Twitter and inadequacy (er, the great friend divide)

I’m tracking the new “friend divide.” What is it?

Well, compare your experiences on a number of services when you only have one friend vs., say, 500. Look at Upcoming.org. Have only one friend? It really is empty looking and there’s not much value. Get 500? And you’ll have tons of events reporting to you that you’ll care about (you picked your friends carefully, right?) Plus, you’ll be able to see which events are more popular which may make them more interesting to you.

Look at Flickr? No friends? No photographs that you care about. Add your family and friends? Lots of fun stuff to look at.

Facebook? Same thing. Choose your friends wisely, though. Professional people don’t poke or ask you to join stupid applications. Get lots of college kids and you might just lose your mind.

Dopplr? No friends? You won’t have anyone to meet at the airport or take out for a beer.

Pownce? No friends? You won’t get sent cool music or cool photography.

Twitter? No friends? You will think it’s a lame service? Follow only me and you’ll probably go insane. Follow 500, though, and you’ll probably start to see the value that I see in this service.

The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc. People who have tons of friends have HUGELY different experiences on these services. I’ll demonstrate those differences in a video soon.

But that gets me to another point. This weekend Andrew Baron is selling his Twitter account. That’s a PR ploy. But what’s interesting is that people assume there’s value in getting his followers (probably because they assume there’s some value in spamming those followers with marketing messages). That’s funny since it’s so easy to unfollow people.

But there +is+ value in having a great group of people you’re following. Follow @craignewmark and you’ll see what Craig is seeing or thinking (he’s the founder of Craigs’ List). Follow @pierre and you’ll see what he’s thinking (he’s the founder of eBay). Follow HRBlock and you’ll see what the team at H&R Block is thinking about taxes and such. Follow @newmediajim and you’ll see what Jim Long, who is a camera guy in the press pool at the White House, is thinking about.

Now, do you start to get it? If you define yourself by who is following you you’ll always feel inadequate. After all, you can’t control your followers and any idiot can follow people. But, define yourself by who you are following and you can really build something of high value.

People still aren’t getting this. They didn’t get how I was using Twitter and still don’t. I follow the world’s best early adopters, business executives, and entrepreneurs. I really don’t care if I have a single follower. If I defined myself by my followers I’d always feel inadequate. If I define myself by the people who I follow, well, I follow the smartest, richest, coolest, funniest people in the world. That makes me smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier.

So, how do you define your experience online?

164 thoughts on “Twitter and inadequacy (er, the great friend divide)

  1. I am exploring to see what all the fuss is about Twitter. You explained it well. I am eager to try it. I understand following someone. Why would anyone want to be followed?

  2. I am exploring to see what all the fuss is about Twitter. You explained it well. I am eager to try it. I understand following someone. Why would anyone want to be followed?

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