Apr 3, 2008
csalomonlee

Is Twitter Just a Popularity Contest?

ConversationI’ve been thinking about this recently. I notice that certain folks seem to have very active, two-way conversations or multi-person chats on Twitter. Sometimes, I engage in a conversation with someone about an upcoming event or meeting up. 

What I’m talking about are the extensive conversations amongst multiple folks. This has only happened once when I asked folks about PR agency retainers. But when I do try to get a conversation going, I hear nothing but crickets. 

I then tried a very unscientific experiment. I posted a question about Social Media releases vs. traditional releases on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Which was the best? LinkedIn. I had THIRTEEN responses which then extended into private email conversations about people’s responses.  

On Twitter, my question could’ve disappeared BEFORE people had a chance to see it. Whereas on LinkedIn, people could stumble upon the question over a period of hours and days. 

This leads me to ask, is all this talk about conversations on Twitter isolated to only “popular” tweeters? The more who follow Those who have more followed the are more likely to get responses and start a conversation?

Or is it just a function of who’s online, who’s listening, and who’s willing to respond? 

So what do you think – Is Twitter just a popularity contest? 

 

10 Comments

  • Why is it that people like Aston Kutcher, and Martha Stewart brag how many people follow them on Twitter if it is not just a contest among the celebs to see who can get more people to follow.?
    I deleted my twitter account because it was a complete wast of my time.

  • I like this article very much. I do feel in a way it is not only a popularity contest, but also whoever spams more, gets more. I wrote more about this in my blog. Check it out and let me know what you guys think!!

    http://www.infiniden.com/blog/?p=49

  • @Tony True. For me, I’m using twitter, linkedin and facebook (to a degree) from a more professional perspective. I looking for information that helps me in my day-to-day job, which can then EXTEND into a more casual conversation about food, wine, etc.

  • I’m not you, so I don’t know at what moment you remove someone who only talks about what they eat. Unless, of course, they eat some really cool food or at some really great restaurants – and they share that information with you. That, for me, is still the key. The sharing of the information.

    Thanks.

    Tony Katz
    http://www.aweli.com

  • Thanks everyone. What I’m realizing is that the transitory nature of Twitter updates requires posting a questions 2 or 3 times in order to get responses. Maybe I’m just too impatient =)

    @ Maurrean – you’re right. some folks lurk because they want to hear what people are doing/saying. It’s like when you first start reading a blog. You don’t jump in and comment on everything. You read, interpret and then maybe participate.

    @ Tony, you said “For me, Twitter is not about proving my social relevance, but about engaging in worthwhile dialogues with others.” Again true. At what point do I “unfollow” someone who only writes about what they eat and what they’re listening to on the radio?

    @Shany, I like your point about “300 followers doesn’t mean a whole lot if they don’t provide you with meaningful information.”

  • Personally, I don’t believe it is a popularity contest. Having 300 followers doesn’t mean a whole lot if they don’t provide you with meaningful information. It is more about engaging a group of people that have your same interests or deal in a similar industry. That seems to be the way to get the conversation going. For example, I am following a group of network security tweets and they are providing real-time updates to the RSA conference that is happening this week. Its all about give and take.

    Shany
    http://www.gotostrategic.com
    http://twitter.com/sseawright

  • Is Twitter Just a Popularity Contest? « PR Meets Marketing…

    Who responds to Twitter? Is this only for “popular” folks? A post that takes an unscientific look at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn….

  • My answer to your question -

    There are those who are using Twitter to prove their own popularity or, more to the point, their own relevance. They have to. It’s part of their job in the new media/social media/pick your buzz word media space. They have to prove they are relevant to prove to some investor, sponsor, partner that they are worth the money they get paid or that they should get paid in the first place. Then, they have to prove their relevance by being everywhere at all times so that others will follow them….it’s a vicious cycle, and no, it does not lend itself to a true conversation.

    I recently tweeted (http://twitter.com/tonykatz/statuses/782871208) that those who don’t follow me, and engage in the conversation with me, will be dropped. For me, Twitter is not about proving my social relevance, but about engaging in worthwhile dialogues with others. I look at it in this way: Some people just want to be heard….I want to understand and be understood. Their way is not a two way street, and those people are not worth the time, no matter how “popular” they try to prove to me they are.

    Lastly, I found you on Twitter via Scott Monty (http://twitter.com/scottmonty). He’s a really good guy. I will be adding you to Twitter. I hope you will do the same.

    Tony Katz
    http://www.aweli.com

  • No, Twitter is not a popularity contest for me – at least that’s not how I see it and use it. For example, I don’t follow you, but I do follow Jeremiah. He mentioned you, and here I am.

    Jeremiah, and many, many more post tons of information that is relavant to what I’m trying to learn. I spend more than 1/2 my time ‘on’ twitter checking out links that others’ post.

    Regarding what questions/propositions get picked up on Twitter, it seems to be rather flighty. Sometimes people just want to talk about mind candy such as the future of Dunkin Donuts rather than trying to resolve abstract issues.

    Also, I guess what you could classify as a ‘lurker’, I’m on Twitter more often than I would ever admit, but may only comment a few times, and even then most of my posts aren’t terribly engaging. Again, it’s my tendancy to search for relavant content that will make me smarter and better able to communicate about sm.

  • Not really just for the popular, although I do think that those who put more time into it develop more *relationships* that induce comments and replies.

    This has more to do with the way Twitter is set up. I have posted my LinkedIn profile three times today, and received between 4-8 connections each time. It really does depend on how many people each user is following, and whether followers even see your post. Posts FLY by for those who follow many.

    When I ask for support for my blog, I get it every time. You absolutely have to repeat requests frequently to get a lot of responses, since posts scroll by so quickly and most people just don’t scroll back.

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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