What an engagement taught me about Twitter

Twitter, like other social networks before it, seems to be turning into a popularity contest.  It seems to be about how many followers you can get and how quickly.  The more followers you have the more influential you are right?  I’m off that idea.

In the initial stages of growth, Twitter for me was about enjoying sharing content, listening, responding and engaging with like minded individuals.  It was fun, and it still is.  For me it’s not about the number of followers but what learning and enjoyment I can get from the network.

I love a debate about a football match using hashtags.  I have my regular followers that I like to listen and respond to, and of course I love using Twitter as a search mechanism to hear the latest breaking news.

But my following has slowed.  And I hear everyone talking about how many followers you have.  Should I care?

Sure maybe I’m jaded because my twitter friend growth has been slow and organic.  I’m around the 700+ mark I think.  But I don’t really care to be honest.  I don’t really care for my influence.  Sure I’ve checked Kudo’s to see what they think, but it’s not really that interesting to me.

Unfortunately, as Twitter gains maturity, in come the marketers and spammers, who use the network as a megaphone for the mindless tweeting.  You know these folks.  They RT everything and have automated messages set up to simply republish the great work of everyone and anyone before them.  They don’t listen, they shout and talk over everyone. They then preach about how many followers they have.  Yippee doo da.

You can even buy followers by the thousands if you really want.  Just like in the old days when you could buy song plays on myspace.  I know because I did it.  What an idiot.  Paying for popularity.

So I tend to filter my account so I can see only the people who are relevant to me.  Those that reply and share things that I’m genuinely interested in.

There are a number of ways to measure your influence, (many use scientific tools like Kudo’s) but the simplest 3 methods for me are:

1) How many people reply to you when you tweet something – use your brain.  I think they call it a conversation.

2) How many clicks do you have from your tweets – Use Hootsuite when tweeting to get your stats on twitter links.  If I say so, and people click it, maybe I’m interesting.

3) How many people visit your website from twitter – use Google Analytics to find this.  If I’m intriguing enough maybe someone will show some interest and want to come back to my place and hangout.

I always make it seem like it’s a social gathering.  When I speak do people listen?  If they don’t then I’d probably walk away.   If I make recommendations do some of them try it out?  If not I wouldn’t make recommendations anymore.

So back to my engagement.  I decided that because my girlfriend was not on twitter, I’d announce my plans to get engaged an hour before the event, for a bit of fun.  What I didn’t realise was the number of responses I’d get!

Here’s the evidence as a screen shot.

My tweets that day – Read in reverse order.

My @replies

Do you know what is interesting about this.  Most of these people I know offline.  I’m either connected to them via work, family or friends.  For me it’s not about the number of followers, it’s about connecting, sharing, listening and responding. And of course it’s about having fun.


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