Twitter is a wonderfully addictive networking medium. However, I find myself on it more often than I should be these days. Why? The answer surprised me when I figured it out. In short … it’s people. Now, you may find yourself saying “duh” to this, but anecdotally, I find that most peoples use and understanding of this fast-moving tool is as varied as the personalities who frequent Twitter.
To some, Twitter is nothing more than a place to spew spam. Throw your wares out there and see if they stick. How’s that going for you? Is there really any systematic way to tell? For others, Twitter is a day/night long series of virtual coffee breaks. Pop in, pop out, take the pulse of what’s happening inside the realm of those you associate with. Voyeur, or participant, this has become an integral part of many peoples daily lives.
My own experience falls somewhere in between. As a newbie indie author, my road is one of learning as I go—sometimes the hard way. That’s OK … I like to think I exorcized my ego demons a long time ago. Yup, I screw up … so be it. Most of the authors who I’m able to call new friends have been on the road much longer than myself. Want to be better? Surround yourself with talented people.
I’ve initiated some conversations on Twitter, from which wonderful friendships have developed. This 1:1 connection seems to be the holy grail here. Lo and behold, there are real people behind those little rectangles that go whizzing by at sixty miles a minute. These conversations take time and effort on behalf of those involved.
Think of it as an investment. In the case of an author, there’s you, and there are your books. We all want our work to stand out, right? Aren’t these works an extension of who we are? Get to know the author and interest in their work will almost always follow.
I find with most things, taking the first step is what it’s all about. Listen, then engage. Perhaps it’s like one big cocktail party. We don’t waltz in to a soiree and engage each and every person in conversation. We try to be selective. Who seems interesting? Who can we learn from? Who might we help? I try to read various tweets then read between the lines. By having conversations, we are, in effect branding ourselves. Participation, not spam. It’s not about how many followers you have … it’s about the quality of the ones you connect with.
I don’t take it personally when people don’t reply right back. We all have real lives going on behind the scenes. This may sound corny, but I try to think of each reply as a little gift. A note someone dropped off that I can look forward to later on. What about re-tweets? I automatically do it for friends and information that I deem appropriate and informative. I do my best not to go overboard. Once you go “spambot,” most of your tweets will be ignored. Sometimes I thank people for a re-tweet. I don’t think it’s necessary, I think it’s nice in moderation. Returning the favor is also a nice “thank you.” What about following people back who follow you? In two words, “do it.” I believe it’s just plain old common courtesy. Choose not to follow back and see how fast some followers will drop you.
I use “Tweetdeck” to make my Twitter experience run more smoothly and organized. Others swear by “Hootsuite,” or a handful of other apps available. Like the WordPress vs. Blogspot debate concerning blogging, the right application, or none at all is very much a matter of personal preference. I use Tweetdeck for most communications and my regular Twitter page for followbacks and viewing profiles. This combination seems to work best for me
The key operative term in all of this is “common sense.” Use it, and you will be utilizing one of the greatest tools we all have at our disposal. Have a conversation. Connect. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You might even enjoy yourself.
If this piece made your synapses fire inside that lovely gray matter of yours, leave me a comment and weigh in. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
All the best, AB
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