With the resignation of CEO Jack Dorsey as the executive leader of Twitter, I began to reflect upon the platform and what exactly the brand stands for. Twitter has been widely criticized for being a megaphone for extremism, hatred and anti-democratic ideology. My personal experience with Twitter has been one of desperate persuasiveness as I try to engage multiple people at once on issues that I care about. It’s very easy to get emotionally addicted to Twitter and invest a ton of emotional capital into it.
Microblogging, when it is healthy, can be a platform that engages multiple people at once very quickly who have varying points-of-view or advocacy, and watch as it get’s retweeted, liked or shared across social media. But people also use it to spread misinformation, harmful caricatures in real time, and watch as it becomes viral. My personal experience with Twitter has been like walking into a room with dozens of people arguing and trying to ask a question or bring a different point-of-view, and then quickly being dismissed, or insulted and at times being pushed out the room and the door shut behind me.
Ironically, this is exactly what happened to me once in real life. At a university I tried to insert myself into a conversation or topic that the vast majority of the participants didn’t think I should be involved in. And quite literally, the door was shut in front of me. It was humiliatingly painful; but I was very young and didn’t understand that I didn’t belong. Growing up, I was always taught that one of the greatest things about our country was diversity. Diversity of ideas, diversity of people, etc.
As I grew older, I realized quickly that the reality is far less ideal or utopian. Although we say we want diversity of ideas; really we want only our ideas to be accepted. And people who are different in race, culture, language, gender, identity are not always welcomed in the same spaces. That is a lot like twitter today. This became even more painfully evident when Twitter Spaces was launched. It quickly became a land mind as people battled it out in such racist hosting rooms as “Are there too many Black women in public?”, “Should White People Exist” and “Should Black People Exist?”.
As a data scientist, I studied extensively, the nature of associations on twitter and how people influence others based on who they follow and their own followership. For more information on this, read my article on association analysis in Twitter (for more information read my article on Apriori association analysis as a supplement to my Twitter article). What it taught me is that Twitter at its most beneficial is a “multiplier”. By multiplier, I am referring to Twitter’s ability to take information presented by someone on the platform, be it a blog, image, tweet, etc., and multiply that content to tens, hundreds, and even thousands of people near instantaneously better than any other platform.
So say for instance, you write a blog on your website. You may have hundreds and even thousands of people who have subscribed to your website. But that blog, in terms of engagement will likely not grow at the rate at which the reference to that article in a tweet would grow, keeping all other variables constant. For instance, if you have one hundred subscribers on your blog, and one hundred followers on twitter. The twitter reference will multiply your blog’s engagement. The same can be said for other platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook (Meta).
My rule of thumb for Twitter now is to use it as a catalyst to bring more people to my site. Twitter is a multiplier and should not be used to have conversations. Express your ideas, then leave them there for people to engage. Remember that as a content creator, any engage – even if it’s negative – is a win! I also recommend creating a developer account and download Twitter feed data via the Twitter API. Twitter is really a great platform to understand this “multiplier” effect of social media.
I’d love to hear people’s comments on this. I’m open to have a conversation anytime on the topic. BTW, this article will be tweeted as well.