Future of Twitter – Segmentation

In several recent conversations on Twitter, and elsewhere, I’ve been noticing a bit of a trend. Seems like some of the “add-on” services that use Twitter to piggy back the social aspects of their own service, FourSquare being a prime example, seem to have an interesting effect on how followers interact with some of the folks in their tweetstream. I’m seeing many more people start to unfollow users of these services, because they don’t use them, and just don’t care.

Case in point, I don’t use any of the geolocation services. I have somewhere around 900 followers, and my rough guess would be that maybe 100-150 of them are actually local to me. That means that if I were to start tweeting all of my FourSquare “check-ins” they would be totally irrelevant to 80% of my followers. They aren’t local, they aren’t going to be meeting up with me, and they likely aren’t looking for reviews to every single place I eat out, or get a haircut. So, for me, and many others who are using Twitter to interact professionally with people who work in my industry, as opposed to people who are local to me, these services make no sense.

To many others, it seems like they really are trying to be local in their tweets. There’s a lot of meeting up, sharing local places of interest, etc., and that’s not exactly a bad thing. On the other hand, if you’re one of those folks, especially if you’re not local to me, please understand why I don’t want to follow you. The value your tweets bring me is diminished by the number of geolocation tweets you post. You and I are trying to accomplish different things. I think, as twitter grows, you’re going to see more of this. There are lots of different people using hte service now, and there is likely to be some segmentation of it’s users. I happen to think the use of geolocation services is one area where you’re going to see this, and Twitters new “local trends” is going to exacerbate this. Again, I, for one, don’t care about local trends, because the vast majority of people I interact with on Twitter aren’t local. If they were, I might care about that, but I’m not primarily looking for what’s happening in Columbus, I’m looking for what’s happening with the legal industry and ediscovery.

So, if you want to be local, and also be universal, perhaps you should consider leaving your foursquare interactions over there, instead of bringing them all to twitter? It’s going to be awfully tempting to unfollow you when you try and mix the two. You might want to decide which is more important to you, and then your followers can decide for themselves too. Soon, we might just see very distinct groups forming on twitter, folks who want to be local and are posting constant location updates and yelp reviews, and those who aren’t, and don’t. Shall the two ever meet again? I have my doubts.

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  1. Good post Mike,

    It’s a difficult one. Like many others I use twitter for mutliple purposes. I used to use two twitter accounts to separate a professional feed and local feed, but eventually it merged back into one as I was duplictaing many posts.

    Personally I try to achieve a balance, I want to add some personality to my twitter feed and so add the odd post to show my interests but I also try to avoid tweeting my ever foursquare checkin. I see it a little like a law firm feed, I would rather follow a partner than a firm to catch some of the personality.

    Maybe the answer is in the client rather than with twitter? Using tweetdeck etc and lists you can arrange the people. Maybe future versions will allow you to filter out urls for the likes of foursquare?

  2. Mike –

    The problem with pushing all of your FourSquare updates into Facebook is that the updates aren’t interesting. They probably are not even interesting to you. You so the check-in to get points or battle for mayor or earn badges. The updates make sense in FourSquare, but not in Twitter or Facebook.

    The same can be said for pushing all of your Twitter updates into Facebook. The status updates in one platform often do not make sense in other platforms. All of the “RT”s and shortened URLs that make sense (or at least some sense) in Twitter make little sense in Facebook. Most likely you are not even responding in Facebook.

    On the other hand, people don’t even think twice about publishing blog posts to the other platforms, or sharing interesting stories. You took the step of pushing information you found interesting. As I said above, the FourSquare updates are rarely interesting.

    Add some context to the check-ins, or only send out selective check-ins from FourSquare.

    Use the Selective Twitter application in Facebook. Only those Twitter updates with a “#fb” in the update will be published to your Facebook feed.

  3. I think there’s definitely room for personality, and even room for a few “hey I’m checking out this new place”, from anyone I follow. Like Doug says, though, it’s when you reach the point where every foursquare check-in is posted to twitter, that’s where I get off the bus. You telling me when you get to the office, stop at the grocery, get home, etc. adds no value.

    To some extent, I think it’s important to stop and think about what your followers expect from you. I use Selective Tweets to post to Facebook because I know that’s not the same audience, and they aren’t going to see value in everything I post to Twitter, but I like being able to post to both when appropriate. Same with LinkedIn. I push blog updates to all 3, because I think most people who are following me are aware of this blog and interested in what I write here. On the flip side, I don’t push out updates from my child abuse survivor site, because the professional and personal contacts I have on those services are not the same audience as the folks who regularly read that blog, but I did create a Facebook fan page so those folks could interact with that information, and me, on Facebook if they choose to. I may not have everything exactly right for my followers, but at least I’m thinking about it and am open to suggestions. 😉

    Interestingly Jason, I did send in a feature request to ReadTwit, which pulls out items that are linked by the people you follow on twitter into an RSS feed, to allow me to filter by URL, for that exact purpose! In the mean time though, I’m filtering the folks who tweet every geolocation check-in easily enough, by not following them any longer.

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