I am seduced by the interest in yesterday’s post, which remains sloppy and in need of tightening. There are many types I missed, so let me try to flesh this out a bit. To review, these are observations, not completed analysis. But through this first pass, we may glean some common characteristics. To be serious about this, I would need a significant data sample – please do not imagine I have cut through thousands of twitter users to develop these types.
But I’d like to.
To recap, we have:
Incurious Celebrity – 1:60+ Augmenting value provided elsewhere, but not actively listening to Twitter. May respond to @ messages. Poster girl: @breagrant. Also a member: @anamariecox (1:122), whose messages are often worth printing off and framing. Ms. Cox gained some fame by raising a substantial amount of money through Twitter and her blog in order to finish participating as part of the press gaggle for the McCain campaign. She can rally support, but remains an Incurious Celebrity.
Curious Celebrity – 1:1 Augmenting value provided elsewhere, also engaging and listening to their followers. May respond to @ messages, but also displays evidence they are proactively engaged. Poster guy @stephenfry (1:1)
Engaged Intellectual – (1:10) truly seeking to engage the people they follow, providing unique value online. Links to items they are reading or writing – and relies on feedback. Would plotz without it. @cheeky_geeky (1:8) a poster guy here.
Balanced Invisible – (1:1), for small values of 1. Engaged, but mainly followed by real life friends and Mom. I’m trying to break out, I really am. Sigh.
Empty Suit - marketers, spammers, other folks who believe connecting with zero value is useful for anyone other than themselves. Yesterday I provided an egregious example, today here’s “coach Judy,” someone whose ratio is (1:1). However, well, this graphic demonstrates an actual feed from a half hour out of her twitter life (the “free gift” is a blog posting). She may be doing something really valuable to get all those followers, but her use of Twitter makes her an Empty Suit.
You may think that a form of the Incurious Celebrity would be journalism outlets, such as @nytimes (1:425). They satisfy the criteria: high ratio of followers to followed, and providing intrinsic value. However, their twitter messages are a form of “corporate communications,” in that they use Twitter to augment their news delivery.
Journalists need their own types.
Here are a few: @nytimes (1:425) is, sorry, Old Media. Why? They use twitter entirely to draw eyeballs to their existing media channel. Their messages are entirely links to their web page offering. However, they are offering original content, as they employ actual journalists. Old Media remains a source of valuable information.
@breakingnewson (1:10), is a Resourceful Repackager. Their ratio is based on fairly large numbers (969:10,375), and they aren’t just following other news outlets. However, they are monitoring news through various media channels and pass on breaking news to Twitter.
@ricksanchezcnn (1:2) is an example of Listening Media. While primarily appearing on the unblinking eye of CNN, he incorporates edited Twitter streams into his newscast. More importantly, he uses the Twitter community for “show prep.” This is an important step, rather than treat twitter users (only) as if we’re zoo creatures, Mr. Sanchez is also interacting and listening.
Full disclosure: I stopped following Rick Sanchez in a snit after he posted a question during show prep one day about the increase in hate speech directed at Barack Obama. It’s entirely possible I wrote him several messages asking (ok, demanding) him to explain the difference between news and incitement. He ignored (or likely, didn’t see) the messages, and I unfollowed. I’m still snit-bound.
Interestingly CNN’s @andersoncooper (1:780), (who violates the ‘cnn’ suffix that is otherwise apparently a station norm), is profoundly Old Media. Such a young hip guy, but his messages are all pointers to his area on cnn.com, and his ratio is disturbing.
Not only is he following only seven feeds, but the only human on that list is @jackcafferty (1:265). Mr. Cafferty, whose job appears to consist entirely of provoking audience engagement through email, is remarkably also Old Media. The only human on his list is, yes, @andersoncooper. Someone get these guys telephones.
Brief rant. Ok, Jack? ”If you didn’t see your email here, go to my blog where they’re all posted.” So: write you an email so that I may then go to your “blog” and read it? Aren’t narcissists usually more resourceful?
@fox5newsedge (1:1) is truly radical, and may be an example of Trusted Media. Yes, I did say that out loud. This is someone of the Listening Media type who also shares non-news insights. He responds to listeners, their ideas inform his on-air presentations, he provides a “tease” to his broadcasts, and links to content, but uses follow-up (what he calls f/u) ideas to provide a more tailored broadcast. Finally, and most important, he shares his personal twitter account (@brianbolter (1:5)) from here – where I can assure you he is himself. This local news broadcaster thanked me recently when I provided a cleaning solution idea to fix an unfortunate marriage between a decanter of red wine and his carpet.
Mr. Bolter is building out a trust network by connecting in a meaningful way with his audience. This is nontrivial; Washington DC is a town where news is often made by people who “leak” information to trusted news sources. What does it mean for a journalist who’s gaining trust among thousands of Washingtonians with very little effort? Do I trust Mr. Bolter because he spills red wine, is witty, and is nervous about an upcoming laproscopic procedure? Yes, because he is connecting on a human level.
I don’t know if this little exercise is useful, but it’s fun to ramble once in a while.