Lately I’ve come to the conclusion that there are basically three types of people on Twitter.
First, there are the crows. They make gratuitous noise in the twittersphere just to prove they exist. Why does a crow in a tree caw? I don’t know, but after awhile even an animal lover like me starts to consider inhumane ways to silence the noise. When you tweet about the weather, your lunch, even your plans for the day (unless you are receiving a Nobel prize) you are drowning out useful dialogue. You are being a crow – cawing not tweeting. Save it for FaceBook, Google+ or Yammer.
Next are the curators – the habitual retweeters. Nobody elected them to do this job but they scour the internet for content to share. Rather than providing original thought, news or opinion, curators flip you a headline and a link to some stranger’s content. For some of them, this is self-promotion (a variation of being a crow but meant to keep them on the radar in their profession). For others, it is a way of illustrating their savoir-faire by associating themselves with other people’s ideas. In the best cases, curators offer an editorial comment that adds to the topic they are retweeting. But really, what more can you contribute in 140 characters (less the RT itself)? Like the “cc” in emails, the “RT” in Twitter is too often a licence to waste your audience’s time.
Then there are the blessed creators. They put in the effort to develop ideas, write commentary, inform, entertain and illuminate their followers. They are worth following because they respect their audience and have the courage to add their voice to the growing body of knowledge and insight on the web. They compose stirring symphonies (or at least sea shanties) that struggle to be heard over the echoed muzak of the curators and the cacophony of the crows.
If you want people to follow your tweets, make it worth their while. Your followers want to learn from you, debate with you, laugh with you or, at least, laugh at you. So, let me throw down the gauntlet to all you hyperactive social media hipsters. Let’s call it the “creator’s challenge”: see if you can limit yourself to one RT for each original piece of content you offer your audience. That would make the time we all spend with social media so much more worthwhile.
And wouldn’t that be something to crow about?