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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Nice post, Al. Many good points. The words that stand out to me – “conversation”, “courtesy”, “friendship”, “participation”, “connection”, “real”, etc. I like to think of it in terms of what would you do if you stood in the same room with these folks? Sitting behind the e-shield shouldn’t turn you into a different person. The old adage of treating others how you’d like to be treated applies everywhere, even in the land of 140 bite messages.
I’m pleased the piece resonated with you. I’ve tweeted with you and have seen you immersed in conversations with others. We are on the same page, in terms of treating others the way we want to be treated. Thanks for stopping by.
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I started Tweeting in January, and I can remember thinking quite clearly: ‘What am I doing? What could I possibly have to say?’
Well… the rest is history. And yes I agree it is addictive so I’ve already learned to log off & out and then drop in when I have a coffee break as you suggest.
I also knew that I wanted to be upbeat, share my irreverent sense of humour & I waited to see what happened.
I have to be honest it’s been a revelation, I’m no longer alone at my terminal there are a bunch of other writers just like me and its seems like good fun, even if it does feel a little alien peddling my wares!
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Kay. I’m pleased that, like myself, you have found Tw to be rewarding and a wonderful tool to make new friends. I truly believe once the frienships form, everthing else will follow.
I’ve met some pretty nice people via Twitter, Facebook, the Kindle Boards, etc. You’re one of them, Al. Thanks. Let’s all try and remember that behind every tweet is a real person. 🙂
Amen to that, Larry. Thanks for the kindness.
Gee Wiz, you really summed it up well. Very comprehensive article on your experience. Of course, your’s is a mirror of all of us. It is so nice to know we are not alone.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Sammy. You are so kind and I’m so glad to call you my friend.
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Hey Al –
Absolutely concur re addictiveness of Twitter – I have an endless fascination for people and trivia and Twitter is a high-speed info download from all sorts of intriguing Tweeps (my problem is that it’s getting RIGHT in the way of my editing). And the lure of just one more RT, just replying to that enquiry that you know the answer to…. difficult to resist!
There is a lot to learn when you take up Twitter though. I’m putting together a blog of useful links and tips for general consumption in the hope that it makes it easier for anyone not set up there yet. Any vital tips you have that I should know about?
I am no expert, JA, so I will likely learn something from your presentaion. I look forward to it.
Nail….Meet Hammer. I feel the same way. You just said it more exquisitely than I could.
Thank you for such a nice compliment, Roberta.
Excellent article. I guess I would fall more into the virtual coffee break group. I enjoy popping in every once and a while to see what my blogging friends are up to. But I agree, there is that group of spammer/sales people who I regret following pretty quickly after I see a few tweets. But I just unfollow them and be done.
Ok, now I’m off to go follow you on Twitter 😉
I like your way of doing things, CM. Thanks for your input.
I liked your point about surrounding yourself with talented people.
Twitter is such an amazing tool for writers to have – it’s become so much easier & cheaper to network and seek advice.
Thanks, Austin. I dare say, us writers probably use social networking to its full potential as well as, if not better than any other group of people.
Wow, Al. You’re quickly elevated to become my American Idol :-). What you said make so much sense, and it’s helpful to a new twitter like me (only about 10 days old), so much to learn and digest. I’m not addicted to it yet, mainly due to my lack of technical competence and sometimes lack of time, but I certainly share your view that it’s a great way to make new friends, surround oneself with talented people and have nice break in an otherwise routine day.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the compliment, Junying. Hit me with a tweet if you ever need help with any little thing. 😉