Friday, 31 October 2014

Private Twitter accounts and why they're missing out.

Do you use Twitter? Twitter is that cool social network that has people arguing about whether it’s better or worse than Facebook.

I know people who hate Facebook with its proprietary big brother antics but love Twitter for its lack of enforced two-way relationship building.

Similarly people love Facebook because they can converse with like minded people while Twitter all feels like a big mass of people shouting to get attention.


The thing with any social network is that if you have a purpose for using it then how you use it changes.


If you’re going to use Twitter to follow celebrities and see what’s happening in the world then you can enjoy Twitter without ever gaining any followers. If you have nothing to say then fine, just be a follower, a casual observer. Maybe you don’t want followers so you set your account to private so you can manually approve every follower.


But as soon as you say something that you want the world to see, you have got to make your account public. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t protect your tweets but then expect that one tweet you write asking people to buy something or promote a gig or fill out a survey to actually be seen by anyone. Asking for an RT on a private tweet is ridiculous because private posts can’t be retweeted. And expecting people to manually copy the tweet and post it from their own account goes against the point of using Twitter as a means of sharing a message.


We live in a world of immediacy. Twitter is fast paced, your tweet might have a shelf life of twenty minutes if you’re lucky. People are busy writing their own tweets, they’re not going to waste time rewriting yours.

You want your tweet shared? Make it public.


Private accounts miss out on a whole heap of fun. Suppose you go to a gig and decide to tweet about it, copying the band or singer to let them know what you thought… No, even though you mentioned them they won’t see that, you marked your tweets private, remember, unless someone is following you they can’t read it.


Composing a tweet that says ‘hey Twitter, I need your help… RT’

From a private account isn’t going to reach the Twitterverse. It’ll go to the same 35 people that all your other tweets went to, those tweets that document what you had for breakfast and wish your friends a goodnight sleep.


There’s something really exciting about getting retweeted, but those private account holders won’t get that satisfaction of knowing something they said was considered worthy of sharing.


The irony is that while users with private accounts have to manually approve every follower, they could just as easily block every follower from a public account. It’ll take up the same amount of their time. But at least they’ll be enjoying the full experience that Twitter has to offer.


Now okay, I do understand if you only want people you know to see what you say… In which case Facebook is probably the social media for you, it’s more about relationships and less about sharing your thoughts with the whole world.


I know lots of people who are scared of Twitter, but it’s great fun if you use it properly. It gets tedious of course when all you read is a stream of tweets saying “buy my book, here” or “5 stars for my book, buy it here” without ever getting to know anything about the author. I hope that my followers are enjoying my cat photos and the evidence of my procrastination while I’m writing that difficult second novel. I know for a fact that any tweeted links to buy my book have fallen on deaf ears if my first royally statement is anything to go by!


I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re not going to use a social network the way it was intended, why bother at all? Life’s too short to be stuck behind a computer keeping a bunch of profiles up to date anyway. Stick with one you feel comfortable with and use it properly.


And if you really want to keep your tweets private, just set up a separate profile and make it public for those occasional tweets you want to share with the whole of Twitter!



Private Twitter accounts and why they're missing out.