Hey, Twitter: More Signal, Less Noise, Okay?

January 19th, 2009

Maybe you haven’t delved into the world of Twitter yet. I’ve been there with an alter ego for over a year, and just recently began Twittering @LOHADdotcom.

The signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter can be frustrating — which is the main reason, I think, there are so many dodos on Twitter.

Here are some actual recent tweets culled from Twitter’s public timeline over the course of about a half-hour. I’ve removed the name of the Twitterer; I don’t want to be perceived as insulting anyone. Alternatively, you can go to Twitter right now and look at the public feed to find dozens (hundreds! thousands!) more tweets like these:

I can’t fall asleep.

Heading to the apple farm in SLO

I think I should curl up in bed and go to sleep.

Chloe Sevigny is such a fascinating creature.

Googling now

well my good mood is slowly starting to fade away.

Could thursday hurry up and get here?

Cleaning the bedroom

Battery’s dying. I’ll turn my phone back on tomorrow

Finally getting around to cooking dinner – just a little bit late. Tonight it’ll be ratatouille!

the snow has forced me to officially abort all plans of socializing tonite

The kids are down… now Heidi and I are going to try to plan out next week.

well, off to work midnight shift. be home after 8am

Just burnt the majority of the posters that one hung on my walls

I jumped out of a plane on the weekend and landed on my coccyx. Now it hurts to sit down.

Seriously. No editing. I didn’t make any of those up.

When one is faced with a flood of words that make Larry King’s old USA Today column seem like insightful criticism from Pauline Kael or Noam Chomsky, it’s no wonder the dodos flee Twitter en masse. Even a dodo isn’t that much of a dodo.

There are plenty of reasons for this mess of nothing, this wisdom internal monologue of the crowd that flows endlessly through the Twitter timeline, not the least of which is what I like to call “the glorification of the mundane.”

There’s a significant percentage of the population that thinks everything they do is endlessly fascinating to everyone. Everything they do. Everything. To everyone.

News flash: It’s not.

I think this derives in part from the perception, fueled by reality shows, that the most mundane elements in other people’s lives are endlessly fascinating. Why should anyone other than their husbands care what “The Real Housewives Of Orange County” — or Atlanta — or NYC — are up to?

So people think, “Well, if that can be a TV show, the mundane details of my life can be a Web site. Or a blog post. Or a Twitter feed.

But I digress. Back to Twitter — the place where I first heard about the U.S. Air water landing last week, where first-person accounts of the situation in Gaza can be monitored as the bombs fall, where breaking news breaks long before it breaks on the news.

There could be lots more of this good stuff, except far too many people simply aren’t paying attention to these “7 Ways to Be Worth Following on Twitter.”

More signal, less noise. That’s what makes someone on Twitter worth following … and, in aggregate, makes Twitter itself something far more worthwhile than it appears to many on first (and second and even third) impression.

Maybe “What are you doing?” on top of the Twitter page should change. Too many people take it too literally. Something along the lines of, “Say something worth reading” might be better.

Because no one really cares about every random thought that pops into your head. Unless, of course, you’re Larry King.

Takeaway for marketers: Signal-to-noise ratio matters not only on Twitter, but also on on your Web site, in your email communications, in your advertisements … and so on … and so on …

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