Let it not be said that this blog does not aim to entertain, for here is a little game to play. Try and spot the connections between tweets I posted on Twitter this week, and new followers accrued in the same time period. First the tweets:
“A PHILISTINE SPEAKS! Or is he a Philistine? More on Bristol…”
“Catching up from last night - watching Michel Roux taste chilli made by Claudia Winkleman might be the funniest thing I've ever seen.”
“Good old Freesat red button - got the BBC F1 2010 review on for the third time tonight. The closing montage is a masterpiece. #bbcf1”
“Coarse by name, coarse by nature? New 'Fish 'n' Tips' in the angling world…”
And now the followers (all grammar and spelling inconsistencies are the property of the individuals named):
‘CrossFitBristol’ – Old school training with attitude. Kettlebells, Ropes, Indian Clubs and CrossFit. Real world fitness with no machines and no expensive contracts. Try us Free.
‘ClaudiaFanPage’ – Unofficial Claudia Winkleman Twitter page and website. A place to talk about your favourite presenter and Journalist. I am not Claudia Winkleman…
‘FreeSat_View’ – FreeSat or Freeview it’s a hard choice, try our Website for FREE information to help you make the decision.
‘FishKeep’ – Fishing tips, anglers photos, fishing venues, sea fishing, coarse fishing, fly fishing, carp fishing, rigs, knots, competitions.
You see? That was fun, wasn’t it? And very easy. Interestingly, I’m also followed by ‘SubbuteoEngland’, but there have been no tweets relating to Subbuteo (of that you can be sure!). That aside, none of this should be any sort of a surprise. After all, there is nothing to say that Twitter cannot or should not be used as a marketing tool; indeed, for the most part, that is what most people are on there for in one form or another. It raises a couple of interesting questions though.
First – just how feasible is it to connect with ‘real people’ through Twitter (especially without the aid of a network of friends and contacts on there who you also know in some other capacity; like, say, ‘real life’)?
Second – while there is no doubt that the Twitter accounts of various celebrities are followed by many thousands of aforementioned ‘real people’, just how many of their tens of thousands of followers are spam/marketing accounts? And does that say anything for perceived popularity over genuine popularity?
Some of that may sound like a man with few followers being rather jealous of people whose views are read by even a few hundred interested parties, but it is not the case. Well, not much… Call it ‘Twitter Existentialism’, if you will, but in terms of using the 140 characters format to promote work and/or creative output, it does beg the question as to whether energy would be better expended on ‘connecting’ with people through other (virtual) means and then backing that up with Twitter. After all, blog comments and e-mail allow a more expansive means of communication, and therefore the means to build some sort of relationship.
So maybe it’s time to start using Twitter a little less. If nothing else, this should at least mean I can enjoy TV programmes again, because in a desperate effort to try and ‘connect’ with like-minded individuals I have resorted to tweeting (excessively, on occasion) about the few shows I’m watching.
More seriously, my use of Twitter has already started changing slightly – in recent weeks it has started to resemble a kind of online notebook that other people happen to be able to read. Increasingly, tweets are less for the entertainment of others (no sniggering about how they’re not very entertaining anyway, thank you!), and more to serve as reminders of random occurrences and ideas that later act as inspiration for blog posts (or poems, in accordance with my current creative vogue).
The only alternative would be to go in the opposite direction and become a version of an annoying spam account, following anyone and (almost) everyone with a connection to my areas of interest in the desperate hope of lucking into some genuine, creative online relationships. What that would require, however, is ample time and appropriate fortitude in the face of repeated failure. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, does it?