Beauty and the tweets

It’s official: social media’s unfriendly. Unless …

Lee Dickinson, chief editor

By Lee Dickinson, chief editor

Social media’s a lot more ‘social’ if you’re beautiful.

I have proof. It’s not a scientific experiment, but my internet adventure reveals numbers which could have you taking Photoshop lessons. Unless you’re beautiful, that is, in which case you should drag yourself away from your mirror to sample what the rest of us have to endure.  

A picture’s worth a thousand words, someone once said. It was probably one of those beautiful people, in about 50-100BT (Before Twitter). Now, try 10,000 words. Or more.

Let me explain. Should be easy, that, because I’m an editor, so I like to think my words are crafted. There’s no slinging them on the page and waiting for the deluge of social media dross to bury their failings. No, call it deluded, but even in this age of instant and constant publication, I treat words as precious.

Imagine my horror, then, when my masterpieces bombed. They weren’t criticised, attacked as a mad man’s rantings. No, worse: they were ignored.

I obeyed the ‘rules’ of engaging content and even tried to defeat our millisecond attention spans by seizing the reader’s focus.

Punchy. Considered. Unread.

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I’m not taking it personally, any more than the authors of the crafted tweets and other messages I delete or ignore every day should be offended. It’s the deluge … We can no more read every tweet than we can stand under a waterfall and count the drops. 

Not offended, no, but I am interested in the platforms, their users and what makes them tick. I had a suspicion, so decided to test it. Could it be that beautiful people get more attention on ‘social’ media because they’re, well, beautiful?

Surely not? Wouldn’t that indicate a level of shallowness on social media its name belies? If the “social” part is taken to mean friendliness, looks wouldn’t matter. But …

My experiment involved two days of fake photo subterfuge on Twitter. I changed my header and profile pic to that of a random, attractive woman featured on a stock photo site. There she is, in the picture above. I’m not proud of myself for using her beauty that way, but it was a short test to prove a point. It seems to have done that, because here are the results:

Followers from eight months on Twitter: 195

Two days of being beautiful later: 341

That’s 146 new followers despite the same posts at the same times. Ugly me gained a follower every 1.23 days, but beautiful me got one drooling fan every 19 minutes and 49 seconds.

Shock findings? Physical beauty’s always been the catwalk seller and cinema filler. Will social media ever rise above that to instead appreciate the beauty of the words it relies on? Probably not.

I’ll keep crafting tweets and messages, hoping you’ll see the words behind my blokey mugshot. Perhaps you’ll like them and follow me, and I’ll return the nicety while reading other considered messages and showing my thanks. Now that’s what I call ‘social’.

This article’s writer, Lee Dickinson, is an advanced professional member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and chief editor at You can read his blog here.

© Lee Dickinson, 2022

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