I wasn't the first person to join Twitter, and I certainly don't have the most followers. And I'm starting to ignore it more and more. I suspect I'm not the only one. Its evolution is beginning to remind me of blog. Remember the days where we visited other blogs and left comments on them because it was a part of the community we were creating? Now it frequently feels like so many are so busy building the biggest and best blog they can that they have removed themselves from the community building to some degree. While they look for and expect comments on their blog - and frequently they'll interact with the commenters - they no longer visit others, and even when they do, they don't comment.
Maybe I'm following the wrong people on Twitter, but as I watch the Twitter stream go by in the corner of my stream as I work on a post or check email, I've begun to notice a trend. The tweets are no longer part of a conversation and building community. More and more, they are purely promotional either for a brand, of another blogger or of themselves. And I have to say, there's only so much of that kind of tweet that interests me. While I absolutely will self promote with info about my latest post, that's not the majority of my tweets. I'd much rather have conversations with others, learn something, share something, laugh about something. Wouldn't you?
I actually took a count of my last one hundred tweets in my stream and charted them. And I'm more depressed about Twitter than I was before. I wasn't imagining it. Twitter really has become simply a promotional tool, or at least it is for the majority of those I follow - at least this afternoon. Granted, there were no Twitter parties going on when I took my survey. When those occur, they completely take over my stream. And perhaps this is a middle of the day thing and there would be more conversations at night. I'm going to repeat my experiment this evening.
My findings (and note that because of the categories, the total will add to more than 100 percent):
Five percent of tweets were what I would consider "conversation starters" - things where someone asked a question or made a statement that invites a response. Only eight percent were actual conversations. Interestingly, one person was involved in half of those interactions and not one of them came from the potential conversation starters in that selection. There were also another nine percent that retweeted someone else's tweet but included commentary in it. Almost half of those were "thanks" for a mention, but the others were were genuine interactions that could have led to further interactions. In the end though, just over one in five tweets is about connecting with someone? That makes me sad.
Twenty-two percent were what I would call random comments that didn't involve mentioning another user. Those comments are ones that may draw interactions from someone else, and in my very judgemental mind, those tweets are good. Someone who tweets that they hate sending a certain kind of email or vents about a lack of sleep? That shares information that I can appreciate, and I may interact with that tweet. The majority of my tweets fall into this category, although I also make a concerted effort to reply to others' tweets because I do want that community. Do you?
On the flip side, forty-six percent of the tweets were self-promotion, mostly announcements of posts that the author wished followers to read. There were another eighteen tweets that publicized someone else's post. I can't forget the four percent that were retweets simply to promote themselves or their links. What you find in your stream may be higher than that, as I have purposely unfollowed some people who tweeted way too often other people's links. I didn't see any sponsored tweets, although they do come through my stream periodically. I'm not too bothered by those so long as they don't become predominant in the streams, although I'm guessing some of these self-promotional tweets should have included an #ad or #spon tag. Sixty-eight percent of my stream is pure promotion though. And that's a big reason why Twitter is losing its allure for me.
What about you? What does your Twitter stream look like? What do your tweets look like? And is it working for you? I'm nowhere near saying that I'm done with Twitter, but I think I need to do some selective unfollowing... and maybe I need to search out some new tweeps to add to those I follow. Any suggestions?