Why

To kick-start my Internet Month, it seemed like a good idea to start asking questions of the place in which we all live. I’ll be honest, it has begun better than could possibly have been expected.

Reading my feed today, someone made the comment that generalising about the bad in people seems to have become a fairly predictable means of guaranteeing retweets and follows, and I think he’s spot on. Outrage generally appears to be the order of the day for some, and responding to that fallout a predictable (and often just as pointless) upshot for many others. After one person’s made the point for you, there is no need to keep recycling moral indignation, yet that is exactly what happens. Looking for an antidote to this, I’ve decided for the next month to let the impetus out of my hands, trusting those around me to interact.

Then we see how many of that number are willing to have a discussion.

This message (and follow) today was as good a validation of the process that I could possibly have wished for. Sometimes, it isn’t simply about spewing random facts or ideas into the ether in the vain hope someone will be interested. What matters more is to find out what it is that motivates people away from the reasons they use Twitter in the first place, and to remind others that it is just as important to take part as to stand on the sidelines and watch.

Now all that has to happen is for me to provide the questions which will stimulate healthy debate and not start fights …

The GSME: Back in Time

On March 14th I decided, after a fair amount of consideration, to sign up for Twitter’s Promote Mode beta. I’ve spoken about this in previous GSME articles, that it could be a great idea for someone like me in order to advertise myself without having to worry about micromanaging a bunch of stuff through often unwieldy UI selection screens. I’m just over halfway through my first month, and honestly?

I’m beginning to grasp how much will have to change in my own feed to make this exercise worthwhile.

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In basic terms, this is exactly the same deal as Co-Promote used to offer, but for a lot more money. That system offered me a ‘vague’ target audience based on what was, at times, pretty inaccurate interest tagging. Twitter allows me to pick the part of the globe I can promote in, and 5 ‘areas’ in which these tweets get promoted. After that, I have no control over what gets picked. The algorithm then selects tweets, from my timeline, and off they go into the wider world: this has resulted in some quite amusing exchanges with random members of the public.

I might get some people take interest in my feed, I might also get the odd random follow, but I’m more likely than not to get someone tweeting me directly to ask ‘WTF is this tweet being promoted by Twitter?’ That’s been the overriding thing I’ve noticed. I might have 14% more people looking at my Tweets, but when most of the actual engagements are people calling me a c-word or telling me to fuck off? This is not either relevant or helpful. It means that ANYTHING I say or do in my timeline has to be an advert, or a way to sell myself, or indeed a combination of the two, and here’s where the bigger problem lies.

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I cannot say ANYTHING that isn’t targetted specifically at my audience, and lose the vital (and rather importantly) organic nature of how my growth took place initially. Sure, if I’m cute I can stack things up, and I can cut out the ‘irrelevant’ nattering that does often take place. However, this isn’t a true reflection of my feed either. Sometimes it is the spontaneous and brilliant which defines me, and having no say at all in what gets thrown out into the world is, quite frankly, less than brilliant.

However, the interactions I’ve had with WTF Joe Public are a demonstration that yes, people do read their feeds. So, this month I am considering the potential of exploiting this randomness, with full knowledge given to you guys well in advance. I should be turning a negative into a positive and using the bizarre nature of the algorithm to start selling my own random nature. It is time to find out whether I can begin to use the platform to promote myself, in a manner that befits the truly organic nature of Social media.

It is time for some new ideas.

#GSME18 :: Forget You

I did wonder at the end of last year whether Twitter would have a relevance for me in 2018. As it transpires, there’s more than ever to discuss in the world of Social media. 

It’s rather satisfying to see that the Real World [TM] is finally catching up with a truth many hardcore Twitter users have known for years. It’s the Social media equivalent of Gold Farming in online games: you wanna look cool and clever? Just buy the followers you need. This expose also explains why I’ve seen a significant drop off in followers from accounts a) clearly only looking for reach and b) randomly following me out of the blue. Sure, it still happens, but the practice is now finally being weeded out and shut down. Of course, you won’t stop the thing completely, but there is now at least an acknowledgement the practice takes place.

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The Tweetdeck platform now likes to tell me who other people on my Friends List are following presumably in the hope I’ll consider doing the same. However, I’ve started to consciously buck the trend of courting followers. At this point I have little or no interest in actively promoting myself using any of the platform’s tools: I’ve even ignored various invites to join the Beta of their ‘all in’ promotion tool. Right now I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, slowly removing followers I’m confident either aren’t real or who are detrimental to my mental health. Sometimes they fall in both camps, but the number of robots or automated accounts is beginning to level out. I’m now looking for clearly-curated streams, with a real person behind them, and this policy is beginning to pay dividends.

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Half a million impressions in January, considering my current output, is a decent baseline to improve on going forward. It gives a guide to what I’m capable of, and now I’ve stopped caring about ‘growth’ in terms of audience, there’s more space to simply work on the content. I’m interacting far more regularly with the people who are around, which is a more satisfying situation that becoming frustrated with negativity. Accentuating positives, amazingly, does work.

You can, therefore, expect more on the Great Social Media Experiment going into 2018.

I Think We’re Alone Now

Last week I got a couple of shocks via Social media. All of them involved people having conversations where it was abundantly apparent they’d forgotten the Internet is public.

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We’ve all experienced a moment in our lives when something’s been posted on the Internet we wish hadn’t. Once upon a time, there were no delete buttons. You did not get the chance to reverse your decision. However, crucially in current conditions, even deleting an offending post will not mean you’re off the hook. All those people I watch remind themselves ‘I must delete all that stuff I said in the morning’ are already far too late to fix the damage done. If someone else can see it, they can screencap it. Sure, there are ways to spoof Twitter to make it look as if someone said summat they didn’t, but this is largely beside the point.

You should not be saying in public anything you will regret, ever.

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Yet I watch people who accuse others of being troublemakers when that’s exactly their own modus operandi: casual racism, sexism and all points in between. Pronouncing righteousness, reinforcing stereotypes, and the by now almost metronomically predictable subtweeting. Yeah, I get those other people piss you off. If it is that much of a problem, then remove them from your feed. Use a mute button, block them but do not sit and complain. If someone professes an opinion that you do not ascribe to, this is not a reason to hate them. It is a reason to keep them in your feed and learn from them.

The Internet is not just here for your benefit.

Tolerance is in short supply right now and is sorely needed in every walk of life. It is possible for us all to learn from each other, in so many different and surprising ways. Telling other people how to think and act has taken place for thousands of years, the only difference now is that the stage on which it happens is far larger than ever before. The sensitive and susceptible are in danger of believing everything they read as truth. It is already happening.

I wish more people would start thinking and stop posting.

Stop

It’s been a while since I lobbed this graphic on the top of a post, but you can expect to see it a bit more in the weeks that follow. It’s a New Year, after all, and that means that people are using Social media as a means to prove they are capable of change. I have to admit that the major change I’m implementing is to spend less time taking part in discussion, and more time working. It was during that period yesterday that a couple of minor epiphanies took place.


You Know I Can Hear You, Right?

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It is clearly apparent that a couple of people on my feed aren’t aware that if I’m friends with the same people they are, I get to see their conversations. If you have a dialogue directly with someone, this won’t clog up anybody’s timelines except the people involved, which is great. There’s an exception to that, but we’ll deal with that in a moment. However, if Person A posts a non specific tweet into my timeline and then Person B replies, it’s there for everybody to see. Sometimes I watch people reply to these with the belief that it’s a ‘private’ conversation.

You wouldn’t have said that in public otherwise, would you?

I watched a couple of people fall foul to this yesterday and learnt some quite interesting stuff about them that wasn’t clear otherwise. The other one is when someone does a lovely soapbox speech about X in one place when I’ve seen them say the exact opposite somewhere else to appease the friends groups they’re now hanging with. All those people who wish Social media wasn’t like High School are, amazingly, the exact same people making it just that way due to the fact they think other people don’t pay attention. You’d be amazed how many of us do, dude.


Please Don’t Include Everybody in your Replies

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As it’s Friday, I’m hoping mentioning this in a cheery, helpful fashion might have an effect. This is traditionally the day people on Twitter do #FF (Friends Friday) and shout out all the great people they interact with. The problem isn’t those initial tweets, let me be clear, but everybody that then hits reply to say than you, inadvertently cc-ing in EVERYBODY ELSE. Except, for some people, I suspect this isn’t an accident, and they enjoy the brief dopamine hit all those messages make in their Notifications.

I use Twitter to write, and communicate. I’m not here for the popularity contest, and have made a habit of force-unfollowing people when I no longer feel we have anything to say to each other (no, it’s not the main reason but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t happened.) I don’t #FF any more because of it. I also appreciate that for some people it is an important part of their existence online, but if you’re going to live here long term it might be an idea to either learn how to respect other people’s spaces or grasp how much noise thinking before posting can reduce.

You could thank the person who does the #FF in a separate Tweet. You don’t have to show everybody else you did that, just them. I won’t lie, when I end up in a #FF userpile I politely thank the person concerned, and then mute the original conversation, so I can get on using Twitter in the way that works best for me. If this flagrant disregard of your #FF motivation removes me from your Friday mantras, I will not take it as a slur or unfollow you in disgust. If you fail to communicate regularly or stay stuff I find uncomfortable, or assume that because we spoke once three years we remain friends? Then I might have reason to press the button.

In the end, you can rest assured, it wasn’t you. It was most definitely me.


The Overnight Mass CC gets you an Instant Mute

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If you cc-me in on a conversation when I’m asleep and I wake up to 100+ Notifications on my arrival the next morning which constitute nothing of value, I’m gonna mute yo ass.

Sorry, but I didn’t sign up for that when I joined.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start working on getting the poetry archived and scheduled for the weekend…

GSME #26 :: End Game

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The Great Social Media Experiment is taking a rest until December. There are a number of reasons: the most significant one remains the most important.selling-yourself

I fully understand the significance of the online sell: so much more than that was the case when all this began, and with honesty in tow. There does have to be a measure of sacrifice to the online gods if you ever want success, and right now that’s in direct conflict with the means at my disposal for creating such content. Every single picture taken and uploaded, each Tweet composed… all have the potential to transform your fortunes.

This outlook also fundamentally alters the perception of people around you. Having people scream you’re a sellout, you only care about yourself whilst totally believing that’s my plan? This year I’ve learnt a lot about where I want to be, as well as those people I’d like to have around me. No longer is there the feeling I need to be nice to those who think they’re owed something. This has stopped being about knowing the right people and, as each day passes, becomes more about understanding myself as a priority.

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When I come to look back on 2017 it will, I’m sure, be with the eyes of someone who finally grasped the truth about the Internet. If all you want to see is stress, anger and idiocy… then that is all there is to be seen. Only when you take the time to dig deep, and truly accept that you are part of the problem, does it become possible to move past so much of the negativity that currently exists. That onus is on you, and you alone. For me, organisation and purpose have become their own rewards.

When I re-start this project in December, Social media will work for me. I don’t need your skanky pretend followers or promises that if I do X then Y will instantly follow. I’m about to create my own means of controlling the ebb and flow of data and interest. Then, if I fail, I can at least say I tried to be an innovator, which matters infinitely more than being part of a flock of foolish, ignorant users. The future, at least for me, is innovating with my rules.

GSME #25: Robot Love

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If there’s one thing I hate more than Robot Twitter accounts, it is real people who pretend they’re not using follower tools when on Twitter. Once upon a time, it was really easy to spot the people who’d be using Crowdfire (or any of the numerous ‘grow your audience’ online apps) because as soon as you followed them, a DM would unceremoniously appear asking you to sub to their YouTube Channel. Not anymore. Individuals are getting smart, and they think their schemes will lure you into participation but really… it’s the same shit, just in a different package.

Last week I received what must be the smartest DM I’ve been sent for a while.

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This is really clever, because it uses a typo as ‘confirmation’ that the person sending the DM is clearly a) human and b) paying attention to me… except, of course, I wasn’t in this guy’s notifications. This was sent before I’d had a chance to post anything. The account I get sent to was for some shitty energy drink that also increases my intelligence (the irony was not lost on me) so of course I sent him a DM back to see if I’d get a reply back and (unsurprisingly) there’s not been a peep from him since this message. He’s blocked now.

DM’s are becoming a good benchmark for whether the large-follower new arrival is worth my time: how they’re written, whether the person is listening or not, or if they’ve spent any time even reading their Twitter feed. That’s why I also make a point of going to the person’s Tweets and Replies section on the official Twitter webpage to see if they interact a lot with people. The latest person to turn up was a lovely bloke who’s using music to help people with depression:

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It’s all very legit, and he spends a fair bit of time talking to the people who buy his stuff but, I’ll be honest, it is not the kind of ‘relationship’ I’m looking for, however worthy the cause. I think that the DM message was what really turned me off, because I’d never send out random stuff like this to anyone who followed cold. I’d find ways to interact with them using the platform as it is intended to be used. What these ‘robot’ apps do is build numbers, but have no soul. For me, it matters far more to do the work, and sometimes pay the price for caring too much about the people who follow me.

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How people do business is entirely up to them. I have said before that I feel that treating people like statistics will ultimately make everybody’s lives less fulfilling, and individuals using the platform like this simply reinforce that feeling. This is your weekly reminder that simply following everybody who follows you has pitfalls, and sometimes thinking before you click a button will have long term benefits to your health.

Everybody, after all, has their own particular reasons for wanting you to follow them.