Anyone who follows me knows this is at least partially true — I tweet (and @ reply) a lot. Tons — I’ve been on twitter for about a year and as of this writing have 14K tweets. My last thousand tweets averaged out to nearly 150 tweets per day (not bragging, just making sure everyone saw the unit of time). I tweet about everything – client/journalist pet peeves; what I’m listening to; reading; blogs I’m commenting on; and yes even occasionally what I’m eating.
Of course my initial response was, “You and I got called out specifically on a HARO
call?” I was a bit impressed. Of course this wasn’t the case. Before commenting I waited to get the mp3 and listened…it wasn’t as inflammatory
as I had originally thought, the full conversation (which followed a discussion of follower loyalty vs. number of followers) was this (Peter
speaking in this quote):
[some sentence fragments removed for readability]
“…they [someone commenting on twitter I believe] disagree, it’s about answering, talking and answering your followers and having conversations on twitter. And Chris you might argue with me on this. I don’t believe that you should respond to every single person who responds to you in the public using an @ reply. I tend to direct message anyone who sends me an @ reply unless it’s something of value to the bigger audience. In my opinion, if you send me a question and I reply to you and it’s a personal question or it’s not of interest to everyone I’m being rude to 50,000 of my followers who might not care so I’m very very big on the dm not so big on the @ reply in a public forum. There are other people who disagree with that, there are companies who will @ reply every single person with the most trivial facts, if that works for them great – I just don’t believe once you hit a critical mass on twitter that that’s worth it…Chris what do you think about that?” [Chris’s Skype connection conked out. When he returned he agreed with Peter and the conversation tangented to a quick discussion of multiple accounts.]
I’m one of those who disagree.
First, a few notes:
a) I appreciate that Peter notes it might work for some people,
b) I’m not Peter and don’t have anywhere (and likely never will have anywhere) near his following.
c) I certainly don’t know what the critical mass is, but it’s presumably somewhere between my 1,800 followers and his 49,000.
Here’s what I do know:
a) off ALL of my off topic, sometimes nonsensical, double entendre laden tweets never have I been told I’m tweeting too much. Have I been unfollowed — sure. Do I know why — of course not.
b) some of the best conversations I’ve had with people would not have happened if I wasn’t tweeting nearly everything publicly.
More re: b) — when you do follow a decent number of people, individual tweets become blurred. If you only tweet once about a subject it’s very likely to get caught in the larger stream of those watching and very potentially never seen. If you’re having a good, interactive conversation you’ve got a better chance of being heard and others joining the conversation.
IMHO this leads back to the greatest question of the twitter-age — Why are you using twitter? I, personally use it as my own water cooler not soap box. A place to have conversations with others on the topics of the day and our lives.
When asked about twitter by Luddites I compare it to a cocktail party — you walk in, may know a few people there and can join or initiate any conversation without it being rude or intrusive. At the same time you can pull someone to the side and have a private conversation with them. But if we begin conversations and immediately pull the person we’re speaking with aside and talk only to them about it we’re losing the possibility that someone else in the group may have something of value to contribute to the conversation.
Simply put, IMHO (and compared to these two giants in the industry it is my own humble opinion) — until you ask, or allow for the possibility, there is no way to know what will and what won’t interest any number of your followers and to block that from happening by moving to directs immediately isn’t what twitter’s about (for me at least).
Of course asking everyone about their interests, keeping a record of it, and then somehow involving them in certain conversations is impractical if not impossible (remember, no multi-directs) on twitter. That leaves allowing for it to happen naturally — i.e responding publicly, the way the question was asked and see who pipes up. You never know what hidden gems you’ve got in your following until you let them know what you’re talking about and who else may be able to participate.
Proof of this came to me a few weeks back at Masquertweet, and I fully expect it to happen again at #MNH —
I had a few, personally great moments at the event. The first of course being able to help 12for12K raise money for their July charity Eye Care for Kids.
The other joy, mostly unnoticed by others thanks to my mask, was seeing people I had been talking to for months and had introduced to each other online finally meet each other in person, and have real conversations about work, play and everything in between — without me doing any sort of weird twitter-matchmaker handholding. Some of them even making individual plans to get together and continue their conversations following the event. These were connections that may not have happened but for my introduction and I have no doubt that I was able to make those introductions because I chat up everyone publicly and allow the possibility that my followers will find each other interesting separate and apart from me.
This even took place NOT at an event
— by leaving the door open for the possibility of a natural friendship to develop between two agencies I knew individually and had introduced to each other a new, hopefully life-long bond, has been forged. A connection (among many others) which fills me with joy each time I see any of them @, RT or #FF the other.
I’m not a big believer in #Followfriday, but each time I’m included in a #FF grouping and every other name I see is one I know, and I recognize introductions I’ve made, I glow a little bit. If these two (or more) random people have connected and like each other enough to now pay attention to each other (and become friends), and I was in some small way a part of that process it’s makes my Friday and my twitter life just that bit better.
Just my own $0.02.