Google+ has made Twitter boring, here’s what Twitter should do about that

For the past few days I’ve been hanging out in Jackson Hole with a bunch of geeks and one thing I’ve noticed over and over is how boring Twitter has gotten when compared to Google+.

Why has Twitter turned boring?

I’ve found several areas:

1. First experience.
2. Pictures and videos.
3. Control over content distribution.
4. No API, no auto pushing of content.
5. Signals are visible from who you excited and pissed off.
6. Auto flowing webpage.

So, let’s take each of these areas on, and talk about what Twitter could do to make users excited again.

FIRST EXPERIENCE

Forget everything you know about social networks. Now, visit my Twitter account. Then visit my Google Plus account.

Which one draws you in more? Which one shows engagement? Which one has a better about page? Which one shows passion, excitement, that something is happening? In all cases, Google+ is blowing away Twitter and it’s not even close.

So, what can Twitter do?

1. Buy Twylah. Look at my landing page there, it’s MUCH better than what’s on Twitter. Then, Twitter should add some stats on each twitterer. Stuff like “how many retweets has she gotten today?” or “how many @ replies does this user answer?” That would make Twitter more engaging and interesting.

2. Completely revamp the list idea in Twitter. If you follow one of my lists, which I’ve spent hundreds of hours on, they DON’T DO S**T ON YOUR ACCOUNT! This is so lame that it, alone, will get me to pour more time into Google+. But, what should they do? First, if you follow a list all those people’s tweets should be added to your home feed. Second, if you follow a list you should be able to send your Tweets to people on just that list. Third, if you follow a list, you should be able to send private messages to those people. Fourth, the people on the list should be able to tell the list itself whether that was OK or not.

3. Get rid of the freaking spam on search and give us amplification abilities and noise controls. Many new users will come because a blogger or someone will say “hey, we’re talking about the new iPad on Twitter.” Have you ever looked at a search for the word iPad? It’s full of crap and spam. There’s no way to say “only show me items written by people with a Klout score of more than 30 (which would get rid of the spam) or there’s no way for me to say “show me only items that say “Apple iPad” and that have a positive sentiment.” If there were, many new users would see the value in Twitter, especially around news and location. Instead, every search I’ve done lately is full of spam. Boring!

PICTURES AND VIDEOS

Google+ has beautiful photos and videos. Twitter? Just page after page of mind-numbing 140 character items. Now, Flipboard demonstrated to all of us that photos and videos CAN be added into the display, and the new Twitter UI does do some of that, but it just isn’t enough. Google+ is blowing Twitter away here.

So, what could Twitter do? Totally rethink the clients it owns, and rethink the stream itself. Let us add photos and videos into each tweet and, even, let us do that outside of the 140 character limit, which would let Twitter continue to blow away Google+ on where it is strong: which is on mobile.

CONTROL OVER CONTENT DISTRIBUTION

Google+ lets me publish a post to JUST A SINGLE PERSON +or+ to a small group of people, or, even, to a circle that has 5,000 members in it. Twitter has no such way to do this.

Why does this make Twitter boring? Well, because, my friends can feel safe sharing, um, “racier” posts with me on Google+ where on Twitter they either need to DM me, which isn’t as good as a group (my other friends can’t say “great photo” for instance) and isn’t nearly as nice.

What can Twitter do? Revamp lists. But Twitter’s management thinks lists suck, so I don’t see Twitter getting this feature anytime soon and that’s really too bad. It’s what will really put Twitter into a box and soon, you’ll see, how this affects search and all sorts of news. This is Twitter’s weakest point, and it will become more and more apparent that Twitter has blown a real opportunity here to make its system more interesting.

NO AUTO-PUSHING OF CONTENT ON GOOGLE+

I look at Twitter and a lot of it has turned into a boring RSS feed. I get items from news organizations, and even people now are using it to automatically Tweet (there are even systems that will send out tweets automatically at specific times). I don’t know who really posted these items, and I don’t get answers back from these people a lot of times because, well, they aren’t even online. Not true over on Google+. At least not yet.

This is one area where I’m not sure how Twitter can help, but Google has chat and “hangout” videoconferencing features, which help me see whether someone is really online and available (even Michael Dell has done a few hangouts and those really get people excited). So, I would add some interactive features into Twitter where the sender MUST be online and there to answer them.

YOU CAN SEE WHO YOU EXCITED AND WHO YOU PISSED OFF (and you can see same for other people)

On Google+ I can see if what you wrote excited or pissed people off. Why? There are comments right underneath it. As a writer this feedback makes Google+ extremely interesting. Why? Because I can change my behavior if I’m pissing people off, and my ego gets fed when I see 3,000 people commented and said “great post.” I am seeing a LOT of engagement on Google+ where on Twitter I can’t see that.

Quick, go visit Mike Arrington’s Twitter account and tell me of his last 20 tweets which ones pissed off the most people? Which ones thrilled the most people. But on Google+ that’s a simple chore.

What can Twitter do? List under each Tweet engagement statistics. How many times was it retweeted? Who retweeted it? Which one caused the most @ replies? What was the sentiment of those replies (there are lots of companies that can tell you whether a reply is positive or negative).

THE POSTS AUTOFLOW

If I open a web browser and put Twitter and Google+ side-by-side, one automatically shows me new stuff, one doesn’t. That makes Twitter look old and crappy. Yes, if you use newer Twitter clients you can get tweets to autoflow, but I’d rather have the web page do this like Google+ does.

Anyway, there are other things, as well. On Google+ the Notification page shows you anytime you get engagement. Twitter has nothing like that. It’s amazing how cool that is.

Are you finding the same thing? So far I’ve been asking the geeks I’m hanging out with here in Jackson Hole and they really are seeing these differences and wonder how Twitter will react to them.

Me too. So, Twitter, what you gonna do to keep from being seen as the most unexciting social network?

UPDATE: Here’s a post about this over on Google Plus so you can see the kind of engagement that I’m getting there.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

223 thoughts on “Google+ has made Twitter boring, here’s what Twitter should do about that

  1. If there’s one thing that I would want twitter to change stat, is their real time search function, cause indeed, when you type a word, 3/4 of the results would be spam and a world away from the item you typed in. I wonder if Twitter is shaking in their boots or already planning a new interface anytime soon?

  2. pictures and videos: Twitter could GO BUY ParrotFish from embedly. It’s a chrome extension that serves all the media inline on the flyout panel and makes twitter.com a tonne better. You can see the YT videos and all mobile photo uploads right there. Saves a whack of time also. No brainer.

  3. you should maybe take a look at weibo.com (the “chinese twitter”), it’s one of those chinese services that didn’t just copy the format, but improved and innovated upon it. pictures and videos are integrated neatly into the stream, there’s commenting and/or sharing of posts directly viewable under the original post and much more (e.g. direct integration of music search for posting a song). you would need someone chinese or maybe try google translate for starters. here’s my weibo stream:
    http://weibo.com/puja108

  4. I see a huge  opportunity for Google+ to take the lead on building true communities, but I feel like there’s a huge, gapping hole. Maybe I’m just missing it, but one nice thing about Twitter is that you can use hashtags to build a community. I can easily search for a hashtag and immediately get in the conversation.

    With Google+, it seems that I could create a circle, a group of people who MAY see what I say, or I could follow a spark. Either way, there’s a cohesiveness missing there. Another place where Google+ could really learn from FB is to mix up posts…instead of having them chronologically listed, where I can see 20 status updates from one person.

    There’s a lot of Google+ chatter on Google+, so at the point that Google+ is no longer the topic of choice, will interest die down?

    I know those are a lot of thoughts that probably don’t warrant any response, but I’m just a normal guy, thinking like a normal person.

    Great post Mr. Scoble! I appreciate everything you’re doing to help push on the edges of technology to see where they’re soft!

  5. You’re basically asking Twitter to change what made it fun in the first place. Just because you think it’s boring now doesn’t mean that everyone feel the same way. Although some of the ideas do sound good, such as enhancing the way Twitter Lists work.

    As far as the auto-posting goes, Google+ will eventually release an API that will allow people to essentially do the same thing. If you don’t find value in following an account anymore, simply stop following them. I know it sounds harsh, but I really don’t think this should be blamed on Twitter.

  6. Yes most the people think link this but i don’t think so that twitter made boring to itself twitter have different goal which already has been achieved but i must say Gplus is going great as all expected 

  7. +Robert Scoble read your article about the mess that Twitter is in and your point about the lack of engagement from Twitter in their OWN platform has always been the thing that had bugged me the most.@hope140 their own charity account follows very few people and tweets so rarely and erratically that, speaking as someone who works within the charity sector, I was incredibly disappointed at this loss of an opportunity as for me Twitter has been an amazing tool within the Third Sector.Another recent addition was the activation of the @twitteruk account to bring the Twitter ethos to the shores of Blighty. As with @hope140, this has been a dismal failure and my many attempts to converse with this account have only been met with silence.I always believed that Twitter genuinely had a chance at bringing about a massive change for good in the World, but their lack of participation has left me feeling sad and frustrated.

  8. G+ is really starting to make some 

    moves …. Interesting that Google knows how to respond to competiton and yet Microsoft somehow still is stuck in the Sand… Bummer

  9. I’m afraid to mention iPad, iPhone, MacBook (or any Apple device) on Twitter because it always gets me about 10 spam replies.

  10. I think that Twitter is a social phenomena, and has taken on a Fun aspect that other Social Media Platforms don’t quite understand.  Google Plus Me, just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  Google is trying to be too cute by half, and alot of the people who like Google Plus never got the hang of Twitter.  I can tell that much by the Author’s Comments and some of the other comments in this thread.

    I am associated with a group of over 150k Followers on Twitter, and I tell you, it’s a whole different ball game when you are managing something so fast and furious as that.  I have never created a list once, nor do I care who has listed me. 

    That alone, tells me the author was not shooting in the same direction when he writes that he (sic) “spent hundreds of hours” developing lists on Twitter.

    Enjoy Google Plus, for all we know it’s just another goofy Google thing they’ll lose interest in as soon as they don’t get the response they desire.

    BTW:  I found this thread from a Tweet.  Not from any other method. I still Tweet at @Samuel_Clemons

  11. Hello Robert,

    I agree that Google Plus seems much more interesting than Twitter.. and it could attract the current users base of Twitter… what I like is that it remove some drawbacks of twitter: 140 chars limits, no comments threads…

    But it will be more difficult to threaten Facebook because a lot of people will not want to move, they do not even know that Google Plus exist… not everyone is geek ;) , read high-tech news… so I believe a lot of people will stay on Facebook (not easy for them to move their photos, friends…etc).

    I have started a collaborative comparison of these 3 social networks, it could be interesting to improve it with your readers : http://socialcompare.com/en/comparison/google-plus-vs-facebook-vs-twitter-comparison-table

    Do not hesitate to share it or vote for your favorite social network (but I think we already know what it is ;)
    Thanks
    Vanina

  12. Meh, I don’t even want to use Twitter anymore. All G+ needs to do is add a way to see Public updates and filter through what everybody is talking about at the moment then I’d be off of Twitter for good.

  13. twitter call them self as microblogging site , and trying to copy some one else is not so good.. where as G+ is , Facebook+Twitter+Tumblr .. and twitter list is not that useful ,

  14. I like some of the suggestions, but Twitter isn’t trying to be G+. Twitter is something unique and proven… I’m really liking G+, but Twitter should stick to being Twitter, because they’re not going to out-G+ Google+.

  15. Very powerful comparison — thanks… I blogged about this column here:  http://www.webfadds.com/2011/07/is-google-the-next-big-thing/

    I think the engagement factor is a big one in comparing Twitter to Google+.  In both venues, the key will be “authentic connection” rather than simply pushing out links to content that reside somewhere else.  Is Google+ complicated?  A bit… but the powerful benefit of its features rewards those that embrace the learning curve. 

    Hey… how is Rackspace working with Google+?

  16. Shorter Scoble:
    Twitter needs to stop being Twitter, despite it’s awesome succsess at being Twitter, and it should be Google+ instead!

    Future Scoble articles:

    Hotdog stands should get chairs and tables, widen their menus to include pasta and pizzas, and relocate into somewhere with a roof to protect from the rain and offer live music.

  17. I got more problems with Google+ here. Just wrote about them here: http://ahmedshuja.com/post/7798305936/google-plus-profiles-fail

  18. Google’s strategy here is to control the social noise and find a way to monetize it, not compete with twitter and facebook.

  19. It is amazing how delusional people are regarding Google+.  IT hasn’t made Twitter boring for anyone since most people are not using it…not even the people that signed up since most have no gone back after the first night.

  20. I’m with you. I find Google+ to be utterly pointless, as well as surprisingly irritating. Facebook, which supposedly has such rotten security issues, WILL let me hide ALL information from people (provided I ferret out the settings & set them myself). I have yet to discover how Google+ would allow me to hide either my gender or my picture.

  21. Ok, so I thought when you circled someone it worked like Facebook and they had to approve it. If not, that’s good, because otherwise I’d never circle anyone for fear of bothering them. (Yay for low self esteem!)

    I understand what you’re saying now- you have to search for other people and instead of the conversations occurring in hashtags as on Twitter, it’s happening in comments. Gotcha.

    Thanks. I will give it a whirl, see if I can start some content coming my way!

  22. When G+ lets me put 2 (or more) circles in my stream (by the way Google 2 or more circles make a “sphere” HINT HINT) , so that I can customize it without having to either
    A) Hop, flea-like from one circle’s stream to another circle’s stream or 
    B) Read a lot of dreck in my default stream (and I’m not following that many ppl)
    I will find myself spending more time there. Essentially if I can have a more FB UX with content more aligned with what I get from Twitter… Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.

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