GSME #3 :: Hard Rain

This week has been full of revelations. The most significant one by far entails what’s now happening as I try and bend Twitter to my will in terms of views:

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Trying to force things to go your way on a platform where other people define the rules will not go well. I can pretend that it matters I’m dictating content, but inevitably the best work comes when that isn’t the case. Twitter is an immensely organic space, and that’s become more apparent to me now than at any point in my current progress. However, there are those who manipulate it to suit very specific ends, but to do this successfully requires a pretty high number of followers. I’m also beginning to suspect that the rumours over exactly how many accounts are run by real people may be true: the sensible people are already jumping ship and even the President of the United States has gone quieter than usual. If your job is to fool the robots and appease the people who are using Twitter as a chat client? You’ll need to know how both parties think and operate to succeed.

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The midweek blip you can see above was caused by this tweet, which was subsequently retweeted by Mr Jonathan Pie to his 50k followers. As you can see, engagement is pretty much woeful but the number of people who at least acknowledged the tweet is significant. That magic 5% is quite hard to hit with the more followers you possess, unless you’re pushing hard with pictures and means to draw individuals in. The timing is important too: after 9 hours the tweet was forgotten, useless as an advertising tool. This is an indicator to smart people that when you Tweet is almost as important as what is in it, and why understanding your audience is an important factor in guaranteeing long term success.

This also means that in a break from normal practice, I’m following people now whose sole task it is to sell Twitter as a way to be popular. These accounts effectively offer you filler for your own feed: the virtual equivalent of a well placed designer throw or a piece of important pottery by an upcoming artist on a shelf. The accounts that offer you inspirational quotes, funny asides and carefully-selected news articles do so entirely to fuel their own pretensions of grandeur, and the more retweets they can manage, the better becomes their reach. I’ve discovered that this is what people can also legitimately claim to be a ‘job’ though I’ll freely admit, talking to robots does not sound like my idea of fun.

However, undoubtedly there is money to be had, or else why else would all these people be so desperate to keep trying to up their followers?

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Last week’s lessons are simple: don’t try too hard. By far the best work I’ve done on this platform involves not sweating anything: in fact, the more spontaneous and organic I allow things to become, the better the return for my effort. What it also means is that I’ll be rethinking a few of my approaches to other stuff this week: I am spreading myself a bit too thin, and as writing for me is the main goal here (and not becoming a new media guru ahead of that) I’ll be dropping some plans that had been considered going forward. Also, I promise I won’t start filling my feed with pointless yet cleverly structured rubbish. All of my Tweets remain 100% home produced and farmed, with letters and words purely of my own devising.

That alone should make me unique in parts of this Community for some time to come.