How do you use Twitter? Do you see it as a tool for interacting with people, or do you simply use it as a broadcast medium? Is it a place for dialogue or monologue?
In discussion over lunch today the conclusion was reached that twitters use twittering, by and large, to moan and complain. It’s a virtual gnashing of the teeth, or beating of the chest. A cyberspace ‘well I never’.
Twittering has to be a symptom of a dysfunctional society.
Before reaching the conclusion:
Anyway, safe to say, I shan’t be joining the legions of twitters any day soon.
I did attack Twitter initially and for that I do eat humble pie, however, you will never know when the milk in my fridge is out of date or I’ve run out of tea bags, of that you can be sure.:)
Whether she’ll be true to her word this time, only time will tell. But it’s interesting to watch how she uses Twitter. Out of almost thirty tweets, only two of them have been replies to people. A few more mention other Twitter users. But the vast majority of her tweets are just a broadcast message and there’s no evidence of her actually engaging in discussion with anyone over her opinions. Twitter search shows that there are plenty of people trying to engage with her, but she has so far chosen to ignore them.
You can also look at the number of people who she follows on Twitter. As I write, that’s eleven. There are close three hundred people following her, but she’s only interested in reading what eleven twitterers have to say. That’s not a ratio which makes me think she’s interested in hearing other points of view or getting involved in conversations.
That’s when I realised that there are two different ways that people use Twitter. Most people (or, at least, most people I follow) see it as a powerful way to interact with people. Even people who have huge numbers of followers engage with at least some of their followers. Take, for example, three people who I follow who have huge followings – Tim O’Reilly, Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman. If you look at their tweets, you’ll see that they’re full of replies and retweets. These are people who are using Twitter to build and deepen the relationships they have with their followers. You’ll also notice that they all follow large numbers of people. They all know that the more people tweets that you read, the more interesting stuff you’ll find and the more useful Twitter will become to you.
On the other hand, there are the people who see Twitter as just a broadcast medium. People who just speak and don’t listen. People who only like the sound of their own voice – or, at least, don’t mind giving that impression. These people (and Dorries is only the most recent example I’ve found – I won’t embarrass any others by naming them) seem to only be using Twitter because it’s the newest platform for getting their message out there. They seem to have no interest in talking about their ideas. They aren’t interested in what we have to say in reply. That may not be a true representation of how they feel, but by not talking to people on Twitter that’s the impression they are giving.
It’s something that can be measured. I think there are three ways that you can measure someone’s “socialability” on Twitter.
- The ratio of the number of people they follow to the number of people who follow them
- The percentage of their tweets that contain references to other twitterers
- The percentage of their tweets that are retweets
Twitter makes it easy to get this data for all accounts. I think it would be an interesting project to rank Twitter users by how socialable they are. But like all good ideas, I’m sure that someone else has beaten me to it. I’ve done a quick bit of Googling, but I can’t find anything obvious, so if anyone knows of a site that produces these stats, please let me know in the comments.
And to Nadine Dorries (if she ever reads this), please interact more.