I have heard a lot of moaning lately about how Twitter isn't what it used to be, that it is full of too many sponsored Twitter parties and too little conversation. I was one of these complainers about a year ago, too, until I had one of my late-night epiphanies:
Twitter is what you make it, and
Twitter lists are mighty.
There are a number of things that seem to turn a formerly great Twitter experience bad.
The people we followed originally sometimes end up doing little else but sponsored tweets and hashtagged parties that clog up our timelines. Some of them stop using Twitter, because it's just not their medium. Some people we lose connection with but keep following because we don't want to insult them by unfollowing them.
You'll notice that I said these kinds of things only seem to turn a formerly great Twitter experience bad. That's because these are only symptoms of the real reason your Twitter has gone sour.
The number one reason formerly great Twitter experiences turn bad is that you are not actively curating your Twitter experience.
People change, and so their interactions on social media will change, too. If they no longer fit your interests and you continue to keep them around and be annoyed by how they no longer fit your interests, that's on you, because you are the curator of your Twitter experience. If your Twitter feed is full of broadcasters and advertisers, that's because you choose to actively follow broadcasters and advertisers.
It's not Twitter, it's you, and this is good news, because it means that you have the power to make your Twitter great again.
How to Craft a Twitter Experience You'll Love (Without Unfollowing and Insulting Friends Who Are Terrible at Twitter)
ONE. Log in to Twitter in your desktop browser.
TWO. Click on "Lists" in the left sidebar on your profile page.
THREE. Click the "Create list" button in the right column below your profile banner.
FOUR. Name your list. Describe it if you care to, even though you're the only one who will see it, and choose "Private". Click "Save list".
It is very important at this stage to mark your list as "Private", because this is what will make sure that no one sees your list and then possibly gets butt hurt because they are not on it or have been removed from it or because someone is on the list that they can't believe you're following.
Private lists allow you to curate your Twitter experience until it is a thing of brilliant inspiration, education, and entertainment without feeling obligated to include anyone with terrible content because you once read their blog six years ago.
This is where the mightiness lies: freedom.
FIVE. Start adding people to your lists here:
Or, when you click on someone's name or on their profile page, you can click on the little gear icon at the lower right of their bio and choose "Add or remove from lists…" in the drop-down menu.
SIX. From now on, when you log in to Twitter, the first thing you will do is click on "Lists" in your profile page's left sidebar, and then you will click on your private list in the right column. You will treat your private list as your main Twitter reading list. This is your new Twitter!
SEVEN. You can add rules to keep yourself in line so your list doesn't get unruly. For instance, one of my rules is that my private list cannot exceed 300 members. This keeps me from being overwhelmed or spending my whole life on Twitter.
EIGHT. Dip into the full group of everyone you follow by clicking on "Home' at the far upper left now and again, because it's good to kick some people off your private list and add in new people on occasion both to keep it fresh and to reconnect with people you still want to reconnect with.
NINE. Realize that Twitter is, once again, a great place to be, because you have taken an active role in the content you subject yourself to. You have chosen to follow people on your list that are engaging, entertaining, and informative. All those annoying ads and Twitter parties and giveaways? They magically disappear.
You are now the master of your Twitter domain.
Now go forth and enjoy your Twitter like only you can!