I happened upon this piece by Clive Thompson published at Wired.com on January 25th of this year: Clive Thompson in Praise of Online Obscurity . I think business people utilizing Twitter may find it an insightful read, so I recommend it. In fact, it actually leads me to speculate about a couple of other Twitter-related maneuvers for:
- Mid-sized businesses with a “middle of the pack” (Thomson’s term) number of Twitter followers
- Twitter itself.
But let’s get to that by starting with a few comments from Thompson’s article:
“(on Twitter) I’ve heard this story again and again from those who’ve risen into the lower ranks of microfame. At a few hundred or a few thousand followers, they’re having fun — but any bigger and it falls apart.”
“…socializing doesn’t scale. Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote.” And according to a grad student and long-standing Twitter user, Maureen Evans: “They feel they can’t possibly be the person who’s going to make the useful contribution. So the conversation stops.”
Thompson suggests the following : “There’s value in online obscurity.” And he concludes his article by suggesting tools that might reward this “obscurity” or that warned users if social circles became unsustainably large.
Certainly, I think Thomson makes interesting points in his article.
But his piece also makes me consider how small or mid-size businesses with followings in what Thompson terms, “the middle of the pack” (10s of thousands of followers), might still converse on Twitter effectively in a two-way manner.
Maybe a mid-size company with 20,000 followers might find it more effective to establish 10 Twitter accounts, add and manage those accounts at CoTweet, and encourage their existing 20,000 followers to move to one of the 10 new accounts (which will be capped at 2000 followers)? Maybe this is already done in some cases?
Or if Twitter has run out of good addresses and is finding it difficult to accomodate multiple account addresses per company, then maybe Twitter itself should enable “segmentation” of individual Twitter accounts (say through a “subdomain” type system within Twitter itself)? And since Twitter is a company, Twitter might charge businesses considerably for the ability to utlize the account segmentation function.
So I’d ask the following: might Twitter literally find dollar value in mid-sized Businesses who seek to maintain more “obscure” follower sizes across multiple Twitter subaccounts?
I suspect that Twitter and Twitter users in business have probably been considering suggestions like these for years. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see the Twitter business landscape move in that direction this decade?