A comment by Jake Johnson about hard tweeting got me thinking:
Irritates me that I get to just over 900 with 3.5 years hard tweeting, yet @RealNickJames blasts up after three minutes on @ChrisMoylesShow
-- Jake Johnson (@jakepjohnson) May 10, 2012
Not all followers are the same. @Bristol_Culture has nearly 7000 followers and has only tweeted around 4200 times in the last two and a bit years. He mainly tweets links to posts on his blog and each one has an increased value because it provides more than just a tweet.
Is it strange to think of tweets having some sort of intrinsic value? They are a means of communication but that's not all. J.S. Coleman first wrote about the value we give to social interactions and obligations and called this social capital. You do something for me, I do something for you, tit for tat*, etc.
Not all interactions are the same though and Granovetter wrote about weak and strong ties. Weak ties are things like networking and casual connections. They are the friends of friends who you meet at parties and they are more likely than not to find you a job because someone knows someone.
Strong ties are close friends and family. They are few, they are strong obligations and they are mostly mutual. So does it follow that the more followers, the weaker the links between them and the Tweetie, and then vice versa? I'm not so sure.
There has to be a level of followers reached before the Tweetie starts feeling the benefits of Twitter. The Retweets and the random comments. The crowdsourcing capabilities which in their exponential power are sometimes astonishing.
If you have 10 or 20 followers then you probably don't see all that. With 100,000 or more you probably struggle to have conversations with the thousands of voices that respond to every tweet. It is all very interesting. No? Update: Do note @jakepjohnson's follow up tweet which demonstrates that he is not in it just for the followers:
Although, I'm not really that annoyed as it doesn't mean anything -- Jake Johnson (@jakepjohnson) May 10, 2012
And an excellent point by @BristolBites:
@stillawake It's always interesting to look at the followed:following ratio too!
-- Bristol Bites (@BristolBites) May 12, 2012
To be continued?
*A surprisingly popular phrase in much of rational choice literature.
Follow Joanna Papageorgiou on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stillawake