Twitter Makes Connecting With Influencers More Difficult

Twitter Sand Sculpture One of the things we’ve always liked best about Twitter is that there are no barriers to interaction. If you want to follow and interact with someone, be they celebrity, influencer or average Joe, you can. And even better, many awesome “heavy hitters” actively participate and engage with their followers.

Twitter’s changing it up, though. And while you can still follow anyone you want, Twitter released a new feature (on the same day that the company filed its IPO) that will essentially allow its big deal users (a/k/a those with verified Twitter accounts) filter out the hoi polloi.  You know, the ordinary peeps, like you and me. Ostensibly, this filtering system is to help “verified users better manage the large number of conversations they have,” but really it’s a filter. And a barrier.

This upper echelon of the Twitterati now has a new Connect tab above their feed that divides mentions into three categories: all, filtered and verified. As the name implies, all mentions will be grouped under the all category. Under the filtered tab, they’ll only see mentions that Twitter algorithm classifies as not spam. And in the verified category, they’ll only see mentions that come from other, equally “important” and verified users. As a result, unless you, your company or your client has a verified Twitter account, it’s presumably more difficult to interact with verified Twitter users. As I was reading this paragraph in the final edit stages, it occurred to me that people (and brands) paying for verified Twitter accounts can’t be far behind, right? Ding ding ding. That’s how Facebook makes its money, charging for access. It can’t be far off base, especially in light of an impending IPO, that Twitter is looking for ways to charge users for access as well.

In a blog post, Twitter says the feature will continue to evolve. It’s not yet available on mobile, for example, and is only accessible on the desktop site. Imagine that—a social media network launching a new feature that’s not immediately integrated into the mobile experience? Shocker!

This is probably a move that makes sense for Twitter. And it’s likely a move that many influencers and celebrities will laud. I’m one of those “will talk to anybody” types, so I can’t help but lament the modification of the only social network that had absolutely zero walls. But we’ll wait and see how this plays out before passing judgment.

What’s your take on Twitter’s news? Does it make sense to cater to verified users in this way? Or do you see this as a non-issue or as a negative thing? We’d love to hear what you think.

Image: Rosaura Ochoa via Compfight cc

  • http://twitter.com/HowieGoldfarb HowieG

    Curation has always been the bane of social media. I get 8000 tweets a day in my feed from 2000 accounts. I can imagine how many you have Shelly. I have a special list with about 250 accounts (you are on it) and really spend almost all my time there. Celebs etc can already do this. So not sure why twitter felt a need.

    That said the new GMail makes email marketing so much harder. It is great for me I use an account for people and one for email sign ups. Now I can filter brand and social emails.I can also move people to those tabs that are hidden when I log in. But in my case I log into the account I use for brands/news/causes once a week and my personal account I stay logged in. So it is possible this will make it easier to reach me specifically.

    For some celebs I bet they get so many mentions they don’t pay attention to Twitter and only tweet outgoing messages for PR reasons. Maybe this will encourage them to chat among their friends publicly now? With so many cases of PR crises from Twitter anyone with an agent or handler I bet is told to not share almost anything on twitter of substance.

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    If they rolled a similar filter out to everyone, that would make sense. But by saying some users are more important, and deserve these features because they’re “verified”… it just seems like one of the classic precursors of death for a tech company: killing off the identity that makes people believe it’s vital.

  • ShellyKramer

    Agree. 100%

  • http://philosophidian.blogspot.com/ Kaa Serpent

    Non-issue. The ‘verified users’ who will use it already don’t interact with others. The ones who enjoy it won’t use it.

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    I’d like to believe that.

  • @KatieSheaDesign

    I find this new feature negative for social interaction. Regular people have looked for the ability to reach beyond their own circles of influence to speak with all areas of life. This sounds like a class system of the “Elite” and definitely takes away from the appeal of twitters down to earth approach ability.

  • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

    Um, isn’t that what lists are supposed to be for? Anyone, big or small, already has the ability to sort who they want into specific categories, and they can make the list private if they’re worried about a bottom feeder like me seeing who they actually *WANT* to converse with. This is not a feature offered in verified accounts’ best interest, since the feature was already available. This is a money making scheme, pure and simple. Which is fine — Twitter is a business — but I don’t like someone trying to sell me something I already have. Underhanded and sneaky moves like this make me sick. Transparency is everything.

  • ShellyKramer

    LOL Andi-Roo, you made me laugh with that one. I definitely think it’s positioning them to charge for access. it only makes sense. But one thing for sure? Time will tell. Thanks for coming by!

  • ShellyKramer

    Agree!

  • Michele Price

    Wow, my first reaction is “how arrogant.” The idea and beauty of twitter was to have access to everyone – no barriers , no one better than another.

  • ShellyKramer

    I’m with you, Michele, but we are “old timers” I suppose. Change is inevitable, which of course we know. So more than anything, it will be interesting to see what happens.

  • Lisa Cash Hanson

    That’s sad. Via @MompreneurMogul and my other brands I’ve connected with “big names” and they have with me as well. If verified also means “paid for” then they should just say, money bought influence LOL. Because anyone who pays gets access. But like anything as a business owner and social media user I will adapt as I’m sure we all will. But thanks for sharing this :0

  • Tom Ledford

    I like talking to regular folk better anyway. I imagine a fair number of big wigs do to. If so, they will find a way to stay accessible. Twitter is an oddity for sure. Very few predicted how popular it would become. Even fewer imagined how people would use it. I don’t want to try any predictions now either, but a Twitter with shareholders and a BoD is sure going to be interesting.

  • Christine Perkett

    Bummer. I agree with you. Takes away the very nature of what made Twitter so great to begin with. I love it for meeting new people. People I didn’t already know or had heard of. People I wouldn’t have thought of to “approve” for a discussion. But what do I know – I’m not in the upper echelon of cool kids, either.

    Christine
    @missusp

  • http://www.businessesGROW.com/blog Mark W Schaefer

    Practically speaking this will have zero percent impact on the current state. The chance of interaction is nil any way, most celebrities aren’t doing their own tweets, and it will have zero impact on who is following celebrities. It makes it easier for celebrities to be on Twitter, which is good for Twitter.

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  • http://msileanespeaks.com/ Ileane

    Hi Shelly,
    I’m guessing that most of the verified accounts on Twitter are managed by VA’s or other staff. But if the verified user is actually managing their own Twitter account, I’m not too sure they will exclude interactions with people in the “all” category.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Ilene. Thanks for coming by. I don’t really care whether a celeb has a staffer manage their Twitter accounts. In fact, we’ve managed accounts for celebrities in the past and they always knew what was happening on that channel as a result of our efforts. My broad point is that given the option, people will likely filter. And once they do that, part of what was once the beauty of Twitter is no longer there.

  • Adrienne

    So correct me if I’m wrong Shelly but what this is really saying is that all the “important people” in the eyes of Twitter since they’re the ones in charge of whose account gets verified and whose doesn’t, get to filter out people that Twitter may see as “not important”. So once again we have a program in control instead of us. Huh! And here I thought Twitter was different.

    Whatever!!! I speak to everyone and obviously I’m not in the “important” category. I’ve had a few chats on Twitter with a few people I would assume Twitter would see as the important people so that would be a shame if they also let a program control who gets through and who doesn’t.

    As most commenters have pointed out already, most of those people aren’t tweeting anyway and have hired help for that. All the more power to them but I can see this as not a very good thing.

    ~Adrienne

  • ShellyKramer

    You are not wrong, Adrienne (beautiful name, btw). And I talk with everyone, too, which is the beauty of Twitter, at least for me. Thanks for coming by :))

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