Twitter is not a Party

In a previous post, I was using the analogy of a party to describe different social media sites. But Twitter(and FriendFeed)is no party.
That does not meant that they are work. The difference is that where most social media sites are defined by the content shared by the people who gather there and the way(s) in which they interact, Twitter (and FriendFeed ( last time in parenthesis.. just imply it from now on, ok??)) is a framework for interaction.
Twitter has thousands of little (and big) parties all happening at once, with just a enough of a dimensional shift to keep them from colliding, but not adverse to the occasional inter dimensional tesseract. On Twitter, at any one point in time, you will find business meetings, creative collaborations, Q&A, games, help sessions, therapy, networking,old friends, new friends and flirtations. You can participate in as many ( or as few) of those interaction types as you like. There is NO “right way” to behave on Twitter.
Yes, there are business deals on Facebook and yes, there are even some old friends hooking up on LinkedIn. But those are the outliers, the people bucking the unspoken social consensus of why those sites exist.
On Twitter? There is no consensus for the raison d’etre for the twitterverse. Stop worrying about if you are using it right or wrong, find your way, create something new and make it fit your needs. The only caution I will give you is to know your audience and expect some push back and resistance to some of the things you try. That is fine. We all have personal tastes and preferences. That is part of what makes Twitter an interesting place. Personally? I am not in favor of inline advertising tweets like Magpie. My choice. I am not going to tell you are you not allowed, or you are “doing Twitter wrong” if you choose to participate. Maybe you have a group of people who really like it. I can un-follow those whose tweets I do not enjoy. I can not keep them off of Twitter.
People will try to tell you there is a “right ratio” of following to followers, or that if you follow too many people, you are “not true to the spirit of Twitter”. Balderdash, I say. Use the ratios that work for you, choose compatriots who agree. Feel free to express an opinion about how you like it and why, but don’t try to tell everyone else they are wrong if they are different or try to insist that they be like you.
My current pet peeve is tweeple who insist that you can not be friends with more than 25 ( or 50, or 100, or 501…) people. Thus, if you are following “too many” people, you are breaking “the rules”. I say they are right, everyone has a limit to how many real friends they can maintain. But they are wrong about following on Twitter and they just don’t get it. Not everyone I am following is my friend. Some of the “people” I am following are news feeds. I don’t interact (much, I do occasionally correct a news feed)with those tweeps. Some of the tweeps I am following just amuse me. They are not friends, I hardly ever respond.. but they make me smile. Some of the folks I follow are those with interests or hobbies that overlap mine. I do not interact with all of their posts and I have no idea how many kids they have, or what they had for dinner. I read through for the references to the interest we share and exchange information with them on that one topic. Sometimes the relationships grown from there, but not always. Some of the amazing people I follow have become friends. We chat, we DM, we interact off and on all day long. None of those are the right or the wrong way to use Twitter. You probably have three others that I did not list. Those are all OK, as well.
Tweet as much as you like about “correct following ratios”, it is a free twitterverse. It will gain you like minded followers, and others who disagree will drift away and congregate elsewhere. This is the freedom that the Twitter infrastructure provides.
As recently as this past summer, there were no games on Twitter. Now I see several per day. Maybe you like them, maybe you hate them. Choose the folks you follow accordingly. Maybe you have the next great idea for the evolution of the Twitter game show.
How will you innovate Twitter to help it evolve to the next undreamed application?

3 thoughts on “Twitter is not a Party

  1. Yes. It’s everything, all the time. Take as much as you like and leave the rest.

  2. I like that Twitter is unstructured and freeform, unlike most social media sites. I also like that it can feed into Facebook as a status updater and aggregate them as a daily post on LJ to reach three “audiences” at once. I tend not to friend people I don’t know who follow tons of people… same as on Myspace, I do not want to just be an audience, I have to really think someone is interesting to add them.

  3. Well. I feel better about my Twitter-experimenting after reading this thoughtful personal analysis.Fellow Hoosier. Twittering. Blogging. Reading. Thinking. Writing.Experi-tweeting.

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