After nearly a full year on twitter (and 2180 tweets unleashed on up to 450 followers), I may have lost some of that gushing enthusiasm expressed in my twitter 101, but I’m still sticking with it.
Since my last post on this topic, I noticed a few changes in the general atmosphere in twitter, which, I think, are all going into the direction of bringing the new medium, which was amazingly democratic in its early days, into line with the rest of society (which, as someone once remarked, is partitioned into celebrities who appear on TV, yuppies who produce TV, and morons who watch TV – you may replace “TV” with any other established medium, of course).
I definitely noticed that my offerings, as those of a non-celebrity, are now finding less attention than they got last year. There was a time when any link I posted would get at least seven clicks within a few minutes (this was when I had only some 100-150 followers, so it meant that at any given time 5% of them were paying attention, which I found quite intriguing, and which may mean that some of the attentive followers were robots). This response rate fell away steeply; soon I could count myself lucky if there were two clicks, which is why I stopped checking. From following the traffic on my blog I can also confirm that I hardly ever have incoming traffic from twitter these days.
Simultaneously, the follow-back rate has worsened as well, turning twitter into a one-way medium much like the old media. An increasing number of people who aren’t actually famous in any meaningful sense of the word seem to be using twitter mainly as a way to broadcast to their fans without following back or paying any attention to those unfortunate tweeps who may be slightly lower in the pecking order than they are. Using friendorfollow.com I have discovered that a shocking number of fellow science writers have never followed back, even if I have retweeted some of their tweets or helped them in some way. As I started building up an unhealthy excess of followees over followers, I have had to unfollow some of those who didn’t follow back.
These moans aside, though, twitter still comes up with stimulating insights every day, and the number of two-way connections is also growing slowly but steadily, so all is not lost. There’s always the hope that one makes it into the ranks of those whose posts are actually read and retweeted.
PS my twitter ID is: @michaelgrr
PPS (20.7.) Just came across this nice blog entry by Jonah Lehrer, on why it makes sense to follow random strangers. Couldn't agree more - and am in fact following quite a large number of people from very different backgrounds, who only have one thing in common: they all use twitter.