Over the years, my Facebook and Twitter usage has changed significantly. Most notable is that my engagement has shifted from Pull to Push
Pull: When a user frequently visits a site, unprompted
Push: When a site sends the user a notification, which might result in the user visiting the site
I signed up for Facebook in 2005, as soon as I received my college email address. I don’t remember well, but I probably visited the site frequently; it was central to campus life.
While I am still a moderate Facebook user, I almost never visit the site (or app) - I engage with FB almost entirely through email notifications. When someone sends me a friend request, invites me to an event, or tags me in a post, I’ll scan the email and sometimes reply directly through email. If it involves saying yes to a friend request or event invite, I’ll click open the invite, approve it on FB and then close the tab - there’s no browsing.
The only exception is a FB group I’m a part of that has excellent discussions. I have a bookmark to that group’s page and will open it often (usually after having read my RSS feeds / HN. Again, I’ll stick to that group page, and not browse broader FB. The other exception has been Facebook Messages App which I’ll open on my phone if someone has messaged me.
I had a few false starts before getting into Twitter. I joined in 2009 but had been checking it out for a year or more before then. I finally got sucked in once I had a few friends who actively tweeted and found some interesting authors and tech experts to follow.
I’m not sure when I first got hooked, but for the past several years, I’ve limited the number of people I follow and have read my feed almost exhaustively; I would treat my Twitter feed like an RSS feed and try to skim every tweet.
Over the past few months, that’s changed. I now only check my feed sparingly. I’ll hop on if I’m @-mentioned or if I have something to tweet but otherwise I don’t frequent the site. I can’t pinpoint any main reason, perhaps I just was getting the same value elsewhere?
In both cases, my swing from Pull to Push has limited my time on the site; I can’t remember the last time I saw my FB news feed. The Push-only behavior limits my serendipity from the platforms but I’m getting serendipity from other sources (HN, Reddit, RSS, Listserves).
Despite not visiting FB and Twitter - they are still critical infrastructure in my life; FB messages and events are incredibly useful and Twitter remains a great way to ping people outside my social network. Both remain great broadcasting tools, though I’m not actively building / maintaining an audience.
I’m curious to see how representative my behavior is of the average user. If the switch to push becomes a broader trend, it might have significant implications - e.g. decreasing ad impressions / revenue.