#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.


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.


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.

GSME #26 :: End Game


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.


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


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.


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:


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.


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.

GSME #23 :: Big Log


So, I should have done this a long time ago, on reflection.


This is the true measure of progress since Twitter reset its UI in the Summer. In four months, I have picked up one new follower. This is what happens when you systematically remove the elements that exist within Social media whose sole purpose is to self-promote a chosen few. Like everything else (SEO, marketing, brand identity) there are a very specific set of rules one needs to follow to become a success.

Those can be summed up in two statements. Either you:

Are genuinely successful and organically gain an audience with a genuine interest in your life, brand or product;


You create a completely fictional representation of the exact same thing using robot followers and reciprocal follow-backs.

From a distance, most users will be hard pressed to distinguish the two.


It is the biggest and worst kept secret on the entire platform. If you pay enough money, you can be an overnight success, but if you never listen to anybody else or indeed contribute anything of note? What is the point of existing?

Then there’s the moments when the robots try and convince you they are human, and the humans think they’ve been clever when really, they’re dumber than rocks. However, in amongst the trash are some real treasures. Anna was one of them last week: she’s been trying to follow me for a while, and with 16k followers you’d think she might be worthwhile, but her Twitter’s a stream of quotes and pictures and little if no reality injected. Looking at her biography, she appears ‘real’ enough:

Student. Writer. Gamer. Slytherin. Bookaholic. Dork. Programmer in Training. Founder of [Account 1] and [Account 2] Part of the Response Team at [Online Employer]

[US LOCATION] · [Website here]

The two Twitter accounts she’s founded have no content, plus the company she works for is involved in curating automated content for Twitter. When I followed her, the first thing that was sent from her account was as follows:


She almost had me, until I followed her from my Patreon Twitter and the exact same message was sent there, too. For a second I hoped that maybe I’d found someone who wasn’t playing the game, or simply here to show how easy it is to manipulate people into following but no, I was wrong. Anna was the straw that broke my social media ‘back.’ Fictional popularity is probably is the most insidious concept I can imagine, but has become a perfect metaphor for the current state of humanity.

The saddest thing of all is that Anna may well be real; going through her website there’s a response form, details of her education… and that she’s training in computer forensics. Ironically, right now, she’s reading 1984, which is particularly apposite with the level of doublethink operating here. If my investigations have awoken the real Anna’s interest, and she’s come here to read about what I have to say, I wish her luck in this future career, but I’ll keep you blocked. I have enough mindless crap on my feed without promoting any more.

The time has come to promote only reality in my journey.

GSME #22 :: Too Much


Apologies, it’s been a few weeks, and I’ve not been giving Social media the attention it once had, at least in terms of numbers. There’s a couple of reasons for this, and it is probably not a bad idea at this point to break those issues down. After what was eight months of pretty much concerted effort to improve my presence by artificial means, it became apparent at the start of September that this is largely pointless. My market is so niche it has proved really tough to sell to, and I need more experience at understanding Twitter’s advertising setup before any more cash is dropped. What I’ve learnt from three days has provided significant pause for thought.

Let’s break down what I was able to conclude from my brief flirtation with Twitter Advertising.

1. Too Much Noise


So, I spent £26.04 before I called a halt to my campaign, because it was abundantly apparent that nobody cared about my post. Of those 9,325 impressions, not one resulted in a website interaction. Of course, I am as much to blame as anyone else for not making my ‘campaign’ attractive, but honestly I shouldn’t be selling myself anyway, its the work that matters. There is just too much noise on this platform for someone like me to get heard without having someone famous expound my ability, or a major magazine or publication picking me up. As I won’t sell myself? I’m effectively screwed.

However, there was some peripheral interest in the contents of my feed and yes, I’ve picked up a few followers in the process. However, I’m more likely to just luck out organically over time, because my ‘product’ is not something that can be conventionally sold. If I changed that, there would be more luck. I’m just not sure I want to just to take advantage of what Twitter can do.

2. Talking to Real Users


Last month I went to some length to remove people I believed weren’t actual human beings from my feed. I’ve since seen a virtual halt to follower increase, based (one assumes) on the fact I refuse to deal with the bots. Ironically a lot of the people I know are human are far more annoying than any of the robots, who often post quite useful filler material for my feed on dull days. It just goes to show that not everything is as black and white as people would like.

I’ve reconciled myself to having to find alternate means of advertising in the next three months and getting ready to start again effectively in 2018.  It is no big deal, and I’m prepared to rethink lots of things to improve my chances. What I don’t want, however, is to compromise what I’m becoming just as a means to create an audience who isn’t human. Sorry robots, it is nothing personal I assure you.

3. Creating Content over Advertising


There was an important epiphany after my advertising ‘investment’ and that’s that being a company of one person means that sometimes, it doesn’t matter that you’re not being read by tens of thousands of people. Right now I’ll take a regular, dedicated audience who care and whose names I can remember. I’ll spend some time working hard to build up a following and not expect everything to happen tomorrow. After that? We’ll see where things stand.

What is most apparent in the nine months since I began this journey goes back to a basic understanding, that true success isn’t necessarily years of hard work. Sure, that helps, but often it is the sparks of unexpected brilliance along the way which allow this to change the entire course of your journey. I need to stop worrying about trying to control everything, and let some of the unexpected be just that, good or bad.

With this in mind, as of next week, the GSME will be undergoing something of a redefinition in terms of scope and objectives…

GSME #21 :: Secret


Today’s story is about how a portion of the Internet really is a secret society, run by a select few individuals who know the rules for success. If you choose to enter their world, you might become ‘rich’ beyond your wildest dreams.

The problem is, that success grants no guarantee that you’ll survive outside Cyberspace.

It begins with a guy I ended up blocking on Social media several years ago because he was just too honest for his own good. The time he took great joy in telling me how much of an idiot I was (he was right), it was time to walk away for good. It was a shame because I got on well with the woman who’s now married to him, and I miss her warmth. In the end, however, his toxicity was too much. It was this man who told me that if I truly wanted success online, my URL needed to be #1 in Google’s search rankings.

If it were not for him, I’d have never jumped down this rabbit hole to begin with.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the holy grail of successful online marketing. It relies on what used to be known as ‘spiders’ but which are more commonly referred to as search algorithms, which effectively act as the arbiters of all online information. Search Engines produce increasingly relevant results when you’re looking for an answer to your question, based on what it gleans from your webpages. To make sure you have the absolute best chance of being noticed and ranked above everybody else, all your back end code can be tweaked to ensure it is as attractive and engaging as possible to the algorithmic harvesters. WordPress offer this service now as standard if I chose to upgrade my blogs to a business plan. It is pretty much accepted business practice that if you want to even start being successful online from scratch, you’ll need a robust SEO plan.

This does not simply extend to the web: social media now operates under the same rules. The hashtag, which celebrated it’s 10th ‘Birthday’ as a tagging device is now being used alongside other metrics and indicators to allow smart programmers a way to offer the potential of instant overnight success to anyone, assuming of course they’re prepared to pay from the privilege. You know those annoying auto Direct Messages that people sometimes send when you follow them on Twitter? This is the next step up: employ increasingly sophisticated algorithms to precisely target your exact audience, use the bots to follow them, and then wait to see if they interact.

If the searching were done by real people, there’d be no worries about unemployment, but this isn’t the case. The future is less and less about people talking to each other organically and more around what robots THINK we should talk about, or what is needed based on the mechanical analysis and breakdown of billions of conversations each day. I’m about to start a Twitter ad campaign for the Internet of Words tomorrow, and am all too aware that my search terms need to be spot on in order to allow their algorithms to find the right audience. I’m spending £100 on my ad campaign: for the same amount I could use software from the company above and simply follow everyone I think might be interested before selling at them.

Except I’d argue that’s not how true success is generated.

The problem right now is that people follow me because I hashtag, based on nothing but the desire to exploit their niche. They completely miss the point of how Social media works best, and that automated traffic effectively strangles the strength of the network itself. None of these companies, none of the SEO experts or Social media gurus talk to each other at all, they just retweet each other or content they think will be popular, in the hope that people will fuel their continuing development. Actual conversation is pointless, because you can’t schedule it. Talking smack about your mates is worthless, when it wastes good bandwidth and makes you look like a real person. Nobody wants that on Twitter. You’re here to sell stuff, not have relationships.

I’ve started asking people who I suspect are playing the Algorithm Game why they’re following me, to see if those ‘using’ these systems will be honest or not. Amazingly, there’s a lot of honesty from the people behind the facades: some admit the platform being used, others try and hook me into their schemes by targetting content directly at me. So far, in what must be several hundred accounts of this type, only one person’s done a decent job of selling at me, and she remains as my sole reciprocal follow. We’ve not exchanged a social word since she followed me, but her advice has been more helpful and gratefully received than anyone else’s in that time.


Many of these people don’t like being asked what they’re doing when you challenge them for filling the Internet with what is often crap. Until Twitter cracks down on the automated component of the interface, and removes those who are effectively gambling and exploiting the genuine population of the platform? You need to be vigilant, and look at any follow that doesn’t appear as if a decent conversation is going to occur from your follow. The biggest issue, of course, is that most people think the only way you’re a true success on Social media is with a bazillion followers.

Until that bubble is comprehensively burst, this story never gets a happy ending.

GSME #20 :: Did it Again

I have, for some time, lamented the lack of choice that Twitter presents for small businesses. It appears that someone in the company’s hierarchy not only agrees with me, but is working to allow more flexibility for promoting less ‘behemoth’ companies on Social media:

Right now, the invites are under Twitter’s control and are focused according to two very specific criteria: location and interests. Fortunately for me, the initial criteria does include something I’d jump at:


Looking at locations right now, these are limited to a selection of US cities, where, presumably, Twitter use is highest. Therefore I could sign up, pay my $99 (or EU equivalent) and target a month’s worth of output to London, or Leeds… or indeed New York or Canberra, depending on where I’d like to aim my output. Ideally for me the interests option makes better financial sense than going for location initially, because although I know people like poetry in London, I’d be far better off considering a larger sample of potential readers than simply one city.


To say this would be perfect for my niche interest/plan to use the Internet of Words as a marketing platform is something of an understatement. Right now you can’t just arrive unannounced however: it appears you need to be signed up for Twitter Ads to begin with, and as I’m not yet at that stage, it is all a bit academic. What this does push me to do however is, when I’m back to term time and the holidays are over, ensure I’m ready to go with content and associated blog posts. This means making sure I publish my Haiku and Micropoetry each week without fail, that links on the blog are kept current, and a continuous stream of content is available.

Once I can do that consistently? I reckon this closed beta will be done, and I can start throwing my money at Twitter.