The Cattle Herders

It would appear that a great many so-called Internet 'gurus' and 'experts', who have latched onto social networking as a means of spreading their nets wider, are unaware of the meaning of the word 'social'.

One of the obvious indications is a huge discrepancy between the number of people following them and the people whom they are following. Designed to give the impression that a large number of people are interested in their 'expertise' whilst the 'gurus' themselves are far too important to grace their devotees with a follow, these numbers are achieved by following people in large numbers and then unfollowing them, repeating the exercise until a large enough 'following' has been achieved.

Another sign that the meaning of 'social' is lost on these individuals is the fact that they tend to indulge in monologues, preferring to do all the talking rather than engage in conversation. They retweet what others have said about them but rarely what others have said to them. They include links to their slick sales pages as often as they dare.

Some of these people have brought their techniques of building enormous lists of people to whom they can pitch their wares onto Twitter, for example, on the basis that a handful of the unwary amongst a large enough group of people is a profitable enough quantity and it doesn't matter if their activities make the Twitter experience less enjoyable for others along the way.

A raft of artificial follower-gathering schemes has cropped up, most started by people who ensure that they themselves only follow a small handful, to create the illusion of being some kind of elite. Some of these schemes involve following a set number of people whose names appear on a list, regardless of whether they are interesting in any way, and adding ones own name to a similar list. It is forbidden to leave anyone out and so people involved in those schemes tend to be surrounded by people with no personal interest in other people at all.

Some of these people, I have followed since they first joined Twitter and, in spite of seeing that they are involved in such schemes, have continued to follow, just to see what they will do. In 90% of cases, they are being followed by a couple of thousand people after three months of trying but are sending out messages to the effect that joining the schemes to which they belong will bring one a following of 30,000 in three months... Cattle-herders I call them. Well, they would be if most of us were willing to be the cattle but, fortunately, many are getting wise to the idea and choosing people to follow on the basis of interests shared rather than agreeing to take on all and sundry in exchange for an artifically swollen follower group consisting of thousands who are not in the slightest bit interested in them or interesting to them.


At Saturday, April 18, 2009 11:07:00 pm, Blogger Robyn McIntyre said...

"Cattle herding" as a Twitter exercise is definitely one I don't understand. I just recently unfollowed a gaggle of people because I felt I was losing sight of the people whose interaction I truly enjoy. I don't mind if some don't follow me back - if they have followers in the 1,000s I don't expect it - as long as their tweets remain interesting to me. But to honour those who honour me with their caring and conversation, the least I can do is ensure that I am giving mutual follows the higher level of attention they deserve. Interaction is, of all things, what I value most from Twitter.


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