There is nothing sadder than reflecting on the earlier days of a community or service and complaining about how much things have changed.
So let’s just take it for granted that there’s an element of that in this but not dwell too much.
Instead, I’d like to focus on something more important: how you shake things up when the timeline that used to delight and inform you begins to feel saggy and boring.
Think of it like marriage-counselling for a tool that many of us spend more time with than our significant others.
(If you have your own tips, let me know.)
Get your chat back
One of the big questions with Twitter has always been “what do I share?” The answer, more often than not, was ‘content’. The result, years later, is that much of the conversational joy of Twitter has sunk away, replaced by link after link after link.
Instead of natural, organic chats between people, there’s YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW MANY WASPS THIS MARMOSET HAS COLLECTED.
This breeds the kind of sterile, generic media feel that you get literally everywhere else. The personality can quickly start to fade.
To counteract this, I recently made a TweetDeck column that removes all links and hashtags, leaving only the genuine social status updates.
The effect has been great, restoring a feel of identity again and putting conversations back at the forefront. There’s nothing left to do but join in.
On the other hand
Meanwhile, I’ve set up a second column right next to it that *only* features links. But you could create one for just photos. Or just Spotify links.
Extra points if you create lists of particular users and then customise that column appropriately.
As Twitter Cards become more and more common, the ability to segment should become even more detailed. Think about a little shop-front made up of only products shared by your friends. Or only albums by artists they’ve tweeted. The possibilities keep increasing.
Raze your game
In the early days of Twitter, I got tired of every other tweet being Stephen Fry and decided to try and break it. So I added 1,200 people, largely at random, by looking at who friends were following.
The result, as you might imagine, was an absolute nightmare. But then slowly, among the noise, a few promising names started to appear again and again.
I gradually whittled away the irrelevance and ended up with a bonsai of content curated to my tastes. I was hooked.
The beauty of Twitter is you can follow/ unfollow so promiscuously that there’s little to no cost in shaking up your stream in this way.
Head to the profile of someone you trust and follow the last 100 people they followed. Or add them to a list for auditions. Skim through your feed and trim away a few dozen who never really upped their game.
If you’re really concerned about the consequences, mute them if it makes you feel better.
Break the bubble
Over a beer brewed by the band Elbow, PRCA Digital Group hotshots Danny Whatmough, Sarah Porter and I decided we needed a new way to find interesting people from outside our bubble. So we created a shared list including the kinds of people we’d never dare or desire to follow in our main stream.
Including people like Sarah Palin, The Pope, Fox News, Nigel Farage, it gave us a breeding ground of content that we didn’t want to live in our general timeline but provided an intriguing palate cleanser and break from the norm.
I previously achieved the same effect by creating a second account for my foodblog, LondonFlavoured. Sometimes just a short holiday from the norm is enough.
— Fox News Poll (@foxnewspoll) May 14, 2014
Take a break
Or you could go further. A day, a week, a month — sometimes you don’t know that you’ve got until it’s gone. Seriously though, If you aren’t enjoying it, leave.
It may not magically become more interesting when you get back but you might regain the stamina to take another crack at whittling your stream into the shape you need.
Or start to be less afraid about just smashing it around until it becomes valuable again.
What’s the worst that can happen?