Posted by: gisspar | April 18, 2009

Brief History of Tweeting

And I mean very brief – just about 10 days. As I noted here, I started tweeting more as a productivity tool than as a way of keeping up to date on every little thing in everyone’s lives. So gaining followers was not really an issue. But the ego is a fragile thing and seeing ‘0 followers’ began to weigh a little heavier every day. And then I got a follower. Anonymous validation! I could do no wrong. But by the end of the next day, my world came crashing down – my follower abandoned me. I was reeling. What went wrong? Had I tweeted too much? Too little? Should I not mention the Smiths? Mention the Smiths more? I was left questioning every last character.

But I soldiered on, reminding myself that it wasn’t about you. I kept tweeting. After a few days, I picked up another follower. I tried to keep my excitement in check; this new follower could turn out to be as fickle as the other. I decided to focus on the delicious baked goodness of AlbionsOven and not look over at the information column. My patience was rewarded – in short order, I had acquired 2 more followers. I was moving up in the twittisphere. Until I made a mistake. My workday disintegrated into panicked meetings; I had lost my source of developer angst. And without my iPod, I could no longer supply pithy comments about pop music and programming tasks. I started to think “I need to tweet something. I have to let the world know I haven’t forgotten them.” And another follower disappeared. I was hurt, but I took it better the second time. After all, tweeters are fickle, ephemeral beings just trying to keep their heads above water in the tidal wave of chatter.

What we’ve learned about tweeting:

  • combining music with developer tidbits – good
  • commenting on everything BSG related – good
  • mentioning plants – bad
  • mentioning anything personal (like your plants) – bad
  • commenting on obscure cultural references, especially those that combine snark with geekitude – good

So tweeting about what you are actually doing, if you are not being followed by everyone you know, confuses and upsets anonymous followers. Which I find somewhat counter-intuitive – after all, isn’t that the point of tweeting? To annoy the world and everyone in it with every little thought that floats between your ears? 

I thought I’d see if I could find some stats about twitter. And it looks like I am not alone in that quest – if you start typing ‘twitter average number of followers’ you will note that that particular phrase was googled over 150,000 times. Put ‘twitter’ between ‘of’ and ‘followers’ and that adds another 150,000. Anyway, that led to this site discussing twitter stats as of last year (obviously things have changed a bit since then). A few of the stats relevant to here:

35% of tweeters have 10 or fewer followers
9% of tweeters don’t follow anyone at all
the average number of followers for all tweeters is 70 

So I’m not feeling so bad about my defectors. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have added and dropped tweeters a few times, sometimes within 10 minutes of adding them. So I’ll apologize to those tweeters for sending you on an emotional roller coaster.



%d bloggers like this: