Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Twitter Conundrum

Do you have a morning routine?  I do: roll out of bed, fiddle around in the kitchen until the husband leaves for work, make him a lunch if I'm feeling especially kind.  Then, make myself a latte, scrounge up some sort of breakfast food, and curl up on the sofa with laptop for Brainless Internet Time.  This is when I catch up on my social networking, read blogs, check email.  I'll think about a post if I'm planning to write one.

Back to the social networking.  I've had a Facebook page for a long time.  I don't link to it here, and I don't link to this there, because right now I'm not ready for my two worlds to mingle.  Were I ever to need an authorly Facebook profile, I think I would create a new one and hide the current one, because I like having that only for family, friends, and basically only people I've met face-to-face.

My Tweeter has nothing to say
Networking with people I haven't met face-to-face is where Twitter comes in.  I start using Twitter sometime last summer/fall--at first just to stalk a few agents that I was interested in, but I have since expanded to follow other people in the online writing/publishing community like writers and editors.  Twitter is a strange beast, and I find myself constantly wrestling with it and how to use it.  Right now I'm following 125 people, so I can't possibly read everyone's updates, which begs the question: why do I follow them?

This morning I saw the post on Query Shark pointing to an article: 13 Reasons Why You Didn't Get Followed Back.  I read it with interest, because although I am following 125 people, only 19 people follow me back.  And that number isn't even accurate, because one of my followers is my husband.  I thought this article would give me all the answers, but it didn't, because basically all it said was: Don't be a Twitter spammer.  I think I avoid these 13 deadly sins, so why aren't people following me back?  Well, why the hell should they?  I'm a total stranger.

And this is why I don't really get Twitter.  I would probably use it more if more people I knew were on it, but they're not.  I've sent replies to a few strangers' tweets if I have something nice or useful to say, but mostly I just find it incredibly awkward to start messaging total strangers, like walking up to a random person on the street and trying to start a conversation.  I guess more people would follow me if I had something important to say or were famous, but does that mean that Twitter is primarily intended for Bill Gates and Lindsay Lohan to spread their word to the huddled masses?

Jill Hathaway wrote a post a few weeks back asking about Twitter etiquette and policy, and whether you should follow back those who follow you.  A lot of her commenters were against following back everyone, and they're right--I think once you reach critical mass on Twitter, following back everyone who follows you would turn your account into a gnarled mess.

Please, folks, tell me:  what the hell am I supposed to do with Twitter?  Do you use it?  Do you like it?  Or are you like me, and find it an awkward way to force more of your awkwardness into the world?


  1. I've come to the conclusion that I don't really get Twitter either. I also follow a ton of people and I noticed that checking Twitter consumed a gigantic chunk of my time. And what I was left with after all that scrolling, scrolling, scrolling wasn't satisfying. I realized I was getting a little overwhelmed by all the noise. I've cut back on my Twitter reading now and my brain is much happier.

  2. Yup, I've cut way back on my Twitter reading too. Another drawback, I feel like it's not very user friendly. Maybe someday I will find a way to use it more, but for now I'm just an occasional drop-in.

  3. I like it to an extent, but really--and I think this is what I said on Jill's post--I've gotten to the point where I only follow my real-life friends, agents, some authors and my fellow bloggers.

    I have about three real-life friends who use Twitter.

    I only follow a few agents/authors.

    I follow bloggers I'm familiar with.

    Needless to say, I have very few followers and equally few followees. BUT. I do think it's a great tool to get to know people. Try @ replying a few folks, maybe in hashtag conversations. #askagent and #kidlitchat are great ones. I'm really more of a lurker, but I do use Twitter occasionally.

    Also, I would suggest downloading TweetDeck or something like that. You can organize people into different column feeds. Much more user-friendly!

    As it is, I'm not incredibly outgoing, so I figure I won't start getting followers until I have an agent and book deal. In the meantime, it is a good way to see what's going on in the publishing world! :)

  4. You know, I've heard people mention TweetDeck before, but I wasn't really sure what it was. Checking it out now, thanks for the suggestion! I'm not very outgoing either, and I guess because everything on Twitter is public, I'm always afraid of putting my foot in my mouth :)

  5. I fought Twitter hard but now love it as a efficient way to stay in contact with a large number of people. Mostly other writers. Keeps you plugged in, which is great and annoying in equal measure.

    I too feel weird about responding to people I haven't actually met but always try to remind myself that that's why people are on twitter. They expect and want people they don't know to interact with them. I try to be good about it.

    Anyway, if you're down for following another stranger and fellow writer I'm @jeff_hirsch

  6. Thanks Jeff! I think I'm already following you :) I agree with what you said--people wouldn't be tweeting things if they didn't expect strangers to be reading and responding. I'll give the whole thing time to grow on me.

  7. Hi, Rachel! Thanks for following my blog. I had to go find you on Twitter now too. :D

    I was in the same predicament as you a few months ago. I joined Twitter, got about 20+ followers, tweeted a bit, and then got tired of it.

    After going to a writer's conference and hearing all the virtues of Twitter, I dusted off my Twitter page, began tweeting again, and tagging things with it via the #wordgoeshere. Once I started doing that, my follower count has jumped to to over 150+ followers. I typically use #amwriting or #editing or #nanowrimo, etc. You find a lot more like-minded people that way.

    It also helps to talk to people, but I don't do that as much. It's hard to say something to a person in 140 characters. And, I don't read everyone's tweets either, but I have found some useful information and it's good to reach out to a wider audience, if you can.

  8. Thanks Cherie! Followed you back on Twitter ;)

    I've lurked a bit on some hashtag searches, but it never occurred to me to use them myself! Thanks for the tip. I'm glad I blogged about this, I'm getting all kinds of great advice!

  9. I don't link my Facebook to my blog yet either. NONE of my friends know I'm trying to write MG and that's the way I'd like to keep it. I'm more of an anonymous author. :P

    I have a Twitter account but rarely use it because I'm not fond of Twitter. I should probably start trying though. Sigh.

    Glad to be one of your newest followers and look forward to reading more posts!

  10. Yup, I don't want my old Facebook friends to know about my writing attempts yet, and I don't think any of my new writer friends need to see pictures of me dancing on the bartop in Marmaris...haha :)

    Thanks for following!

  11. I don't really use Twitter that much, because I don't find it that helpful. I'd much rather follow my bloggy friends. And I also am a huge Facebook fan, but like you, I just use it for my friends and family.