What Does Connection Look Like?

October was Connected Educator's Month. (Soapbox moment: I can't wait until we can get rid of these silly "awareness months." Okay, I'm done). I've been on Twitter for almost three years and I was curious about what engagement actually looked like for a given period of time. So, I decided to do a little experiment.

Gathering Data

On October 1, I turned on all of the notifications for Twitter except for DM's and Replies. Those are easy enough to count with a tool given to me by LivingTree called Twitonomy. I was more interested in two things:

  • How many RT's and Favorited tweets would I get
  • What kind of tweets were favorited and retweeted.

Unless you have email notifications (which I hate) turned on, you don't get to see your RT's and favorited tweets in the 3rd party Twitter clients. (Sidebar number two: you should use a management app. Twitter on the web is horrible.)

The Process

Like a good scientist, I had a couple of controls. First, I didn't tell anyone I was doing this. I didn't want to sway the normal activity of my normal interactions. So, for those of you who unwillingly contributed, thank you. Second, I didn't change my habits of tweeting. I tweeted jokes, nonsense, commentary, snark, resources, articles, pictures...pretty much business as usual. Again, I didn't want to saturate my stream with some kind of bias for results.

I broke my tweeting habits up into four groups:

  1. Commentary
  2. Resources
  3. Blog Posts
  4. Other

Commentary - This was off the cuff comments, statements, snark, or other general statements about what I was thinking at the time.

Resources - This is anything like how-to's or other informational pieces (not written by me) that might help others.

Blog Posts - These are tweets for any post that I have direct control over.

Other - Goofy articles, mostly. Things not pertaining to anything other than for entertainment value.

The Data

I went through all of the interactions and put them into a Google spreadsheet to visualize the data a little bit.

For the mentions, I decided to subtract my reported (via email) RT's from my mentions count in order to get a more accurate number. I used two different means to get these numbers, so they're probably double counted.

I went into this expecting that articles and blog posts would draw the highest level of engagement on Twitter. I was really surprised to see that my offhand comments were the most interacted-with.

And I think part of my surprise in the results is because I didn't set up an easy way (at the beginning) to track the interactions (specifically, Mentions) for each individual tweet. All I measured was the number of times a particular tweet was RT'd or favorited, which isn't really interacting at all...at least not in the traditional sense.

The Deep Stuff

Twitter is a funny machine...it allows people from across the world to interact with one another, but not under the obligation of actually interacting with them. I had no idea how many times particular tweets were retweeted by followers. So, while they were resonating with something I had said or shared, I wasn't aware of that interaction. So, the question going through my mind right now is:

"Is it my fault for not interacting and engaging a follower, or their fault for not reaching out and engaging with me?"

I decided to create a really official sounding, yet totally made up, metric for my engagement in October. I'm calling it the Engagement Quotient. (Sounds good, right?) I got this by dividing the number of Mentions by my total Tweets for the time period.

To get this, I wanted to know what percentage of my Tweets encouraged some kind of direct response from someone as a Mention.

Out of 689 tweets in October, I received 542 mentions, giving me an EQ score of 79%.

In reality, this means absolutely nothing. But, to me, it means that something I'm doing is engaging my PLN. And that means I'm contributing to the discussion in some way, which makes me feel good about being a connected person/educator/male/whatever.

In the future, I want to have some better goals set up from day one. A lot of this came toward the end of the month as I thought about what it means to be engaged. So, while it is mildly scientific in nature (I had tables and charts), it could have been more so. Maybe I'll do it again in a few months and see if it changes based on season. I'm not sure.

If you want to see my data, you can check out the spreadsheet here.

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