Twitter, to me, is for conversation. I’m tired of all the automatic tweets, the broadcast announcements, and the cross-posts from Facebook.
I live and work in a small town, and I love using Twitter as something like an office water cooler: a convenient place for a quick talk with friends. It gives me a breadth of interaction I cannot get here at home.
But all the noise gets in the way of conversation: automated links, check-ins on Foursquare, new pins on Pinterest, blog feeds, Tumblr, paper.li, Triberr, and a bunch of other things.
Rather than ask everyone else to change what they tweet, I decided to change what I see. Here’s how I did it.
On my desktop and laptop:
I use TweetDeck. In the Settings, under Settings, there is an option for Mute. In that, I picked Source. I started by filtering out posts from Facebook, Foursquare, and twitterfeed. Then I just watched for any tweet that seemed automated. I clicked on Details to see where the tweet came from, then went back to Settings and filtered out or muted that source.
On my iPad:
I switched to the paid TweetBot app. It also has a setting to Mute any source. I went through and added the same filters there. And I keep adding as I find new automated sources.
Now my Twitter stream is mostly live comments from real people. It’s fascinating. I’m able to connect with the people who are actually present now, and have those conversations I’m here for. It reminds me of Twitter before the marketers went crazy blasting links and automating messages.
There is just as much conversation as ever on Twitter. It’s just that there is more noise, too.
As I’ve shared this tactic, people have asked a few questions:
Don’t you miss the links?
Not so far. I still see links that people share from the Tweet Button, from the web, or actually type into their tweet by hand. The sender has to care enough to post a link like that individually, so I see stories that really resonate with someone. I have FlipBoard on my iPad to flip through the automated links, if I want. I also receive a paper.li summary of the top links my friends share each day. I can view it to catch up on links.
Don’t you tweet links, too?
Yes, and some people love them. I do not automate any tweets to @BeckyMcCray. I have a separate account (@SBSurvival) where I post links to my articles, rural business news items, and other interesting stuff. If you want mostly talk, follow @BeckyMcCray. If you want mostly links, follow @SBSurvival.
How could I give up my Hootsuite Dashboard/TweetDeck columns I use to monitor everything?
Go ahead and use your massive dashboard/columns when you are in “monitoring mode.” When you are ready to have a conversation, consider using a different tool with filters. I think you’ll find it refreshing.