I rambled on this topic yesterday on Twitter, but since I ramble about a lot of things, this topic passed through the stream pretty fast. Summing up, the changes to Twitter’s RT system have made cross-promotion more difficult for indies, while making it easier for cliques to either promote themselves or to shut others out who don’t share their same interests. The problem is Twitter, though, and not the actions of the users.
Giving brief anecdotal examples, when I’m online all day, I’ll see someone RT something I tweet or retweet, and many times, it’s not even people following me. They just saw my tweet in the general timeline and sent it along. It might be a one-line joke, or several tweets strung together in a ramble. Or it might be a news story from someone else that I was passing along. So if I sit here all day and watch those little user portraits changing, I can confirm that several people are RTing links, and that the people of Twitter are doing their part. The key point is, I only see it if I sit on top of my stream like an owl watching for a mouse to come popping out of its hole.
But let’s say that I’ve published a new book, and I post a link and then leave for a nice dinner with hubby to celebrate. And let’s say that five authors also RT that link in the time I was gone. When I come back, all I see is the one RT. I don’t know who to thank, or who to make a note of later so I can promote their stuff in return. The only way I could know that is by being here 100% of the time, and that’s not how Twitter is supposed to work. People check in when they want, and they ought to be able to see when other people retweeted their stuff.
I’m a die-hard Twitter junkie, and if I can miss stuff like this, you can be sure authors who only check in for an hour or two are also missing out on who retweeted what. So even if they’re committed to cross-promotion and reciprocating retweets, they can’t know who to retweet anymore. This isn’t authors behaving badly. It’s twitter cutting off their ability to keep track of their follower’s activities. And if this is a problem for authors, its even more so a problem for the casual user who only checks the most recent tweets and mentions before checking back out. (more…)