I’ve been on Twitter for a while now. I think it was Darryl Dash who called it the “new front porch” based on a conversation he’d had with Jordon Cooper. It’s a great analogy.
I picture myself walking down the street past my friend Ed’s house. Ed calls out to me and I ask him what’s been happening in his life. He tells me briefly about his travels and how it’s good to be home. I share a little of my own story and then continue my walk. A few hours later Ed wanders by my place while I’m out on the porch and says, “Hey, did you hear about…” and begins to tell me about something he found interesting. I tell him that I’ll check it out. And off he goes.
Ed is a neighbourhood friend who keeps me in touch with what he’s up to, his travels, how he’s coping as a husband and father and the cool things he’s come across. I try to do some of the same with him.
But let’s say I walk by Fred’s house. Fred’s says, “Hey, Bill did you see my book? Dya’ wanna buy my book? Ernie just reviewed my book. Me. Me. Me. Me.”
Ever freakin’ time I go by. It’s about nothing but Fred. I’d quickly find the best ways to avoid Fred.
“Friends” and “followers” aren’t what matter. If you want substance, you need useful inputs. Not volume. Not style. Not popularity. Those have their places, just not in your face when you’re looking for useful and interesting stuff.
That’s what I want out of Twitter. Not just to be the waist in an hourglass where a pile of god-knows-what flows from Following to Followers.
The result of Dave’s work is a pared-down Twitter stream, reduced to people who Dave knows have substantive things to say. They’re not just naming their socks or reporting that the light just changed. They carry news. They provide links. They make themselves useful.
Perhaps this makes Twitter a little more utilitarian than you might like, but it’s one heck of a lot better than non-stop self-promotion. If what you are doing and how you are living life is interesting and informative, tweet on. But if you’re just trying to sell me something…including yourself, I’ll be defollowing your tweets. As I said on Twitter yesterday,
Twitter can be a place of insight in 140 characters – or a place where certain people market themselves 24/7. I am so tired of selfpromos.
Let me end by saying that some of my favourite Twits are Darryl Dash, Jordon Cooper, Ed Stetzer (as in Ed above), Bob Hyatt, Joe Thorn, Steve McCoy, Glenn Hatcher, the iMonk, Ed Brenegar, my Missional ‘gator buddies and just recently my friend, Gary Lindblad. And of course the incomparable Doc Searls and Kathy Sierra.