Twitter: If Everyone Was Listening

by Ruud Hein April 7th, 2009 

"The actors and jesters are here
The stage is in darkness and clear
For raising the curtain
And no-ones quite certain whose play it is
-- "If Everyone Was Listening", Supertramp

Erik Qualman wonders if on Twitter anyone is listening.

He answers himself with a "no", arguing that listening and partcipiating doesn't scale:

"As more people join Twitter, this type of one-to-one relationship will be difficult to maintain. Many celebrities already have "ghost tweeters."

In the future, instead of getting a witty and salient reply from a CEO or well-informed employee, you'll most likely get an uninspired reply from a call center (tweet center?) in New Delhi -- if you're lucky to get a response at all."

Yes -- but no.

With Many Listening, One Scales Infintely

Twitter is not a one-to-many or many-to-one medium; Twitter is a one-to-one-with-many-listening medium.

That one talk with one customer at one moment is overheard by tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands.

The uniqueness of that one moment when one person took time for ME is such that people broadcast the interaction and amplify it.

This is demonstrated by the fact that Erik didn't have the chance to have a one-on-one interaction with JetBlue while he does have knowledge of their one-on-one Twitter activity... QED.

The CEO's Tweet Isn't The Reason For The Tweeter

But face it: the reason people tweet and the reason people follow eachother's tweet is not because JetBlue, Zappos or BBGeeks are online and might respond.

People primarily tweet among each other about the mundane.

In numbers & pretty charts (tm) that means that people are more likely to talk about bagels than about Tim Horton's.

Now I'm off to Twitter to follow Erik Qualman whose article I learned about via a tweet from Glenn Gabe...

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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6 Responses to “Twitter: If Everyone Was Listening”

  1. I can't wait for Twitter to fly away… it's annoying more than anything. The question I have is whether it's smart for Google to buy Twitter as was the latest rumor I read…

  2. I've rolling around my own thoughts on this and was amused to see you had written this Ruud :)

  3. Ned Carey says:

    This is an interesting concept. Twitter's own success could be their downfall. Maybe someday they will have to change the name from Twitter to Clutter.

  4. Clive Hadson says:

    Twitter is actually become more and more popular, attracting more visitors. Same happened with social media sites like Facebook.
    I still like Twitter – cause it is great gathering place.

  5. Ruud Hein says:

    @FoxNewsBoycott Odd how these things grab your or not, eh? MySpace has never been my thing, for example. I checked Twitter out early-ish but couldn't fathom why I would use it. A day after I really started testing it, Google bought Jaiku and "we" were involved in this large discussion — each and everyone. That's when I was hooked.

    @Kim :) Great minds, stuff like that. Seriously, there's a lot more to this though but this was an immediate reaction type of thing.

    @Ned @Clive Yes, Twitter is definitely growing still. These developing days are super interesting as we see whether it'll be "social medium" or "social media"

  6. Great post. What is amazing about Twitter, as you say, is the one-to-one-but-heard-by-thousands approach. Whole Foods has crafted this perfectly, by becoming more than just a place for food. Zappos also illustrates the ability to connect with individuals on twitter, while still maintaining a retail image.