What if Twitter was our actual email client? My friend Whitney makes some interesting points below, and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. While messaging apps provide something akin to this, it lacks the more powerful communications paradigms built into email.
When you consider most complaints about email, it is not really about volume. It is about prioritization (which ones I should attend to first) and quality of communication (value of information provided). While Twitter might on the surface appear to be antithetical to the ideas of priority and quality, it in fact actually provides a better experience through the follower model, lists and DMs. Rather than the proverbial fire hose, we actually have something that filters quite well most of the time.
I am not saying this is the answer for email woes, but it is an interesting thought experiment. (Or maybe I truly have gone nuts.)
“One helpful way to practice emailing like a CEO is to pretend your emails have the same character limit as Twitter.”
“How to Write Emails Like a CEO” by Andrew Torba
Just some Monday morning email tips that could benefit everyone. Twitter would actually make for a useful email client come to think of it…
I’d propose that “communication” Twitter has developed an almost 1:1 usage pattern with email, with one interesting exception.
Tweet -> Broadcast informational email
You’re just putting it out there so that people know. Not particularly important to any specific individual.
@reply conversation (two people) -> One-to-one email chain
A message to one particular person. You want them to see it, but it’s not hugely important. A casual discussion.
@reply ( >2 people ) -> Multiple cc email chain
Group discussion. Quickly becomes murky and hard to understand as discussion splinters into threads and more people chime in.
DM -> Important one-to-one email
You actually want one particular person to pay attention to the communication. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t, but it’s clear that this is more important than the baseline communication.
Subtweet -> BCC
There are two audiences for the communication, and it conveys rather different messages to each audience.
Favorite (star) -> ???
This is the interesting one. Increasingly, people seem to use Twitter’s star as a “hey, I saw this, but I don’t have a particular response — I just want to acknowledge it” button. Email has no native corresponding unit of communication (other than the awful “Thx!” email, and it’s interesting to think about how one might be added).
Image credit: CC by Andreas Eldh