Friday, January 6, 2012

Twitter: Who Am I To Talk?

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.

Royalty free image courtesy

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?


Brandie January 6, 2012 at 2:33 PM  

My favorite twitter people are people who talk to me. Sure. Link to your blog post, I do. But don't forget to talk to me too. That's how I feel.
But, I see the same issue on facebook too. So much posting, little interaction. It's sad. Why follow people if you aren't going to interact with them? I don't get it.
But I also know lives are busy, and sometimes it's easier to interact than other times. And I try to keep that in mind too.

Sandra January 6, 2012 at 2:58 PM  

I'm so new to Twitter that I'm still figuring it out. I have so few followers that I feel like tweeting is almost useless. But I've picked up my tweets and try to make them NOT boring. Then again, I have a private account, so I'm to blame for too few followers. I just like to know the people who follow me, because when people who follow tens of thousands of people want to follow me, what good really is that? Anyway, I messaged you, so hopefully I can add another tweep friend there.

Tami Miller January 6, 2012 at 4:00 PM  

I only use Twitter and Facebook to link to my blog. I've given up on making "witty" remarks. I don't care about the number of followers. I just want to focus on my blog, make good friends and have fun doing it!

ps. When are you putting up your new picture?

Cris Goode January 6, 2012 at 7:56 PM  

Twitter is hit and miss for me. Some nights it can be a blast, while others I feel like there is nothing there for me.

I have stumbled upon some great relationships by following an interest (recipes for example)and finding interesting people. That and I feel like it aids in my IRL and conference relationships... I enjoy interacting with already established friends on twitter and that is what I get the most out of there I suppose.

From a community standpoint- at least for my blog's audience- Facebook is the place. My readers are primarily facebook users and I have went with that and I feel a great sense of community there-- lots of fun and interaction. I love my FB Community page... it is one of my favorite things about blogging.

Joanna Jenkins January 6, 2012 at 11:53 PM  

I hardly have time to blog, I can't imagine using Twitter. And I cancelled my Facebook account. I know I'm not "current" with the times but it's the best I can do.

Happy New Year, jj

Corine January 7, 2012 at 7:11 AM  

I agree. I wish there were more original/conversational posts. When I search y stream for them theyre hard to find among all of the links.

anymommy January 7, 2012 at 7:06 PM  

I agree with the hit or miss comment. Sometimes I log on and I hear crickets even when I try to engage others based on their passing comments. Sometimes, I'm having a blast. I try to shut it down when it's boring because I can get stuck on refresh mode.

Natalie January 7, 2012 at 7:17 PM  

I LOVE twitter...kept me sane after losing a baby, suffering from a huge anxiety attack and being off work for months. My "twitter" family brought me cola and cupcakes, took me to the doctor when I couldn't drive, helped me grocery shop...the list is endless. I think the "magic" of twitter lies in your ability to read the posts and start the engaging. I have built up over 2000 followers by chatting with people I follow, following people they follow, being authentic and open...what you see on twitter is what you will get in real life with me.

Pat January 9, 2012 at 7:15 PM  

I joined Twitter about 7 years ago, but I don't tweet at all any more. I don't have a cell phone that is connected to the internet and I don't have time to check Twitter on my computer. Jerry and I share internet access, and he always wants me to watch TV with him in the evening, so Twitter just isn't something I can do satisfactorily. I think any kind of social networking will eventually become a way for people/businesses to promote themselves. It just seems like a fact of life, human nature--self promotion, wanting what one wants when one wants it. Just my opinion.

Lisa Hanneman January 9, 2012 at 11:27 PM  

This is so timely! I was just thinking that I hadn't seen you on Twitter for a while, so hopped on over to your blog to see what was going on. And here is my answer! Too funny.

Anyway, I totally agree. I like Twitter for the interaction I have with actual people, the resources it offers, and as a quick outlet. But, I have the same complaints as you.

My suggestion: Don't follow the people on Twitter who think they're a big deal. They tend to annoy me. But, I guess that's true in life, too. Right?

Maybe you just need a little tweet break for now. Come back when you're refreshed. I'll be ready to chat with you.

tiarastantrums January 14, 2012 at 12:18 PM  

I have noticed this as well - n real tweets - just the nonsense stuff or promotional garbage. I used to like twitter more - but have really just stepped back. I consider myself a fly by the moment tweeter - not good - but it works for me.

Michelle January 19, 2012 at 4:28 PM  

Brandie - I'm right there with you. And you're right about Facebook. I think to some degree, a lot of it is a lack of time where people want to try to get their message out as fast as they can but don't take the time to do more than that.

Sandra - It isn't useless, but it takes time to build a community - especially since you have yourself hidden! As for the people following you who you don't know, sometimes it's amazing to discover the resources some of them can offer.

Tami - I get the wanting to focus on your blog, but if you're just using Twitter to post your links, why does anyone want to follow you? That's where it starts to become counterproductive, no?

ris - You're absolutely right. There definitely are some days and nights that have great interactions and conversation. Maybe that's what gets me so down is that those nights are becoming fewer and further between. And yes - if your community is into FB, then use FB!

Corine - They often are. Although they are less so for me now as I'm weeding out the people who just "don't do it for me" to quote Princess Vespa.

Stacey - Yep. It's depressing when you try to engage and no one responds. I do wonder how much of a vicious circle it is where people see the links and then start to disengage which means there's more just links, etc etc

Natalie - Twitter is and can be awesome, and I love that it was there for you like that. I definitely do chatter and the like on Twitter, but many of the people I follow who used to engage have turned from that and instead tend to just post links now... and I'm starting to unfollow them. That's what I think is sad.

Pat - Yep, I think you're right. Go enjoy your time with Jerry though, I love that after having been married for so long he still wants you to do stuff with him!

Lisa - I am actually on Twitter, but sporadically depending on how busy I am. And I am SO not someone who follows the people who think they're a big deal. Shhh. I've never read Dooce.

Teresa - I'll fly by night and tweet when I can, but I also want to make sure that I'm engaging others. I know it's a good day of tweeting (ok, that just sounds really wrong but you know what I mean) when I have new followers because of what I've said or who I've chatted with.

Busy Mom January 25, 2012 at 9:18 PM  

I go in cycles with Twitter. Right now, I'm annoyed with the self-promotion that doesn't bother me other times.

Now that I say that, I think it's me and not Twitter.

Most of the time, anyway...

Michelle January 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM  

Elizabeth - I go in cycles, too - but it helps that I cleared out a lot of the people who tweet just promo stuff. And I say it's Twitter not you ;) Because I'm nice that way.

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