Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wherein I talk about Twitter

(Sorry, I know this one is going to be very "inside baseball.")

I don't know if you're on twitter. I mean, I am, but I don't expect everyone to be. And this one is basically one that's been festering in my head for the past day.
Yesterday my tweet stream was filled with people tweeting their Twifficiency score. It didn't make me as crazy as it did some people. Turned out, it was a 17 year old, who had written the program to test a twitter feature. And that's actually really great. What he forgot to do was set it so that it didn't automatically tweet your score to all and sundry.
Or explain what the metric it was measuring. And that's what caught my attention.
What Twifficiency measures is
your "twitter efficiency" based on "how many people you follow, how many people follow you, how often you tweet and how many tweets you read."

That is from this article: Twifficiency, By James Cunningham: Better Than A College Diploma?.

What annoyed me over the course of the day was relatively well known people tweeting their score and then saying, "what, why is my percentage so low?" Well, here's the thing, one of the metrics twifficiency measured is how many people you follow, not just how many people follow you. And there are tons of people out there who are followed but don't follow back. And that's their prerogative. I'm honestly not saying that anyone has to follow me. I do fine.

See, here's what I believe. And it is only my belief. Twitter is supposed to be a conversation, not a one way street. When people follow me, I look at their stream and see if they tweet broadcast or if they actually engage. And if they engage with people, I'll follow back. That makes it fun for me.

Back to twifficiency. In the sake of full disclosure, I did check and see what mine is. I did it late in the day, when he'd tweaked the code so that it didn't automatically tweet it to everyone. My score was 44%. Which mean's "You have a good balance between Twitter and other things, this should serve you well." Okay. Sure. I tend to be pretty chatty on twitter. I reply to people who say things that interest me and I reply to people who tweet me. And I follow more people than follow me. Though I don't follow everyone who follows me. And I'm still under 50% efficient.
So for the people who have 3,000 or 30,000 or 3,000,000 followers and only follow a handful, well, that's why your score was 4%.
It's a conversation. Try it sometime. It's fun.


Christina said...

Heh - thanks for digging into this. The annoying tweets did bug me, but that's because I always read twitter in these 2-3 hour chunks of time (always late to the party you see) and it's frustrating when everyone is sending the same damn thing & it really means nothing to me.

However, I totally agree with your larger point! If that was the algorithm, then yeah, get a clue people! Low scores mean you are talking AT us vs WITH us.

shayera said...

I can definitely see it being horrible if you read twitter in chunks. It would have driven me over the wall.
I don't want anyone to think I'm whining about people not following me. But it made me so mad to see people acting like they were being disrespected in some way. "I tweet all the time." Yup, sure you do. But you follow 12 people. And have 5000 followers.

Demeur said...

I was on twitter and facebook for about a day and a half. My advice: Put down the cell phone quit the browser and go out and actually talk to people. What's going to happen when they develop the technology where you don't even need to type on a keyboard? You'll see people sitting there staring into space like a bunch of drugged up zombies.

opendna said...

The idea that there are so many high profile, "high influence" people without the remedial skills required to understand the "metric"... well, that frightens me.