Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Twitter

In my last post on social media, I mentioned that I might write a later post on Facebook. Since then, however, several things keep popping into my mind about Twitter, so I'm posting about that instead.  I have an almost irrational hatred for Facebook, and anything I have to say about it would probably be painful to read, anyway.

I am by no means a Twitter expert. I've had my account for a few years now, but I only have about 120 followers and I follow about ten more than that, and I've tweeted a little over 2,000 times, a pretty moderate number. I participate in a fun writer chat on most Monday nights, so if you happen to be on Twitter at 7:00 MST you may see a bunch of posts with the #WritersRoad hashtag. Other than that, I try to tweet at least once a day and check my feed a couple of times.  Here are some observations:

Twitter is sort of a strange place.  The challenge to express your thoughts in 140 characters or less, including a variety of hashtags that may or may not actually mean anything, is daunting to some people. I love it. I love trying to make myself sound pithy and concise. Others use it for marketing and exposure. I think that's a perfectly good use for Twitter, as long as it isn't your entire purpose for being there. Twitter is by its nature very public.  I don't post about my kids on Twitter for that reason. I do post about writing. At least half of my followers are fellow writers.  I'm also a little more like my usual sarcastic, realistic self, because I don't have to worry about silly things like comments and likes on Facebook.  Very few of my "real" friends follow me on Twitter, and that's ok with me.

Twitter is often used for marketing, with varying levels of success.  I actually saw a tweet this week that said a survey showed that email is still 40 times more effective for marketing than either Facebook or Twitter, and I can appreciate that. I actually started my Twitter account with the intent of using it to promote my Mary Kay business, but I almost never tweet about Mary Kay, and I've never gotten any kind of response when I do.  Personally, I ignore a lot of the blatant marketing I see on Twitter, and some of it just annoys me.

Just in case anyone is wondering, I will unfollow most tweeps for committing two of my three major pet peeves:

1) Sending a Direct Message after I follow with an invitation to check out your website or current promotion. Not a good first impression.
2) Retweeting every Tweet that mentions you (it's kind of, um, narcissistic) or retweeting a whole bunch of people you follow (like 20 or more) several times a day, every day, so that I have to scroll through a bunch of them when I check Twitter. Especially when those retweets are basically ads. Because that's just annoying.
3) Auto-scheduling tweets promoting yourself, your blog, your books, your music, your art...whatever, every few minutes. Especially if you rarely tweet anything else.

The main reasons I like Twitter is because I like seeing what people have to say - briefly - on a variety of topics. I do like the "retweet" button. To me, it's like a nod saying, "I see what you did there. Nice. I'd be happy to pass that on." Although I'm not sure I completely understand the "favorite" button, I like to use it to bookmark Tweets that I want to keep track of and reference later. More like a bookmark than a "like," I suppose. I use Twitter to keep up with news, celebrities, sports figures, writer blogs, and sometimes, just for a good laugh.

So there you go. My thoughts on Twitter, for what they're worth. I suppose I may be completely off base as to why most people are on Twitter, but those are the reasons why I like it, and a few things that bother me about it.

Are you on Twitter? Why or why not? What are your thoughts about it?

7 comments:

  1. I love Twitter but I go through phases - sometimes I use it lots, sometimes just for links. I like to tweet people's posts that I've enjoyed.

    And don't get me started on FB - I hate it too, but my hatred *is* rational! :)

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  2. I like Twitter. It suits me well, because I can ask and answer questions, help people with advice, share writing technique, talk shop with other authors, reply to fans, and more - and it only takes a few seconds.
    Unlike other social networks, Twitter is easy to use and doesn't distract me with invitations to play computer games and such.
    Twitter helps me sell my books. It's the best promotional tool for me. But then, I'm not automating my Twitter or posting constant "Buy my wonderful book!!!" promos. Instead, I'm real and I interact with people. This strategy works.
    I believe I have one of the best Twitter platforms any writer has, with 49,000+ followers, most of them engaged and real.
    Twitter is also great for honing dialogue writing skills, creating pithy one-liners. :-)

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    1. Sounds like you like Twitter for many of the same reasons I do, and you are using it well! :)

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  3. Haha I sooo feel the same way about auto DM's and the people who just tag bunches of people... all day long!

    And really interested that a) you are a Kiwi and b) you are a writer!! I will check out #writersroad - what is the main juice of the conversation? Writing in general?

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    1. Well, I am not a Kiwi...although I've always wanted to visit! Not sure how I gave that impression. However, I am a writer. WritersRoad covers all sorts of writing topics including craft, marketing, publishing, trends, etc. Most of the usual participants are either indie published or still hoping to be published. Some, like me, have yet to finish and polish a full manuscript.

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  4. Interesting... all your 3 cardinal rules were just banned on our #WritersRoad chat. You're in the majority. Unfollow abusers as well.

    I've kept my FB account as my personal social media tool. I actually "know" my FB friends personally.

    I strictly use my Twitter account for my writing tribe. I only follow agents, editors and writers/authors (who don't spam me with their promotions). It's how I've found amazing blog posts about the craft and nuances of writing, and how I came to learn the differences between self/indie/traditional publishing. Am not sure how I would have amassed this knowledge in my pre-twitter days.

    Very nice to meet you on Twitter and I guess I'm now your 4th blog follower. :)
    @KKMHOO

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    1. I've enjoyed "meeting" you as well! Thanks for checking out the blog. :)

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Hey, please comment! When no one comments I feel like no one is reading this, and then I have to do really annoying things like nag my friends to read it so that I feel like there is some purpose in what I do. Yeah, I am that pathetic sometimes. (By the way, you might want to copy your comment before you try to post it, because sometimes people have trouble with the page eating their comments)