Twitter could use a little makeover. The objective of this post is to initiate a discussion and come up with a list of suggestions for Twitter on how to improve. I met Twitter co-founder Biz Stone personally. He appeared to be very humble and is a good listener. Why not give it a shot?
Twitter has changed its order of displaying followers a few months ago. The latest followers are now shown on top. This makes it very easy to follow a person who aggressively adds new (auto) followers and build a big number of followers for themselves. Many people have issues with this and call it spamming.
Instead of complaining about the status quo I’d much rather look ahead and address some things that could easily be improved – without making Twitter too complex and all of us ending up with the almost permanent “fail whale” again:
1. Freeze Twitter names once a user is past 500 followers
It is easy to change a Twitter username and keep your followers. You essentially hire some kids in India and build an account with 100,000 followers in a month or two. You could then sell this account to someone else who can stick their own name on it. I am surprised this service isn’t available yet – maybe it already is? Please do NOT run to the USPTO with this.
2. Provide better user management tools
Someone’s followers should not be visible to the public in a chronological order.
On the other hand there should be a more advanced follower and followee management system for users themselves. I’d like to see when someone posted last, what their DM vs. reply vs. normal Tweet ratios are. How many Tweets per user per day? Etc…
An enhanced follower/followee interface could be a premium service. I’d pay $5 per month for it.
3. End supporting the big guys exponentially
Right now everyone can follow up to 2,000 people when they start. After the 2,000 benchmark you can follow your number of followers plus 10% of your follower base.
This opens floodgates. Power users should be more limited in how much they can reach out.
If people choose to follow you and you follow them back there is no need to impose a limit – no matter how popular you are. Barack Obama didn’t need to be too agressive to build his follwers on Twitter…
4. Give a little extra help for the new members
A controversial thought: How about offering new members access to a pool of 1,000 randomly selected members that offer reciprocity and will follow new users back?
Every new user would get to pick up to 100 users out of this pool. In case someone is trying to expand their network I’d see this as a reasonable way. It might sound a bit complicated but it would make me happy to see newbies get a little headstart.
5. Restriction of how many times you can follow/unfollow the same user
If a user tries to follow the same person 5 times in one month there should be a warning light going on. This is a clear indicator that someone tries to build a follower base too aggressively.
6. Better control of third party Twitter tools
Instead of making their API available to everyone Twitter might add an individual code for third party tools. This could weed out the bad guys offering abuse. If a new tool is not helping the community Twitter would have the power to shut it off.
Many third party Twitter tools are truly helpful for the individual users and for the community overall. Twitter would hardly work without them. But some others are clearly not. I.e. many people are abusing the auto reply feature offered by Socialtoo (I used it briefly but then recognized my mistake).
What can you do?
I made this up by myself – no focus groups or team of experts ;-) Therfore this list is neither perfect nor complete.
Please add your comments and I will update the list if I think your idea is in line with what I am trying to accomplish: A clear and brief message of what could be improved in a relatively short time – not a 10 page document. The Twitter folks are busy and won’t have time for this.
You can also do one or all of these
I have greatly benefitted from the “loophole” and added a lot of followers lately myself. I also laid out my way of using Twitter very clearly in my Twitter policy. I stick to it.
I am not suicidal. I have no interest in putting a nail in my coffin and abuse my follower base.
Without having a significant follower base you might not have found this blog post. Of course there are other benefits of having a follower base. It helps to build a brand. It adds visibility.
For some people the # of followers is also a big ego booster: No-one who knows me personally has told me yet that I have changed because of my Twitter stats. If anything I am a bit more humble and feel more responsible in what I put out there. I am certainly not starting any of my conversations with: “How many followers do you have?”
This post was inspired by the legions of Twitter users who care about a nice and clean Twitter just as much as I do. You know who you are. Be well!