May 16, 2011

What Twitter Taught Me about Me

Earlier this year I decided to run a little personal experiment.

The question: What would I be like if no one knew who I was?
The answer: Myself

I opened the Twitter account @Perceiving to see what I would do with the freedom of anonymity. To summarize, I said things that I would otherwise be too self-conscious to share on my actual twitter feed, @nickwritenow. I also found that I was more open to following people from different backgrounds. However, I did continuously find my way into following many of the same people.

Still, I had a more open mind. I became more willing to hear what people had to say. Their points of view were so much different than I was used to. Plus, I felt I could reply my honest opinion without feeling personally at risk. Cowardly I admit, but interesting to see myself in this light.

Within the first 26 days I had more followers with @Perceiving than I had in the first 2 years with @nickwritenow. I know this isn’t the end all be all of measuring Twitter aptitude, but it gave me an idea of how effective I was being.

@nickwritenow (2 years)
Followers—337     Following—295     Retweets—1       @mentions—96

@Perceiving (26 days)
Followers—384     Following—398     Retweets—12     @mentions—88

My plan was to run both accounts for 6 months to see which one would win out. What would I learn, if anything, in 6 months that could make me more effectively active on Twitter? Well, it was clear within the first month that @Perceiving was my more dominant persona. However, just a couple weeks later I saw a huge change—I began applying my @Perceiving attitude towards @nickwritenow, and my new Twitter account quickly fell by the wayside. Thus, 6 months became 3 months because I saw in me what I wanted to see much quicker than I anticipated.

@nickwritenow (2.5 years)
Followers—656     Following—588     Retweets—5       @mentions—148

@Perceiving (3 months)
Followers—531     Following—572     Retweets—14     @mentions—126

My followers nearly doubled in the course of 2 months, as did those I followed. 5 retweets is still pretty sad, but compared to just 1 after 2 years? Besides, that’s only counting those who retweeted through the new retweet button. I have received many more through traditional retweets. @Perceiving still wins in this category though, but sometimes I feel people are more apt to retweet someone they don’t know, as though they think that person somehow knows more—something I’ve noticed in the corporate world as well. @mentions rose at a steady pace for both—due in part, I think, to my participation in more conversations.

So the question lingers—am I more personable, relatable, and entertaining because I’m less reserved, or are the people I am now connected to more apt to participate, have a conversation, and retweet? The answer—yes. My alter ego taught me that I can be more myself and not reserve my tweets to just news or others’ reports, but to create my own news more often, comment more, open myself up more, and be more willing to hear those who may be outside my industry and geographic area. It has helped me get more people to read my work and has taught me that maybe I’m more interesting than I give myself credit for.

I understand that none of this is scientific by any means, but for me it has opened my eyes. Mainly, I learned a lot about myself. I’m more interesting when I’m open and less reserved—a lesson I’m sure many people already learned about themselves, but as a lifelong wallflower it has opened my eyes to the true me, and I’m a right-old, opinionated, son-of-a-bitch when I want to be.

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