In my last post I pointed out how easy it is for people to ‘follow’ and ‘unfollow’ people using Twitter, and how it is unidirectional – that is, if I follow you, it doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily follow back.
You might think that Twitter’s inate ‘opt in/opt out’ qualities make it fickle, and you’d be right. People can quickly get involved in something and take part. This can be good – like for example, a campaign (@MickWill’s Boiler Scrappage Campaign is a case in point) or bad – like the current spate of phishing direct messages which are doing the rounds. Click on a link and you’re sucked in – be quick and change your password and you can opt out again. This fickle (or one might say, dynamic) nature of Twitter is the subject of much media interest.
There are aspects of the ‘opt in/opt’ out feature that are more subtle, and more ‘sticky’, however. Something that is mentioned less often is how Twitter is Self Selecting.
Here is an example.
In January I carried out a qualitative survey about twitter. I used my twitter accounts to ask for people to respond, particularly if they were in construction. Over two weeks I got 157 responses, pretty good for a long survey where one had to write quite a bit. 59% of the people who responded were either directly employed in the construction industry or specialise in construction.
I didn’t filter the responses; I didn’t ask the responders ‘are you in the construction industry?’ I simply let them choose if they wanted to respond. The twitter users who did respond selected themselves.
I also think that people from the construction industry responded more, because more of my network is construction industry people, and this is because I’m in the construction industry.
All over twitter, rather than forming one homogeneous mass, people are organising themselves into interest groups and communities. Some of this is conscious – like making lists of people in your industry (which attracts others), but much of it is involuntary. I once had a conversation about Morris Dancing with a friend and found that several Morris Dancing groups on twitter started following me!
What’s even better is that because opt in/opt out is so easy, these communities develop over a period of time according to what you are talking about on twitter, and whom you are talking with.
And even better than this, because twitter is public, these communities are transparent and visible to everyone, so people can listen in to your conversations, and wait and see if they want to join in. When they do, they have self selected
So twitter is a series of interconnected filter systems, of relationships constantly renewing and reforming. The ‘opt in/opt’ out culture creates a complex consent network. People choose to participate – they choose to receive the information they want.
Therefore, Twitter is PULL Marketing.