Twittering as a two way street

Grumpycat2This post marks the end of the marking period for my Rethinking Media subject. A huge thank you to everyone who participated to date with a shout out to Avril, Sarah and Sally for your thoughtful and though provoking comments on this blog. It had been an interesting couple of weeks building this blog and playing around with ideas for each post. I suspect that although this blog is a good start to build a community, it will take several months to build an audience beyond the classroom.

With that in mind, I’ll end with a post referencing Freakonomics podcast on whether Twitter is a two way street. Freakonomics’s twitter handle @freakonomics has to date 545,021 followers. Yet they don’t follow a single person on Twitter. This seems like a complete contradiction of how Twitter or  social media works, a bit of “I follow you, you follow me back” quid pro quo.

Turns out this is not such an uncommon occurrence, especially as sociologist Duncan Watts explains it:

So about 50 percent of all tweets that a random person on Twitter receives on any given day come from just 20,000 users. So that’s about .05 percent of…so one half of a tenth of a percent of all users on Twitter.


WATTS: It’s worth emphasizing again that Twitter is not a social network. Now, social networks are characterized by very, very high levels of reciprocity. So if I say that I’m friends with you, it’s very likely that you will also say that you’re friends with me. It’s not always true, but it’s very often the case. And if not, I stop being a participant in that social network. It’s a funny kind of friendship if only one person thinks that it exists. Whereas, in communication networks it’s totally different.

This goes back to my first post that as Komala mentioned yes Justin Bieber may be the most followed twitter user in the world, but it doesn’t mean that he has a social network of engaged followers. This to me sounds like a reversal of “traditional” media, where twitter user decides to tune in to, but not necessarily actively engage. Perhaps this means that a one way / passive engagement is not just something that happens in the black ages of traditional media, rather it might be the preferred way we consume some media. For communicators we have the added benefit of being able to measure these passive opt in. Secondly, Freakonomics “success” in being able to create an audience may be due to the content they provide, no direct engagement necessary.

So to all my lurkers who visited this blog, thank you for coming and consuming and hopefully I’ll see you again with a comment and two as this blog progress into something other than a university assignment!

2 thoughts on “Twittering as a two way street

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