Follow me on Twitter

06 Jul 2014

There are posts on the internet that describe A/B testing of different phrases to get people to follow you on twitter†1. I find it fascinating to read how effects of small changes can be quite beyond what I expected†2.

In the May issue of the Communications of the ACM the editor’s letter ends with “Follow me on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter”. In the context of the above I really hope at some point to get some data about his twitter followers over time and see how this affected the count. I certainly experienced a bid surprise when I read it, and I can imagine that this surprise in other people lead to them following him.

I did not follow him. Not because I don’t think his streams are interesting, also not because the surprise I described above was not only a pleasant surprise, but because I have recently deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I would do the same with my Google+ account, but Google has for the moment made this hard since this account is tied in with an email address where I still occasionally receive an email.

The question that his asking us to follow him everywhere brought into my mind most was “Why?”; why do you want us to follow you?

These services certainly have a certain appeal. The idea that you have people interested enough in what you have to say in 140 characters or less is clearly attractive. At various times I have tried to make an interesting stream as well.

The effect of this efforts were always interesting. Not to any readers I don’t think, but to myself. Occasionally, and mostly accidentally, I’ll have an interesting observation. When this would happen I would mull over how I could make a nice tweet out of this

@XXX follow you on twitter, why?

@XXX follow you on twitter, why do you care?

@XXX follow you on twitter, facebook, and google+; can't I just camp out at your house and see it all in real time?

and so on. Sometimes this resulted in what I still find an enjoyable tweet†3.

Caught speeding for the first time today, 30 mph over; like my mom used to say, if you do something, do it well.

So the effect is that I really started practicing writing my observations in 140 characters or less, and in a funny way. Turns out, on careful reflection, that this is not actually a skill I care about. It is a skill I could become a lot better at then I am now, but, so what?

When this observation lead me to decide that I was not going to be an active participant in these services; the next step was also easy. How much time does it take, and what do I get out of it by being a passive participant? Occasionally a great link would show up on Twitter, occasionally I learned something cool/interesting/important had happened to people I know on facebook; but in the end the time it takes to keep up did not feel well spend. And then the conclusion is easy, delete, delete, delete.

†1: The one by Dustin Curtis I think of in particular seems to have been removed.

†2: I did not think before completing the articles about what I expected, so this is a retroactive expectation and might be colored by the fact that I rather enjoy the surprise.

†3: as I deleted my twitter account I am rewriting this from memory, so likely only somewhat similar to the original.