At the core of the media’s chattiest technology is a hollow sharing market. A personal investigation into precisely how little traffic Twitter’s maelstrom really contributes to sites.
In January, I deleted Twitter in my cell phone. The program was a charming distraction, I chose, and 2015 are a year of productivity updates. Three months later, I cheated by opening Twitter in my iPhone browser. Five months later, my productivity experimentation in tatters, I re-downloaded the program.
It’s an engagement “dashboard”–that is, numbers with images–which tells you how many times your tweet seemed on consumers’ glassy displays, how many times they clicked on it, and how many times they shared it.
These are the metrics that journalists and marketers crave, as they can exemplify corporate PowerPoints and answer precious qualitative questions (e.g.. What phrases best correlate with Twitter participation for our brand?) . However, the numbers also get in the qualitative questions that anyone living publicly online is questioning gently, like Was my joke any good?
Yesterday, chemistry; now, computers. This seemed like a tricky parallel, which may strike some as illuminating and others as over-simplifying. To put it differently, the ideal tweet.
I wrote this message, with a connection, and a picture:
Nevertheless, I thought the sharing market of the Net shared a little more than this.
So I moved to Twitter’s user analytics page to download the information in my 100 most popular tweets of this past year. If I could prove to my supervisors (as well as myself) that Twitter could, even sometimes, send meaningful audiences, it may validate my infatuation. Unfortunately, my most popular tweets averaged a click-through speed of about 1.7 percent, still fairly close to the speed of conversions on flash-media East Asian screen advertisements. Without showing numbers which will get me in trouble with my managers, I reasoned that my prodigious use of Twitter in the previous 30 days has cumulatively driven less visitors to TheAtlantic.com than one of my below-average stories.
Is the social web just a matrix of shares that are empty, of hollow generosity? Folks read without sharing, but just as frequently, perhaps, they discuss without reading.