Making connections makes us happy. Kathy Sierra wrote a great post a few years ago about how we keep going back to Twitter for the same reason that we might return to a fruit machine: to get that instant high when our metaphorical cherries line up.

But some connections make us happier than others: hearing from a long-lost old friend may well hit the emotional jackpot. Being tossed an insult by someone who’s misunderstood you will have the opposite effect: it’s draining.

JP Rangaswami has taken the idea of Twitter as an emotional trigger further by blogging about pheromones: if pheromones are carriers of stimuli, causing a social response in others, argues JP, then:

“We have to start thinking of tweets as the knowledge worker’s pheromones. Signalling. Alerting. Marking out “territory”. Warning off. Pointing towards food or shelter. Looking for relationship. Sometimes preparatory, sometimes catalytic, sometimes just plain old informative. But always social, always designed to share.”

Tweeting positive stuff and useful information will send out the right signal and have a strengthening effect on your community. It will resonate and be repeated. Send out the wrong signal, and you’ll create a bit of a thud.

Last week, Anne-Marie McEwan told me of a great, animated discussion about the Japanese Ba concept she’d had on Twitter (and yes, I’m interested in how the Ba ties in with social networks but that’s another blog post). Another friend, David Cushman, blogged recently about a fabulous Twitter debate on The Dunbar Number.

And last month, Silicon Valley start-up StylePage doubled its Twitter following by running a campaign built around all the right messages.

These are the jackpot moments – the moments when your Twitter universe is really set alight: pheromones and connections darting all over the place. Forget about intermittent variable reward, this passionate, connecting-with-your-peers stuff builds communities. And that’s what it’s all about.

Pic: Ben Grey

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