I would describe myself as a moderate Twitter user. My experience at SXSW this fall propelled my interest in and understanding of this new medium and definitely brought it into my daily life. I’ve blogged about my enlightening experience here. There is no question about the real and potential value that Twitter has and it’s incredibly exciting. But…I am already quite frustrated with the “noise” Twitter is generating in my life. There seems to be no good way to cut through the clutter and shameless self promotion. Sadly, I fear my own industry, real estate, is greatly contributing to the problem.
For example, I am watching my real estate colleagues post things such as “Gr-8 new listing in San Fran!” Or “Looking for a terrific agent in Chicago? Call me!” Really?? Why? Who cares? I put posts like this in the same category as “yum.. thinking of a roast beef sandwich for lunch.” Seriously? Unless you are working for the roast beef industry you just took up 2 seconds of my life that I can’t get back! If you are going to post about your new listing, tell me more about it. Why should I care? What is valuable about it? Better yet, help Twitter readers with providing real content. For example, share a link to local community information. Point me to places that might help me navigate neighborhoods which I know nothing about. Share MLS stats. Focus on information, not just “selling” me. Basically don’t be so short sited and self promotional. If I see you as a helpful resource I will come back to you for more!
Part of the greater challenge however, is the medium. At its’ core Twitter is encouraging this behavoior by treating all voices as equal. Ultimately this “democratization” can be good and bad, depending on your point of view. The good: everyone can put out their feeling, thoughts, advice etc. The bad: there is no weight to those comments. While it’s “nice” that everyone is created equal, ultimately I think it devalues Twitter as a true resource. I fear the site is going to be abandoned without some way for users to rate content beyond # of “followers.” There is such a great opportunity for Twitter to differentiate from Google, which rates web content based on a complicated, somewhat mysterious algorithm (about which I am bitter this week). Twitter is perfectly poised to engage the community and should build a system to encourage users to rate contributors based on the value of their information. Give me the ability to rate on content depth, helpfulness, clarity etc. Then, allow readers to sort subject searches by the community ratings. Yes, there are outside services that “sort of” do this.. but I don’t want an outside application. I want it imbedded in the core of the Twitter service. I want to know that Twitter cares what I think! And.. it will help me sort through the clutter while helping me contribute back to the community. Seems like a win win to me!