For some reason Twitter dominated most of my conversations this week. My friend Natasha promotes her blog and business there. Stephanie reads but doesn’t post (and also puts together her own social media plans, which I’ve never even attempted. Impressive!) Angie’s just getting started on it. I found myself explaining how Twitter works and sounding like an avid user … even, I dare say, a proponent.
If you’d told me 6 months ago that I’d be giving advice on, nay touting the use of, Twitter, I would have thought about hitting you in the face. I sort of despised it, thought it was silly and did everything I could — even as a professional communicator — to avoid it. I had my own account and used it sporadically, but I wasn’t a fan. Then I got the job with hours and hours of downtime and the iPhone that makes reading and posting to Twitter a snap. It’s the perfect storm of staying informed and burning time.
As it turns out, I’m more of a news junkie than I realized, and you know how everything breaks on Twitter first. I watched the live feeds of the Aurora shooting go down, which was almost creepy, and the same at the Empire State Building this morning. Twitter even feeds my obsessions and hobbies, allowing me to keep up with everything I like, from the British Monarchy to food trucks in town. And I’m always entertained by snark from celebrities, comedians or an average, witty soul.
Twitter is all about sharing. Sharing news, sharing that interesting thing you read or found or ate or saw. Sharing even just the mundanities of life. It’s about finding like-minded people. Or interacting directly with notable people you admire, and even those you don’t.
My time on Twitter as an active user has been short, but there are already a few things that are bugging me. Well, it’s not so much Twitter as the tweeters among us.
- “Follow me, I’ll follow you”
Twitter, like Facebook, is all about who you know. Well, on Twitter it’s who you follow. You have to follow people to see what they post, and in that I personally choose quality over quantity. Other people, however, must view their Twitter follower number as a measure of their own self-worth and place in the world. They’d rather collect as many people as possible, so they wage campaigns to follow a certain number of people every day. Twitter even starts to monitor or limit that once you reach a certain threshold, like 1,000 or 2,000. Following people isn’t what those social (media) climbers are after, though.
If you read any of those, “Best ways to succeed on Twitter” articles, they’ll tell you that turnabout’s fair play. If someone follows you on Twitter, it’s only polite that you follow them back. Well, I call shenanigans.
I mean, I get it. You wrote a book. You think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. And it may be. I definitely think you have achieved an incredible feat, transcribing all those words and characters in your head onto approximately 300 pages.
I also think it’s great that your job is to sit behind your computer and find people to tell about your company. Your art. Your food. Your event.
And I think it’s great that I’m a person you wanted to tell … most of the time.
I look at each and every person who follows me. If you look suspect, I will report you as spam. For all I know, you could be a bot or a hacker or just an individual with sinister motives. If your profile and your tweets are only about your book, your company, your business, your promotion, I’m not going to follow you back. But, if you sound like a normal person, who is interested in the same things I am and have some witticisms to add to the conversation, sure. You have me as a loyal follower. I may try you out for awhile, but if I follow you it’s because I intend to stay.
What irks me is those people who follow me only for their self promotion. They either follow me to get me to follow back, and then unfollow. Or they unfollow after a certain number of days when I haven’t reciprocated. You all exhaust me.
That leads me to…
- Blatant, unabashed, single point of focus self promotion
I dislike self promotion in general. It makes me very uncomfortable. It feels pushy, and sales-y, which is the fastest way to lose my attention.
I’m not convinced that anyone truly cares to hear every random thought that rattles around my head or about all the cute things Oliver does or what I ate for lunch. What I have to say is rarely profound, so I personally try to keep all that sharing in check. I even hesitate to post links to this blog on Facebook — knowing that all those eyeballs are coming to focus on some piddly words I wrote also scares the bejeezus out of me. On the other hand, I know I have to do it, since you need to dwell in your own discomfort before you can grow.
For those of us who write — blogs, books, news articles — Twitter is supposed to be the fastest way to gain a following. So, I do it to put myself out there, but also to find other writers who dwell in Twitterdom. I want to read new blogs and books and articles that highlight an experience I relate to or have a different point of view. I also want to know who you are before I do it. So when I follow people whose only tweets are links to their blog/book/article or retweets of other people’s links to their blog/book/article, I am annoyed. If I don’t know anything else about you, because you don’t share it, I care a whole lot less about your new book on Amazon. Just be a human, not a promotion machine. Pretty please?
- “Repetition is key”
People read Twitter at different times of day. You can google the statistics that tell you the bewitching hours — the times at which more people are online and at which tweets get more “play.” But that also means I’m not necessarily going to see every little tweet you send out.
The self promotion is one thing, but I go over the edge when it’s the only thing you have to say and you say it SEVENTEEN times a day, EVERY day, FOREVER.
I know. Your book is now available. It’s getting great reviews on Amazon. Your latest blog post is the best piece of writing advice ever. And I saw it the first or second time you talked about it, 3 weeks and 45 posts ago. Chillax.
With that said, I’m still on Twitter all day, absorbing my news and snickering at some clever retort. I won’t let annoyance stop me, but I do wish we could all be better citizens as we make our way in the Twitterverse together.
Then again, you probably have a lot more things that bug you about Twitter. And I’m probably doing most of them, like a #newbie. So leave me a comment and sound off. Your soapbox awaits.