I have been involved in several conversations lately where the topic of Twitter comes up. Sometimes I tell someone I’m on Twitter and sometimes that person asks me if I’ve heard of it. In both cases, the person I’m talking with sometimes says something like “I don’t bother with Twitter because it’s just for sharing inane information” (i.e. what the tweeter had for breakfast, tracking naps, having bowel movements, etc.).
I always find these conversations to be an uphill battle because I have to first convince the party at hand that while there is something to what they are saying, that isn’t the end of it all. Note that I didn’t say those sorts of tweets don’t happen.
In point of fact, it is precisely those types of tweets that makes Twitter an interesting social medium. You are getting some of the nitty gritty details that make us human and give you a picture into someone’s life. Granted, some of the details go too far (I don’t care about your bathroom schedule, honest!) and there are some people on Twitter who miss the point as much as those people who ask me about it.
Ideally, the tweeter gives you some intimate details about daily living interspersed with thoughts, feelings and what they are working on. That gives you, the follower (in Twitter), a more complete picture of that person’s life. This brings me to the point of Twitter.
Twitter is a social media tool. The intent of social media is to connect with people in a meaningful way. That connection may be to simply make friends or it might be (like in the case of an author) to grow an audience.
So let me bring this to how I approach Twitter. What do I hope to gain from it?
First and foremost, I use Twitter to make new friends and stay connected with existing ones. That is where I get the most value from Twitter. When I am looking for new friends and/or people to connect with, I look for individuals with similar interests to me. It should come as no surprise that I look for people who love books, whether they are readers, writers, agents, editors or publishers (or any other book-loving people). I also look for people interested in podcasting.
Secondly, I use Twitter to promote my podcast and my blog. My expectation is, with the group of people I’ve connected with, those things will be of interest. I want to emphasize that I don’t ONLY promote my own work. Just like those people who focus on the trivial, it would be missing the point. It’s just a part of my updates.
Thirdly, I do occasionally talk about the act of living. If I’m having a bad day and need to vent (a little) I might do it on Twitter (you DO need to use a personal filter to decide if your venting is appropriate, of course) or if I simply want to wish everyone a good day, I do that too.
So that’s how I use Twitter. My time on Twitter has also shown me a few things NOT to do (besides the bathroom schedule) that I won’t tolerate:
- don’t bother me if you are dealing porn.
- don’t bother me if you have cash-making schemes.
- don’t bother me if all you do is deal in trivialities..
- don’t bother me if you claim to be a “Social Media” expert or if you want to coach me how to get a ton of followers. I am more interested in quality than quantity and clearly you are not quality.
- don’t bother me if you are a voyeur (you simply watch tweets and don’t contribute).
- don’t bother me if all you do is complain or try to spout your political/social agenda.
- don’t be a hater.
I have tweets who occasional do some of the above but, to be clear, they talk about many other things too. It is the complete conversation that is necessary and important.
I am busily working on the fantasy novel and I’m feeling really good about it. The suggested changes/additions are making the story even better. It’s a great feeling.