UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Twitter Can Pimp Up Your Stuff – But Should It?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Feb 2009

I recently published a blog post entitled “Are You Able?“. Shortly after it was published I wrote a tweet which linked to the post. Although at one stage I had registered with a service which would automatically send a tweet when I published a new post I no longer do this. Rather I’ll send a tweet if I think the post might be of particular interest or is relevant to discussions which have taken place in my Twitter community.

Shortly after I sent out my tweet I received a response from George Brett who had retweeted my post (forwarded my tweet to his group of followers):

RT @briankelly: Are your resources available, reusable, usable, accessible, exploitable and preservable? Is it feasible?
6:57 AM Feb 17th from TweetDeck

This was followed by another retweet by digicmb (Guus van den Brekel) tweeted:

RT @briankelly: R ur resources available, reusable, usable, accessible, exploitable & preservable? = ur approach feasible? from TweetDeck

Now at recent Web 2.0 and blogging workshops I’ve facilitated for staff working in museums, libraries and archives I have been asked how one can demonstrate that time spent in using various Web 2.0 technologies provides an positive return on investment. The impression I get is that people in these sectors do need to demonstrate tangible and measurable benefits in order to justify their usage (and perhaps even have firewalls configured so that the services can be accessed).

How, then, might you provide evidence that Twitter can be used to support organisational aims? Well I currently have 777 followers on Twitter, so I might argue that Twitter can provide a cost-effective dissemination mechanism. And as George Brett has 1,109 followers and Guus van den Brekel has 332, there could be over 2,000 users who have received the notification of my latest blog post.

Job done, you may feel, I’ve provided an example of the how Twitter has the potential to maximise access to one’s digital resources, whether this is a blog post, as in this example, an event, a new service or whatever (although I should add that I haven’t said anything about whether those followers still use Twitter or that they may not be people, but spam harvesters).

But yesterday (Sunday 22 February 2009) Mia Ridge sent a tweet saying:

You are not you, you are a brand. ‘no one enjoys someone who posts spontaneously’ I don’t get the obsession w followers

Mia was linking to a blog post on Being a Useful Twitter User [and receiving followers in the process] which provided advice (“Be consistent and organized”; “Pace yourself!”;  etc.) aimed at helping you to maximise the number of your followers.

I think Mia was quite right to highlight the dangers of such depersonalisation of Twitter. And as the individual and quirk, aspect of Twitter has played a role in its success following a set of guidelines which aim to provide a sterile environment could well lead to a killing of the golden goose.

Which isn’t to say that one shouldn’t ‘pimp up’ one’s blog posts, however. Mia herself tweeted a few hours after her previous post that she “blogged my dev8D talk ( on happy museums, developers and punters (right URL this time), open to suggestions, comments“.

But rather than Twitter users using the service to post factual information about themselves, their work and their organisation I’d suggest that the emphasis should be on those aspects that you care about and, as Martin Weller suggested recently, the things you love: your iPhone, your musical taste, your football team and the like.

And as Mike Ellis recently suggested that Twitter “needs an edge, a voice, a riskiness” I think I’ll announce this post with the tweet “Pimping up my blog post on the attractions & dangers of pimping up blog posts:“.

10 Responses to “Twitter Can Pimp Up Your Stuff – But Should It?”

  1. Joy Palmer said

    Interesting. Makes the assumption, though, that twitter is less a technological medium but an individualistic rhetorical form that emphasises ‘natural’ personal discourse. I think this is just one approach, but still v. much in flux. We need to think in terms of multiple twitter contexts…

  2. Paul Boag said

    I think the problem is that because twitter is new, we all see it as playing a different role. You could argue twitter is a place for sharing personal experience. You could argue it is the place where you post ‘what you are doing’ (the original intention). Or you could argue it is a place to have a dialogue with your followers.

    All are valid as are many other uses. Ultimately it comes down to personal choice. I believe Mia is wrong to tell you how to use Twitter. You should use it in whatever way you are comfortable. It is then down to the individual to decide whether they follow you or not.

    Personally, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting more followers. In fact before I post anything to twitter I ask myself whether my followers will find it useful, entertaining or informative. If they won’t I tend not to post (although sometimes I throw caution to the wind). I like to think of twitter as a service to my followers. By doing so I hope i might attract more. Is that wrong? No. Is that right for everybody? No.

    People should use twitter as they want and others should stop criticising them for it. If they don’t like it they should stop following.

  3. Martin said

    I’m with Paul – I unfollow people who just broadcast, but I don’t mind a bit of broadcasting. A lot of people have said that they do use twitter as their RSS feed now, ie they find blog posts through it. As you know, I always tweet when I’ve done a blog post because a) I’m an egomaniac who needs traffic, traffic, b) some people who follow me on twitter don’t subscribe to my blog, c) some people prefer to get the notification via Twitter, d) I figure if you’re following me then you’ll probably find it interesting e) actually a lot of the interesting discussion around a post takes place on twitter, not in comments, f) I don’t blog so frequently that it will make my twitter stream annoying and g) isn’t that enough reasons?

  4. I pimp my rare blog posts on Twitter.
    Why, because Twitter’s about what I’m doing, and who I am.

    As you suggest, I tweet about stuff that interests and concerns me (as well, as occasionally what I’ve eaten, where I’ve been, what I’ve read).

    My blogging is part of that. I get a fair chunk of my limited traffic from Twitter, but most comes from inside my employer – as people find out you can blog externally.

    Keep pimping!

  5. How, then, might you provide evidence that Twitter can be used to support organisational aims?

    Are you aware of the work that the WeAreMedia people (Beth Kanter et al) have been doing with their social media toolbox?

    They have a whole section called Micro Media where they talk about Twitter and stuff. They have one post under “Why Nonprofits Use it?”, and lots of other good stuff, including proto-evaluation tools.

    I know that non-profit is not the same as tertiary education, but some of the arguments and tools remain the same. There is lots of other good stuff on the We Are Media site.

    Enjoy and share, contribute where you can.


  6. […] Twitter can pimp up your stuff, but should it? This post touches on issues of measurability of the worth of Twitter and the branding versus personal argument. Left me wanting more though. (tags: twitter blogging metrics) […]

  7. […] Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 6 March 2009 What is the usage profile like for a typical blog post on this blog? I suspect the statistics for the post on “Are You Able?” is fairly typical (although, as I confessed recently I did pimp up this post on Twitter. […]

  8. […] Kelly posted Twitter Can Pimp Up Your Stuff – But Should It? a while ago. This post has caused me to think about courtesy and good practice. The aspect I want […]

  9. […] Think about your followers: If you are using Twitter as an individual but also wish to promote areas of your work you will need to consider the balance between engagement (chatting with your mates), support (helping your mates), requests (asking your mates for held) and dissemination (telling your mates what you’ve being doing and what you’re proud of). This was an area I addressed in a post on “Twitter Can Pimp Up Your Stuff – But Should It?“. […]

  10. […] worried about the ethics of doing this. Partly in light of the responses to my post last year on What Are the #jiscbid Evaluators Thinking? which cited a couple of tweets. In response to that post my colleague Paul Walk pointed out […]

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