Status Updates Are Not Conversation

I know I am a technology guy, and I am very logical and literal. Because of this I get annoyed when people use conversation and Twitter, Microblogging, or Status Updates as synonyms. Have you ever tried to have a conversation on Twitter or

Part of the reason for my annoyance this morning are two blog posts regarding Twitter and Facebook. First, Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook has a very good post regarding Facebook and Twitter traffic during the inauguration. Shortly after that, I read the Inquisitr post by Duncan Riley about Twitter’s rumored funding round. The combination of the two posts made me cranky. First, I completely agree with Duncan’s sentiments:

The bigger question: what do they need another round for? They’ve raised $20 million already, with the last round being $15 million in June 2008. Either they plan on acquiring a revenue model, or they’ve run out of money already, and if that’s the case, why are they getting more exactly? Insanity.

Twitter has been succeeding in spite of their actions. I have nothing against the team, and I wish them success, but they have made various mistakes. The bloggers of the world seem to be convinced that one microblogging platform will rule conversations. There are two problems with this. First, conversations through “status updates” is ridiculously hard. Conversations consist of a back and forth of coherent thoughts, not short burts of thoughts. The other problem is that if Facebook decides that it wants to win this “war”, they just need to open up a little more. Imagine if the Facebook platform was simpler to develop for. How many third party applications would jump at the reported 220 million users that Facebook has? Twitter may be exploding right now, but it is far from the mainstream acceptance that Facebook has.

Status updates may not be conversation, but people still seem to like these things. If Twitter gets an offer from Facebook, I would recommend they take it. Otherwise, Facebook may wake up one day and squash them.

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16 thoughts on “Status Updates Are Not Conversation

  1. Great thoughts! Not sure I totally agree but one thing is for sure: even in the flattened hierarchy of the social web it is a fight to see who will dominate the ecosystem of conversations. And the game is not: “the one with the most money wins”. Power to shape the social web is hanging in the balance. Exciting times!


  2. wiselywoven, thanks for reading. I do believe there are a few “battles” that will be fought over the course of this year. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.


  3. Great post, Rob. While I have warmed up to Twitter as a mean to connect with people, it is still completely lacking in the conversation department.

    It is impossible to have an actual discussion there unless you are a master of Twitter search. Once you introduce multiple participants, it gets even worse.


  4. Rasheen

    Even with Twitter search, it is very difficult to have conversations. I agree it is a great way to connect with people, and maybe start a conversation that takes place in another venue.


  5. I think as all of these products mature–FB, Twitter, MS even–the playing field will narrow, and the products will do more to differentiate. Right now, the key to ubiquity is the open platform that exists from site to site–I hope as the field narrows, that open platform mentality is not lost.


  6. I agree that Twitter is not the way to go for conversations, despite it being great for news and focused link sharing. People don’t want to read more than a scant few back and forths.
    I usually move more in depth conversation over to messenger or email.

    They really will have a bitch of a time if Facebook chooses to get wise in the status/convo/microblog game.


  7. @esd714 – the differentiation may actually go away if microblogging becomes more standardized.

    @cwylie0 – moving the conversation to IM/email is a great idea that is still untapped. Why not have an “email this user” option on Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed? DM or private messaging tends to be yet another place to find messages, and email works very well.

    @NerdStalker – “out of context” replies are a deal killer. Disappointingly, FriendFeed only adds to the problem with the “reply in Twitter” feature.


  8. Astute points. I think people are just looking for ways to use all these tools seamlessly. It’s natural to want to consolidate our efforts. But the fact remains, FB status updates and microblogs are hardly the same thing…and treating them identically usually just pisses people off 🙂


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