In the last week or so I’ve noticed something about my own use of Facebook and Twitter. I’v e always used the networks in different ways, for different purposes but increasingly I’m marking that difference in another way too – through the level of noise I will endure.

Facebook I use mainly for keeping in touch with friends – people I knew in real life before online and a few online folks who I’d now consider to be more than a passing acquaintance. My main reason for being on Facebook now though is that many people I want to stay in touch with online aren’t active on any other network – they keep me there rather than anything else.

Twitter on the other hand I use constantly and for many purposes – talking about online comms for work and study, being a mum, social media cafes, music, and random conversation.

I definitely favour one network over the other and this is only becoming more pronounced as I’ve noticed that updates from my friends are fewer and further between on Facebook now. I’ve exaggerated this shushing of the chatter by deliberately removing other stuff from my stream.

I’ve liked more than my fair share of pages and joined a good number of groups but now I hardly see anything from them because I’ve chosen not to see their updates in my stream. This means that all the brands I’ve ever liked and even local gov pages I’ve joined to be inspired to are now belming into the void when it comes to reaching me.

I won’t see their updates and therefore I won’t like or comment on them, neither will I share them with my network. I’d have to go out of my way to visit their space and, to be honest, that isn’t going to happen. So, with local gov in mind, I wonder how much activity on Facebook is actually broadcast? How many other people like me are either actively removing this stuff from their stream, having it removed as the algorithm ranks it lower than their childhood next door neighbours latest Bejewelled score or are just ignoring it even though it’s appearing?

On the other hand I don’t filter the noise on Twitter at all. I currently follow about 700 people, probably too many, but if they tweet it appears in my stream. I might not see it because I’m offline but I don’t use lists to actually group people to control the noise. I don’t see many organisational tweets because I don’t follow many organisations.

I guess all of this, while personal to me and the way I use the networks, got me thinking about how much organisations really know about the people that sign up to them on a network. And (a question rearing its head more and more frequently) how do they really measure their success and justify their time? Yes, you might have 5000 people signed up to your Facebook page but if only 3 of them are actually reading your updates and are interested enough to like or comment is it worth it?

As usual I’ve only got as far as asking questions and so I don’t have any possible answers to offer here. I’m keeping an eye on my own usage though and am thinking about what an organisation could do to grab my interest, hold it and tip me over to talking with them online.

(As a final offering I give you the earworm I’ve gained through all this talk of noise – Slade’s Come on Feel the Noize. I’ve amended the spelling of that title to avoid any more sp*m ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

8 thoughts on “Turning the volume down

  1. I’ve not used Facebook in almost a year now as the chatter became too much. I shall have to try and get back into it using your philosophy as it is a good channel for keeping connected to people on a more personal level.

  2. I tend to check in and skim latest updates now…I don’t have any updates from people’s game playing (no problem with them playing online I’m just not interested), no updates from organisations or pages and anyone who sends the same update to FB as well as Twitter gets silenced on FB.
    I’ve found it more manageable and means I can keep in touch with those folks who are only on FB.
    If more people start to control their noise perhaps it doesn’t bode well for organisations.

  3. I’m a little further back along the evolutionary timeline here but I can relate to the shift towards twitter, even though I’m still a bit of a twitter newbie. I’ve just blogged about finally seeing the point of twitter actually, mainly thanks to the #lgovsm discussions. I seem to have touched on some common ground. FARMVILLE – say no more!

  4. I’ve been publishing a lot of crap into my Facebook stream lately…well, not crap really – but I’ve been a bit broadcasty of late. You Sarah, might not think it’s crap since it’s about three year old boys and work stuff you’d be interested in. But I do wonder about other people in my graph who don’t care about social media in localgov.

    But I do keep an eye on stats – and for my personal blog at least, Facebook does generate a goodly number of hits – if you exclude stats on a random wallaby-related post which is generating almost 100 visits a week (??) – so clearly there’s something about relevant content that still works in Facebook.

  5. Glad you’ve found a way for Twitter to make sense to you. I don’t think it is the most intuitive of networks and it took a good while to click with me. The lgovsm tag is a great idea and think it showcases how Twitter can really help us in the public sector to work together ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I can also be a broadcasty sometimes Ingrid – particularly if I have a mad few hours on YouTube watching music videos. For some reason I imagine my friends will be interested in what I’m listening to and what I think of it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I do tend to read your wall posts (the Fireman Sam fan-fic was genius. I always had a sneaking suspicion Norman would turn out like that) but as you say we’ve got some common ground with local gov and children of a similar age), I think the FB algorithm takes account of this somehow – there is a small percentage of my ‘friends’ who appear in my news feed and lots who never do even though they are posting stuff. Magic I can’t begin to comprehend.

    The stats are interesting though. I wonder if any local gov orgs with pages are checking their click through stats and actively using that information?

  7. This is interesting Sarah – lots of people seem to have a fairly similar split of FB for ‘friends’ and Twitter for work / common interests. I’ve noticed more ‘friends’ starting to use Twitter though.

    I’ve noticed my FB newsfeed seems to be less busy with trivial activity than it used to be and I can’t remember changing my settings. Did this happen automatically with the new profile? If so you are right, it will have quite an impact on how many people see friends’ interactions with council pages and websites. It would be a shame for councils as I think Facebook represents a big opportunity for their communications and engagement with residents.

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