I use the Twitter iPhone app. It’s better than the mobile web. I’ve used a variety of different clients, but as Twitter kept throttling them one-by-one, I made a decision to go with the ‘official’ version.
Recently, I’ve been questioning my allegiance to the app. That’s because of Promoted Tweets.
I understand the need for them. I’d even go as far as suggesting they are a good thing, except… well, they’re poorly used and the targeting is so far off as to be almost useless.
I could go on.
However, beyond all those other reasons, there is one thing that irks me more than anything else: that they appear to be inserted every tenth Tweet or so. This makes reading my Twitter timeline a frustration instead of a joy.
Not one single promoted Tweet has been of interest yet. None. Despite Twitter suggesting that my ‘friends’ – those I follow on Twitter – are following these brands.
I don’t follow brands. I follow people, or institutions that have interesting people Tweet on their behalf. I’m not interested in following Samsung, IBM, The Sunday Times, or any other brand. These brands have no relevance to my use of Twitter – to access interesting content and opinion from interesting people. To learn. To acquire links to funnies, or long reads, or… just about anything other than a shill of their latest product, or some paid content. This isn’t LinkedIn, people!
They used to be simple to see through. Then Twitter got sneaky. With the latest app update the Promoted Tweets look like ReTweets from friends. That bugged me. That’s a Facebook-esque move, whereas that social behemoth has been borrowing from Twitter of late.
Then there is the assumption by Twitter’s algorithms that I share the same interests as the people I follow. That seems fairly solid, as assumptions go. Except it doesn’t appear to work. Why?
I follow a lot of people I don’t know. They are people I may have met, possibly even got drunk with, but that’s all. I don’t know the name(s) of their kids, if they’re married even, or if they have pets. I don’t know their home address. Occasionally, I don’t even know their last name, yet I’d call them close friends. That’s the world I live in. I certainly don’t share their interests at a level to make promoted Tweets of interest.
I’d much prefer a different way of promoting Tweets.
There are a few brands that stand out because of their Twitter feed. I’m not at all interested in poker, yet I’m usually pleased to see BetfairPoker in my stream. They are funny, irreverent yet relevant, and interesting. If they talked about poker, I’d probably block them.
At the moment, blocking is the one weapon I have against unwanted branded nonsense. Dismissing the Tweets doesn’t seem to work. I’ve started to block brands that appear in my Twitter timeline. I don’t want to see them. For now it seems to prevent them from appearing. I’m sure this isn’t what they want. And I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one doing this.
As the advertising industry struggles to reinvent itself, it should stop seeing disruption as literally disrupting and instead start to think of it as innovative. Their messages may be uninvited but they’d be interesting enough that they’re not dismissed out of hand. I’d promote that.
How about a small annual fee to not be advertised to? Would that work? I think so, if the payment wasn’t too big. Then again, would it help?
There has to be another, more innovative way. Or am I in the minority?