This all started because I wanted to dig into exactly who I was following on Twitter, and who was following me. Not in that “quid pro quo” way, but I became interested in who found my Twitters of value, and who wasn’t even tuned in any longer. Note: I send LOTS of Twitters, so I understand why people would drop me after a fashion. But the thing is, I try to send lots of USEFUL Twitters, so I hope to keep people engaged.
In doing this digging, I found some things of interest, and thought I’d share them, because I find that they helped me better understand what I value about Twitter, how I use Twitter, and what, if anything, can be made of this social augmenting system.
Deep Users vs. Internet Stars
Reviewing who I follow became interesting. I found that there’s a difference between real Internet deep users and “Internet stars.” The Internet stars barely use the application, rarely follow back, and don’t understand how they could be using it as a platform. These include new media personalities, and mainstream personalities who use Twitter because someone told them to use it.
Announcers vs. Conversationalists
This is a current hammer-target for Eric Rice. He’s railed out about people (including me) using Twitter as a promotion engine. I understand this, insofar as some people do nothing but twitter links to their blog posts, their flickr pictures, and whatever else turns them on. (Note: I will Twitter that I posted this article when I’m done writing it).
But conversationalists know to use a mix. They talk with other Twitter users, using the @ function to make sure people see the threaded conversation. They engage with the flow of people twittering around them, building a social sculpture, and engaging in what Jeff Pulver calls amorphic communications. Conversationalists reach into Twitter and move people back and forth.
Finding the Future
If you’re not following NewMediaJim, you’re missing your own personal newsbreaker. Cutting straight through the crap, Jim (who has a day job with NBC) brings us news TO US, not to the mass media. And gives us pointers to places we might have missed in the clutter that used to be daily news. Follow Kosso and learn new tech craziness. Follow about a hundred forward-thinking people and watch Twitter bring you information far faster than your RSS feeds, your television, your podcasts. It’s just faster. Follow DYKC, who is always giving me reasons to pause and think.
For Fun and Community
There’s another Twitter hidden in all this and I don’t want to discount its value. There are people out there like Ann in Ohio and Marti Liz Strauss and Brendajos and hundreds more who use Twitter like a great social outlet, a place to communicate and build relationships, and converse. It’s AMAZING and lovely seeing these friendships happen, to watch the jokes and the lighthearted side of Twitter come out. And seeing “names” participate in these reindeer games is triply fun for me.
Let’s not forget to consider ourselves in this examination. If I’m tuning Twitter for value, I’d better be ready to scrutinize my own traffic. Of my last two pages of tweets, I’ve sent about 50% of my messages as @ messages to other people. In my last two pages, I have asked a few general questions. I’ve also asked questions to educate me. I have pointed to other people’s projects, and once to my own. That seems reasonable. Why should you connect with me on Twitter? Because I’m showing that you can use Twitter for something other than talking about your food and your delayed flight (though when I’m delayed, I sure get twittery).
For all of its 140 character limitations, Twitter teaches impactful brevity, enriches online relationships, delivers human-powerful search (which should be further inspiration for Jason Calacanis), and provides a strong sounding board. By culling and cultivating my Twitter network, I’ve found a recently improved vision of who’s out there talking about meaningful things (or things that matter to me). In fact, I suspect Twitter has some kind of “gating” factor that decides how many updates from my list I can see, no matter if I’m following 200 or 2000. So consider that, too, when selecting who you choose to follow.
About that, who are YOU following, and why do they matter to you?
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