Saturday, November 16, 2013

Is there a Twitter sweet spot?

In the few months that I have been on Twitter I have found it immensely useful. At the same time, my Twitter stream has occasionally been overtaken by a single user, crowding out other tweets and leaving me feeling slightly overwhelmed. My colleagues recently submitted a post entitled "Information Overload in Social Media" (11/12/13) and I'd like to try and respond to some of the issues they raised, focusing solely on Twitter.

First, the issue of content. I read something several weeks ago that suggested the following breakdown for individual Twitter users:

  • 1/3 original content or reaction to news or information, reflecting your professional interests
  • 1/3 retweets of information or news that your followers are likely to appreciate
  • 1/3 personal, non-sequitur content (for example - what you are doing, where you are, random thoughts or statements) which provides insight into you as a person
I find this content recommendation rather agreeable and it also reflects what I'm seeking from the people I'm following on Twitter. There are some exceptions, of course. Celebrities have license to tweet about themselves almost exclusively. There's more tolerance for it since they are expected to engage in promoting their own brand, whether highlighting their rarified existence or relating their everyman experiences (celebrities put their pants on one leg at a time too!). And organizations, notably professional ones, lose credibility in my eyes if they start tweeting topics outside their realm of expertise or content simply unrelated to their mission.

Now, the question of quantity. In my limited experience, I would have to say that I find the sweet spot to be somewhere between 5-10 tweets per day per follow. Assuming 16 waking hours in a day, that means tweeting in 1.5 to 3 hour intervals. In reality, the window is much smaller than that, so the key would seem to be spacing out tweets rather than sending them in blocks. The reality is that I'm a mother and full-time student which is overwhelming enough without replicating the experience online (Yes, @MomsRising, I'm looking at you. Love the mission, loathe the tidal wave of content). Dear colleagues, what is your Twitter threshold?

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