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How Suggested Users On Twitter Are Changing The Face Of The Mommyblogosphere

How Suggested Users On Twitter Are Changing The Face Of The Mommyblogosphere

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The Suggested Users Function (Find People –> Browse Interests –> Choose Topic) on Twitter is interesting: for various different topics of interest, Twitter generates a list of people that are thought of as leaders in that niche and, therefore, good people to follow. All of the people who are on the list — regardless of where their follower counts were before they were placed there — are now well over five digits. Have you ever wondered how they choose the people on the list?

I honestly had not given it much thought until very recently, because until very recently, it seemed that Twitter was more likely to reflect the findings of the blogosphere back at me, rather than the other way around, at least in my own niche. What I mean by that is, if I were to look at the suggested Twitter users in the Family category, I found that the bloggers listed were all well-established popular bloggers in the parenting genre. Twitter’s list included some of the most powerful and popular bloggers in the mommyblogosphere — not all of them, and not necessarily the ones I would have chosen — but many of them. A few did not fit the profile, exactly, but I guessed they ended up on there because they were particularly active on Twitter, and that some kind of algorithm had determined that they followed the right people, and that the right people were following them back.

Even if nobody wanted to admit these people were powerful, Twitter had decided that they were.

If that is indeed how the suggested user list is working, then that is liberating, because it functions as a workaround for the old boys network of blogging power. I like that idea. I want to believe that it exists. But, as usual, I’m a little skeptical. For one thing, there’s only a few people on the list that meet that criteria, and a whole mess of others who do not, including a few conspicuous inclusions with connections at Twitter. For another, there are some very conspicuous omissions from the list, if it is to be an inclusive list of powerful moms on Twitter.

Why does any of this matter?

Well, it used to be that Twitter reflected the blogosphere in that if you were big in the blogosphere you would be big on Twitter. To a certain degree this is still true. But now, it is starting to work the other way as well. The people who were included on the suggested user list whose blogs were small by comparison now have huge subscriber lists compared to before they were included, and they are now being invited to events they were not invited to before, and arguably never would have been invited to before they were included on the Suggested User List. This, in turn, is leading to more traffic, which in turn leads to more deals, which leads to other opportunities, and as we all know, this is how bloggers end up becoming “important” in the blogosphere. And actually, all of this is fine, except for the fact that I recently found out that Twitter is now going to start allowing people to buy your way onto the Suggested User list, which kind of complicates things a little bit. Though, to be sure, advertising is still a totally legitimate way of promoting one’s self in social media, whether it’s on Twitter, on blogs, or anywhere else.


Except something’s not working. Because, for example, take this account, @parentingmaven, that is a suggested user on Twitter, and that I’ve never heard of, who calls herself (?) a “Weird Blogging Mommy with lots of Parenting tips and stories.” Apparently, she (?) also uses a lot of unnecessary capitalization, and posts a lot of links to stuff that is useless, with no @replies. From all appearances, it’s a robot account, or an account run by humans who are not really personalizing things very much anymore at any rate. If you follow the link to the blog associated with the account, there are articles there, but nobody seems to be reading them. The only comments are from spambots. Of course, it is running ads from the BlogHer Ad network. (Cough.)

Maybe this is just a one time thing. Let’s check out some of these other “important users in my niche” that I’ve never heard of before and see what they are up to. There’s @dailyparentingtip, a Twitter account that retweets stuff that other people post and links to a blog on which it aggregates posts that other people write about parenting topics on other blogs for which they do not pay anything; there’s also @pediatricians, which is “Managed by Web Marketing Expert Douglas DoNascimento,” because that is super important for us to know; and don’t forget about @amazingmoms, the site where Disney tells us about crafts.

People, this is without them even selling the spots yet.

Now, I know all this stuff is arbitrary, we all know this, that is the name of the game, of course. But some of this is getting a little ridiculous. It seems like they could clean it up a little bit over there or something at the very least.

Comments (5)

  1. Sep 28, 2010

    The idea of people being able to buy their way onto Suggested lists creeps me out big time, I think because people tend to regard “suggestions” as recommendations based on personal experience. Obviously that’s probably not the case even now, considering what you’ve said about some of the more suspect inclusions on the current Suggested lists, but I guess maybe once money starts publicly changing hands we can at least hope that Twitter will tag the sponsored “suggestions” in the same way that they tag the sponsored trending topics. Maybe?

    (I also wonder how many real followers people are getting by being on those lists anyway. Based on my own experience, those lists seem to lead primarily to an increase in spam followers–although you’re right in that even if a person’s numbers go up due to spam, their numbers are still going up and thus they’re more likely to be considered “influential” and to get on more lists and to get more spam followers and to be considered even more “influential” and round and round it goes.)

  2. Sep 28, 2010

    I have given up trying to figure out Twitter. I have no idea why half of the people following me are following me. I used to block a lot more but now just block porn and obvious robot accounts.

  3. Sep 28, 2010

    I manage social media for my company and in the past couple weeks I’ve seen not one, but two accounts with our brand that were clearly “parked” by other people. One had an underscore and one had a number included. Neither account had any tweets or location/bio/url information, but what bothered me is that one account had 600 followers.

    First of all, why would you follow an account with no tweets/no bio information/etc.

    Second of all, I’m concerned that these followers really think that those accounts are actually us.

  4. Sep 29, 2010

    I never even noticed that feature. I wonder how many real humans are using it.

    That said, while I’m all for Twitter trying to make money, it DOES seem like they could maybe at least remove the splog accounts first. That @dailyparentingtip one is a perfect example.

    Lime Popsicle: That @amazingmoms site is run by Disney? Because it’s the ugliest site I’ve ever seen.

  5. Nov 10, 2010

    Pediatricians is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing together pediatric health care professionals to work on places hit by a natural disaster. Hence the Haiti awareness work we have been involved with. I was personally tickle by the way you massaged my name into your article. But just FYI, my seventeen years doing digital marketing carries a reputation of excellence, which can be clearly seen on the Pediatricians’ account. I started and managed this account from zero to nearly 40000 followers and although, I don’t think the Pediatricians’ name belong amongst the crowd above, I do appreciate the mention. Thank you and please support the Haiti awareness cause. The situation affecting those people is getting worst and most of the traditional media are ignoring it. So, it is up to us to keep people aware and supporting the cause.
    Take care,

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