For some people this post might just state the obvious. However, as I myself am only gradually starting to appreciate concretely, there are probably people out there for which this post is not completely obvious.
I don’t consider myself “influential” on online social networks, e.g. Twitter, which is perhaps why when I indeed am slightly influential, e.g. one of my tweets is retweeted, the event doesn’t pass by unnoticed, by me. I think it was the first of its kind when I recently added my two cents to a discussion that had been unfolding on a mailing list (and possibly on Twitter).
Three people, two whom I know personally, did retweet that message, to a combined 2,608 followers. Not sure if that’s about the size one needs to receive some echo to what is broadcast on social networks, but for a matter of fact that message got some echo: I gained two new followers and, more interestingly, one of them later suggested to displace the Twitter discussion to an email exchange–which is better suited for discussions.
Albeit it might be an intrinsic characteristic of social networks, where the information generally seems to be short living, to at best provide a platform for short living exchanges, I think it would be wrong to understate the potential for discovery on, e.g., Twitter. Following one of your tweets, you might suddenly find yourself exchanging tweets (emails, buzzes, whatever your tools sound like) with people you have never seen, likely never will, you don’t know what they do for a living yet they perhaps are connected with you in one form or the other (in my case based on interests and through people I know).
As I said, this is rather obvious and the potential was clear to me since I started using Twitter last year. That said, this was the first time I actually experienced how Twitter can connect people, at least for short lived exchanges, in rather curious ways, indeed. Assuming one considers (short living) interest based discussions valuable, there is concrete added value here because the exchange would most likely never have occurred in real life.