Monday, December 01, 2008

SocialToo - too social by half

SocialToo Jo recently blogged about SocialToo, a service which allows you automatically send a direct message (DM) to anyone who follows you on Twitter and to automatically follow them back (if desired). Admittedly, Jo talked about the service in the context of drawing students into particular projects we are running, but clearly SocialToo is aimed at more general use, as shown by David Bradley. So I've signed up for SocialToo too, right?

Wrong. There are several reasons I don't like the way this service works, and I think they illustrate why many people struggle to understand Twitter. For me, Twitter is about crafting a personal network that shares my needs, which range from education to entertainment - preferably by way of the eclectic. That can only be achieved by filtering my network to maintain quality and minimize noise. I deliberately try to follow people who are smarter than me - so if I follow you on Twitter, pat yourself on the back (but don't rest on your laurels as I have no qualms about unfollowing people who no longer cut the mustard). Autofollow is diametrically opposed to the way I shape my Twitter network.

The second problem I have with SocialToo is that it sends new followers a DM rather than a public tweet. That's not what Twitter is all about - a public arena where knowledge is shared (part of the reason I never follow anyone who has protected their updates). If I want to send one person a private message, I'll use email, not Twitter.

So while I can see limited use for SocialToo in a few specialized cases, I won't be using it for my main twitter account.