I joined Twitter on December 1. As I wrote the next day, I was aware of a number of my professional colleagues (in higher education) who were using Twitter. I didn’t see the point, but I decided to give it a try.
Right now I’m following 36 people/groups, I have 59 followers, and I’ve posted 132 updates.
Some people I follow are on the Top Conservatives on Twitter list. People on the list are ranked by the number of followers they have. The first-ranked person on the list currently has 7,355 followers and is following 6,510, and none of the tweets on his page right this minute have anything to do with conservative politics.
The stated purpose of the TCOT list is “to build the conservative community on Twitter.”
What will this “community” do? How can more than 7000 individuals and organizations be a community anyway? How can the top-ranked conservative possibly read updates by 6510 people? (I can’t keep up with all the updates of the 36 that I’m following.) How will increasing the number of followers of conservatives on Twitter aid the conservative movement?
Barack Obama has 156,095 followers on Twitter, but what did that accomplish? Did his presence on Twitter actually convince anyone to vote for him, or was it just a morale builder for liberals?
There may be a point to following conservative candidates and leaders (like Michelle Malkin) on Twitter to demonstrate our support for them and find out what they are doing and thinking. However, that doesn’t explain why I should “follow” anyone else who calls him- or herself a conservative–especially if he or she is posting about other uninteresting (i.e., personal) topics.
To be honest, I still don’t see the point of Twitter, or other microblogging services, and I think their potential in education and political activism is limited. There are other tools that will probably work better–once we decide what exactly we are trying to accomplish in the conservative movement with web 2.0 (including “social media”) applications and other technology like virtual worlds.
I suspect, though I have no proof, that this emphasis on social media by a segment of the conservative movement is being lead by marketing types. If conservatives want to learn how to use technology effectively to advance our candidates and causes, we should look to people in instructional technology and technical communication–not in marketing and advertising.
We need to focus on teaching Americans about the Constitution, the history of the country, capitalism, conservatism, etc., rather than trying to be the most popular conservative on Twitter or Facebook.
Yes, I will continue to update my Twitter account, and I hope my followers will find my posts informative and/or thought provoking.