Twitter Yo-yos

30 August 2016

Disconnect: Tale Of The World’s Shortest Twitter Relationship

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Social Media Critic…

I take Twitter too seriously — especially since I don’t think it will even be around much longer (at least in its current form).

No, I still don’t see it as a great place for most brands and non-celebs to do mass marketing. I see it primarily as a place to build a reputation, research various stakeholders, and develop a few relationships.

So I follow very few people on Twitter — only 15 at last count. Not because I’m misanthropic (I only act that way while driving through Hollywood). To the contrary, I take the word “following” seriously, as in actually getting to know other people and paying attention to what they say. Isn’t that the whole point of social networking?

I know, silly, idealistic me.

Other Twitterati play this game of following thousands of people in order to be followed back, while not really caring what those people actually say. Apparently, when Twitter finally comes to an end, the person with the most followers will win their own deserted island and a yo-yo to keep themselves entertained.

How could I not want that?

Instead, I follow a manageable dozen or so people whose tweets actually interest me, and whom I want to get to know better. So it’s a rarity that I follow anyone, even if they follow me first. No hard feelings — I’m just near maximum tweet reading capacity.

One person I did follow recently was a data scientist from New York. I read through his tweets, and some were informative. On the downside, he was “following” over 10,000 people in hopes of winning an island and a yo-yo, which meant he would likely never see a single thing I tweeted, but what the hey, I decided to follow him back anyway.

Shortly after I did, I received this direct message from him:

“Thank you Atomic for connecting. Let’s continue the conversation on LinkedIn…”

So I immediately disconnected from him. Can you guess why?

If you said “because Atomic isn’t your first name,” you win a prize — no, not an island or even a yo-yo, but maybe a high-five the next time I see you.

Now, given the hordes of trolls and spammers that infest Twitter, his friendly offer was obviously not the worst message ever sent to me. But calling me “Atomic” told me either one of two things:

  1. He was too lazy to read my Twitter bio, which clearly states my name. Anyone who can’t bother to read a 160-character bio of someone they’re “following” is neither much of a data scientist, nor someone I’d trust in business.
  2. He’s a bot whose every message and response is programmed, and therefore couldn’t distinguish between a human name and a brand name. In this case, he’s too much about the data.

Either way, Twitter makes it remarkably easy and satisfying to unfollow anyone — you just have to click a button, which I did. He unfollowed me a few moments later, lending credence to the theory that his entire Twitter existence is programmed.

This pointless experience — connecting with people who couldn’t care less — is probably one reason why millions of people would rather pursue Pokemon than invest time in Twitter. After all, if you’re going to chase imaginary friends, why not at least have fun?

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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