Purpose, values and meaning – a few Twitter-related reflections

Purpose, values and meaning – a few Twitter-related reflections

photo (5)

What can you learn about social media from tweeting from an account that isn’t your own? This week I found out when I took over the People of Leeds Twitter account for a week.  People of Leeds is curated by a different person each week and the only criteria is that you have to live, work or play in Leeds – it’s a great idea!

Whilst tweeting from the account was a bit of fun, I also used it as an opportunity for reflection on my own use of  Twitter.  If you want to reflect on your own account then I heartily recommend a similar experience – it’s great for a bit of perspective.

Building relationships – social networking is all about networks and relationships, so it was discombobulating to begin the week with a ready-made set of over 6000 followers, of whom I mostly knew nothing about.  I found myself scrolling through my timeline searching for commonalities in the people I was following – who had chosen to follow them and why? Without knowing your followers it’s hard to create content that’s likely to be interesting or useful to them.

It reminded me that relationships on my own Twitter account have been forged over years and how those connections have been sustained through reciprocity – shared interests and shared knowledge. I’m interested in my timeline because it is filled with people I have chosen to follow.  Those connections really do count.

Purpose and values – having a clear purpose is like a compass for a social media account, which in turn provides clarity from which your content can flow. Purpose aligned with values gives a strong core to relationships on Twitter and it gives people a clear reason to connect (or not) with you.  The absence of clear purpose for a week on People of Leeds reminded me of just how important that orientation is. Depth of relationships and relevant content is really tricky without purpose.

Meaning – without purpose it’s hard to find meaning and meaning is core to motivation. Without a strong sense of meaning it is easy to feel like you are on a digital treadmill – churning out tweets because there’s been a two hour gap since the last one. We’re less likely to add value to our ecosystem without meaning.

Freedom – because my purpose with my Twitter account is connected to my work interests I am conscious of my behaviours and routinely constrain them – there’s nothing like being followed by a few serious organisations to temper the temptation for naughtiness . Taking over an account in which I was semi- anonymous and which wasn’t connected to work gave me the freedom to mess about more than usual and that was definitely fun. It caused me to reflect how we don’t need to be everything to everyone in our online identities – it comes back to purpose I guess.

All in all I really did enjoy being a @PeopleofLeeds for a week, but coming back to my own account felt a bit like arriving home after a week away when you just want to get in to your own pyjamas and your own bed and feel comfortable. It reminded me how much I enjoy the ecosystem I have around me. I’ll stay at home for a bit before my next outing I reckon.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookPin on PinterestFlattr the author


  1. Sorry I missed you as @PeopleofLeeds, Victoria. I actually unfollowed the account quite early in its existence as it was taken over twice in a row by people obesessed with fashion shopping and TV soap operas.

    I’m a bit ambivalent about those kinds of accounts, I want to follow real people on Twitter with genuine personalities. The problem with generic accounts like that is that the personality keeps changing and, as with my own reaction, if that personality changes to something that jars, it means you probably walk away and don’t go back again.

    I for one would love to witness more of your playful side on Twitter. I hope that the experience with @PeopleofLeeds might convince you not to cover it up in future 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your comments John and apologies for taking far too long to respond. I think these sorts of accounts are like tiny snippets of social history and would be a great PhD research project. But I agree with you about the problems associated with them. I’ve often pondered an anonymous account for all my badness and bile but I haven’t quite got the time or energy!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *