Post 1, 2009. Twitter is not a zoo in which PRs can watch journalists work

The big trend of my year so far has been the daily ritual of checking out my new Twitter followers. They’re coming thicker and faster than ever.

And about half of the new ones are in PR, as that industry seems to have decided that Twitter is important to their work.

Now I have no problem with this. But I do have a problem with PRs who lurk, instead of converse. Twitter is a social network. I want all the nodes of my social network to be adding value to the network, instead of being dead nodes whose only motivation is to extract value from the network without putting anything back in.

And -duh!- it works the other way, guys. If following me on Twitter is designed to either increase your knowledge of my activities or somehow “build a relationship” you’ll get much more out of it if you come to play, instead of coming to watch. (Quite what you get in the stuff I tweet, I have no idea, but that’s another post)

But worse, far worse, are the PRs who follow me but protect their own updates. I’ve had two of those in the last 48 hours and have blocked them immediately because if they are not willing to play, I’m not willing to let them watch.

At this point, some will think I’m doing the “I hate PR” thing again. But do you go to the pub with people who don’t talk to you? I’m betting not. You find friends that are fun to hang with and who participate in conversation. That’s what I’m doing!

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8 thoughts on “Post 1, 2009. Twitter is not a zoo in which PRs can watch journalists work

  1. Yeah, agreed that following without playing is a wasted opportunity. But why should it be annoying to the followee? Personally, I never give it a thought — I’m far too busy thinking about the Twitters who *are* playing. Upshot: it’s their loss, not mine.

    (PS, to your other point, I’m not sure I’ve *ever* followed someone who’s locked their updates. Just never had the motivation to ask permission. Can’t understand why anyone would do that.)

  2. I am with Steven on this. When someone follows I check them out. If they have nothing to say there is no need for me to follow back. If I do follow them when they have no tweets already (because, say, I know them and they are new to Twitter), if they then never tweet I don’t even notice.

    I just chat to the people who are chatting, put my stuff up there and forget about professional lurkers just as much as I do the weirdo fitness lady in the US who has followed me. And the man who likes kittens. And the company launching a new juice drink. I like to think of them as the eavesdroppers in the pub, but actually they probably never log back into Twitter after that initial excitement of joining passes.

  3. I agree that it is not worth worrying about lurkers. And mostly I don’t. But it also makes me wonder what the hell someone is thinking when they join a social network. I assume the motivation is to make a connection that will prove valuable. But how valuable is it to connect, then fail to converse? Sure, it’s the lurker’s choice. But why make the token effort in the first place? Unless it is bandwagoneering or box-ticking so folks can say “Oh yes – I’m very connected to journalists. I follow 78 of them on Twitter” and a Gen-X marketing manager will somehow be impressed by that.

  4. I think you just hit the nail on the head.

    I found the bio of an old colleague of mine on his new agency website the other day. In it he is described as their social media guru “he is all over twitter and gets digg”. Well, I didn’t know he was on Twitter so I went to find him.

    He has 16 followers and 30 tweets to his name. I reckon he signed up about the same time that the bio was written 😉

  5. I agree and it took me a while but I related it in a post recently, particularly towards the end.

    …”But watch out if you use and abuse because just like any party if you do you’ll find yourself standing in the corner wanting to be friends with everyone yelling and screaming about yourself and everyone will simple ignore you.”…

    Some don’t realise it’s about community not about them.

  6. At the risk of being howled down, I totally understand the lurkers. Sometimes people don’t know if they want to play until they’ve watched for a while. I joined twitter and watched for a few months, but only really got interested when I started tweeting myself.

    So what Steven said is true: they only get out what they put in. But maybe they want to learn the language first.

    Plus, don’t you long-time twitter guys know that sometimes you’re a bit intimidating (and I mean you @ssharwood) and a bit snarky? Maybe they think they’ll not be clever enough.

  7. I always wonder why some people decide to follow me…hmmm. Anyways, when I first joined Twitter, I was intimidated by clever Tweets made by some very clever people. But I decided to let go of my insecurities and just Tweet about the stuff that was going on in my head.

    And recently, while I was hospitalised (not to sound too dramatic here), Twitter was like a window to the world, I could keep in touch: so yes, I value participation very much!!

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