Why #tribes are not right for me but may be good for you.

This may be self-indulgent but I have just posted the following thoughts about tribal tweeting on @SeanEClark’s blog and wanted to share them on here too.

Further to various tweets with newsmary and Sean Clark I have now come to the conclusion that #tribes are not for me. That’s not to say they are a bad thing – in fact I can see them being very useful for some groups. However, I think they will work best when they reflect off-line tribes with shared values, interests and a common agenda. I am not convinced they are right for independent minded writers, who by nature don’t like to be pigeon-holed.

As mentioned previously (see replies here – and here) I think being in a tribe would constrain my freedom of expression. However, there is also the problem of the auto-RT. I know these can be switched off but as Sean explained (in his reply to me), part of the attraction of tribes is that they can get really big – and manual reviewing would slow down the process of dissemination. It could also lead to tribe members indulging in favouritism – and I guess potential free-loading (getting lots of RTs but sending very few).

In my tweets with Mary, I explained that I prefer to only RT what I have read, understood and (crucially) found either useful or interesting. The value of the RT lies in the selection – the process of winnowing.

I have just seen an auto-RT go out under my name from another tribe member. It’s not a bad post but it’s not the sort of post I would normally RT – as such the auto-RT has little real value and only serves to devalue my manual RTs (not that I am under any illusions about that value – but what value there is lies in my choice). That tension between the needs of the tribe and the views of individual can only get worse as the tribe grows.

So, apologies Sean – I don’t think tribes are for me – or me for tribes. A freelancer, sole-trader, island dweller (sometimes hermit) I will remain. I wish you and your tribe well but would ask you to set me free. In return I will happily buy you lunch at the World’s End (an aptly named pub for this recluse).

Kind regards


PS: Yes I know “me for tribes” ain’t grammatical but this is my blog – so I writes as I please (you have to pay for perfection).

PPS: Don’t let me put you off #tribes – read Sean’s blogs – make up your own mind – you might well find value in such collective enterprises – as I said in another reply ” Rome grew mighty on its conformity: individuals rarely build empires” – a theme I am happy to say Sean has picked up in a subsequent blog – read it and decide. Best wishes – H.

How do you judge engagement on #Twitter?

Here are some thoughts on how to judge engagement on social media, particularly twitter. I originally posted them in reply to a post by Gary Dickenson (@GaryDickenson on http://www.creospace.co.uk/blog/2009/12/why-you-cant-base-twitter-success-and-expertise-on-stats/) and another by Sean Clark (on @SeanEClark’s blog http://seanclark.com/social-media/roi-in-social-media-taking-the-numbers-out-of-the-equation/) -their original posts are both worth reading.

Engagement means more than having lots of followers, as I have been saying for ages (well since last year). Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they actively follow you (how can anyone genuinely follow 1000s of people). This habit of automatically following back is a particularly bad one. You should only follow people who interest you.

I follow people who engage with me (positively) – and who don’t fill their tweets with swearing (bit of a prude on that one). I also follow people who I see regularly getting RTs from other people I follow (and whose opinion I value). This is purely personal but I think businesses should apply a similar line of thinking.

Furthermore, I think the best way for a company to judge it’s influence is to look at the number of @ replies it gets – the number of @ tweets it sends in response (rather than the simple broadcast statements) – and, most importantly, the number of RTs it gets (either automatic or modified – MT).

In fact, I think MTs are particularly important indicators, even when a negative comment is added, because it shows that the person sending it is interested in the subject and wants to engage at some level. However, it is vital that the company doesn’t just leave the MT hanging – they have to reciprocate – acknowledge the MT and respond positively – in other words engage, wholeheartedly.

What do you think? Am I right – or is there a better way?