I know this is tiresome, so if you click the delete button on the email I will not be disappointed. But the latest chaos at the goat-rodeo that Twitter has become is truly the last straw.
In the Beginning
I first became aware of Twitter in the late aughts. Many of the product management bloggers were on Twitter, so it was natural to create an account, and follow them.
Over the next 6-7 years a growing, vibrant product management community evolved. We were a shared community commiserating, sharing experiences, and helping one another out. Many of the blogs withered, replaced by discussions on Twitter 140 characters at a time, dispensing wisdom, humor, and shared experiences.
It was special, friendships sprouted and grew, people’s careers took off, and watching this unfold was addicting.
This was truly the golden era of Twitter.
The Midlife Crisis
But by the late 2010’s it was beginning to fade at the edges. Twitter’s algorithms were constantly tweaked to grow engagement, and that meant that the discussions became downplayed, often more difficult to find and engage with. Many of the luminaries drifted away, and the community fractured.
The incentivization of clickbait, and virality were ascendant, and you saw listicles, and other attention grabbing tactics applied to all of Twitter. Product Twitter was not immune. These developments, while good for growing engagement on the platform (Twitter was and remains supported by selling advertisements) to help with revenues, the product communities began to, well, suck.
That said, the algorithms did help with the dopamine rush, and even though my product scrolling suffered, I spent more time on the platform, doom scrolling.
In reality, Twitter never had a good business model. They were (and are) haphazard in their sophistication of targeting ads (unlike both Meta and Google who have pretty mush poisoned the web with tracking to build dossiers on virtually every person not he planet in their quest to maximize the value of their advertising business.)
Jack Dorsey, the CEO was timesharing leading Twitter and Square (a finance/payment company) making it not a surprise that there wasn’t a coordinated focus on how to build Twitter into a Social Media monster like Facebook and its ecosystem.
Nope, Twitter has always been a lousy business, with muddled management, and a very chaotic development team that seemed to struggle to get to the finish line. Lacking a compelling strategy, it still was a darling of many communities.
The End State
I am going to gloss over the foolishness of Elon Musk’s quixotic quest to purchase Twitter for $54.20 per share (a ginormous premium over its book value) and his subsequent destruction of what made Twitter “Twitter”.
Instead, I will tell the tale of my last remaining account. When I created The Product Bistro in 2016, I created a brand new Twitter handle (@prodbistro) and I had it set up so that all the posts would be automatically posted to Twitter at that handle.
In the beginning, it drove a fair amount of traffic to my posts, and virtually all the people who “subscribed”. It was good, and I could track the number of references from t.co which is the Twitter link shortener. For 6 years Twitter was the largest source of hits to The Product Bistro.
A few weeks ago, Musk got pissy with Substack, and blocked all links, posts, and connections with Substack sources. He also has made it ludicrously expensive for organizations to use the API’s to integrate and target with Twitter.
The last few posts failed to be posted to Twitter, and Substack has formally removed the connection to Twitter. Not only that but in the last 90 days, not one hit on my posts has a source of t.co.
Oh well. It was good while it lasted.
Last Thursday, Musk began removing all the legacy verifications, and presumably making the “For You” feed pretty much only show verified organizations. I see a lot of my local newspaper (The San Jose Mercury News), The Economist, and other organizations who will spend the $1000 plus $50 per “user” to be “Validated”.
Twitter is as of today, April 22, 2023, 100% useless to me. I will be deleting my last account, and frankly, I will not miss it.
Is the era of sane social media done? I think the Fat Lady is warming up