This post has been sitting in draft for nearly 2 weeks now. It’s been added to and written about in different moods and moved around and pondered upon. It may not make cohesive sense but it’s time to bite the bullet and publish!!!
Obviously, the blog post title, like the cake, is a lie. I do care about Twitter, having used the service almost daily for over 2 years but sometimes you just have to let things out. Fair warning, this is just a grumpy rant – not necessarily a coherent argument – about the tool, just my feelings about it, so don’t let it put you off.
So where is this coming from? Primarily from reading lots of posts and tweets over the last few weeks that tries to define and argue about the ‘right’ way to use Twitter. Now, the common sense thing for me to do with this information is ignore it, to not care about it, but as I’m ranting about it in person at the moment, I thought I’d share it with the blog.
It started with a simple tweet exchange between me and Jeremy:
rachelclarke: sometimes, I think I’m doing Twitter all wrong. well, at least all different. Then remember I can use it how the hell I like!!!
jeremywright: @rachelclarke – shhhhhhh
rachelclarke: @jeremywright why? I want to SHOUT it. There’s NO right or wrong. I don’t have to follow you. I don’t have to say anything interesting,
jeremywright: @rachelclarke – And then it’ll be CHAOS! CHAOS I tell you!
rachelclarke: @jeremywright ahhh. understand now. I’ll go and whisper over here then :-p
Which sort of summarises my feelings about it. I look at lots of ‘experts’ and they all seem to be trying to tell me how to use Twitter, but how I, and you, use it is up to ourselves. So the first ‘I don’t care’. Which is I don’t care how you think I should use it, I’ll carry on using it the way that suits me.
Then there was another conversation over at Tris Hussey’s blog. where I came to the conclusion that not only do I dislike auto-DMs on a follow, but I dislike thankyou tweets in general. As I said in a comment, if someone thanks you after you follow them, doesn’t that mean that you have done them a favour? That they owe you something for following them. Here, the issue is that in my personal use of Twitter, I don’t look on the action of following me as a favour to me. I follow people for the benefit that I obtain from it, the ambient intimacy from friends, the chance of entertainment, the weird stalkiness bit of following the odd celebrity. So I assign the same rational to people who want to follow me. Don’t thank me for following you and don’t expect thanks back – and yes, I know how grumpy, selfish and non-altruistic this sounds but I use Twitter for me, not for ‘my community’ nor yours.
Celebrities on Twitter are interesting and provide endless entertainment – and not just because of the tweets from the celebrities. There’s at least 2 kinds of celebrity on the site, the internet famous and the real world famous. In the former category you can put people like @scobleizer, @chrisbrogan and @kevinrose. In the latter you have people like @wossy, @stephenfry and @mrskutcher (Demi Moore). But with both types, you can get an unfortunate set of fanboy behaviour, where almost every tweet is addressed to one or more of these celebrities, as people look for attention. Now, I do jollow a few of these and have answered a few of their queries but try and keep the cyberstalking to a minimum.
A few Friday night’s ago, Twitter in the UK was a source of endless entertainment as Fry and Ross discussed the service (briefly) on the TV – which led to further mentions on the BBC news and more newspaper articles. And then on Something for the Weekend and the radio and The One Show and lots of other programmes. This seemed to be a source of endless glee to many or a threat of doom and the end of the service. The odds of that happening is pretty low – and what seemed to be missing by many is that it does not matter how many people joined the service they can be completely ignored. Twitter is a permission based system, you don’t have to see anything unless you want to.
As Twitter goes through these periodic bursts of popularity and growth – and believe me, it’s now pretty mainstream in the UK – I keep being followed by people I don’t know. The odds of me following you back are pretty low at this point in time – see earlier post about why. But expectations of the ‘audience’ can be pretty high, as these tweets show:
Girlonetrack: Someone’s informed me they’ve unfollowed because I didn’t reply to their @. News: I get a LOT of @ s. Also: I have a life. Sorry about that.
gapingvoid: @1938media Somebody just sent me an a LONG email EXPLAINING why they’re unfollowing me on Twitter. Too funny…
There’s a whole bunch of people on the service now who use it to self-promote, not just celebrities who do tend to post ‘real stuff’ even if they are being followed by 10s of 1000’s, too many to interact with, but social media experts, SEO experts, sales guys etc, all jumping on a service that is hot and has proven success in increasing audience and relevance. Of course, what they forget is that for most people, they get that influence over a long period, not by joining and immediately following 2000 people.
There’s a lot of baffling behaviour out there, that can confuse, astound and amaze people who’ve been around for a while.
I go private, I still get a whole bunch of requests from a) social media idiots who appear to want to follow me because other people follow me, and b) people I don’t know who want to follow me in, presumably, a business sense, but don’t seem to have twigged that the danhon account is private for a reason – it’s about my personal life
A friend joined, and I noticed that his entire following list was of famous people with the exception of about 3 actual friends. Hehas a bit of a public profile, so to be honest, I looked in on what he was saying and didn’t bother following it up. The only “@” tweets in his list were replies to people he didn’t really seem to know. I haven’t seen a single message to an actual friend, about anything. And I realised that @StephenFry is the same. Isn’t that weird?
Now of course, their views are just as wrong – or right – as anyone else’s. That’s the joy about Twitter. It does not matter how you use it as long as how you use it matters to you. Join in, have fun, follow and @ and tweet about your breakfast, being stuck in a lift or how boring everyone else is. Post your affiliate links or your SEO guidelines or or your endless stream of links to blog posts or your blip lyrics or your Magpie ads or whatever else you want. I don’t care. You all have your reasons for using it as I have mine, just please don’t expect them to tally 😉