Another dot in the blogosphere?

Is it better to give than receive on Twitter?

Posted on: September 10, 2014

Ever since Twitter released its analytic dashboard to the public, I have gained insights to my tweets like never before.

I learnt about my reach. But reach is not the same as impact, just like teaching is not the same as learning.

So how far might a tweet go?

In his post, What’s wrong with your website? Or your Facebook page or your tweets? Seth Godin recently shared:

It’s not unusual for a thousand people to visit your website before someone buys something. It’s not news if you ask 5,000 Twitter followers to do something and they all refuse to take action.

In ye olde blogging days, the rule of thumb used to be about 100 readers for every person who bothered to comment. That if is you were a blog star. Long gone are those days.

I participated in an #aussieED chat on Sunday at the direct message invitation of someone I met during #asiaED chat. The topic was game-based learning. In response to the fifth question to share what games we used, I tweeted:

I looked at the statistics that Twitter collected 24 hours after the chat. The tweet received 2,570 views (it is currently 3,394; over the next day or two the number will plateau at the 4,000 or 5,000 mark). Click on the screencapture below for a larger version.


The behaviour of tweeters online is telling. My tweet was retweeted five times and favourited 11 times. In plain speak, five people passed it along while 11 kept it for possible later reading or reference.

Of the 16 that did this collectively, only eight bothered to click on the link to investigate the content behind the URL. Three people decided to find out who I was and just one replied to say thank you.

This is not a judgement of the participants of #aussieED. This seems to happen in any fast-flowing, well-attended chat.

The in-person equivalent of this might be like entering an IT show in Singapore or exiting a conference venue only to face a phalanx of rabid people armed with flyers and brochures. You are pushed by the flow of people and you try to ignore the people forcing handouts on you, but you collect some dead trees anyway. The process is perfunctory and thankless.

However, the numbers do not tell the whole story nor do they reveal the impact. It is, as Godin put it, “the horizontal movement of ideas, from person to person” that matters. The impact is in the stories you hear weeks, months, or even years later. You might be acknowledged or thanked; you might not.

But you have to keep going because 1) that is the digital trail/shadow/portfolio you create, and 2) you never know who you are going to inspire.

So is it better to give than to receive in Twitter (or any social media platform for that matter)?

No, if you are expecting thanks and immediate returns.

Yes, if you are self-motivated and want to support a loose but passionate community of learners.

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