Twitter Is Still My Favorite Social Network

It’s all in the title. If you don’t like reading, you can skip to the comment section and tell me why I’m wrong! And if you want to know a bit more about my reasoning, read on…

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of articles discussing Twitter and marveling at its potential. Like many others, I thought it was silly at first. And like many others, after a couple of months, I got it. I’ve kept using it every day ever since.

The social network landscape has changed a lot since then. Twitter’s direct competitors have bit the dust, Facebook has evolved in drastic ways, and Google has a viable network of its own. A slew of new social services have also appeared (Pinterest or Flipboard for example), but I think these are good at different things than straight up social networking.

Getting back to the point, here are the reasons why I think Twitter is still my main social media outlet, five years in:

  • It’s really simple
    Threaded conversations on updates are great for creating discussions, but they also add complexity. Including such features is good for some aspects of the user experience, but they also inherently diminish other aspects of it, one of them being simplicity. Twitter has very carefully stayed away from such “enhancements”, and remains as straightforward as it’s ever been.
  • It’s really easy
    Sure, the concept might have been a bit obtuse at first, but it’s still very easy to set up and use: choose a name, follow people, you’re done. By comparison, Facebook has mutual friendships, apps and photos, Google+ has circles and different types of updates, etc. Twitter remains the easiest one of them all, both to start and to keep using.

  • You can use it from anywhere
    I’m sure some people will tell me that Google+ and Facebook are just as usable on mobile. They’d be right, but software design isn’t the issue: I’m talking about what the underlying concept for the service. 160 characters and no threaded replies still has incredible value for getting the most out of it in any situation.
  • It’s evolving slowly (but surely)
    I’ve said a few times that I think there might be a lack of long term vision at the company. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just fine the way it is now. But even though there haven’t been any drastic changes, I have to admit that they have been adding strong usability features over the years.
    The best example would be the way they implemented “replies” in the flow of the feed: you can click on a Tweet to see the prior and following messages, which gives many of the benefits of a threaded view, without bogging down the whole feed; very cleverly designed.
    I could also mention URLs not counting against the full character count, cards adding context without burdening the tweets themselves, the emphasis on search bringing a layer of discoverability, etc. All of these contribute to enriching the experience, while preserving its core simplicity and ease of use.
    So while I’d love to see a more visual way to browse my feed, which is the way the whole web is going it seems, I’ll prudent for once, and trust that Twitter knows how fast they need to move.

I think the main takeaway from all this is simplicity. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit OCD, but I like things to be as straightforward as can be. And I think that’s why, five years down the line, Twitter is still the social network I use and enjoy the most.

How about yourselves? What’s your favorite social network? And more importantly, why do you like it over the others?

April 10th, 2013