By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Nov 03, 2016 at 11:06 AM

What if Twitter’s highest and best use has nothing to do with engagement and conversations? It’s a distribution network for content, right? And, that’s OK.

Actually, it’s great.

Twitter’s my go-to source. But like all content sources, it has its pitfalls and problems. Not enough quality, too much yelling – you’ve heard them all.

Let’s switch gears, though. If you don’t know much about Twitter or are leery of the platform, what’s its purpose for you? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question.

Twitter has to be easier and more elegant to use. Turn it on, use, learn, share and make it a part of your life. Or don’t. Either way, Twitter still has massive use for the general public, but it needs changing, simplification, and wider and higher uses.  

Challenging, right? Maybe.

I asked Vivek Wadhwa, one of Silicon Valley’s most provocative voices on technology trends, globalization and U.S. competitiveness, what he thought about Twitter, a platform he uses daily. He said, "Get new management that understands its users. Right now, you have a bunch of elite frat boys who are suffering from group think. These people don’t know the opportunities outside Silicon Valley, the needs of the majority of its user base. Fix this, and the users will come."

I don't know the management at Twitter, but I do know that I want Twitter to continue to get better. My ideas?  

Amp up the DM

The direct messaging (DM) function with Twitter is almost a secretive afterthought. It should be vital to the platform and a reason for use. You’ll probably not be given access to DM your favorite celebrity, but encouraging friends to use DMs as chat would make Twitter more useful.  

Kill the focus on followers

Don’t really kill them, but don’t show the number of followers and following on accounts. Who really cares? Only the ego-centric media and celebrity types that get off on their follower numbers. Highlighting these numbers scares off new users who think it’s impossible to even get a big following. Make it about consumption of content, not building followers. Shift change, for sure, but Twitter wouldn’t have to move away entirely from this – just don’t lead with it.  

Gamify with sports

As a great man once tweeted, Twitter makes sports better. I’ve said this for years. I’ve tweeted it. The platform should go hard here. Gaming, betting with a Fan Duel, Draft Kings or Fire Fan partnership, real time, exclusive views and angels from live games. Fans already curate their own voices and takes on games – give us access into the leagues and our passions. Take this passion, package it and leverage it!

Create exclusive content

It’s the Netflix model, and not easy or inexpensive. But it works. Create a series, buy a series or be the first to show a series under a content-sharing agreement with the right partner.

Reduce bullying

Much is made about trolling and bullying on Twitter, and indeed all social networks. I have thick skin and ignore the "haters," but this is a legitimate concern as Twitter grows. How does the platform combat and punish those who violate terms and conditions?

I also asked Andy Tarnoff, my business partner here at OnMilwaukee, about improving Twitter. His idea list is below:

  • Reintegrate Instagram integration
  • Kill parody accounts pretending to be someone real
  • Streamline the blue check mark process
  • Somehow force people to prove their identity when creating a new account
  • Better "quality filter" and troll management
  • Provide option for curation, but don't force it (this might exist, but better than "Moments")
  • Make account hacking harder
  • Add video chat to DMs
  • Photo filters/stickers

Matt Mueller from OnMilwaukee chimed into this Twitter improvement discussion, too. His thoughts? "The No. 1 complaint I hear about Twitter is the abuse problem. Twitter does nothing to cull the violent, hateful, abusive bullying on the site that overshadows many of the great conversations to be found. Many have said a new social medium that had a better abuse prevention system would wipe Twitter off the planet – and I don't think they're wrong."

Twitter is a great tool for news, sharing and informing, reaching new fans and prospects or just watching a game. I love it and want it to get better.

Your thoughts? Share them with us, and if you don’t have a Twitter account, sign up here

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.