Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This Social Networking Thing - Twitter

Thanks, Joselyn. I didn't accumulate many bridesmaid dresses, but I never wore them again. When I got married, since I had only 1 attendant, I let her 'recycle' any of the dresses she'd already paid for. Couldn't see making her pay for another one, since she didn't have to coordinate with anyone else. As for reusing--both my daughters wore my wedding dress, with minor modifications.

And, to continue my Social Networking impressions. Today it's Twitter – and tomorrow as well, because this got too long. Kind of ironic considering Twitter is designed for short! I'm much more of a Twitter newbie than I am on Facebook, although I consider myself a novice at both places.

I recall meeting an aspiring writer at a conference, telling me how fantastic Twitter was. He'd accumulated 17,000 followers, he said, and he'd tweet, and they'd retweet, until he was sure tens of thousands of people were hanging on his every word. He was convinced that each and every one of these followers was anxiously awaiting the publications of his book, so that if he did sell, he had a huge audience ready to buy.

resisted Twitter a lot longer than Facebook. I'd observed people seemingly obsessed with reporting their every move, and frankly, I found it a head-scratcher. Who could possibly care if I was going grocery shopping, or if I had oatmeal for breakfast.

But, when I found my kids, and even the Hubster, had set up Twitter accounts, I figured I'd give it a try.

The reality? I have almost 1000 followers. But despite what my eager writing acquaintance said, realistically, I see the tweets of maybe 5% of those, with the exception of my lists of favorites. I imagine it's the same for him. This evening, during a relative 'lull' due to the holidays, I counted 36 tweets from my followers in a 5 minute period. It can go a LOT faster than that. So if I haven't looked at my account in an hour, how many tweets have I missed? Over 400 that have already scrolled off my monitor. And I check a lot less than once an hour. So unless these tweets mention me specifically and get filtered into my 'mentions' column, I'll never see them.

Some people use Twitter for marketing. I don't. Yes, I'll "tweet" about releases, sales, or brag about a kind review, but I don't expect to make sales over there. (Which is a good thing, because I don't!)

I know some writers who remain focused on only writing, and tweet links to blogs, articles, and websites that might be of interest, while not 'socializing' with others.

Some regard Twitter as a water-cooler, where they take breaks and chat.

Some do both (and I think I'm in this category)

What I learned.

Followers. If you have a lot of followers (as opposed to 'friends' on Facebook—don't ask me why), you'll never keep up with all of them. Likewise, if you're one of their 10,000 followers, odds are they'll never see your tweets. To help with this, I use another application, TweetDeck, which lets me break followers into groups. So I have a list for family, one for writers, one for people sharing food recipes, among others. Helps me keep track of people I actually know, and actually care about at some level. I have a column for "mentions" which filters for tweets where someone's talking about me.

Twitter can lead to the same "quantity is good" mindset. While I will follow most people back if they're following me, I see no need to be one of 10,000 followers because some 'bot' picked up a key word in one of my tweets and automatically followed me. Also, I check their profile to learn a little about them. When all I see for a bio is, "this is the official Twitter page of John Doe", then I'm not likely to follow. I figure they're interested in upping their followers, not in me.

If you want to be followed, I suggest you get some information into your profile. If it's empty, I don't follow back, and I assume others feel the same way.

Pet peeve: "Famous people" (whether the fame is real or imagined) who have a huge number of followers, but follow back only a select few. Of course that's their right, and they do it for whatever reason, but to me it feels "snobbish". It's not like you have to actually read my tweets (see above for how few tweets actually stay on your monitor long enough to read), but it's like saying, "I'm glad you like me, but I don't care about you."

Likewise, these folks seem to ignore tweets directed at them (unless you're heaping praise) and only enter into dialogue with their select few.

Okay – I've rambled enough for one day. You're busy, I'm sure, with holiday prep. Come back tomorrow for more. Oh, and if you do want to follow me on Twitter, there's a button in the right-hand sidebar. I'm authorterryo.


Maeve Greyson said...

Excellent post, Terry! I'm on Twitter but I have to admit I would classify myself as a "Low-capacity" tweeter. I might tweet once a day if something strikes me as "tweetable" but I can't see tweeting my every move. After all, who really cares? *shrug* I always follow back AFTER checking the individual's profile. If it's someone who only tweets in a language I don't understand - what's the point? If it's a spammer - I don't need that and won't follow. Twitter is still somewhat of an enigma to me. I enjoy reading some of the tweets but if you're not careful, it's a real time suck. I didn't mean to ramble so! As I said - excellent post!

Terry Odell said...

Maeve - I find hanging around Twitter while I'm taking a break is ok--as long as it's short! Then again, I haven't found it so enticing that I actually WANT to hang around there a lot.

Phoebe Conn said...

Hi Terry,
I appreciate your insights on social networking. It works for some people I'm sure, but I'd rather use my time writing than reading some stranger's tweets.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm a Twitter fan, but I find it most effective for tweeting local events, especially local writer events, and using hashtags to direct those tweets to a local audience.

It also works for drawing people to certain blog posts...I don't tweet every post, but when I think there's something of special interest to more than my regular followers, I use Twitter to help spread the word.

Terry Odell said...

Phoebe - I don't spend 'writing' time at any of the Networks. And having the TweetDeck filter things into columns, I rarely see tweets from people I don't know.

Patricia - it's a good tool when used effectively for each person's individual purposes, I think.

Camryn Rhys said...

I just finished a post myself on Twitter and authors, from a reader's perspective (even though I'm also an author). But I found it interestting that when I went back through my book-buying tendencies for the year, I realized that over 75% of my book purchases were Twitter-related.

Not because someone tweeted a commercial about their book, but because I made a personal connection with the author and wanted to read their books. So I think that there are readers out there who hang onto Twitter as a way to connect with authors. So while authors might not want to be on Twitter because they're introverted, they need to be aware of the kind of value Twitter can have as a way to connect with fans and build brand loyalty among their potential readership.

But it's interesting to see how individuals respond to Twitter. Thanks for letting us know about this on SA.

Terry Odell said...

Camryn, that's fascinating. It shows how you have to consider the 'intangibles' when deciding where to hang out. Then again, they do say it's all about name recognition, not pushing product.

Wynter said...

I think I'm in the category of both marketing on Twitter and socializing. I have my Tweeps filed into groups - that definitely helps keep everything straight.

Jemi Fraser said...

I like TweetDeck too. It's very handy. I don't use Twitter a whole lot, but it's fun when I'm in the mood. :)

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Honestly, I am afraid to go near Twitter. I resisted Facebook for ages but now that I have finally caved, it is ridiculous how much time I spend there. I don't have enough time in my day to do all the things that I need and want to do - I can't afford another fun, time-suck!

Bridgette Booth said...

Interesting observations about Twitter. I haven't framed my twitter use yet, nor have I decided if I was going to stay with it (gave myself a year to experiment with it). Agree with you about tweetdeck -- absolutely necessary!