Wednesday, 10 March 2010

12 Months of Tweeting

I find it hard to believe I've been knocking about/wasting time on Twitter for a year. To mark the occasion here are a collection of posts written over the last year to try and make sense of it:

Twitter as a symptom of "Broken Britain"
Twitter and Politics
Daniel Hannan, the NHS and Twitter
Social Media and Business
Twitter Vs Trafigura
Stephen Gately, Twitter and the media bubble
Rage Against the Machine and Internet Radicalism
Top 100 Tweeting Bloggers

There are a couple of other things I'd like to touch on.

Firstly, it has changed the way how I experience the internet. My Twitter feed acts as a one stop shop for news, latest blog posts from others, short commentary on current affairs, gossip, critiques, and banter. It might be hyperbole to describe it as consciousness-changing stuff but via Twitter you can feel plugged into a collective thought process. Nothing else offers a better snap shot of what a particular population (in my case, socialists, activists and bloggers) are thinking.

Second, it's difficult to say how Twitter has impacted on the fortunes of this blog. At the moment my account,
@averyps has 1,264 followers. In Twitter terms that is a lot. According to a (dated) report from social media firm Sysomos, almost 94% of users have 100 or fewer followers. But as you can see from the top 100 list of blogging tweeters above this number is chicken feed compared to some.

I tweet every new blog post, but generally they bring in less of an audience than incoming links from
Socialist Unity and Dave Osler. But I did say generally. If you post something and tweet quickly on breaking news, that can drive traffic your way. For instance, my recent post on Michael Foot appeared a couple of hours after his death was reported. It attracted a higher than average number of visits from Twitter but had it appeared earlier I'm convinced more would have dropped by. Another example was my my defence of No2EU. This appeared and was promoted on Twitter at the time there was a real frenzy over the election of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, and some were pointing the finger at No2EU for letting the fascists in.

So using Twitter for blog promotion is not unproblematic. It's never a case of tweet it and they will visit. If you want to maximise visitors, you have to take the time to get a feel for your followers.

Third, while Twitter followers do not automatically translate into viewing figures for your blog it can raise your profile and promote name recognition. I imagine most Twitter users take an interest in who's following them. Every time my followers increase I look to see who's given me a punt. If they're obviously a spammer or a self-proclaimed social media guru I don't bother investigating further. But if they're a political person with a link to their site I always click through. I might not end up following them but at least I have an idea of what they're up to. And I imagine the reverse happens every time I follow a new person.

So there are a few reflections on my one year on Twitter. I'd be interested to hear what readers think about their experiences - has it helped your blogging? Has it made networking between activists easier? Has it helped change your political views in some way? Or do you find it all bewildering and/or pointless?


Hannah Mudge said...

From my point of view Twitter has made a big impact on peo-ple reading my blog posts and also the way i'm able to network. I've been able to chat with people, discover blogs and respond to issues a lot better because of information provided through tweets - and when i've done a particularly popular blog post it always gets a lot of hits from retweets etc. I really appreciate the networking opportunities Twitter has provided - I was able to meet up with some fellow feminist bloggers at the weekend which would not have happened without me becoming acquainted with them through the site.

Phil said...

I completely agree. Weak ties forged around common ideas have always been important for the left. Twitter, Facebook and other social media amplifies its reach and will (hopefully) ensure radical politics isn't ghettoised to the extent it has been in the past.

thinkingdifference said...

Well, how do you get people to link to your twits in the first place? Doesn't it come down to finding a like-minded community and sharing things with them, just as you do with blogs? I find it hard to believe that just by reading a twit you will (radically) change your political views...

Matt Wardman said...

Three thoughts, Phil. I see the most important points about Twitter as being about the possibility of precise targeting (like blogs and narrow niches) and permeability rather than mass mobilisation, though the two do go hand in hand inevitably.

I see Twitter as doing to blogs what blogs did to news; interaction moves more quickly, and that creates a different style of relationship.

It also creates the ability to out react people - I'd point to @tom_watson's lightening consultation on Extreme Pornography policy at one stage which turned around in a couple of days.

And - this is probably more up the left street - for campaigning social media acts as a targeted radar as well as an amplifier. You get access to everybody else's information base as well as your own. In one campaign I was in, we were just able to ask for information as to what x was doing abroad, and the information - and an interpretation of what it meant legally - just seemed to appear.

A nice analogy is that a parabolic lens be a magnifier (telescope) to watch detail, but also a spotlight when used the other way round.

On permeability, I mean the gradual breakdown of the high walls around access to forms of media, and - I hope - the same process around Westminster Village politics.