Twitter and Me

Twitter has never worked for me. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, why I never gathered that many followers or even spent much time on it. Overall I just didn't get it.

Until now...maybe.

Those of you who are successful tweeters will think this revelation is as astute as saying "there is no spoon" when, duh, this reality is an illusion and everyone knows you're The One anyway, so just get busy. But what I realized is this: You have to actually talk to people for Twitter to work. Not only that but you have to talk to strangers. Strangers!

I discovered this because of Sean Ferrell. Today I logged onto Twitter and someone had tweeted something to him that was vaguely congratulatory. Don't ask me what or who it was; I don't remember. But I wanted to know if Ferrell had won a prize or sold a book, mainly so I could writhe on the floor in a fit of self-loathing and jealousy if he had. Instead of scrolling back through a bunch of tweets, however, I clicked on his name to go to his homepage and see if I missed anything.

By the way, I rarely go to Twitter homepages. I mean, why would I? Quite possibly, that is another Twitter misunderstanding on my part.

Ferrell's feed had many messages to many people. Not just his pithy and humorous observations about lunch, but all kinds of communications with @ signs to named individuals, making my small attempts at conversation pale in comparison. And then I realized this is why he has 800 followers and I don't. The clouds parted, a light bulb showed up above my head, etc. etc. The whole experience was instructive and humbling. Talk to people? So simple! So pure! What could be more human?

But honestly I can't promise I'll change my ways and suddenly become a chatty Kathy replying to all sorts of comments. Mainly because I don't always have a witty comment at hand and I'm not one to say something just to say something. But I learned, gosh darn it, and doesn't that count?

I could be wrong about this though. Maybe that's not how you make Twitter work better. Maybe talking only works at cocktail parties. Maybe we should go back to smoke signals.
Facebook Twitter Email Digg Delicious Stumbleupon

16 Response to Twitter and Me

October 6, 2010 at 7:16 AM

This works on the assumption that the user wants to talk to strangers and collect followers.
Is collecting followers enough of a goal in itself?
Or maybe some people have enough caring and love in them for a sea of strangers... I'm not one of them.
Twitter is not for me.
Smoke signals are fun, I especially like the bit with the marshmallows and the roasted apples.

GFH
October 7, 2010 at 5:55 AM

Well, I use twitter and talk to a lot of "strangers" and I have realized some thing.

Twitter is aiding and abetting the shallow conversations - the saying something only to be saying something and nothing. Conversations die quickly if they begin at all and its nearly impossible to engage on anything important, though you could take that "offline" perhaps through email or some other medium.

So, while I really like twitter, I recognize that its hurting relationships and the ability to focus on anything for any length of time.

October 7, 2010 at 6:14 AM

I have a small following and follow about 20 less people than follow me. Partly because I don't 'do it right' but mostly because I don't want a huge feed of comments from people I don't know. I network with other writers for supporting them and they in turn support me. I don't get caught up in the 'status' of having a bazillion followers on Twitter or even my blog. You can form real friendships when your numbers are smaller. I've exchanged emails and even phone numbers with some of my new friends. You can't have that kind of true interaction with hundreds of people at a time. But that's just me. As I said, I 'do it wrong.'

October 7, 2010 at 6:20 AM

@Christi- You twitter the way I blog. : j
I raise my chalice (of apple juice) to your health and to the continuation of people doing it wrong when they want to. ; j

October 7, 2010 at 6:24 AM

I see Twitter as a big party. You drift in and out of conversations, sometimes spending a lot of time in one thread, sometimes dropping in to share your version of a witticism and then dashing off again.

A lot of it doesn't make sense, but that's okay. But what DOES make sense can be an entree: to valuable information, to making a new friend, to finding a new author.

As for the whole "it's shallow/hurts relationships" trope, well, disdain is easy. Twitter has helped me build relationships, and I've made many new friends through Twitter. Yes, the deepest parts of communication generally move off of Twitter, but it's been the starting point for so much of value that I hesitate to be dismissive of it simply because so much is scattershot or seemingly random.

It is what you make of it. Today I will be drinking coffee with a friend I never would have made if not for Twitter. We'll talk and share trivial chatter, and go deeper as appropriate. That doesn't sound like a relationship hurt by Twitter to me.

October 7, 2010 at 7:07 AM

**groan**
Until Twitter came along, I thought I was sufficiently computer literate.

I was wronnnnggggggg. Maybe I'm afraid of saying something stupid. Maybe its the clopped-off language. Or maybe *sigh* I am twitterpated but your blog gives me hope. I will tip toe into the realm of Tweets, @, and &apos with the hope I can figure this out.

Courage!!! I got (need) some.

October 7, 2010 at 7:27 AM

I agree with Bill. Twitter doesn't hurt relationships. It only expands them. Some relationships are never meant to get out of the "bus stop chatter" phase, and that's okay. Others will move beyond that naturally. I've met many more people and bought numerous books by writers because of Twitter (including both Robin's and Bill's).

October 7, 2010 at 7:36 AM

I got on Twitter very reluctantly, because I was told it was vital for my writing career. I had no idea what I was doing. It was just so weird to me But I got the hang of it, and at this point I absolutely LOVE it! I am addicted. I have connected with so many awesome people, whom I would never get to know otherwise. I consider them to be friends. We do "talk" at length. We get to know each other very well. It can seem impersonal, but once you dive in you realize it is the opposite. I have even met some of my Twitter friends IRL, as they say.

Don't try to analyze it or worry about if you are doing things right or wrong. Just jump in and have fun. I think you will be pleasantly surprised...

October 7, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Hey - came over this way from Janet Reid's blog as I'm debating the merits of Twitter and have been for some time. I'm still on the fence but since reading your advice, I think my next attempt might be more successful! Thanks :)

October 7, 2010 at 8:56 AM

I think Huntress hit the nail on the head for me--one of the reasons I'm reluctant to "talk" is I'm wary of revealing my inner dork/stupidity--and of offending anyone with my sometimes second-grade sense of humor. But I shall be brave and dive in!

And Deadly Accurate bought my book! Swoon. Actually I bought Ferrell's because of Twitter.

October 7, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Social media can be a very effective marketing tool, I'm told. Think of the 70's commercial (provided you are old enough to remember it) . . . and they told two friends, and they told two friends . . . Twitter is sort of like that with tweets and retweets. I've also noticed that when I tweet something about my wip and link to my blog on Twitter, that Google is quick to pick it up. If someone is looking for your work, that's a really good way to be sure to be found. I've encountered some truly awesome people there as well!

Rebecca
http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com (and feel free to tweet me at rebeccatlittle on Twitter!)

Mel
October 7, 2010 at 9:46 AM

Wait... you can see what I write on Twitter? Oh my God.

October 7, 2010 at 12:13 PM

I enjoy Twitter. I'm not there for social marketing or to collect followers or respond to every single thing said. I'm there to meet people on the other side of the world and have conversations that stretch over days. I'm there to respond to what I know and read what I don't.

October 8, 2010 at 9:22 AM

My agent was the one who dragged me kicking and screaming to Twitter, and I'm so glad she did. Before I agreed to join, I went out and read a number of books about the tool and realized I hadn't really understood what it's all about. The idea is pretty simple -- it's about making friends, and the fact that people like doing business with (and supporting) their friends.

I met one of my new favorite authors (Bill Cameron -- hi, Bill!) as a result of Twitter. Not only did I read and love his books, but had a chance to meet him in person when I visited Portland a few months ago.

My book club read Sean Ferrell's NUMB after I "met" Sean on Twitter, and he even agreed to talk with us in a phone conference.

I could name dozens of other authors I've connected with on Twitter, so I'm a big believer in its power as a marketing tool for authors.

Great post!

Tawna

October 8, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Thank you for writing this. I too have tiptoed in to Twitter. It's hard to not feel like an outsider who doesn't understand the native language.

I think I need an Twitter immersion program.

October 9, 2010 at 7:42 AM

I'd like to be a better Tweet girl, but I am sporadic at best. I even have an iPhone and tweetdeck so one would think I was good at tweeting. I'm not. I don't have time to go on there very often. But I try to twitter at least once a day.

It is like being a huge party as another poster said. I like how fast it is and I learned about a contest win via someone else's twittering which was cool.

Great post. Must tweet!

Post a Comment

 

Brains on sale now!

Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul Theme By- WooThemes