Signal to Noise - Is Your Twitter Feed Alienating People?

Photo by BarelyFitz

Photo by BarelyFitz

Twitter is no longer new and exciting. Over the past few months it’s developed into a valuable marketing recourse that can generate huge amounts of traffic and whip up real interest from otherwise untapped sources.

But are you using Twitter properly? With most established users subscribing to at least 100 different Twitterers, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd and attract attention. If you’re posting nothing but links and spam, people will ignore you. If you post nothing but inanities, people will ignore you. Getting your “signal to noise” ratio correct is crucial.

Signal and Noise

Tweets can broadly be categorises into one of two types – Signal or Noise.

Signal is “valuable” content that you put out. Links to content, products or services you’re offering, as well as advice or retweets of other users’ interesting content is all signal.

The problem with signal is that constantly posting nothing but links to your own work can come across as niche, self-aggrandising, or just plain boring. Signal can also be very impersonal, which plays against the social aspect of social media. Therefore, to counteract it, you need noise.

Noise, broadly speaking, is everything else. The little insights into your character or day-to-day life that you pass on through your tweets. Noise helps you connect with your followers on a personal level, by sharing things that you’d normally only share with friends and family.

The problem with noise, is that unless you live a life full of mystery and intrigue  it can come across as dull. Sharing amusing anecdotes or selected opinions will help your followers learn more about your personality. Updating them on every nose-scratch or passing thought will likely lead to stifled yawns and mass unfollowing.

The Balancing Act

The key to Twitter then, is to balance the two properly. According to a study, only 8.7% of Tweets are deemed interesting enough to pass along. If you can aim to make around 15% of your tweets signal and keep your noise quirky and interesting, you’ll gain followers and traffic. Just make sure you keep an eye out for which of your posts are being passed on, and whether followers are dropping out or tuning in.

If you pay attention, you’ll be able to fine-tune your Tweets and reap the rewards.

4 Comments comments for "Signal to Noise – Is Your Twitter Feed Alienating People?"

  1. Kieron Hughes says:

    Yeah I think the balancing act is the hardest thing for people to understand. A lot of people seem to think they can constantly post new articles, or re-tweet messages and they will become popular. It is the balance between providing worthwhile content while being human enough for people to want to follow you back.

  2. Alan Wallace says:

    I struggle with Twitter tbh. I sometimes feel I’m a deaf and blind man in the middle of a multi-lane highway. I sense a lot is happening but it’s passing me by. When I see an interesting comment in my small circle, I’ll answer it but otherwise I just link to my blog.

    I know I’m missing out on loads, but I’m nervously standing on the central reservation.

    • Andrew Nattan says:

      With Twitter, you just need to dive in. is a good way of finding people with similar interests – then it’s just a matter of striking up a conversation.

  3. Synonymous says:

    You’re absolutely right about the noise on twitter. It can be really hard to get your signal out to the masses over it all! I just can’t believe how many spammy Twitter accounts there are! One service trying to stop this menace is TrueTwit, I would recommend it if you have lots of spammy followers.

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