January 17, 2018

Better you than me

Stop tweeting about yourself

In a recent “Dilbert” cartoon, Dilbert and Wally beg their pointy-haired boss to keep them constantly updated on all his daily activities via Twitter.

Better you than me

It’s all about you Writing about yourself reduces followers and sharing. Write about your readers instead. Image by frank mckenna

“We find you fascinating,” Wally says. “Oh, yes. Every little thing you do is interesting.”

Fast forward to the last frame, where Wally and Dilbert are sitting with their feet up in the conference room, drinking coffee and checking Twitter on their mobile phones.

“Where’s idiot boy now?” Wally asks.

“In the parking lot,” Dilbert answers. “No need to look busy yet.”

Me here now.

Do you really think your social media network finds every little thing you do fascinating?

Four out of five Twitter users seem to, according to a study by Rutgers University professors Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase.

The professors dissected more than 3,000 tweets from more than 350 Twitter users and concluded that 80% of tweeters are “meformers” — those who write mostly “me now” status updates. “Me now” updates cover everyday activities, like going to yoga or headed to happy hour.

The organizational version of meforming includes, “XYZ Company …”:

  • President of XYZ company to present conference speech.
  • XYZ Company moves to new office space.
  • XYZ Company launches new product.
  • XYZ Company hires new VP.
  • XYZ Company wins award.
  • XYZ Company signs client.

“There’s a lot of me in social media,” says thought leader Brian Solis. He refers to social media as the “egosystem.” And he points out the great big I in the middle of Twitter.

This study comes on the heels of research showing that 40% of all tweets are pointless babble, along the lines of “Eating a sandwich now,” according to a random sample of 2,000 messages by Pear Analytics.

No wonder 57% of Generation Y members believe social media is for narcissists, according to a new study by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge.

So how do we avoid organizational narcissism?

1. Count me out.

The more you talk about yourself on Twitter, the fewer followers you’re likely to have.

Give me a break The more you tweet about yourself, the fewer followers you’ll have.

Or so says viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella. Using TweetPsyche data on more than 60,000 Twitter users, he looked at self-reference on Twitter. He found that Twitter users who don’t talk about themselves much tend to have more users.

“Want more followers?” Zarrella asks. “Stop talking about yourself.”

2. Spread yourself thin.

The more you tweet about yourself, the fewer retweets you’ll get.

Don’t self-destruct Referring to yourself reduces retweets. In one study, tweets that went viral had only half the self-references as those that did not. Chart by Dan Zarrella

Zarrella compared tweets that had been retweeted with those that had not. Non-retweets had nearly twice the number of self-references as tweets that went viral.

Self-interest What’s the best way to write tweets that go viral? Stop talking about yourself. Self-reference is the topic most likely to not get retweeted.

“I’m not on Twitter to hear about you and your life,” Zarrella writes. “I mean, unless we’re friends in real life, of course. I’m on Twitter to get information that will either benefit me, or help others (and by extension, benefit me). … So stop talking about yourself, and make content that others can relate to and get value from!”

3. Make it all about me on Facebook.

On the other hand, talking about yourself on Facebook actually increases engagement.

Count me in Self-reference garners more likes on Facebook. Chart by Dan Zarrella

Zarrella learned that status updates with personal references (I, me) tend to get more likes than those without.

That’s in contrast with … well, every channel everywhere in the history of mankind. Usually, focusing on you, or writing to and about the reader, works better than self-reference.

Stop meforming.

One more finding from Zarrella: While you is the most retweeted word in the English language, me-focused words reduce retweets.

Among the least retweeted words in the English language: Answers to the original Twitter question, “Whatcha doing,” including “-ing” words, like “going,” “watching,” “listening.”

As in “I am.”

As in “me now.”

Sorry, “meformers”: We’re just not that into you.

On Twitter, as in so much more in life, better “you” than me.

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