Is it okay to say, Twitter, I love you? Because I do.
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My relationship with you, you old micro-blogging social media platform, has only grown stronger since we first met in 2007. My tale of distaste, acceptance and then adoration is well known, but that fact makes me no more amazed that our relationship has yet to cool.
This was no clearer to me than last night when I sat with my laptop ajar and TweetDeck blazing as the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans electrical grid created one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory.
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Where My Passion Lies
I don’t care about football. I rarely watch regular season games and only tune into the playoffs when a New York team is involved. The Super Bowl is different. It’s a massive, global, cultural event -- a heady mix of intense competition, highly-produced marketing, expensive advertising, early looks at movies I want to see (and a good number I don’t) -- and now, a massive, roiling undercurrent of high-speed social engagement.
For you, the action may be on your HDTV. For me, it’s all on small screens, whichever one matches the occasion. (For the most intense Twitter-events, I need a physical keyboard).
The numbers for Super Bowl XLVII were humongous, by the way. 24 million tweets regarding the game and halftime show. Sure, the blackout played a role. The sudden loss of power a little more than halfway through the competition was unexpected, and launched some of the best and most clever Tweets I’ve ever seen on the platform.
Facebook, which turned nine today (Happy Birthday, somewhat less interesting social platform), certainly had some traction during the game. They reported all kinds of big moments, with huge jumps in mentions of “Beyoncé” and “lights.”
Where it matters most, though, I don’t know if there was as much Super Bowl action -- at least the kind I’m looking for -- on Facebook. At one point during the game, my wife looked over at me and said she wondered if anyone was watching the game.
"Of course they are. My Twitter feed is exploding," I said.
"No one on Facebook is talking about the game," she told me.
Later, though, she shared the game’s most touching commercial, The Budweiser Clydesdale “Brotherhood” spot, and got more than a few similarly weepy responses.
That’s nice for Facebook, but it’s not the same as what was going on on Twitter. From the half-time show through the blackout and right until the nail-biting last few seconds of the game, Twitter was on creativity over-drive. I threw in observations and jokes where I thought appropriate. Many of my tweets were retweeted dozens of times. It seemed as if the world was watching.
The more I posted, the more the Twitter community responded. It was intense and fun. So was the game. I was having a great time.
Each time, I see Twitter at its best and I’m reminded of how perfectly suited we are for each other.
As a social media platform, Twitter is a senior member of the clan. But by technology standards, Twitter is still young. In those early years it was awkward and unfocused as a pubescent teenager. Tweets were mostly about nothing, with only the occasional cracked voice of maturity as evidence that it could be something more.
I witnessed that maturation first hand as Twitter transitioned to a rich, crowdsourced, micro-burst newsfeed. Without that change, Twitter would never have caught the Miracle on the Hudson photo or been a critical communication tool for hurricane Sandy information sharing.
As with any relationship, I’m not always happy with the changes I see in Twitter. Promoted tweets are a necessary evil, but they distort the feed. I see something atop trends and for a brief moment think it’s important. It’s usually not.
The slow-but-steady crushing of third-party API partners (at least those that do not serve Twitter’s purpose) has been painful. And while I was initially a fan of Twitter’s TweetDeck revamp, I’ve grown to find it frustrating and sometime useless. In my “Me” feed, it tends to hide more than it shows (retweets, please!). For anyone measuring engagement, this all but kills the utility.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s homepage has not changed enough. I prefer it becomes more like TweetDeck with tabbed feeds that you can, just as with Twitter’s new Cards, expand and collapse at will.
It also pains me to see how broken the relationship is among Google, Facebook and Twitter. Though it isn’t Twitter’s fault, Facebook’s petulant decision to pull Instagram from Twitter cards is something I’m sure the two companies could have worked out if they simply talked about it.
I get the sense that Twitter and Facebook execs rarely, if ever, talk.
It’s also still too hard to search for Tweets on Google; Twitter’s solution for helping devoted users like me search back through our tweets is to perform the task on an offline file -- which we have to download.
Even last night, at the apex of my Twitter pleasure, there were some issues. The service was at points overwhelmed by the Twitter traffic. For minutes at a time, I couldn’t see my Twitter or Interaction feeds. The social platform might be due for an infrastructure overhaul.
Based on the recent security breach, it most certainly needs some protection hardening.
Despite all this, nothing has diminished my Twitter adoration. If Jack Dorsey hadn't invented it, it would have sprung into existence on its own. It’s just such a natural fit for the twenty-first century.
I used to believe that Twitter’s time on the social stage would be short lived. That it would have the peripatetic existence of a MySpace or, worse, Friendster. I didn’t realize how, despite its flaws, truly perfect it is.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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