Only 80 percent of Americans are online and, of those that are, only 8 percent even look at Twitter on a daily basis, according to the Pew Research Center. Quick math: that means even if everyone in America followed you on Twitter, that’s only about 6.4 percent of the country.
But let’s be clear: you’re not Gaga or Bieber, so the vast majority of even that 6.4 percent aren’t even going to see your Tweets (let alone care what you Tweet), no matter how much you Tweet or how may hashtags you use or how inflammatory your 140. You feel like you have an audience, but if you’re Tweeting vitriol at strangers hundreds of times of day, you are the virtual equivalent of the soapbox prophet on a New York street corner: some tourists from Omaha might gawk at you while you rant, but those of us who aren’t noobs are going to walk studiously ignoring you and turning our music up each and every time — and the folks from Omaha are going to follow our lead about two minutes in.
Oh, and Tweeting is not a political strategy when it’s the only thing you do, it’s not a self-promotional tool when all you have is a Twitter profile and an infinitely long list of things the world just needs to hear, and, in a vacuum of actual content or action, it’s not going to launch your business or career just because you can create an online trainwreck for people to gawk at and spambots to follow. Real people who might want to have conversations with you in the meatspace are going to think you slightly off if all of your conversations revolve around your Twitter friends (who use pseudonyms and whom you’ve never met — and if I have to tell you DMs don’t count, you’re already in trouble) and Twitter drama and trying to explain the Twitterverse as though it’s the Matrix.
If your entire day revolves around Tweeting and no one is paying you, you are not a brilliant new-media strategist, you’re an introvert with Internet access and dreams of grandeur. Want to help elect a candidate? Knock on some doors, make some phone calls, volunteer to drive elderly, disabled and car-less folks to the polls. Care about an issue? Stop Tweeting at every Congress member and Senator and sit down and write a physical letter to the ones who represent you and put them in the mail box (it’s the blue metal box with a rounded top on a corner near you). If you want to change the world, you have to participate in the world — and Twitter isn’t the world, it’s a social media site.
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