There is one thing you can do if your goal is to undermine the credibility of Twitter as a social information network. Sabotage from within. And even if you gasp and say you’d never want to destroy the thing you love, think long and hard about this:
Have you ever tweeted (or retweeted) a link without reading it first?
I bet you have. And that right there was your act of sabotage.
Twitter is many things to many people. A celebrity gossip hub, breaking news floor, classroom, networking event… but one thing most users share in common is their link-sharing.
You can’t say everything in 140 characters. So you share a link to explain your thoughts more fully. Or you find a story you think is useful and share it with your followers.
These are great instincts, and they’re what makes Twitter so great. Link-sharing is the backbone of Twitter, and part of what gives it its special distinction from Facebook.
However, link-sharing only works if users actually read the links first.
Too many times I see retweets of our articles within half a second of their going live. And while I appreciate the unwavering support, I caution against the strategy of trying to be the first to tweet a link. Sure, you might get lucky and snag a bunch of retweets for yourself, but what if the article is boring, poorly written, or just plain garbage?
Not only will your followers start second-guessing your value as someone to follow, but the entire Twitter ecosystem will be diluted with weak links just for the glory of being “first”.
Twitter can only exist as long as its users are getting value from the network. By not vetting your links, you are effectively sabotaging Twitter from within and diminishing its usefulness.
So please, I implore you, read beyond the headline or the accompanying text within a tweet. Click the link, read its content, and then share. And while you’re at it, go ahead and add your own comments to coax some engagement from your followers. You’ll not only build your credibility, but you’ll be protecting the very existence of the social information network we know and love.