As the builders of one of the first Twitter thread maker, my co-founder and I are saddened to see the recent direction threads have taken. Twitter threads now closely resemble the internet's new listicle and the Twitter experience as a whole has taken a bit of a nose dive.
The problem with being an expert on Twitter is there's no obligation to back your claims up with any real-world experience. The fact that you can regurgitate other people's ideas with little to no consequence means that, over time, people on Twitter drift towards more talk, less walk.
Can't believe we're saying this 🙈 but Instagram is a great counter-example here. Getting attention on Instagram means actually doing something interesting offline, and then taking a picture of it.
For example, our co-founder joined Instagram because he started making ramen 🍜 To keep playing, he must keep making ramen. He can't just talk about making ramen. The point is that he can't fool anyone. His credentials are right there on his profile. You can gauge the exact level of his ramen game in an instant. There's photographic evidence and date stamps.
Plot twist: Social media keeps you focused.
Before you throw up in your own mouth, we get that everything falls apart when you have influencer selling their "lifestyle" and talking nonsense into a camera. But within the context of professional faceless accounts, the point stands. Faceless means that it's not about you. It's about the thing you're doing. By professional, we just mean that you have some desire to hone your craft and get better at what you do over time.
If Twitter survives this rocky phase, we hope it stays a platform that connects you to the best people in your scene, helps keep you constantly inspired, and does a much better job of using social feedback to nudge you toward doing great work.
Actually "doing great work" is the key to not sounding like you're full of shit on Twitter.
Credibility is the price of attention
As it gets easier and easier to remix anyone's ideas and churn out mediocre digital garbage at a disturbing rate, the only question on people's minds anymore is 'why should I care'?
The price of entry is now human experience. You need a story about an actual, real-world experience that happened to a human being to establish why you are worth paying attention to.
In his course on how everyone can build a Twitter audience, Daniel Vassallo calls having a genuine experience to bolster your claims, 'credibility'. I think it's a great word for what we're talking about here.
Daniel writes about working for yourself, and the example he used for his credibility marker was an article on why he quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for himself. Another example was Sahil Lavingia, he likes to talk about startup culture, and his pinned tweet is a post on how he failed to build a billion-dollar company. A more relatable example was Simon Sarris and his post on building his home from scratch.
The point is that these people aren't paying lip service to the idea of working for themselves, building startups, or making homes. They went out and had genuine experiences with the things they talk about. Having a human story to share anchors their credibility and answers the fundamental question of why you should care.
The takeaway is that if you want attention online, you have to go out and do something interesting in your field, in real life, that deserves paying attention to.
But what if we're an organization?
Stories of transformation are fine when you're a real person, but how do you apply all of this if you're a social media manager for a brand or part or part of a small team representing a project?
Will Storr does an excellent job of explaining how these ideas translate to organizations in his book on the science of storytelling.
In any narrative, the hero is your central figure. The hero’s job is to drive the story through some form of transformation. Think of Luke Skywalker, he finds a mysterious message and decides to fight an evil empire.
In order to grow, the hero has to overcome some adversary, a force that gets in the way of their quest. This can be an enemy or a rival, but it can also be more subtle, like grappling with loneliness and doubt.
The excitement and tension in a story is based on how our hero answers their central question or tackles their core problem.
But heroes seldom go at it alone. Along the way, they find help. A wise Jedi who teaches you about the force and prepares you for the journey ahead. This character in a story is the guide.
A guide is somebody, or something, whose purpose in the story is to give the hero the skills, knowledge, and equipment they need to conquer their shadow and become heroic.
In business, we are never telling our story. The key is to understand our customers are the heroes. Our business is the guide. You’re Obi-Wan, they’re Luke.
Your business exists to help people make some kind of change, and your business is the force that helps them succeed in making that change.
The human experience that anchors our credibility is not our own, but rather a story of the change we've helped someone else make.
Admittedly, we haven't been doing a great job of showcasing our customer's stories at Chirr App. Now that we understand this a bit better, we will make an effort to collect and feature more customer stories about how threads, and Twitter in general, help experts and teams spread the message of the important work they do.
You can follow us at @chirrapp if you'd like to see how we start to incorporate more real-world stories of people who use Twitter threads to build credibility and share their work on Twitter.
Chirr App is an all-in-one Twitter author app that helps you write threads and tweets, engage with your audience, and access actionable analytics so you could write amazing content consistently.