Is It Okay to Broadcast on Twitter?
Do you hate all those nasty people that broadcast on Twitter? Broadcast v. engagement. Engagement is what social media is supposed to be all about. Or so they’d have you believe.
During a recent conversation on Twitter a question came up. The popular opinion was that by sending out inspirational or motivational quotes I was broadcasting and that Twitter is an inappropriate medium for broadcast. This attitude is very popular in social media circles and social media ‘gurus’ alike. But are they right? Is sending quotes via Twitter broadcasting? If it is, does that make it a Bad Thing? Most importantly, is it possible to tell the difference between a Bad Thing and a good one?
What is Broadcast on Twitter?
Oxford English Dictionary describes broadcast as: “tell (something) to many people” or “scatter (seeds) by hand or machine rather than placing in drills or rows”. Sounds like it could be a pretty good description of Twitter to me, but I’ll come to that later on.
You could also refer to broadcasting as the act of sending out messages that don’t require a direct response. Advertising & marketing is a broadcast process and this is the kind of thing that most social media commentators refer to when talking about . Comedy however, is engagement because it requires a direct response – if there is no laughter, the comedian dies on stage.
Why is it Bad to Broadcast on Twitter?
It has become trendy to bash the broadcasters on social media. ‘Talk with us, not to us’, we are told. Perhaps as backlash against the impenetrable mass media world where ordinary people have no say. Social media is seen as democratic. It is. Blogs, websites, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, all put the means of production into the hands of ordinary people. This is a Good Thing. But should we throw out the benefits of broadcast? Now that the Emperor has new clothes, must we throw out all our old suits? Some were pretty dapper.
Benefits of Broadcast
If you broadcast you get the chance to make your point without interruption. Collaboration is great but it’s not the only way to produce great things. Picasso didn’t create communally. Nor did Mozart or Michelangelo. Sometimes it is good to create something for others as a gift that they can share and spread. If they like your gift, they can spread it to others that they think might like it too as a gift from them. On Twitter this is called retweeting and it’s the basis of most of Twitter’s appeal and growth.
Is Twitter a Broadcast Medium?
Is Twitter a broadcast medium by it’s very nature? After all, the reply function does seem like a fairly clumsy afterthought. Facebook seems much better-suited for engagement with the ability to reply and share media built-in from the start. One of the most popular features of facebook is the photo galleries. Is Twitter about broadcast & Facebook about engagement? Shouldn’t we just admit that?
Sending Quotes is Giving
I believe that sending quotes is a generous act requiring nothing in return. A gift to one’s followers. Seth Godin talks about gifts in Linchpin and it’s a book that I heartily recommend you buy (get Linchpin now via this Amazon link). With gifts, an obligation is created but with this kind of giving there is a clear implication that it should be paid forward, not paid back. It’s hard to monetize on sending out quotes unless you are selling a book of quotations. As we move further back into a gift-economy and away from the 20th Century’s get-economy don’t we all need to understand the nature and power of gift-giving? It is easy to feel threatened by it and write it off as a cynical way to get more followers, but if quoting on twitter is self-serving why do so many people read the quotes? And why do I get so many people thanking me for my inspirational quotes? That’s not a rhetorical question by the way. I’d love to hear your opinion.
Making Life Easier
Life is not easy. It’s hard work for us all and harder for some than others. Low self-esteem is an epidemic that the modern world is suffering from. Self-esteem coach Kate Harris says: “Low self esteem undermines thousands of people’s ability to live happy and successful lives. Enhancing self esteem gives people confidence to love themselves, others and engage fully in society”.
Anything that helps people to be more successful (whether personally, emotionally or financially) must be a good thing. Even if, on occasion, the motives of the quoter are less than pure the results can still be empowering. As Anthony Robbins says: “Intention means nothing. All intention does is provide a direction. Results mean everything.”
The Next Step
Do you broadcast on Twitter? Do you agree that it could be a good thing? Whether you agree with me or not, please let me know by commenting here. If you do agree with me, I ask one more thing of you: go and find a quote (or compose an original one) that you think might help someone be more successful, fulfilled or happy. Tweet it today. Let’s see how big a difference we can make together.