I’ve been on Twitter for a while now but I often question its worth and value (is that redundant?) I had lunch with two friends this week, neither of them on Twitter. Though I knew I would communicate with both of them more if they were on Twitter, I didn’t even try to sell them on the idea.
Neither of them is at the computer for hours a day like I am. For them, I think Facebook is a better communication tool. Twitter is great for current conversation, but each bit of conversation (or tweet) is pretty fleeting and quickly “falls off the page,” buried by other tweets you’ve received.
I use Twitter more for daily conversation and Facebook for more lasting memories. For example, I like to banter during a sporting event. Twitter is a great medium for that. It just seems to be a medium meant to be monitored more frequently.
But you don’t always know if the tweets you put out there will lead to a conversation, or even if anyone is reading them. It’s been most effective during Missouri football or men’s basketball road games, when several of us will tweet while watching the game on t.v. But sometimes I feel like I’m tweeting into the abyss. It’s a really odd sort of communication.
I felt that way this weekend as I watched and tweeted about two NCAA sports tournaments: Missouri in softball and the men’s lacrosse tournament.
Friday night I was tweeting softball thinking some out of town alums might like to get the updates. I was right. That night one replied that he appreciated the tweets, another said, “Thanks for the updates! Some of us work Friday nights and can’t keep up with the gamecast. #mizzou” I felt an odd sort of satisfaction and justification for my tweets.
Saturday softball and lacrosse were happening at the same time. I tweeted softball under my name—uberscholar—and lacrosse under MizzouLaxFans. My goal was to spare my followers from lacrosse, a game most of them couldn’t care less about. It was an interesting challenge, but I didn’t get any feedback.
Today, another day of softball and lacrosse, I ended up tweeting both sports under my name. The second game—underdog Stony Brook against top-ranked Virginia—was a close game and my tweets went beyond straight reporting, they carried a bit of emotion with them, too. About half way through the day I got some nice feedback:
Because of the feedback I now knew I had at least an audience of one, and an appreciative audience. The rest of my tweets were a little more frequent and I left my emotion in. At the end of the day several of my tweets were retweeted (that’s a blog entry in and of itself.) So at the end of the weekend, what have I learned?
• That my sports tweets have value, even if only to a few people.
• That maybe for every one that responds there are many more reading and enjoying but not responding.
• That I have absolutely no idea if Twitter really has any value in a context like this. It’s a lot of work for just a few responses.
• That maybe it’s not about getting any response at all. (But if that were true, why bother? I mean, wouldn’t that be a lot like just talking to yourself??)
Given that I have never been one to talk to myself…
• Ok, so I tweet because I’m hopeful that someone will “respond” even if they don’t respond directly to me.