5 EASY Things Twitter Needs To Fix ASAP

So everybody’s writing about Twitter these days. Most our writing about it on Twitter. As MG Siegler wrote, if your platform is pronounced dead using your platform, you’re probably doing quite OK.

Having said that it’s clear that something is wrong with Twitter in a sense that users, avid users, feel that the Twitter team is not listening. And by team they mean whomever is in charge of product decisions in Twitter. And by not listening they mean that sometimes (hell, most time) it fells as if those who are part of “the flock” are simply not eating their own dog food.

It’s probably the hardest job in the world to be in charge of product in a company that has at least a million product people as users. And this is definitely going to sound like one of those people’s rants, but I’ll write it anyway. Mainly because I really believe that these 5 (!) EASY (!!) things that twitter needs to fix ASAP (!!!) will not only truly improve the user experience dramatically, but also show that Twitter cares. And understands.

So here we go:

1. Bring back Quote

Retweet is great, but we’re not just product minded people here, we’re minded in general. And we want to add our own comments to people’s tweets. And we want to change those tweets, edit them, mix and remix them. It’s part of the Twitter magic. So why take it away?

Retweet is one thing, Quote (or Retweet with Comment) is another. Don’t force us to Retweet. Don’t force us to do all kinds of hacks (my favorite is definitely the Buffer extension). Bring the Quote back home.

2. Reply to Myself

Telling your story in 140 characters is great. It is what made (and still makes) Twitter a magical platform. But…

There are cases where 140 characters are not enough. And in that case you want to writeanother tweet, and link it to the previous one. How? you simply reply to yourself. Which works great, but has this pesky annoyance in the form of “@yourself” in the beginning.

Now why would I want to mention myself? It really serves no purpose, and is totally not required in today’s UI, where anyone can clearly see this new tweet relates to a previous tweet. Only things this achieves is wasting valuable characters and annoying the user (who now needs to delete the mention).

Time to lose the self mention, Twitter. Nobody needs it.
3. It’s a Conversational Tool

Surprise, surprise: Twitter is a great platform for multiple participant conversations. It starts with an innocent (or not) tweet, and then multiple people reply, and before you know it you’re trying to reply to everyone and run out of characters with all those @mentions taking all the valuable tweet space.

Wouldn’t it be great if I can reply to a tweet (or even compose a new one), select a bunch of people I follow or who follow me, and they will be “tagged” as part of the reply and notified when I post this tweet?

Sure, it’s a bit more complicated then simply mentioning them, but even you guys understand that something is not really working with @mentions. So here’s a great place to solve this, and kill two birds (no pun intended!) with one fix.

4. DM Search

Twitter seems to be taking Direct Messages seriously. After all it’s a great engagement tool. And it’s quite useful too. Well, it’s useful as long as you don’t care about previous messages, because, well, it’s a nightmare to look for them.

Adding a basic search, where I can look for all the messages from/to a friend, is really an essential element for any messaging service. Let me find that DM I sent my good friend a week ago, Twitter, or else I would just use the other messaging services out there. And I really don’t want to do that, you know.

5. Pinned tweet

I was really tolerant towards the new profile page. I even changed mine as soon as I could. But seriously now – Pinned Tweet? You are, at least the last time I checked, a real-timeplatform, which is exactly how we like you. If I open someone’s profile, I want to see their latest tweets, not some old tweet that they thought would look cool on top of their profile.

I can (maybe) understand the use-case for brands. I honestly can’t find any use for it for individuals. Especially those who tweet often.

Instead, if you really want to make a user’s profile more enjoyable to me, a fellow user, how about showing me their most retweeted tweets, or those who got the most replies, or most favorites (or a combination of those)? That would be a valuable addition. Pinned tweet? lose it.

* * *

And there you have it, Twitter. @Jack once said his goal was “to simplify complexity”, and these 5 easy fixes are doing exactly that. And they will make us simply happier as well.

Like All Good Things The Greatest Hits Take Time

I really need to thank Joel for this – this blog post and this blog (comeback?). His great blogging and amazing content curation have got me back to blogging. Specifically a post by Adii Pienaar titled “The Greatest Hits Are Obvoius“. You know – music, technology… who can resist that?!

Adii writes about how some songs have obvious hit qualities, and how our mind makes a decision that a song is a hit before you can logically and objectively come to the same conclusion.

He himself is puzzled with the conclusion, but still notes that “the greatest hits were obvious“. More specifically (and after explaining the relation between working on a song and working on a startup):

Great ideas remain great ideas. And the greatest ideas are obviously great at first sight.


A Few Tiny, Perfect Examples That Will Blow Your Mind

As a music buff, let me start off with a few well-known examples*:

#1: The Blowers’ Daughter by Damien Rice

In 2001 a young Irish musician called Damien Rice released a song called “The Blower’s Daughter”. The song made the top 40 chart, but didn’t become a great hit.
Over the next year Rice continued to record his debut album, O. Released in 2002, the album was quite successful, as the songs “Cannonball” and “Volcano” becoming hits in the UK.In 2004 “The Blower’s Daughter” was included in “Closer“, a Mike Nichols box office hit. The rest is history.

#2: Perfect Day by Lou Reed

Originally recorded in 1972, and featured on Lou Reed’s album Transformer, “Perfect Day” remained hidden from the public eye for almost 25 years, until it was featured on the 1996 classic “Trainspotting”, and blasted through the roof with record sales, cover versions and fame.

#3: Tiny Dancer by Elton John

Released originally in 1971, “Tiny Dancer” appeared on Elton John’s 4th album, “Madman Across The Water”. It was released as a single in 1972, but reached only #41 on the U.S pop chart, and so was not even released in the UK.
The song slowly became popular, mainly due to air time on adult contemporary and rock radio stations, and finally received its break on the 2000 Cameron Crowe film “Almost Famous”.
It finally reached Gold in 2005, and Platinum in 2011. It is now one of Elton John’s most famous and well-recognized hits.


So Are Greatest Hits Obvious?

Well, some hits are obvious. But as a music lover I would have to say that most of the songs that have remained with me for a long time seem to be songs that took time to grow on me. And those monster hits, you know the ones – those who rise straight to #1 and stay there for a few weeks – well, most of the time I grow tired of them just as quickly.

As a music critic I know of a few cases where I missed a great song, album even, in real-time. In fact that is the main reason I decided not to write about an album (or song) the same day (or even week) I get it, and I forced myself to listen to it for a while before expressing my opinion on it.

Some great ideas, great songs, great albums remain great. Some of the greatest ideas/songs/albums are obviously great from first sight (or listen). But there are too many cases where intuition is not right, cases where it takes time to fully understand and decipher the magic, that I have learned not to pass judgment too early in the game.


OK, Enough About Music. What About Startups?

As Adii well noted – same thing. Some of the greatest hits were obvious. Angry Birds, for instance. But some have disappeared just as quickly as they sky rocketed. Anyone wants to play Draw Something?

And those “obvious” hits, which wowed me at first, like Path for instance, or Google+, have been abandoned by me along the way, with all due respect to their great ideas and execution.

Other services, less obvious at first, became my 2nd nature. Like Twitter, for example. I would love to say that as soon as I joined (2008) I got it and fell in love with it, but that is not true. It grew on me. Instagram?  Same story for me.  Evernote?  Took even longer, but now I can’t live without it.

So you see – I’m grateful to have learned patience, and to allow new ideas to take their time. And as someone who has been working full time for a long time now on my own disruptive startup, I remind myself that every time I look at the metrics, and – just like Adii – wonder.

Intuition is important. I myself give it a lot of credit, too much even. But you owe yourself, and those great ideas, to wait a little and let your intuition do its magic – not just at first sight, or first experience, but also after the fifth or tenth time.

Do people spend the time to appreciate ideas that take a while to grow on you?  I am not sure. We’ve grown to be impatient, and as such we miss a lot of great hits just because they are not obvious. I hope we won’t regret it. I know I have, at least a few times.


* I thank Boaz Cohen for his help with the examples.