Twitter taps into two key human needs: connection and collection.
It is in our genes to want to connect, collaborate and share ideas and emotions. We want to be heard and acknowledged for the information we have gathered. Also, whether it is comic books, cars or art, humans have a wild enthusiasm to collect things. We collect in order to establish our identity.
Incorporating these two needs has been a key to Twitter’s success. But is one outweighing the other?
When I first started using Twitter and was mainly following people and being followed by a few, the level of conversation and collaboration was high. My new friends and I had fantastic discussions on a range of topics. I was a fan: I saw the benefit of Twitter.
However, as my connections grew the level of collaboration dissolved as I became obsessed with getting more followers. Before I knew it the scales had tipped; I was more interested in collection (quantity) than in connection (quality).
I let one of my instincts get the better of me as I lost sight of why I was using it. And I am sure I am not the only one.
How can we maintain the balance between connection and collection, thereby maximising Twitter as a collaborative platform? One way would be to remove the follower count from public view. This may help make us focus more on connection than on collection. However, without a social hierarchy or the ability to display our identity, Twitter wouldn’t be as distinctive; you might as well use the subject line in an email.
Instead of removing our “identity” altogether, I believe the follower count should be replaced with a more rational system that displays the type of influencer you are on Twitter. Think Google PageRank™ for Twitter. Your rank would be based on how much you connect, collaborate and share as opposed to how many followers you have.
There are some interesting analytics tools out there, such as Twitalyzer, that let you analyse a person’s influence, but would integrating such technology be the key to making this platform even more collaborative? I think so, because it would make us focus on the value of Twitter, not its superficiality.
Matt Leeburn is co-founder and CEO of Interaction Dynamics and director of Click Logic. He has extensive experience in new business development, marketing, behavioural economics and digital strategy. Follow him on [email protected]
Image by MattJhsn