What I'm reading: The Bargain Bride, by Marbara Metzger (bike) Saving Fish From Drowning, by Amy Tan (book club)
Promo alert – there are only a few days left to get Deadly Secrets for your Kindle or Nook (or apps thereof) for 99 cents.Also, my contest for a USPS Flat Rate Box of Books ends Jan 6th. Details here
Although I never thought I'd be a Twitter person (Tweeter?) I've found the platform to be a fun place to visit. Working in relative isolation, it's like the office break room, where you can exchange quick bits of information, pictures, and other updates. Do people care what you eat for breakfast? Probably not. But they might care about your weather (I've got one follower from Florida who's extremely jealous of the climate up here. Others are glad they don't live where I do.) People ask and answer questions. Also, quite frankly, it's a way for me to know what my kids are up to!
After the holiday weekend, I noticed I had a rather large (for me, anyway) number of new followers. I thought I'd share what makes me follow someone, or follow them back.
First, unless it's clearly a spammer, I'll never block someone who wants to follow me. There's no limit (as far as I know) as to how many followers I can have, so why kick them out? I also don't "unfollow" people who don't follow me back. To me, it's not a game of reciprocity. If someone finds my Tweets interesting, why not let them have access to them? If they unfollow me because I don't automatically follow them back, that's their right, and if that's the way they're using Twitter, that's fine. I think it's a kind of snobbery, but that's just my opinion, and they're free to have their own.
Here's how it works for me. I get an email that says Jane Doe is now following me on Twitter, and there's a link to her profile. I'll click over to that and look at:
How many followers she has. If she's got 50,000 followers and 50,000 people are following her back, odds are nobody's going to see my tweets anyway. The Tweetstream is far too fast, and unless you've got lots of lists with a limited number of people in each, it's totally unmanageable.
What she's Tweeting. If it's nothing but promo for herself, I'm not going to follow. While social networking can be a useful marketing tool, to me, seeing only promo posts is tantamount to watching only the commercials on television rather than the programs.
Does she tweet at all? I've seen some who I call "collectors"—they just want followers, although they never have anything to say.
And, then there's the person who follows you, but when you check her profile, she has to approve you before you can see it. That's an automatic 'no, thanks.' She asked me, not the other way around, so why is she hiding?
There are those of "celebrity status" who have thousands of followers but only follow a handful back. Again, that's their prerogative, but it's easy enough to create a list for that handful of people so they don't get lost in the stream. And I'm not talking true celebrities, (I've never followed one) but just those popular enough to attract thousands of followers.
Normally, I'll start with a 'generic' follow if it's someone I don't "know" well enough. Once I see their tweets, especially if they mention me, I will move them to a list. Oh, and if I follow someone and immediately get a "thanks for the follow now go buy my book" message, I'll delete them as well. My take on Twitter is that marketing should be more about name recognition and having people interested in YOU rather than hitting them over the head with promo. My guesstimate is that my posts are about 25% marketing and 75% chatter.
My management system is TweetDeck. I can create lists, and although I might have almost 2000 followers, I'm really only aware of what a few hundred are saying—and even then, I don't catch all their tweets. I have my Family list, my Writer's list, my Foodies list. I have another list called "extras" which includes people I'm interested in, but don't necessarily fit into a category. I've got a list of fellow authors I try to support, so I can see their tweets and retweet if I think it's appropriate. Which brings me to another pet peeve, although I won't unfollow or not follow someone who does it---adding "Please Retweet" (or Pls RT in twitterspeak) to a self-serving post. I get cranky when I see those. And if I do RT, I delete the "Pls RT" part. The exceptions, for me, are actual worthwhile, noble, charitable causes, or things I think the universe ought to know about.
I've even created a list of people I follow who inundate the tweetstream when they're active. By moving them to a separate list, I can still see what they're saying, but they don't usurp the tweets of those I want to hear from. And, just like with the regular Twitter site, I can see who's talking about me. If I'm mentioned in a tweet by someone I don't know, I'll pop over to their profile, and use the criteria I've mentioned above to decide if I want to follow. Your mileage may vary.
Want to follow me? There's a link on the sidebar, or find me at @authorterryo
And I'd love to hear what you like or don't like about Twitter, if you use it, and how.
Another Field Trip tomorrow. Blog visitor Karen C shared some pictures of the Grand Canyon. Don't miss them.
Illustration by Kate Greenway
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