Talking tech since 2003

People all over the web are praising Twitter and the power and potential of retweeting and I’m not going to lie, I think Twitter is great (I praised it here for helping me spread the word).  I use it to connect with people and push content all the time, but lets be real here are you (most people, including myself) actually being heard?  I mean, seriously, are we being heard for real.

There are a few break out examples recently where Twitter has proven to be quite the communication (spreading the word) tool such as the Iran election situation and talking about Michael Jackson’s death, but these stories didn’t necessarily originate on Twitter itself, but rather, resonated within the echo chamber.  And honestly, how many people actually read each and every tweet in the trending topics?  I sure don’t, and I’m sure it’s the same for almost everyone because by the time it gets into the trending topics there is just too many and they all pretty much say the same thing anyway.

What I believe to be happening on Twitter is quite simple.  It appears currently that Twitter continues to grow and traffic is increasing, but, Twitter still has a hard time holding onto users.  As the recent studies show 60% leave within a month and 43% of users say they can live without Twitter.  Therefore, user loyalty is very low and perhaps people are just using it because it’s a fad.

But, assuming it isn’t just a fad and that it is here to stay, on average most Twitter users only have 28 followers and follow a mere 32 other people.  Seriously, what is the chance you will be heard with only 28 followers via a retweet, it’s slim to none.  I have approximately 1,200 followers and way less than 1% retweet me on an average daily basis or even acknowledge my existence.  My point is this, yes, Twitter is great for communicating (spreading the word), but it isn’t a realistic way (at least on a large scale) to make yourself heard (see reasons below).

  1. Most of the stuff retweeted is from the same sources every time and they are typically a suggested user, one with a mass following, or someone (or a company) doing some kind of great giveaway such as the recent iPhone a day for 30 days by SquareSpace and Moonfruit’s 10 day Macbook Pro giveaway.
  2. If you’re (re)tweeting about the same thing as everyone else you probably have an even slimmer chance of being seen or heard as your tweet will get lost in the echo chamber.
  3. Even if you have a great tweet or information to share, you are limited by the people who follow you (currently because real-time search isn’t there yet).  It is a complete road block, especially if not even one of them retweets you, then you have literally no chance.

I guess the Twitter society is pretty similar to the real life society we live in every day. Not everyone is heard, the only people (groups) heard are the ones with the largest numbers and biggest influence. I’m not sure on the exact statistics and ratios for the previous statement but it would definitely be an interesting study. Nonetheless, people (including myself) should probably stop making Twitter out to be some machine that every day people can make a difference (be heard, get their word out) with, because, in actuality, they can’t. Until we see some real-time search engines (or tools) that filter out the noise from the echo chamber and allow for every day people to be heard via Twitter then I don’t think the Twittersphere is any different from real life society.  Then again, Twitter may not even have been thinking about people using it for this type of thing so maybe that’s why it wasn’t (and still isn’t) built as such.

Now I guess it’s up to you (the reader) to retweet this article for me. We shall see how it turns out.

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