Friday, April 3, 2009

Who do you Tweet to?

Twitter is a blunt communication tool, not just because you are limited to the number of characters you can type.  It’s blunt because, unless you want to manage multiple Twitter handles (which of course is possible and I’m sure tons of people do it), you have one voice to communicate to a random assortment of people subscribed to your feed. 

So when you tweet, who do you tweet to?  Who is your Twitter muse? 

For me, I would like to think it's a personification of something close to the average of how I subconsciously conceptualize my followers. In an ideal world, that would look something like this distribution:

In actuality (as we all know), it ends up looking more like this:

But at least when I tweet, I don’t think about the spammers who have subscribed to my Twitter feed.  They never had any intention of reading my tweets when they subscribed, so good night and good luck to them.  

And as far as I’m concerned, the few random-os I have probably aren’t much different.  Maybe they subscribed to me on a whim, or saw something I said that they liked, and now, those lucky devils, they get my tweets in their feed.  Problem is, I don’t actually know whether they are reading my tweets; there is no feedback loop in Twitter.  So as far as I’m concerned, those people aren’t, and for the minority of the random people who do: thank you and have fun. 

Then there is the other side of the curve: the people who I [would like to] think are reading my tweets.  I don’t know about you, but that’s who I think I’m writing to… to some imaginary person in the middle of that subsection of the curve.  

But this means that for everyone to the left of that point, my tweets skew towards being more intimate than they should be.  In a way, a majority of Twitter followers are free-riding off the intimacy I have with a small group of my Twitter followers.  This must be one of the things that’s so enticing about Twitter.  At the same time, I can’t help but feel a little uncomfortable every once in a while when I see someone else's tweet that’s clearly intended for people a standard deviation or so away from me!

What do you think?  Who do you Tweet to?


Ken Berger said...

My shop (East Agile) is doing dev work for Twitter, and i see a lot of analysis re all sorts of angles. But this post is breathtakingly interesting.

"blunt communication tool": wow, on-the-money correct.

Graphs: love it. seem straight-up true to me.

Missing: where's the plug / "pimp my twitter handle" for followers??

I'm @kenberger Follow me and win a free gift!

Unknown said...

thanks, ken. much appreciated as always. although can't believe you used my blog post to promote your own twitter handle! ;)

Ken Berger said...

was merely setting the example!

Matt said...


I love these graphs (I esp. got a kick out of the sigmas in the first one).

I've been reading your blog for a while, but have held off on commenting - as a matter of fact, those sigmas pushed me over the edge.

I've held off on commenting because of the Blogger comment system, which I've found doesn't feed into social networking aggregators (like FriendFeed) as well as Disqus or IntenseDebate. I saw a Disqus comment box on one of your posts, but the rest are Blogger.

I know I would contribute to your discussions much more frequently if ID or Disqus were installed - I'm sure many other people would, too. Is that something you'd be interested in considering?

Keep up the good posts!

Unknown said...


Thanks so much for the kind comment!

You know, I *thought* I had installed Disqus not too long ago, but clearly I didn't follow the instructions very well. :) I'll give it another go this afternoon and hopefully it will work. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment and explain this to me; I'm eager to do anything I can do to help encourage discussion!


Matt said...


I saw a Disqus box in your Mentoring Women Tech Start Ups post, but that's the only one I've seen on Adventurista. Give it another go - sometimes the protocol is a bit finicky.

While I'm here, I have to give you credit for your venture debt model. Very elegant - I would have thought you did a stint at a bank...


Unknown said...

Now I know you're just buttering me up ;)

Tried a couple of times and am giving up on blogger. This has motivated me to make the switch to Wordpress. Now I just need to get organized to do that. Thanks again, Matt!