In Social Media, Size Matters!
As a starting point, I took the blogs of 8 of the top Social Media Bloggers and looked at their percentage use of "I", "We", "You" and "They". In each case, I collected at least 5,000 words, which for most equates to between 6 and 8 articles. I know it's not a very large sample of writers or words, but I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. And they did!
I We You They
Chris Brogan 4.89 0.93 3.07 0.32
Karen Skidmore 0.70 0.18 5.80 1.80
Louis Gray 0.71 0.53 1.06 1.19
Marko Saric 2.05 0.22 4.10 0.33
Mitch Joel 0.89 0.35 1.60 2.13
Nick Tadd 2.42 0.00 4.67 1.53
ProBlogger 2.16 0.00 5.14 0.00
Seth Godin 1.42 1.02 5.84 0.70
(In my draft this tabulates beautifully, but gets scrambled in the displayed version. It may be easier to read here.)
Louis Gray blogs more about developments in SM and emerging technologies, so I had thought that perhaps he would have used "me" more often, as he is often giving his opinion. But he still managed to use "you" more often than "I" and "We" combined
Chris Brogan uses the first person singular a lot in the sample tested but there's a good reason for it - among the posts that I sampled were several explaining how he uses mind mapping, how he doesn't use LinkedIn as he feels he should etc.. I'm going to go back and examine his more general articles to see the pattern there.
As can be seen from the table, all of the others use "you" almost twice as often as they use "I", the exceptions being Seth Godin who uses "you" 3.5 times as often as he uses the word "I" and Karen Skidmore who uses it a whopping 8 times as much!. This is entirely consistent with SM articles being about engaging with other people and drawing them in. After all, with the exception of self -disclosure articles of the type Chris Brogan has been writing recently, most of us would soon get bored with, and probably stop reading, writers who used "I" twice as much as they use "you"!
There's a lot more I'm going to be analyzing, such as percentage of past, present and future orientated words, the percentage of nouns vs verbs etc
The conclusion? These folk are some of the top in their field - anyone wanting to be up there with them needs to be looking at their writing style. The small words matter.
By the way, I have the software to quickly check a large volume of words - if anyone would like me to analyse their writing, please let me know.