Sometimes Scorned for Self-Absorption, Twitter’s Power Lies in Another Kind of Post Entirely

In its early days, the social network Twitter had a reputation, in some quarters, for being most popular with those who could not stop talking about themselves. The stereotypical Twitter user, some opined, was someone who thought their every movement and doing worth broadcasting aloud to the world.

While there is still plenty of such posting to be found on Twitter, that was never really an accurate take on the service. It might have been satisfying for cynical and annoyed users to characterize it that way, but there has been a good variety of activity on Twitter since the beginning.

Some of these uses of the service, in fact, have grown in prominence much more quickly than have the sorts of self-absorbed posting that have sometimes attracted criticism. Many Twitter users today, for example, are much more likely to “retweet” the posts made by others than to relate details about their own daily lives.

The history of user tellezscott, for instance, is pretty representative of this kind of posting. He is an active user of the service, sometimes posting a dozen or more times per day. At the same time, most of his postings simply serve to attract attention to the tweets made by other sources.

In many cases, these are high profile accounts, as with the many professional sports teams, nationwide chains, and others who receive such attention. In many others, it is another Twitter user who receives the benefit of such postings.

In fact, posts of this kind are a main key to what makes Twitter so powerful. While even a major chain like Starbucks may have only tens of thousands of followers, what those followers do with the account’s output is what matters.

If enough of them retweet a post into their own circles, then many times more people will come across it. As each of these individuals might be inclined to pass the post on themselves, the scale of the audience can grow quite quickly. That rapidly expanding networking effect has nothing to do with the kinds of navel-gazing that early critics often characterized as being typical of Twitter and is a lot more important to the service, in the final analysis.