Twitter Not Very Social

by Vered DeLeeuw

Were you surprised to learn that Twitter users are more into broadcasting and less into networking? Anyone who’s been on Twitter for longer than a week can see that most people use Twitter to share links with others or to report on their activities – Twitter is not a very interactive platform despite built-in tools such as “reply” and “retweet.”

The research found that the vast majority of Twitter relationships are not reciprocal – people follow people who do not follow them back. Many people on Twitter follow news channels and celebrities, and those by definition do not follow back. In my space, many B2B companies choose to follow influencers such as tech analysts and those too do not generally follow back.

The result is that Twitter functions as a broadcasting network rather than as a social network where people actually interact with each other. Twitter users produce – and consume – information.

Not too long ago, there was a Twitter survey that was posted on the Twitter sidebar – have you seen it? The survey asked: “What is your primary motivation for using Twitter?”
And gave three options:
Sharing information
Consuming information
Connecting with other people

It seems as if the answer is now clear: most people on Twitter either share or consume, and only a minority see Twitter as a tool for connecting with other people.

So is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but when using a social media platform it’s important to be aware of how it is used by others and to be conscious of its limitations and of what it can, and cannot, do for your business.

Social media is often about people shouting self-serving messages at each other rather than actually engaging in discussions, so there’s certainly a gap between the vision and reality, but if we are willing to agree that Twitter still provides value, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing nor is it a good thing – it’s just the way it is and as always in marketing (and in life) we should do the most with the tools we’ve got.

So what does it mean for you? As a company, your goal is obviously to produce information and to broadcast it to people who would hopefully be interested in consuming that information.

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