Your friends are more interesting than you. There, I have said it. However, it is true – at least “on average”. The phenomenon of the “friendship paradox” was first identified by Professor Scott Feld of Purdue University, Indiana, USA. He discovered that an individual’s friends tend to have more friends than they do. If you have 25 friends, on average each of those friends will have more than 25 friends. That’s because we tend to want to make friends with people who are popular, so we seek out people with plenty of friends.
On Twitter, it seems, we are just the same. New research shows that we tend to follow people who have more followers than ourselves. We are also interested in people who Tweet more than we do. The result is what you might call “Tweet blindness”.
Because we are following people who have more followers than ourselves, our Twitter streams start to get overloaded, especially as the people in this paradox will be Tweeting more frequently than we do. Pretty soon, the researchers found, our Twitter stream becomes overloaded with information.
As a result we can only easily see the already “viral” stuff – the Tweets about subjects that we already know about. The less obvious, new, interesting, newsworthy Tweet just disappears into the background noise.
So, if you want to use Twitter to see the obvious, then carry on following people who have more followers than yourself. If, however, you want Twitter to alert you to the new and interesting the only option is to cull the list of people you are following. Follow fewer people and those newsworthy Tweets will become obvious.
You will then be able to to Retweet such new information to a group of people who will have fewer followers than you, making the information you Tweet more visible to them.
It is apparently simple mathematics; yet I like to think of it this way – less information is more…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+