Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Win at Twitter

Anyone who finds me on twitter, and has ever read my feed, knows that I hate Monday’s, I hate them bad.  In fact, if I have a reoccurring theme, it’s that I hate Monday’s. I think I’ve been known to talk about it on almost any given day of the week. It's probably a byproduct of when I first started on twitter and no one followed me. It was quite freeing to just say whatever I wanted, knowing full well that no one would read it. So I started complaining.

I can’t help it. Everything sucks, I can’t stop doing it. Anyone who follows me has to deal with it.

That said,  I try to read every tweet from every person I follow. I can’t do it, it’s too much, but I do still try. I am, after all, following them. 

I figure, if I’m following someone, then I’m agreeing that what they are saying is important, or funny, or informative. The sheer number of folks I’m following makes it difficult to read everyone’s, but doggone it. I give it the old college try. It didn't take me long to start seeing different types of tweeters emerge. In fact, I've put them into one of three categories.

The Commenters*
The Linkers
The Repeaters

Now sometimes things can be mixed up some, almost no one is one thing alone. I count myself as a commenter, someone whose typical tweet might look like this:

“What’s the deal with street signs? I mean, they’re so angular. Why don’t we have more curvy ones?”

See? What I did there was make a comment on society, or people, or things, whatever. I’m a commenter. It’s what I do.

Linkers, on the other hand, have turned their twitter stream into a gateway into the internet. Like this.

“Hey, ever wonder why a wombat is neither a woman, nor a bat, yet shares its name with both? Learn more here http://www.wom/...:

Or, “What gives with politicians being jerks? http://www.politi/....

You have to watch for those folks that you do not know that mention your name and offer a link, nothing good ever comes of that. Ever.

Then we have the repeaters. Now, writers can get drawn into this because it can be seductive, very seductive. Repeaters offer up the same tweet, usually with a link (yes, I see the problem with my categories even as I write this), asking you to visit their blog, or amazon page, whatever. Generally the thought is that since so many people only check their feed intermittently that a single tweet will get lost in the noise.

I’ve come down on the side of not being a repeater, I’m on twitter a lot, and probably read further back than most people, but I will sometimes see the same tweet like, 8 or 9 times in a day from a single person. I think it’s probably a bit too much. It makes me tend to not read any of their tweets because I’m pretty sure I’ve read it before… Yes, a writer can cause folks to glaze over whenever their name comes up in the feed. Their very effort to avoid being passed by caused them to get ignored. Oh irony, you get us all in the end.

Now, I won’t argue that any one way is better, or worse, that the other. Much like people with a healthy diet will tell you, variety is the key. I know some folks that hate repeaters with a passion. Although I've also read ‘how to use twitter’ lists that cite those pithy commenters as the blight that ruins twitter for the rest of them (that’s an awful attitude, my pithy comments are all I have). And I’ve even heard folks complain about the linkers (beyond the scammers), as being shallow and not getting twitter’s point in existing.

Me, I don’t know. I’m probably doing it wrong, but when I signed on I spent my time entertaining only myself. I’m particularly proud of the time I got high at the dentist’s office and then forgotten. After that tweet-a-thon I picked up half a dozen new followers… all of them bots that sold dental supplies, but I found the whole thing fun, I decided that day that I wanted to use twitter to be a smart-aleck first, everything else second.

I won’t even comment about the whole, ‘follow me and I’ll follow you” thing, or other “how to gain followers” strategies that have filled the internet, that’s all stuff for a different day. Well, and probably from someone who actually knows something about it.

*Now, there is a sub category of tweeter that I didn’t mention that I like to call the conversers, those folks like to answer tweets, carry on conversations, that sort of thing. I didn’t include them as a category all their own however, because I wanted three, not four. It’s funny how arbitrary things can be. Although conversers can be part of any group, I think of them as a subset of commenters. Mostly because I think it’s funny to think someone might throw up a clever, biting tweet intended to be rhetorical, but then have the comment used as an opening for a conversation.  However, sometimes they can be linkers to, as the aforementioned tricksters that try to suck you in to their evil plots.


KarenG said...

Twitter is an interesting beast. I went from hating to loving it. It is not easily conquered. There's nothing else like it out there. I find it intriguing and challenging, rarely boring. The repeaters are annoying though, so I will unfollow anyone who keep repeating their blog links.

Briane P said...

I'm kind of all three -- I comment, link to stories I read, do promotional tweets for money, and link to my blogs. I also have a 1x daily tweet about my book, Eclipse, because I think you can never promote your book too much, which is why I promote my book, Eclipse, by Briane Pagel, all the time. After all, if you had written a mind-bending psychological thriller of a sci-fi story about a possibly murderous/crazy astronaut that was available on Kindle for just $0.99 and in print for as little as $1.49:

Wouldn't you mention that book, Eclipse, by Briane Pagel, as often as possible?

Oh, and, um... nice point on the street signs. (That last sentence keeps me from having to declare this comment on my taxes.)

I've added your book to my wish list-- based on Michael Offutt's review and your own great blogging.

julie fedderson said...

I guess I'm a commenter for the most part. I like to say random things that have no particular effect on the universe. And if that makes me a blemish on the surface of Twitter, I accept that role. I also like to link to things that make me laugh or cry or feel something. Twitter can be overwhelming, but I think overall I find a lot of valuable information via links, not to mention some damn talented people. Don't particularly like people who just jettison constant advertisements of their work at you--it's a social network, so be social. The major issue is the huge time suck it can be for someone like me--oooo...shiny new tweet! Must read! Ooooo....another shiny new tweet!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Crap, I'm a linker...

Laila Knight said...

Oh Great Master of Twitter, I can't make head or tails out of it, but I think linking kinda sucks...and I've read that other Twitaholics thing the same. I imagine it's hard to keep up with all the social media. Mondays can be good days. It's just a matter of perspective. :)

Valentina Hepburn said...

I hate Twitter because I think I'm doing it wrong and I'm not really sure what it's for, or what it can achieve. I'm not on Facebook because I don't feel the need to join the competition to have as many 'Friends!!?' as possible. And many of them are not friends, surely. Who has 450 friends? I love blogging because I think it's a creative outlet and brilliant for meeting like minded people. There!

Michael Offutt said...

I like to just use twitter as a conversation. I hop on and send messages to anyone that looks partially active and try to communicate with them via messages. I have more fun doing that and I get to know people better.


Tonja said...

I have not found a use for Twitter yet, but I'm definitely a commenter on facebook. And perhaps a repeater, more because of a poor short term memory than any evil intent - and my life is sort of the same everyday. Most of my status posts involve creatures eating my vegetables or what my little guy puked (or peed) on today.

I find linkers annoying - my husband is a linker and often offers to refer me to a link in normal conversation.

Andrew said...

I'm still avoiding twitter. I wear my foil-wrapped colander to keep the signals out of my head so that I won't fall victim to it. I think it's a derivative of some type of bird flu. Terminal. Long, slow death. Not for me.

Cindy said...

I have been all three. Twitters kind of crazy for me. I recently started using tweet deck to manage all the people. It's useful for keeping an eye on who I want to keep an eye on. ;)

Rusty Webb said...

Karen - I hated it too for a long time. But then again, I hate almost everything when it's new. Once I started using it I got pretty into it though.

Briane - Your subtle ways have won you an additional fan. One day you should write a novel, if you put it on Kindle I'd be tempted to check it out.

Julie - I'm with you, the world's opinion be damned. That unfollow button is pretty accessible. If what I write annoys people they can stop following. In fact, I lose people all the time. Don't know what to think about that.

Alex - I don't think I mentioned my preferences, but I totally dig linkers. I follow tons of science mags that do nothing but link. So don't think it makes you anything to be bummed about. You're in good company. Besides, you're a pretty good commenter too.

Laila - don't like Linkers, eh? Don't tell Alex. He just fessed up to being one.

Valentina - Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. I decided to just entertain myself and figured folks will follow if they want.

Michael - Yeah, you are converser, I made that footnote at the bottom, but after I reread it, it might have come off a bit more negatively than I intended. I think twitter is awesome for the ability to drop a line with anyone that you want.

Tonja - well, I hope you jump aboard the twitter train. I can get enough snippits about puke and pee.

Andrew - Good luck with the foil hats. I think it solves all sorts of problems.

Cindy - I used tweetdeck for the iPad but didn't like it that much so I quit. I've not tried it sense.

Kid Shuffle said...

What do you mean, nothing good ever comes from a linker?