Two weeks from today will mark my 15th year being a user of Twitter. Twitter likely had less than 500k users at that point, so it’s safe to say I was a very early adopter to the platform.
Twitter, warts and all, remains the best social platform we have for creating and participating in free-flowing conversations. This is almost completely due to the determination and ingenuity of Twitter users. When Jack, Ev and Biz started Twitter in 2006, they were very clear about their intentions for Twitter.
Twitter was designed to be a broadcast and promotional platform. You broadcast what you are doing. You promote what you are doing. But organic conversations springing up around those broadcasts? Not a big care for Twitter. Users engaging their networks organically and making connections and creating new conversations on the platform? Again, not a priority for Twitter.
Twitter was designed to be a broadcast and promotional platform.
For a decade, I ran the most popular chat on Twitter, #Blogchat. It was not uncommon for #Blogchat to generate over 100M impressions in ONE HOUR every Sunday night, and create thousands of tweets. I had people refuse to join the chat as a co-host, citing ‘I can’t keep up with how fast it is’. At the height of its popularity from say 2010-2012, #Blogchat was the top trending topic on Twitter almost every Sunday night.
#Blogchat generated hundreds of organic conversations on the platform every Sunday night. It drew thousands of people to the platform.
Twitter never once reached out to me about the massive engagement that #Blogchat created on its platform every Sunday night. Never a thank you, never a we see what you are doing, keep it up. Nothing. Actually, I take that back. Twitter did reach out once about #Blogchat; to let me know about its options for running a PAID PROMOTION to help #Blogchat reach an even larger audience.
This story is offered to illustrate that Twitter has never viewed its platform as a way to create conversations. Which is a shame, because the platform remains the best place in social media where you can create and participate in conversations.
Twitter is a better networking tool than LinkedIn will ever be. I have been saying this for 15 years. Just yesterday, I left a tweet. Someone who I follow, but have never interacted with, replied to me. We started chatting. Now we are connected. It’s that simple and this happens EVERY day on Twitter.
It’s time we apply the potential of Web 3.0 to create Twitter 2.0
The promise of Web3 or Web 3.0 is that creators will own their content and have shared ownership of the platforms that they help create and grow. In Web 2.0, the platforms take our content and monetize it. In exchange, we get back Likes and RTs.
The promise of Web 3.0 is that our activity on a Web 3.0 platform would reward us with tokens that would grant us ownership in the platform itself.
With this in mind, let’s consider if we created Twitter 2.0 using Web 3.0 technologies. Let’s say we created a platform similar to Twitter, that was focused not on broadcasting and promoting content, but instead its focus was on helping people create and engaging in organic conversations. I talked about this yesterday, of course on Twitter:
Everything in the platform from functionality to UX is built to facilitate conversations. And members who build and grow those conversations (and by extension the platform itself) are rewarded with ownership in that platform. So your content gets more than a Like or RT.
— Mack Collier (@MackCollier) March 16, 2022
Think about the possibilities. Everything on the platform would be based around creating and contributing to conversations. Think about how much easier it would be to meet new and interesting people! You could meet people who shared both your personal and business interests. You could use it to dive into personal conversations around your life and hobbies, or use it as a professional tool to grow your business or career.
To be fair, Twitter was very much like this in its first couple of years. Conversations were free-flowing and organic. You could easily lose yourself for hours on Twitter just by scanning your timeline and finding so many interesting conversations to jump into. And it was so easy to pull someone else into a conversation as it was happening.
But eventually, Twitter began courting investors and investors wanted more revenue and that led to pushing for more promotional content and fewer conversations.
We have a chance to get back what we lost from the early days of Twitter. Back before our timeline was 90% link sharing. Back when you made new connections every single day on Twitter due to the conversations happening on the platform.
Think about a Web 3.0 platform similar in functionality to Twitter, but designed from the bottom up to facilitate the creation of conversations. It’s a digital happy hour, a chance to meet and engage with new people every single day.
And if you perform the desired actions (creating and participating in conversations on the platform) then you are rewarded with tokens, not Likes and RTs. These tokens have monetary value, but also give you ownership of the platform and let you participate in the platform’s governance. So you can either hodl the tokens, or sell some/all of them.
Either way, the users who are working to grow the conversations, and by extension the platform facilitating those conversations, are being rewarded monetarily for their work. That makes us more invested in the platform and seeing it grow. The more successful the platform is, the more valuable our tokens become.
But the reality is, the conversations themselves have far more value. The ability to meet and connect with people from all over the world was the promise of Web 2.0. That promise has been met with gated access and platforms taking our content and monetizing it to grow itself.
It’s time for Web 3.0 to realize its promise and give us Twitter 2.0.