I’ve been using Twitter for about a year now. When I was first turned on to it, likely by Jason Feinberg, who runs a successful music marketing company (so he should know what’s useful) I didn’t really “get it.” Much like other new users, the novelty of posting and following short non sequitur bursts didn’t make much sense to me. I’m someone who has trouble editing articles to less than 500 words, let alone encapsulating thoughts in 140-character bubbles.
Of course, here we are, 14,000+ tweets and 1000+ followers later, so I guess I figured it out. The thing with Twitter is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Unlike Facebook or blogs or YouTube, Twitter is less a social media service than it is a communications tool, much like phones, fax machines and e-mail. If you want to broadcast one-way messages, you can do it. If you want to engage in conversations, you can do it. If you want to build a community, you can. If you want to link the heck out of the interwebs — well, you get the picture.
I take a multi-part approach to Twitter. I use it to stay in touch with friends, keep up with industries I follow, distract myself when needed, and most importantly, build a community with which I can share my various creative projects without feeling like I’m spamming anyone. It’s for this reason I haven’t followed a million people nor do I try to force myself on new followers.
I’ve run into a wall, recently, however. It feels like, as Twitter grows and so do all of our follower/following counts, there’s becoming too much static in the signal. For most of the people I follow, this doesn’t seem to affect the effectiveness of their communications, for one key reason that I can never duplicate: They are singularly focused Twitter personalities.
Let me explain: Chris Sims, one of the web’s most popular comic bloggers and geek comedy writers, has a very strong following on Twitter as he does everywhere else. But that’s because, even though he dips into comic writing and satirical blogging, everything he does is focused on geek culture. So most of his followers are likely part of that geek culture and therefore dig everything he tweets.
I, on the other hand, depending on which hour of the day you catch me at, play drums in a rock band, write/draw comics, report on music for multiple magazines, cover art for a website, develop web content and social media for companies and am generally regarded as a Las Vegas cultural historian and dude-about-town. And about all of these things I blog, tweet, etc. That means the people who follow me as a cartoonist don’t likely give a damn about the closing of an art gallery in downtown Las Vegas, and concurrently, the Las Vegans who follow me for links, news and commentary on issues related to Sin City may not be into the latest comic from Pop! Goes the Icon. And on it goes.
So even though 1,000+ people follow me on Twitter, I can feel the disconnect between their disparate groups. Now, I have experimented with running multiple Twitter accounts in the past. I set one up for Pop! Goes the Icon early on in my Twitter use. But I found that I was merely duplicating (though not exactly) not only the content of tweets on both accounts, but also the follower base as well. Plus, this was just after I collapsed all of my divergent blogs into one (this one!), and splitting identities on Twitter is hard, especially back then when it was so personality-driven.
So sure, I could set up an account for my band, an account for PGTI, an account for my writing (@BleedingNeon, anyone?) and a personal one for randomness, but I’ve found in best practices, people want to connect with people. They want to identify with someone. They want to connect with someone. And I really can’t imagine maintaining multiple accounts again. It’s hard enough just to manage all of the social media initiatives tied into the music and comics and journalism and external clients and OMG I KNOW RIGHT?
I’m not certain I have a solution — this was really just a mind-dump here, after having a revelation about the interest split amongst my followers. But I do feel that between the changes made to Facebook’s UI (user interface for you non-techies) and the increasing dissonance on Twitter, the whole reason for me being on either in the first place (purely out of networking necessity) is being diminished daily. As communications tools, they still work (I’ve gotten at least five or six gigs I would have otherwise missed through Twitter and Facebook the last year or so), but I wonder for how long.