The Most Unused Feature on Social Media


“Do you want to know why I don’t use Twitter?”

“I don’t have time to read hundreds and hundreds of tweets.”

Stop right there. When was it stated that to use social media effectively you had to consume every bit of it?

Let’s take a second to think about this – literally one second.

In that one second, 6,000 tweets were published on Twitter. That’s nearly 360,000 tweets in an hour. This equals 500 million tweets per day. Which comes to a grand total of just about 200 billion tweets per year.

And you’re under the assumption that you’re supposed to read everything on your feed in order to use it properly?

Granted, your actual feed would contain far fewer than 200 billion tweets, because you don’t follow every Twitter account, but never has there been an expectation to read every single message on a platform.

What really perplexes me is where this ridiculous standard came from: you don’t read every friend’s Facebook posts, or watch every new YouTube video (despite how hilarious your friend’s cat may be). So why would Twitter be any different?

In fact, to show how equally ridiculous it would be to meet the same expectation on YouTube, there are 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.

So that’s 6,000 tweets and 300 hours of content every minute across just two social platforms, since you started reading this article.

But for some reason, platforms like YouTube though equally as impressive when it comes to content generation are not under the same scrutiny as fast-moving Twitter. Why?

In a word, the single biggest dissuader from social media is an individual’s ability to organize information.

Twitter lists are possibly the most under-utilized and useful tool on social media today. They enable you to organize accounts (even if you don’t follow the user) on a large scale. You can have up to 1,000 Twitter lists with as many as 5,000 users in each one. When you have this many at your disposal, you can hone in on some incredibly specific conversation streams to ensure you’re only reading what you want. Some great examples of Twitter lists I use to cut through the chatter include:

  • Athletes on Toronto Sports Teams
  • Authors I’ve Read
  • Recipe Ideas from Mommy Bloggers
  • People I’m Thinking of Following But Are Unsure Of Because They Often Use Phrases like ‘YOLO’

It’s best to keep lists like the last one private (another feature of Twitter Lists) so you don’t accidentally offend someone.

Social media has never been about consumption – it’s about sharing. If you’re turned off by the volume of content being published on a particular platform, then you’re judging a book by a cover. And that book may have 6,000 new pages being written each and every minute, but it’s not meant to be read that way. In fact, think of social media more as an incredibly broad magazine than a book: allowing you to jump in and out of content in varying lengths and formats, rather than a single narrative.




Edit: Thank you to all of the people who have told me that they’ll now give Twitter another shot! That was the point of this whole rant, so I hope you find it useful. Happy tweeting – @adamrodricks.

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