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May 28, 2009

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Jess

I've been thinking this for some time as well. 'What are you doing' is very passe....

Perhaps 'Whats up' would be simple enough.

@jesskry

Rui Delgado

I second "What do you think?" as the main question!

Paul Peixoto

I think this is a great example of the creators of technology not keeping up with the user's application.

How about: "What matters now?"

@paulpeixoto

Juan Carlos Pérez

Agree, also apply for Facebook .. I like "What's going on?"

Jay Gilmore

Dave,

I tweeted something very similar last year. This was the one thing Plurk got right (I have an unused account w/ 0 Karma).

Twitter hasn't been about what you are doing for a long time. "Share something others will find..." valuable, interesting, funny, informative, thought provoking.

Point 5 on Dan Zarella's post at copyblogger talks about the some specific valuable tweets: http://www.copyblogger.com/go-viral-on-twitter/

Cheers,

Jay

Socrates Maura

Sure, next some philosopher will suggest adding "How are you contributing to mankind today?"
Listen, the point is moot. "What are you doing?" is generic enough to be ignored. It's not like you Twitter from the toilet, well perhaps some people do, but at least they have the decency not to take the question literally. Anyways, I'd suggest Twitter give the option to customize the question to a personalized one, at least that would reflect on your Twittering personality.

Julie Jofis

Most recently ive stumbled upon a comment about twitter: "Whats in it for me?" And i really started thinking, that IT IS TRUE - in our so very material world people are lucratively inclide!!! Either it is attention seeking or..."Whats in it FOR YOU?"

Jaimy Szymanski

Agreed - I usually have the same problem. I've found it's easier for people to understand if you compare it to Facebook status updates, since it's basically the same thing (at least in the beginning of using Twitter), and more people are used to FB at this point.

Socrates Maura

See, my point illustrated. People's motivational question seems to be reflective, or indicative of the person's understanding of what Twitter is, and what Twitter represents to them. Like asking "what will I eat today?" when you open a menu at a restaurant, because you understand that the function of the menu is for you to choose. The question itself should be a catalyst for thought, or none at all. "What are you doing?", I think, is the perfect neutral question to ask.

David Meerman Scott

@Socrates Maura - if the question is to be ignored, why have it there at all?

Phillip Harrington

I started @betterquestion for this. Please DM to suggest. I'll use your suggestions above. @philsown

Marcelo Lewin

I think the question should not be a question at all. It should be more of a command. "Add value to the community in under 140 characters".

Because ultimately to have Twitter work for you from a business perspective, you have to add value to the community and doing that in under 140 characters teaches you, not just for Twitter, but in life in general, how to get to the core of what's important and valuable.

Socrates Maura

I didn't say it is to be ignored, I said it is generic enough to be ignored... see once you get used to Twitter you may give it a passing glance, but go on ahead to your true message. The question itself, I think, is meant to start a process of thought. "What are you doing?" - well, I am thinking - "thinking of what?" - of something I saw, or something I did, or something I thought of, or of something I am starting to do or will do... which I want to "share in 140 chars or less" on Twitter.

More or less.

I put thinking as the initial "doing" because if you're on Twitter, you are absolutely thinking about sharing something.

Socrates Maura

@Phillip Harrington my 2 cents go to customizing the question. I'd definitely add some flavor to Twitter. We might see fun stuff like "where the hell am I now?", "What Spam will I send today?", "And God said..." or even "What do I wish I was really doing right now?" and so on. The question would ultimately be indicative of your attitude towards Twitter and/or your profession, personality or even mental health.

Lisa Pecunia

Dave - I am one of those people who has not used Twitter either. I have a similar reason for not using it, with my own spin -- I feel that I wouldn't have time to follow other people's thoughts all day long, and it would just distract me from my project. I can barely keep up with facebook (and I've kind of stopped trying) for the same reason.

I do like the "how can I be helpful?" idea. The thing is... how can we filter out the non-useful/non-helpful tweets of those we follow in order to maximize the use of the tool? If there's a way to do that, it might convince me to give it a try.

Kevin @ The Money Hawk

I like:

"Your Thoughts?"

@tinealene

"How can I be helpful" eliminates most of the people on twitter. Let's face it...most people aren't helpful. But things like "What's happening in your world today?" or "Share an idea" might not always be helpful, but at least it would be interesting and maybe spark some conversation. What do you say to people face to face that sparks conversation...not "What's up" because most people say "Nothing, what's up with you". It needs a question or direction to evoke a real human response.

@tinealene

BTW, thanks for blogging on this subject...hopefully you have enough profile to get twitter to address this issue as it has been brought up on twitter several times that it should be changed....hey maybe they can even make a poll and pick the fav.

Andrew Davis

David,
This has really stifled Twitter's ability to grow. I did a podcast about this a couple weeks ago:
http://blog.tippingpointlabs.com/2009/05/podcast-the-evolution-of-twitter-what-r-u-doing/

Adam

I've seen facebook post "What's on your mind".
I like this idea.

Regina Walton

Fair. But if people are taking the question literally, then their tweets are probably very boring and I'm not going to follow them ;)

I don't think anyone wants to know what I'm having for lunch right now as I type.

The question could be changed, but if you take it literally, you're probably not going to be on Twitter for long or have many followers.

Sinela Gherman

I really enjoy reading all the comments here and I do apreciate very much the post.

In fact to be able to opt for an option (question) we should first answer why this HUGE number of people at Twitter.

I have seen people there who have tens of thousands of followings and folloers. So, who cares about what questions and updates are there?

Guillaume Causse

I think Twitter is THE best tool for supporting or promoting word of mouth!

Debbie Josendale

Lots of great thoughts here and good questions. But I wonder…why does the question matter?

Just about any question that might replace the “what are you doing now” will have its own set of problems. I think the value of “what are you doing now” is that it’s generic and gives one the freedom to decide on what they want to tweet about.

And I have found that changes based on “what I’m doing…now”. Sometimes it ‘s where I had lunch and other times it’s about sharing knowledge and other times it’s really for me…just something that I want to tweet.

At some point the question becomes moot…I mean how many times do you tweet and read the question? I don’t even see it or think about it, because I’m more focused on what I want to say…and in this case a question is not going to dictate my tweets.

John Sherry

Real life is interesting and that's as much as what Twitter is all about. It aids in connection, sharing lifestyles, ideas,information and gets people talking who normally could never meet. The 140 characters ensures short and sweet tweets that are easy to read. It's true social networking with the focus firmly on the social. Innocent fun.

Tony Faustino

Based on how I personally use Twitter, the question I suggest is: “What’s Worth Learning Today?”

The power and value of Twitter lies in its ability to connect you to other people who share your same interests and passions. To some, that value or “worth” might be what someone is eating for breakfast during a beautiful sunset in Barcelona. For others, the value might be a link to an article on Mashable.com about 7 Technologies Shaping the Future of Social Media.

This form of self-selection is what I love about Twitter. I choose to follow specific Tweeps to learn new insights that I can professionally apply. Others utilize Twitter as a real-time version of their Facebook status – and that’s totally cool too.

To me, Twitter is an incredible professional resource. I know I gain worthwhile knowledge everyday from the trusted folks I follow. They are often a better source of content than what I could efficiently locate with my own Google Search. It’s my hope that I’m returning their generosity by sharing content that helps them professionally also.

Tony Faustino

Based on how I personally use Twitter, the question I suggest is: “What’s Worth Learning Today?”

The power and value of Twitter lies in its ability to connect you to other people who share your same interests and passions. To some, that value or “worth” might be what someone is eating for breakfast during a beautiful sunset in Barcelona. For others, the value might be a link to an article on Mashable.com about 7 Technologies Shaping the Future of Social Media.

This form of self-selection is what I love about Twitter. I choose to follow specific Tweeps to learn new insights that I can professionally apply. Others utilize Twitter as a real-time version of their Facebook status – and that’s totally cool too.

To me, Twitter is an incredible professional resource. I know I gain worthwhile knowledge everyday from the trusted folks I follow. They are often a better source of content than what I could efficiently locate with my own Google Search. It’s my hope that I’m returning their generosity by sharing content that helps them professionally also.

Wayne Davies

The question "What are you doing?" certainly does promote the kind of thing that nobody is interested in such as "just got out of bed" or "getting a cup of coffee" etc.

How about simply - "username" says...

Jon Pear (a.k.a. NeuroAster)

Re: "Hey Twitter: What are you doing? Wrong question!"

My tweeple CAN'T STOP asking me: "Hey what mundane things are you doing that we can have a nice little mundane chit-chat about?" :)

And those who HAVE iPhones and other #mobile devices ask eachother "What are you doing?" and they ask those of us WITHOUT an iPhone or any kind of #mobile device: "Where have you been?" :)

Rita Burke

You have no idea how happy it made me to find this post of yours as I was scrolling through your old posts. I wrote a very similar post back in April and couldn't agree with you more.

cheap aion kinah

So excited for the new book from the HubSpot guys! Thanks for information. Just preordered it from Amazon!

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