Collecting Personal Feedback Anonymously Via Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter now for almost five years. And, I’m still learning how to use it. I’d say it took almost three years to get into a good rhythm. That’s a long time. Now, Twitter is so critical, it’s the lens through which I view the entire web. If it’s not in my Twitter feed (or my Gmail), there’s a good chance I won’t see it. I have reduced all of my incoming information channels to these two services, lenses that provide acuity for a web that’s becoming bigger, noisier, and harder to index.

Now, I realize I’m part of that noise. I try to be pretty raw and unscripted in what I do, writing what I’m feeling or thinking in the moment. That has its benefits and its costs. I have generated over 40,000 tweets.¬†Writing that number out is kind of embarrassing, but I also try to respond to folks and converse with them with I can. And, I try to answer any question that comes into my find. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I ask lots of questions (which is partly why I love Quora), and I believe the reason I get so many great answers to those questions I pose is because I spent years answering questions — and I still do.

At the same time, I realize that many people who still follow me recognize I tweet a lot. I’m sure many people have unfollowed because of that, which is fine. And, I’m sure I’ve been “muted” through TweetBot. I deserve it and it’s something I do think about as I continue to use the service. I’ve also been curious as to how I may come across to others on Twitter who have stuck with me, since this medium is only growing in importance and attention, and to get anonymous feedback about what their impressions were.

So, earlier today, I created a simple Google Form Survey completed by 84 people, and here’s what I learned that was most interesting:

  1. Out of 84 respondents, 45% of them have never watched one of the 50+ “In the Studio” conversations I’ve taped on TCTV. I know the barrier to watch video online is very high, but this number surprised me, mostly because the content in these conversations is where true knowledge resides. I will have to do a better job of embedding and framing those videos onto my personal site and create a repository, because the guests I’ve had on the show are all experts in their respective disciplines. This is something I’ve had on my “to-do” list and now it’s moved to the top. Thank you.
  2. Very few people (10%) say that they read my weekly Sunday TC column. It’s Sunday morning, and most people are doing normal-life things, which is smart. There’s a lot of noise from all tech blogs, though every now and then the distribution of TC really shines through. Conversely, almost 50% of people responded that they read my personal blog (distributed through Twitter, email, or RSS).
  3. Because I’m doing a lot of different things right now (mostly consulting), there was lots of confusion around “what does Semil do for work.” I expected this confusion, and am not sure how to address it for now. Maybe one day when I’m on solid ground :-)
  4. My fear was that I was muted often. Out of 84 respondents, 3 said they had hit the mute button. I’ll take that.
I also asked for “open-ended” feedback, just offering a text box. That was dangerous! I’d say about 25+ people wrote in for that, and there were two signals in that feedback, though I’m not sure how to address them — nor if I want to:
  1. More than a few people pointed out that I wasn’t good at thanking and/or engaging with people who responded to my queries or tweets. I kind of disagree with this. I probably won’t change how I use Twitter in this regard. It’s hard to thank that many people, but I guess I would just say that I read them all and couldn’t reply to all. By the same token, I don’t expect replies when I tweet to others — I think that’s what makes Twitter work, that there is no expectation to reply — like it is with email.
  2. Additionally, more than a few folks mentioned they perceived me to only respond to Twitter users who are “Twitter famous.” Simply not true. The way Twitter is set up to present others’ tweets, they may not see the replies I send to folks they don’t know. I’m very particular about who I follow because Twitter’s filters are very important to how I interact with the web at large. Most of the folks I’ve followed I’ve known for years, have known in work, have almost worked with them, have hung out with them for a long time, and so forth. Most of the accounts I follow are real people (probably 95%+) and I’ve met with 90% fo them many times.

I’m probably not going to change much of how I use Twitter, because that kind of defeats the purpose of the service. I’ll still keep doing it the same way, but it is fascinating to get anonymous feedback. Thank you for reading (and putting up with my Twitter stream), and if you responded to the Survey, many thanks for your time. To see a full graphic of the results (but they don’t include the open-ended questions), please click here.

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