.

Now I’ll head on over to Twitter and tweet a link to this post. Even use my own wordpress generated short URL, http://stever.ca/drain. If you enjoyed it please re-tweet it. If you really really enjoyed it how ’bout throwing me a link. Preferably a real one please. :)