Maybe I'm slow, maybe I don't think about these things in an academic sense, I don't know… but it recently occurred to me why Twitter sometimes annoys me.

1) it's every man/woman/bot for him/her/itself,

2) everyone has a different use of Twitter, be it personal, business, or rapidly generating a following,

3) everyone has a different perspective on what the rules are or what they should be,

4) everyone has a loudspeaker.  As @cheeky_geeky so eloquently puts it, Twitter isn't as much a conversational platform as it is a tool for one-way communication.  The only difference is that in real-life, you can occasionally opt to ignore even folks you ordinarily like to hear.

Let's face it.  Statistically, it has to be pretty hard for someone to use Twitter and not be turned off by something they see or someone they follow.

It might be the guy who follows everyone.  It may be the woman who refuses to follow you back when you "do her the favor" of following her.  It may be the shameless self-promoter.  It may be the person who won't stop promoting their business venture that is getting no traction at all.  It may be someone who airs dirty laundry.  It may be a serial flip-flopper… the ass-kisser… the shameless groupie that comments on every semi-insightful point made by "the Twitterati".  It may be someone who annoys you with their political views, which are clearly so important and impactful that they need to be shared with thousands of followers.  I could go on.

The lack of a shared ethos re: Twitter usage is quickly becoming a problem for the Industry's latest darling.

Think about other communication media for a moment.  We've developed accepted practices around e-mail.  We know to be careful with SMS because the recipient is charged a fee for received messages.  Facebook and LinkedIn are largely governed by how their platforms operate… i.e. both people in a "friendship" or "connection" have to accept the other.

In Twitter, the only rule is that everyone can follow anyone… which means that we all approach Twitter with different intentions.  It also means that over time, you can gain less and less insight from data Twitter currently provides.  For instance, at one time early in Twitter's life, you would gauge a User's popularity and/or importance in a community based on the # of followers he/she had.  Now it may just be an indication that someone is a Twitter whore.  ;-)  OK - maybe that is harsh.  It could be an indication that someone is trying to build a following perhaps for business development purposes, and doesn't discriminate when taking on new followers.  My point is that the correlation between followers and a User's reputation is certainly not what it used to be, and it is continuing to trend negatively.

So what does all of this mean?  If Twitter is to continue to thrive, Users will need a way to filter noise and both consume and contribute to the broader community.  Twitter is a pretty good way to follow a few hundred people, but can someone reasonably follow significantly more people?  Not at present.  It doesn't have to be fully conversational in my mind, but it does have to be occasionally conversational.  If it isn't, it won't survive as a means for everyone to hold a loudspeaker and shout things into a deserted forest.

It also means that we all need more insight into the people we choose to follow.  We don't necessarily have enough data to make informed decisions today, so we'll continue to waste time evaluating what we see and what we read.  I'm not sure that is going to last too long.  Maybe I'm wrong.

If you and/or your brand does want to be listened to in Twitter, it's more important than ever to establish a good reputation.  Provide useful content in as human a manner as possible.  Be consistent.  Commit to sharing unique or curated content on a regular cadence that your users can expect.  Rise above and don't annoy.  Set the rules of engagement and you will win, but do so as a trusted, valuable member of the community.