Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Me on Twitter 1 year later

I joined Twitter a little over 1 year ago. Prior to this I was only on Blogger where I used to write my analysis of new research articles, specifically in immunology.

Two reasons why I choose Twitter as my primary social site:

(a) Even though I was blogging about science and writing unique quality content, very few people visited my site and even fewer left their comments. On average, my site had around 10 pageviews per day. It went up slightly to 30 pageviews when I started to regularly post my analysis (2-3 per week). Still in my view I felt it hadn’t attracted enough visitors who were interested in immunology. On Google one finds plenty of advice on how to make a site more visible and usually number 1 advice is to have current, novel and original stuff and even though I was writing original stuff it wasn’t working as I expected. So I thought maybe sending links of my posts via Twitter would increase its visibility (it did as discussed below).

(b) I have a quick mind and it is quite easy for me to come up with quick and short titles (at least I believe such things about me). So I thought Twitter can be a good venue to express my thoughts as “idea bursts”.

So I joined Twitter and began learning how to use it in a way to popularize my immunology blog. However, immediately I encountered a major hurdle on Twitter: it appeared that url links from my blogger posts were not going “public” on Twitter when attached to my tweets but were visible only to my “Followers” and I had basically none at this stage.

I searched Google to find if anyone had reported similar situation. Indeed, few discussion sites mentioned that only Twitter accounts that were popular or had many followers or were long-standing, permitted “Public” url visibility.

Basically it was a kind of catch22 situation for me: on one hand, to gain popularity and followers I needed to attach my blog post url links to my tweets, but such tweets were not visible in Twitterverse. On the other hand, my Twitter account would have not been visible in Twitterverse unless I had some followers.

So, for some time I had no idea how to solve this dilemma. Then few days later I came across an online discussion where it was mentioned that not all url links are “equal” and some url links are more popular for Twitter’s algorithm. Specifically, names of such site as BBC or NYT were mentioned. After reading this I had an “epiphany”: what would happen if I attached to my tweet a prestigious [but random] url alongside of my “non-prestigious” blog post url? Would such prestigious ulr “carry”/”boost” my non-popular url link and make it visible in Twitterverse?

It did. For a long time (2-3 months) I used to attach so called “booster” url to my tweets if I need to share my blog post links. As a “booster” url I used Nature.com home page link and it worked wonderfully.

This is how I made my Twitter account visible to Twitterverse at this stage. Later, few months later, my Twitter account “graduated” from the point of view of Twitter’s algorithm and I was able to share my blog post link autonomously without “booster” url links. I also found that attaching any photo to a tweet had the same “booster” effect.

After being an active Twitter user for more than 1 year, my experience is mostly positive. For me Twitter is one of the best places to go to find News.

However there are few things that still puzzle me about how people use Twitter.

Right now I have around 185 Followers. I myself follow around 25 people, so far. My immunology blog reached ~100 views per day since I joined Twitter. Sometimes it has more.

On Twitter I prefer to follow people who are (a) active users, (b) who write their own blog, (c) who don’t use too much of retweets, (d) tweet and share links about topics that are not yet worldwide “common knowledge”.

I especially try not to follow people who are retweeting too much. It shows that they have nothing unique to say themselves and depend on others to fill the void. I also find very puzzling the situation when people start to follow and then few days later unfollow because I did not follow them back. The fact is that I specifically state in my profile that I am tweeting mostly about immunology. If you are interested in immunology, you can follow for that purpose and not because you have an expectation of follow-follow principle, especially when you don’t tweet about immunology or science related topics.

I also have a strong opinion regarding what to tweet, retweet and even follow. Since Twitter is a public social site, we need to exercise some social oriented judgment. When I tweet or retweet anything, I do this because either I find information positive or I find information negative and of high value enough to share. But this also means that I have my own opinion about my tweets or my retweets. In other words, you need to be able to “defend” your tweet or retweets. I disapprove when people blindly retweet something and when asked to explain they have nothing to say and have no idea or opinion why they are retweeting it. This is not correct, in my view.

Of course, I don’t likes people on Twitter who ignore direct questions. This is especially true for people who have lot of followers and wrongly assume that someone with less followers does not merit their answer. This is a mistake and shows lack of culture.

I am also curious how people who follow 1000s or even 100s of people are managing their twitter feed. Right now, I follow 25 twitter account and my twitter feed has dozen tweets per hour. Imagine following 100s or even more of “active” twitter accounts and getting 100s of tweets per hour. It would be very demanding to navigate it, to sort it out and respond.

posted by David Usharauli