Launching A Twitter Experiment To Find Out If Twitter Is Just Waste of Time… Or Could It Be Useful In Game Production

I have my twitter account where I have mainly posted automatically whenever a new blog post has been published. There seems to be loads of people using Twitter (I’ve picked some people to follow) and there’s talk about saying how “twitter isn’t waste of time” and I think it was Techcrunch who said that Twitter will replace RSS (I doubt it).

I want to find out if there’s something beneficial for using Twitter (taken into account the time spent)
Technically, Twitter is bit like a mIRC. It’s kind of like a public chat where you can pick who you will listen to. Then there’s some hash tags and replies and direct messages and that’s like the core of Twitter.

My experience with Twitter bases on like 2 hour usage so I realize that I might miss something… but on the other hand I feel I’m pretty quick learner for this sort of stuff so I make a bold move to do drastic conclusions. (I reserve the right to change my mind at the end of this experiment).

So, this is how I gonna check out if there’s anything for game producers
First, I will be using Twitter mainly via Tweetdeck. That’s a pretty sweet tool so go get it tiger. There’s others too, but this one will do fine for me.

My purpose is to find out how Twitter can be useful for game producers.

First thoughts before we go: is it a waste of time?
I’ve been spending some hours for Twitter and have some thoughts that of course are final truths – right?

Somebody argued that “Twitter is not waste of time – you are just using it wrong if it is”. I think that’s pretty rough statement and I’d say that Twitter can become a big waste of time if you (1) reply to people (soon you’ll end up replying everybody everywhere and are lost). It’s bit like “checking email” that can be troublesome.

It can also be a waste of time if you (2) follow loads of people. If you have like more than 7 guys to follow (some people seem that like five billion friends) you will be constantly flooded with messages. Okay depends on who you follow, but still… Twitter is cluttered with “went to shower to think about game”, “ate breakfast thinking about my game”, “thought about my game and went for a walk”, “gonna think about my game soon”.

Now, we could try to argue that Twitter isn’t about “somebody telling what they do”… but that’s like the thing what you get when you combine “bull” with “poo”. People are telling what they are doing. People are saying what websites they are visiting and what they are thinking and what books they are reading and what TV shows they are watching. If you can find people who don’t do that, please let me know.

So, overall I’d say that it’s pretty easy to get stuck on the “waste of time” cycle: if you Twitter about useless things (“gonna go to sleep soon”) then it wastes everybody’s time. It’s hard to say what is “useless” (because value is in the eye of the follower), but I’d think that a useful Twitter entry contains for example:

  • Links to somewhere useful resource (for example, if you’ve read a good book and link to the book)
  • Advice on specific issue

To be honest, not exactly sure if Twitter messages can have much long term value.

As for benefits, here’s couple of them:

  • Twitter can bring traffic. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you would need to use twitter, it might be enough if other people twitter about you.
    Any benefits?
  • Networking: of course you can network in relevant forums, exchange emails with interesting people. Chances are that if they care to send you twitter messages, they perhaps care to reply to your email too. Who knows. I think Twitter can be used for networking, but I’m not sure how good tool it really is for that – same thing can be done in other ways. You don’t need Twitter to network. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with this as my experiment goes on.
  • Ask for advice: you can say “anybody knows about #game #design” and this message will be seen by those who are interested about designing games (in case they happen to follow such hash tags). It might be easier to seek advice on relevant forums, but I guess this way of finding info also works. Nothing new under the sun though.

Well, those are just some benefits I could think of. So far I haven’t seen any major things that would really make Twitter a truly useful tool for game producers… but we’ll see how this goes. I’m going to be 110% open minded about this and I’m will report back on how this stuff works for me.

And here we go
Anyway, I’m gonna start a twitter experiment, so feel free to follow me on Twitter to see how I’m doing (and by “follow” I don’t mean that you’d need to “become a follower”, I mean “feel free to check that page every now and then” to see what’s going on there).

Maybe something useful comes out of this.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Ah, Thanks Oliver and Jake! It’s making a lot more sense now. I’m assuming that the ability to not include private conversations is available on mobile Twitter clients as well?

    I’ll try watching Twitter with a good client.

  2. If I reply to people I try to phrase my answer in such a way that it mentions the original question so that other people can read it and make sense of it. Sort of thing you used to have to do at school when answering certain questions.

  3. @Russell:

    If you use a Twitter client, such as TweetDeck, private conversations like that won’t be shown to you, only general things or tweets that are @you. Without a good client, Twitter is not very user friendly. :) The beautiful thing is, it can be integrated seamlessly in most tools.

    For example, the FireFox plugin TwitterBar lets you share a cool link with a click of a button (next to the URL).

  4. Twitter is useful.

    A) It is faster than google reader for syndicating blog posts – if people tweet their post it will show up on twitter before google.

    B) I follow friends and people I admire – so there is only 10 or so people I follow, and if you tweet more than 5 times a day I’m likely to remove you. Yes, there can be too much noise.

    C) Because I only follow friends and people I admire I’m more likely to follow the links that they post and recommendations that they make.

    D) I use it as a journal, no I don’t tweet what I had for breakfast, but I do if I solved a hard programming problem, or finished a good that I liked or acomplished something, anything – even if it’s small that way I can look back and see what I did when.

    E) You can ask questions and get human responses to your questions – google is great, but it is a machine.

    F) I’m quite into the indie music scene and lots of musicians are using twitter to give special ‘inside’ information to their fans – free links to mp3s, limited tickets to shows etc…

  5. I’m pretty interested in what you find out, Juuso. I checked out your Twitter page, and already I see a post that says:

    @GreyAlien where? :)

    and another:

    @aeriagames sure

    So, do I also have to follow these people to get something out of those conversations? Tweets like this make me wary of following someone’s feed. Instead of feeling like I’m part of a community, I feel the complete opposite, like I’ve been shut out of a conversation. Maybe I still don’t get it. Seems like about as much fun as listening to one person on the phone.

  6. Obama has leveraged Twitter in his campaign and is still using it… I think Palin and many others are too. I also see more and more German politicians using Twitter to talk to the people, inform them and answer questions about current developments.

    One more use: I have seen Twitter being used as a help desk and for reputation management.

    One time I mentioned a book I have read and the company that publishes it quickly responded and re-tweeted.

    Another time the CEO of a company thanked me for helping out people on their forums. It might sound corny but stuff like that is just awesome for your audience.

    Translating this to game production, companies could converse directly and live with their fans and prospects and involve them, give updates on bugfixes and new versions, what’s happening inside and all of that.

    And another use: People find jobs on Twitter. If a game company has a job opening it could offer the job on Twitter. There are many people who’d love to test-play games before the public beta opens. :-)

  7. Hi Juuso,

    You might want to use hootsuite instead of tweetdeck alone as it’s ow.ly links allow you to track click counts as well as put adsense in the pages (without annoying the user).

    I think this would be one of the best ways to monitor the click rate effectiveness of twitter and I’ll be interested to know this too!


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