Social Media Shifts

Social media is always on the change. They clamber over each other to promote their best features and in come cases even copy the features of social media networks. I'm looking at you Instagram!

Through all this changing landscape there's been one slow less obvious change that has happened over the last couple of years.

Goodbye Twitter

It's been a quiet on Twitter recently. With the absent Patrick Rhone and Kurt Harden on my Twitter timeline, I found that I wasn't checking in on my timeline as often. There seemed to be little point.

So over the weekend I removed the Twitter app from my phone and I removed all the lists I subscribe too with the exception of one. I then logged in to the Twitter website on my phone and then closed the tab down. The change has been positive.

I'm no longer a slave to the Twitter app on my phone. I'm no longer checking my timeline on an hourly basis. I'm no longer thumbing through the moments tab just to see what's going on. I like Twitter's Moments section but the lack of filtering on topics is infuriating. Yes, I would like to see the latest scores from the NFL, but I can't be bothered with things like celebrity news, football news and trending posts on Twitter.

I mentioned that I removed all but one of the lists I created. While lists were initially a good idea on Twitter they haven’t changed to keep pace with Twitter and now are nothing more than a less useful form of your timeline. I think lists can still have their place on Twitter but as of filtering your timeline rather than being a separate list. You still have to follow everyone on each list but with a change of a dropdown, you can change the accounts that are displayed on your timeline. Perfect for sports enthusiasts who might like to keep an eye on their timeline during major sporting events.

I also have less notifications distracting me. I did have notifications on for direct messages but that's just something that I now check on the mobile Twitter site. Replies aren't so important that I need to know about them right away and knowing about my latest new follower isn't worth checking out unless I'm not working and I have the time to do so.

Twitter has always been something of a necessary evil for me. It's now just a placeholder for myself on that network and I don't see me using it often for anything else but cross posting from other places like Instagram and Pocket. And I think that's a real shame. Twitter had such great promise in the early days but the changes over the last few years have seen the usual crowd I follow fall away from it and finding people with similar interests is possible, but it's not the same as following people that you have connected with and know.

Hello Instagram!

And while Twitter has been suffering it seems that Instagram is flourishing. Multiple photos on posts, stories (although I've still not used these), bookmarks and the soon to come collections has made Instagram a rising social media star for me.

Once I thought of it as nothing more than just a place for selfies, but having spent the last couple of years on it, it's definitely more than that. The creative spark behind a lot of the accounts on Instagram is great to see and the visual timeline is so much more appealing and positive than browsing my Twitter timeline.

It's not without it's faults though. The comments on posts is a nightmare to navigate. Frequently people simply comment with another person's name and that's it. It adds no value to the comments section but it's a quick way of notifying that person about the post. I think Instagram could definitely improve it's comments section by allowing you to filter comments and promote comments that are like by many.

Considering others

And while there are other places like Snapchat, Ello (still going?), and even a couple of new places, I've been slow to consider setting up accounts on other networks. Mastodon is a newcomer to social media and while the promise of a less centralised social media network is promising, the truth is that I simply don't have the time for it.

The recent closure of taught me that it's wise to weigh up a social media network before you create an account on it. Sure, you can grab your handle and start posting, but what real value are you going to get from it? I suspect in most cases the answer is little. Social media networks are designed to be places where you consume data. To do that social media networks try to wall you in with features and formats that are special to that one network.

I'm glad to say that by Manton Reece is hoping to change all that by creating a social network that is powered by one of the oldest timeline tools on the Internet. RSS. Using RSS feeds, aims to break down the barriers of wall garden social media networks and provide something that uses a publishing medium you're already using. Your own blog. I'll be glad to see that released and hopefully soon.

My changing tastes in social media is down to the fact that I’ve less value in Twitter and more value in Instagram. One is getting weaker and the other is getting stronger. Twitter isn’t a sinking ship yet, but it’s far from a great place to be. I’ll stick with the more positive and visual Instagram for the foreseeable future.

Matthew Lang

Freelance web developer specialising in Ruby on Rails