The Toro 22″ Recycler–a lawn-mowing machine.
Mowing my lawn allows me two hours of uninterrupted thinking time. Often, I’ve developed and framed ideas that eventually became blog posts, like this one.
Yesterday afternoon, with the late afternoon fall shadows casting and covering most of my two-acre lawn, I was contemplating Twitter (of all things) while pushing and cajoling my Toro 22” Recycler around my grassy knoll. I was also hoping that this would be one of the last times I have to do this ‘til the spring, especially anticipating the forecasted, first hard frost that evening. Mainly, I was pondering why Twitter still seems so unfathomable for people that consider themselves social media savvy, mainly because they maintain a Facebook page.
I’m not bashing Facebook. It is the most social of the social networking platforms, so I get why people spend significant time following friends and sharing updates. Still, I don’t understand why so many people, when asked about whether they have a Twitter account and tweet, almost always say, “I don’t understand (or get) Twitter.” They’re already onboard with social media, yet Twitter seems foreign to them.
More often than not, these same people are college-educated, mid-level, or upper-level managers and business professionals. They’re smart, good at what they do, but when it comes to Twitter, they don’t have a freakin’ clue.
Two weeks ago, I was at yet another national conference where the majority of conferees weren’t on Twitter. The conference organizers had set up a hashtag, beforehand, so I was expecting big things.
On the second night, I attempted a tweetup that was an utter failure. At first, I thought it was because people were frightened by my profile pic, but then, I realized that only 10-15 people (out of 500) were tweeting. This really surprised me. It also meant that the blogging I was doing from the conference was unknown to the attendees, who obviously had an interest in the topics I was blogging about.
The flipside of this was the national conference I went to in April, where the attendees were librarians. This was a tech-savvy, or better, Twitter-savvy crew and as a result, the hashtag got tons of traffic and my blog stats went through the roof. Twitter is a great tool for connecting people with similar interests. It also is free (in my opinion) of some of the negative characteristics of Facebook—mainly making you feel like you are back in high school.
Expanding a bit on my Twitter riff and my musings about a stratum of the social media universe, I began thinking about other Twitter users. Are there other Twitter users like me; writers, who tweet and blog regularly?
I use Twitter regularly (at least by my own estimation), but when I ran my Twitter brand through a tool called Twitalyzer, it indicated that I was a “casual” user according to their analytics. Using Twitalyzer’s definition, “casual users are exactly that, individuals who drop in and out of Twitter on a whim, treating the network as a social channel when it suits their needs.” That would be me, so this tool was accurate, at least defining my own personal usage.
This piqued my interest. I wanted to compare myself with someone who I’m following on Twitter, someone with more followers and who I consider a frequent user. I chose Rich Brooks, or @therichbrooks, a Maine social media user who I think is pretty active, social media savvy, and he’s a zombie hunter to boot. According to Twitalyzer, Rich is a “reporter.” Reporters “are likely to communicate outwardly but often don’t generate a specific response from their network.”
For a Maine-based social media figure, Rich casts a lengthy shadow, with 6,000+ followers. That’s a substantial number, and 10 times my own number of followers. My curiosity growing, what about a mega rock star, like Seth Godin?
Twitalyzer ranks Godin as a “socialite,” which was interesting to me. Seth has 212,000+ followers, but he follows no one. So, to be called a socialite meaning “highly engaged Twitter users who are as likely to respond to conversation as they are to instigate,” would mean Seth engages/responds to his followers. Since he has none to engage with, and since it seems like he uses Twitter to cast his blog posts to the wind only—not have a dialogue—this Twitalyzer definition seemed dubious, at best. Godin could even be considered self-serving in the way he engages on Twitter. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seemed out of line, even by Twitalyzer’s definition, and especially when considering that many so-called social media experts counsel new Twitter users to engage and would advise against behavior like Godin’s, which is one-way. But who am I to argue with the likes of Godin and Brooks?
Please don’t misunderstand me, here; I am a huge fan of Seth Godin–it’s just that something seems a bit off-kilter with this tool in relation to Godin and how he uses Twitter.
Perhaps more interesting for me and my own understanding, what kind of ranking, or how would I fare in comparisons with social media users who also blog? Was there a way for me to analyze this?
I’ve been blogging since 2004. Over that period, I’ve posted more than 1,500 times, all of them significantly longer than 140 characters. Blogging is more time consuming. I’d also argue that it’s intellectually tougher than tweeting when you are crafting a 500, 1,000, or even, 1,500-word blog post about a subject, rather than merely reacting or puking an opinion on Twitter. I’m not criticizing 140-character tweets—I’ve posted more than 1,600 of them and enjoy engaging on Twitter.
Casual user, or not, I’m guessing that the field gets winnowed down considerably, even among the Twitterati, especially when you begin comparing tweets, blog posts, books written, and words compiled. One prolific blogger who comes to mind, who tweets and uses social media in a savvy manner, is Laurie Ruettimann. I know there are others. But she doesn’t have any books published to date. I’ve mentioned to her she should write one–she has plenty of blogging content and helpful information to draw from.
There are writers who blog, bloggers who tweet, and tweeters who blog and write, and I’m sure who have books they’ve published. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a tool that would allow me to make that kind of semi-scientific comparison.
Two birds, tweeting.