I’m in the mood to offer a bit of a lecture on what I’ve learnt in my twenty plus years of using the internet, I am not a guru, just someone with, what I hope is, a bit of common sense.
There are things that I have learnt from being involved in forums back in the 90’s which apply equally to users of social networks like Facebook, Secondlife and Twitter today.
I’m not sure if this has ever been raised before so I’d like to talk about the structure of forums which I’ve used.
I’ve noticed on almost every forum that there tends to be a core group of speakers, a regular set of people who reply and leave comments, and a very large section of members who never say anything whatsoever.
Now alas, and wrongly, these people who make up the bulk of your members, the ones who never speak up are tagged with the awful name of “lurker” which brings to mind strange, shifty-eyed people who hang around lanes in the night, getting up to no good.
In fact, I feel that referring to people as lurkers is unfair and wrong.
The Lurkers are your Audience, Do not treat them like weirdos who are spying on you, treat them with dignity because they may in fact be your fans… is that such a bad thing?
So there you are, You are Parkinson, Wil Anderson, Daryl Somers, Andrew Denton, Ellen or Oprah… You have your Regular guests, Semi-regular guests, Special guests, Performers, Audience members who contribute to your show via Q&A sessions or competitions, some are fans who came to have a good time, and others don’t really know you but are curious… does that make sense?
How many people would appear on David Letterman’s show each night? About eight maybe? but millions of people around the World watch his show… So how does this apply to Twitter.
In the same way that programs have a large fanbase, so might you have a lot of *genuine* followers, simply having a lot of followers via some computer generated method and then boasting about it is a complete wank… Build the ball park and they will come, that’s all you need to know…. Now I’d guess that up to 80% of your Audience are never going to say boo to you, and this is for a variety of reasons… A lot of people are really shy or feel that if they say something, they’ll be laughed at, or perhaps they feel their opinion wouldn’t be valid, many are just readers who are happy to read, and that’s perfectly fine.
Let’s say you are an old or new media celebrity who has a large twitter following, I’m sure that you’ve noticed regular users who do send you messages, some are funny and some are useful, some people are right on your wavelength… Please, don’t ignore these people, always try to tweet back, even if you are flooded by tweets, please try to spend at least ten minutes a day replying to the ones that matter the most to you, even just sending a hello and a smile back is sometimes more than enough.
People who never reply to their fanbase are snobs, that’s all, Treat your fans with love and dignity… I have news for you, regardless of what current affairs programs tell you, most people out there are not dirty and creepy.
Yes, you can’t reply to everyone, that’s a fair statement, Just do what you can, it’s better than not responding at all.
Look, there’s no need to shut the door on everyone, sure there’s a few nasties out there, regardless of what people think, the internet IS real life, and real life has it’s hazards… However, if you lock the door on everyone, you’ll be locking out your white knights too, and that is not practical.
If I had not gathered up a group of genuine friends (and yes, online friends DO translate to people you enjoy going out with in meat space, that online friends remain a spooky lot of rabid inter dimensional alien beings is just the biggest load of bollocks ever) Then I most likely would not have been online at all, because I have been given all kinds of assistance such as how to use particular software, through to offers of actual hardware.
I have also made very special friends and a few who I consider to be soul-mates.
Open yourself up and talk, it’s worth it.
If you had an account on a forum, were you…