Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three months of Tweeting

africaeconomist spent nearly three active months in the Twitterverse. This is a short account of my experiences and might be informative to those who may think whether it is really worth the effort (like myself 3 months ago).

Statistics. Send out 272 tweets, 4.6 tweets per day, most early morning before 9am.
My top 5 Twitter words are: icio (referral from delicious account), climate, copenhagen, china and oil. Africa does not follow far behind. This does not surprise me at all. The focus of my work is on Africa's development challenge, with a specific interest in the intersection of economy, development and ecology. Trends in 'oil', 'climate' and 'china' will certainly have a profound impact on Africa's development trajectory in future.

Time. It takes time, but not nearly as much as I thought. If one is used to RSS reading and blogging, to Tweet does not come at a lot of additional effort.

Content. I am very surprised in the good content people generally tweet about. Twitter offers far much than the " I feel gloomy today, and you?" kind of conversations. I still rely a lot on RSS feeds though. Most disciplinary journals have also not joined the Tweeting yet.

Twitter has without doubt changed the way information flows and does have an impact on how we learn. It can support collaboration and understanding. It does come with new responsibilities though. Deep thinking, consulting, researching and Twittering at the same time requires discipline. Technological addiction looms everywhere and Twitter addiction is no exception.

How some people can honestly keep up with thousands of tweets still remains a mystery to me. Maybe the objective is not to collaborate or to be better informed. With all those lists and rankings on performance already available online status is probably part of the answer.

The Twitter elite, however, seems to be mainly organisations and people in the business of communication - containing many news agencies and marketeers. For them, it is part of the job, and Twitter provides just another outlet. Hats of to them who have carved out a niche in an area of 75 million accounts and 15 million active Tweeters.

These numbers sound impressive, but are still much less than other social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Slack growth in Twitter do raise concern about marginalization though. I'll certainly keep an eye on that.

Image: dewaldp


Gerhard Buttner said...

Twitter is one of those strange tools. Those who have something specific to promote - like a website, product etc. - AND the time to build up a good follower circle can probably make good use of it.

However the fact that big media and businesses dominate it with full-time professional communicators, shows that in reality the internet (including web 2.0) does not really level the playing fields. The power relations and hierarchies of society are often just mirrored in the virtual world.

Martin de Wit said...

Every social network has its own strengths and weaknesses and I try to utilise each within a broader strategy. Facebook is not part of the strategy. It does not serve professionals enough and does not aim to be. LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging is. These tools provide a means to be informed and engaged, as well as a space to build up solid online content.