The Evolution of How I Use Twitter

I’ve written several lengthy posts on how writers can use Facebook to platform build.

I’ve said very little about Twitter use.

That’s because it’s so difficult to give advice on how to use Twitter that would apply to everybody.

So much depends on:

  • What type of audience you’d like to reach and how (or whether) they use Twitter
  • Whether you intend on being a source of information or using it for conversations
  • Where you’re at in your career and how many followers you have

My philosophy about Twitter tends to align with the opinions expressed in this article, “Twitter Is NOT a Social Network.” In it, a Twitter exec says:

Twitter is for news. Twitter is for content. Twitter is for information.

And that’s how I use it.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my weekly Twitter round-ups by now. It’s not about Twitter, but about great content I find through Twitter.

Since I started the weekly round-ups, I’ve gone from a few hundred followers to 40,000 followers. How did I get so many followers?

  • I’m extremely focused in what I tweet out.
  • Nearly every tweet links to information that’s valuable—or offers a link to a new blog post.
  • I only tweet a few times a day unless I’m live-tweeting an event.
  • The weekly Twitter round-ups bring more attention to my presence.
  • Twitter started including me on “top people to follow” lists related to books/literature (probably due to the 4 previous tactics).

That strategy hasn’t changed since I joined Twitter in May 2008.

But I’ve had to change my approach in following people and information on Twitter. Here are the stages I experienced:

  1. When I first started using Twitter, I followed everyone who followed me.
  2. At some point, that became too time-consuming. So I only followed people who directly engaged with me on Twitter, or who RT’d me, or who otherwise mentioned me.
  3. Finally, I stopped following even those people who were, it hurts to say, immensely kind. (Remember: I still get to have conversations with those people on Twitter even if I don’t follow them.)

By stage 3, I was following about 3,000 people, and it became meaningless to follow anyone else. Why? Because there was far too much information in my stream and I had to stop looking at it.

So I resorted to Twitter lists, RSS feeds, and Yahoo Pipes to scrape information (tweets) from the people who I really needed to follow—to keep up with the industry and to report on best tweets.

Unfortunately, this has meant that my live Twitter conversation is fairly limited, even though I keep an eye on Twitter throughout the day. It puts the burden on other people to initiate conversations with me. I’ve always felt guilty about this.

So Now I’m at Stage 4
I actively unfollow dozens of people every week, in a slow march toward a manageable number of people to follow. Why bother now, you might ask?

This is critical: There are now tools (third-party applications) that use who you follow on Twitter to generate valuable content mash-ups.

Two popular examples include:

If I want to make the most of these tools, then I have to follow only those people who use Twitter in about the same way I do: To spread valuable information.

Perhaps more important: Because these tools can create content that the larger public can tap into and follow, then it becomes imperative that I’m selective with the people I follow. Otherwise the content that’s generated becomes a meaningless hash.

No one wants to ostracize their followers, but for the good of the many, it seems necessary to focus the following list. (Certainly Twitter lists are supposed to perform this function in part, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.)

I welcome your thoughts, especially from those who have been using Twitter since 2008.

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27 thoughts on “The Evolution of How I Use Twitter

  1. Carol J. Alexander

    I would love to use Twitter more effectively, Jane, but am totally clueless. The whole hashtag and RT thing really confuses me. For instance, Hope Clark just posted that before going to a writing conference to hashtag it on Twitter to see if you can meet any other attendees beforehand. How do I do that? Any good tutorials out there?
    Thanks for the info,
    Carol

  2. Elizabeth S. Craig

    I read your post with interest, Jane, because I’ve frequently thought about the question of followers and Twitter. I have only a fraction of the followers that you do and it’s definitely an unpleasant weekly chore for me to update my follow list each week.

    Right now I’m sticking with my plan of following back when I’m followed (except for obvious spammers, etc.) I think that there is also a feeling of validation that Twitter gives people sometimes… that’s maybe due to Facebook’s friending process. Maybe it’s because part of my purpose on Twitter is promotional that I’m taking that approach…don’t want to hurt feelings or step on toes. If I ever end up with 40,000 followers, though (!) then I might have to reassess. I *never* look at my Twitter feed, since it updates so quickly and gives me almost an ADHD feel when I look at it. I only reply to my @ messages and DMs and that’s through direct messaging.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this topic!

  3. Susan

    This is a very interesting post and discussion, thanks for teaching me so much.

    I am new to Twitter and because I’m new I’m largely ignorant of Twitter etiquette and of all the ways that Twitter can be used. I’m also tweeting to myself a lot and a bit lonely in the Twitterverse. This affects my perceptions of how others treat me.

    I think we all come to Twitter with some basic assumptions, though the assumptions will vary based on how we view Twitter at any given moment. Some will view it as a river. Some will view it as a cocktail party. Some will see it as a news site and some as a living room. Metaphors will vary, but they will all carry a set of assumptions and expectations.

    If you violate "my" expectations then I will be bothered, offended, hurt or angry. Who wouldn’t be hurt by someone who walked out of their living room without saying goodbye? Disappoint my expectations and in my judgment you will have crossed a social boundary, or at least a customer service boundary of some sort and in doing so you will lose a measure of my trust and respect. Not good, whether you are selling a product, a personality or a reputation.

    We are never going to know what the expectations of everyone else are, but for me it’s something to keep in mind as I choose who to follow, who not to follow and who to unfollow.

    Personally, when I follow or unfollow I think about what I want to get out of Twitter and the point of view of others. A famous person or someone who was only likely following me out of perceived obligation is probably not going to care if I decide to unfollow them.

    At this point I don’t have to concern myself too much with how to manage my Twitter. I’m following some smart people and working out my Twitter Philosophy first. Posts like this help with that, thank you, Jane. Once I have the principles #hashedout 😉 I’ll be able to make plans.

    @Susan_Wilkinson

  4. Vicki

    >I have to respectfully disagree. … Nothing makes me unfollow someone faster than constantly posting links and nothing else. … I follow people on Twitter because I want to get to know them.

    I’m on Lisa’s side of the river.

    I want to know what people think; I want to know what they see. My favorite twitterers post bits about their observations of the day. Occasional links are fine, but I’m not on Twitter for news. For me, Twitter is social. (I read "Twitter Is NOT a Social Network." My reaction was: "Wow. He certainly has a different perspective.")

    I’m currently following > 450 people. Maybe half post something on a given day. My reader captures everything (24/7) and I read Twitter as I might read a magazine, in the evenings after work.

    I reply occasionally, retweet some, and Favorite a LOT, usually posts that I consider well-written from a phrasing point of view.

    ONe thing I’ll definitely agree on – there are no rules (or, there are as many ways to use Twitter as there are people using Twitter.)

  5. Marleen Gagnon

    I totally understand. I don’t follow anywhere near the amount you do yet I find some people seem to tweet every 10 minutes. I tweet once early morning and once at night. I’m on long enough to re-tweet 3 or 4 things I see that are interesting for writing and to post 1 or 2 tweets. I appreciate your posts and look forward to them.

  6. Ann Douglas

    I started out using the strategy you describe, but I found it was impossible to only tweet about one aspect of my life (books/publishing).

    Next, I tried setting up multiple streams, in an effort to have different channels for different conversations. That didn’t work because I found it was impossible to compartmentalize. (If a conversation is about a pregnancy/parenting book, is it about pregnancy/parenting or books/publishing.)

    These days, I do about 90 percent of my tweeting from my main stream and a small amount of tweeting from an offshoot stream that is topic-specific. I share a lot of content, but I’m not afraid to engage in conversations that, I hope, will be of interest to the majority of the followers I am actively engaged with (based on what I have learned about them by listing them).

    I try to take chit-chat and one-person conversations to direct messages or email.

    Thanks for a great discussion and your always informative blog.

  7. DazyDayWriter

    Great points, Jane. I like twitter for a variety of reasons, but connecting with "kindred spirits" is primary. Have met some lovely people with amazing backgrounds via twitter. I also enjoy offering inspiration and appreciate the same, in return. We are all connected in this silly world of ours, and supporting that spiritual concept, even via twitter, is a very good thing. I also share "kindred spirit quotes" on twitter. Things I’ve written that strike me as quotable. It’s fun, and we all need a bit of fun each day to fuel our creative fires! Warmest wishes for the new year, Jane.

  8. Donna George

    P.S. To Chuck S, from my perspective, you don’t tweet too repetitiously. In fact I seldom see your tweets and it has crossed my mind that you don’t tweet often enough. So I don’t think you are overdoing it by any stretch.

    Some people do tweet too much and sometimes I have to unfollow when it becomes too much, and maybe move them to a list.

    I have a question about the links that some regulars provide, they seem to come through some sort of blog-line and always have a very long url, which can cause difficulty when I try to use the url in other ways (i.e. to Read Later). I wonder if they are aware that their urls come through so lengthy and if there is shorter way to post them. I mean, they "look" short but in reality they are quite long. Not complaining as I appreciate the links but … some webpages are too hard to read on my iPod Touch screen, and I move them to Read Later (Instapaper) so I can read them in a larger more clear font. Whew sorry if that was too long but I don’t know where to ask it. Thanks.

  9. Tony Wilson ( @soduktile )

    Sweet Jane,

    Had to say that; just love that Lou Reed/Cowboy Junkies song.

    I am a newish tweeter (mid Dec) and probably at the edge of the demographic bell-curve being a 57yo South African.

    I was amused at the speed of unknowns following me – before I had even ‘said’ anything.

    I immediately adopted a ‘block’ approach to followers who were obviously opportunists.

    I don’t tweet, now that I have a few real followers, unless I feel it is of general interest. I wait for a ‘reply’ opportunity if there’s something I’d like to say to the rest.

    If anyone I am following injects small talk, I sometimes join in, but don’t feel slighted if they choose not to reply.

    I joined to convey my thanks to authors who supplied my free holiday eReads – 3 thanks – 3 replies! Really good feeling, and I have subsequently bought 2 further books of theirs.

    I have a short list of follows and tend to ‘unfollow’ if too jargony or personal politics become too visible.

    But hey, that’s just me.

    (Any errors courtesy of cellphone double-thumbing)

  10. Donna George

    Fascinating article, thanks Jane. I’m glad I read it because I was wounded when you unfollowed me 🙂 just as I was thrilled when you followed me. I kept wondering what I did to turn you off LOL. Of course I knew it wasn’t personal.

    I’m new at Twitter and still figuring it out. These comments have been enlightening. I toy with the idea of having separate accounts for different interests. I tend to follow and unfollow people. The ones with just information who post frequently I moved over to lists. Likewise the ones who post too much personal stuff or prolonged personal conversations. Sometimes I miss them and start following them again.

    "River" is a good analogy. I highly favor lists, but I’m having trouble updating my lists lately, is this because of the New Twitter? Lists are a great way to organize and prioritize what I take in.

    "time suck" – that’s the truth. But I get most of my news from Twitter now, if something big (or small) happens, someone tweets about it. And I pick up lots of useful publishing information. I’d like to network with other writers but haven’t figured that out yet. I tend to be the hermit in the ivory tower but apparently to sell books these days you have to "sell yourself," which makes me shudder. Sales was always the last profession that interested me, and I still maintain that I am not a brand and never will be.

    Thanks for the article and all the information you share so freely Jane.

  11. Kellye Crocker

    Great post, Jane, and thank you to the commenters, too. Lots of thoughtful information here. I was one of those people who had no interest in Twitter—until I attended a workshop with @JennBailey, and now I love it. (In fact, I love it much more than Facebook, although I still try to check in there.) Most of my real-life friends are not on Twitter. I love it because I can instantly connect with people who share my interests (writing and reading, especially young adult novels). I can’t imagine doing this without Tweet Chat, which helps me follow #chats and Tweet Deck, which helps me stay organized. I’m one of those "straddlers" who posts a combination of links to information and comments to build relationships. I have to say, the relationship-building aspect has been wonderful. And although I believe writers and publishers still are trying to figure out how Twitter might help book sales, I know from personal experience that I’m more likely to buy books from authors I’ve gotten to know online. I believe that how we use Twitter will naturally evolve for each person and for the platform as a whole. I think it’s exciting, and I love being part of it.

  12. Tony Noland

    Your comment at the beginning, and reemphasized in your follow-up, is really the core of how people operate on twitter, the dichotomy between being a source of information or using it for conversations. Those in one camp will often see those in the other as doing it wrong, and both sides will look askance at the straddlers.

    Interestingly, I once did a blog post about using Twitter. People who use Twitter the same way I do (as a mixture of both conversation and information sharing) thought it was great, while people exclusively in one mode or the other thought I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    I’ve been on Twitter since October 2008, currently have (as of one minute ago) 1582 followers. The number grows and shrinks in fits and starts. I selectively follow 1454 people, and ran into the same problem you did – with that many tweets to read, the tweetstream becomes a raging flood, and you don’t see the core groups you need to follow. I participate in #chats, and use lists to focus who I read, but I also try to spend time letting the stream go by and picking out random interesting bits of flotsam.

    The big challenge lately has been to manage time spent on Twitter, the opportunity cost you referred to. I’ve made connections and gotten writing & editing opportunities that I never would have seen had it not been for Twitter, and yet I find that turning it off has been one of the more important decisions to make for productivity in other areas. That’s a tough line to draw, and to stick to.

  13. Jane Friedman

    Fascinating and insightful comments so far. My thanks to those taking the time to do so. Here’s a second round of ramblings from me …

    [One Size Does Not Fit All]
    I readily admit that whatever philosophy I employ on Twitter isn’t a practical or sensible approach for someone new to Twitter, for an an aspiring writer, or even for an author catering to a fan base. It’s probably most relatable to someone who has some measure of authority on an informational/newsy topic and/or someone who is a voracious online reader and loves to curate.

    Whatever you decide to tweet – or send OUT – feels dependent on too many variables to make "rules" about what should be tweeted or not.

    The question of how "personal" it should get seems very subjective to me. Different people want different things; different types of people are able to be more entertaining about their personal life than others. Additionally, Twitter is just one medium, and sometimes another medium can be used more effectively for personal information. (For me, Facebook serves this function, since I friend "strangers" on my personal page.)

    [What Is a Workable Follow Strategy?]
    For INCOMING information – who you decide to follow – I like how Manon pointed out she uses Twitter lists for people whose tweets she doesn’t want to miss.

    I see three questions that really impact a follow strategy:
    – Whether "following back" is really required to have valuable conversations across Twitter [I would say no, but perhaps some Tweeple will take offense]
    – How and when it’s possible to keep an eye on Twitter in your daily schedule
    – How you like to filter

    [Information vs. Conversation]
    I do think there is a distinct divide between the folks on Twitter who use it in a very information-newsy way, and those who are more about the conversations and communities.

    Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is an example of someone who really emphasizes the conversation/community, and has propelled her career forward as a result. Same is true of the founder of #amwriting, Johanna Harness. Read an interview here at NO RULES about her Twitter involvement: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/12/YourOnlinePresenceCantJustBeAGimmickOrUsingTwitterMeaningfullyWhileUnpublished.aspx

    I don’t see why either group needs to change their strategy or approach. It’s too individualized and dependent on current goals. However …

    [What Meaningful-Impactful Marketing Can Be Accomplished on Twitter?]
    I believe this is the big nut to crack. I usually see the biggest Twitter marketing impact coming from people who have very large followings, and whose recommendations carry a lot weight. Most of the time, I think these people hold authority in the "real world" outside of Twitter, and that’s why their voice has such an impact. Real world influence = influence on Twitter too.

    So for those who don’t yet have big "real world influence," what is the right tactic/strategy for using Twitter to build that influence (or, shall we say, build platform)? [I don’t know the answer.]

    But surely there is a limit to how many people you can have meaningful conversations with on Twitter, and still maintain a quality writing life. The marketing doesn’t scale when we emphasize just the conversations and relationships.

    On the other hand, I agree that no one can really use Twitter effectively/meaningfully by ignoring the relationship factor. See my post here:
    http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/12/13/WhenOrWhySocialMediaFailsToSellBooks.aspx

    In part, we come to that indefinable "word of mouth" …

    However we find value in Twitter, at some point an author using it will consider issues of scalability, and/or if the time being put in is worth the return. While it is meaningful and worthwhile to have the more personal conversations (it opens up opportunities, or it builds word of mouth, and so on), one must also consider the "opportunity cost" — what opportunities are being left on the table due to time spent on Twitter.

  14. Andrea Di Salvo

    Jane, thanks for an insightful post on a topic that’s somewhat confusing to me.

    I’m one of the rarities today, since I am not nor have I ever been on Twitter. I’ve been tempted a few times, but I’ve always refrained. My reasons are some of the points you touched on in this post. I’m already on Facebook, which I use as my social network. I already have trouble keeping up with 150 friends. I can’t handle more social networking right now, so Twitter wouldn’t seem to serve that function for me.

    I’ve thought about using it as an information exchange, much as you described. I realize there are a lot of valuable insights to be gleaned from informative tweets. My problem with that is that I’m not at the point in my career where I feel I have much valuable information to give. I don’t have a sturdy platform built (yet) and I don’t have many followers. I already have a blog, and I feel Twitter would be a redux of that, at best. So I’m holding off for now. I’ve steadily questioned whether that’s a wise decision but I can’t help feeling that, if I don’t have anything compelling to contribute, I’m better off staying out of that particular river until I do.

    I know this is not the perspective you asked for–no Twitter since 2008 here–but it’s the only one I have. I do wonder whether there are many writers out there in the same position.

  15. Steven M Moore

    The story of your evolution on Twitter is extremely interesting. When I first started my blog, I knew it was a little like selling books–you have to let people know about your blog and your books. My children pointed me to Facebook and I soon learned that using it was quite similar to visiting a bookstore every day and having discussions with the attendees–the social aspect trumps the actual marketing. Since I tend to be long-winded about my writing, my comments (and blog posts) are not short–they don’t fit into the Twitter format. Moreover, they are comments on the news, not newsy in themselves. Finally, Facebook, my blog, and other marketing activities take enough time away from my writing as it is. I can’t afford to become addicted to Twitter! (There, I’ve become long-winded again.) That doesn’t mean it isn’t appropriate for other people, only that Twitter won’t work for me.

  16. Rae Francoeur

    What I tweet and what I read on Twitter are different, which ought to send up a red flag. I love to share info, so I mostly tweet links with pithy (I hope) commentary. But I like to be entertained, so I read my daughter’s and her colleagues’ hilarious tweets about working in libraries and serving the nutty public. I don’t understand conference tweets, so often thick with hash marks and a slog to get through if you’re not in attendance. I love the idea of live reporting on Twitter but it rarely comes off like that. And I like having a record to review later. But those conference tweets, often linked to Facebook, need a separate form of deployment.

  17. Sylvia

    I’m almost two years on twitter. Even though I was preaching about the effectiveness of twitter, I was reluctantly to face the information overload I feared.

    this is going to be strange and crazy to say, But I recognize is that, twitter is like the real world.

    A whole heck of a lot is happening at one time, but you just keep doing what you’re doing and focusing on your goals and you can actually get things done and pay attention to what’s important to you on twitter.

    I don’t know if that made a lick of sense, but to me that’s how I handle it.

    This was a great article and I’m honored I got to read the insight of "Jane" before my friends.

    Sharing, as usual!

  18. Manon Eileen

    Personally, I don’t think there’s a wrong or right in using Twitter (okay, except for spam bots. They should all be eradicated asap). I think for every different person (or business) it has a different "best way of using Twitter". It totally depends on what you want to accomplish.

    I use Twitter much like Nathan does. I mean to connect with (future) fans, and to network with other writers.

    I follow people like you (Jane) for their enormous wealth of knowledge of the craft, but I have Twitter lists for them so that they don’t get lost in the huge stream of Tweets the 450 or so people I follow produce.

    On the one hand I enjoy Tweeters that share nothing but writing articles and blogs, but on the other hand, it sometimes becomes a little too much. There is no way that I can read everything that’s out there, which is why I’m of the opinion that sometimes it’s nice to get a more personal (and link-less) tweet. And that counts for writers (of fiction) especially – it’s interesting to see what goes on in their life (although I too don’t care for the "the cat just threw up" tweets), but I’d love to find out what successful writers’ schedules are, what they do other than writing; essentially, what has made them successful.

    But still, everyone’s free in using Twitter the way they want to. I don’t think there should necessarily be strict guidelines for Twitter, because a high school teenager is probably only interested in chatting with their friends – not in building a platform for him/herself. A writer/actor/artist may want to use it to connect with peers and fans, a huge business may just want to share discount codes and couldn’t care less about their costumers. Eventually, people just do whatever works best for them.

  19. Lisa Kilian

    "Twitter is for news. Twitter is for content. Twitter is for information."

    I have to respectfully disagree. As Greg states, your Twitter use evolved in a different way considering your ties to Writer’s Digest. I, like Nathan, have been using Twitter as a more entertainment-heavy and personal venue than anything else. Nothing makes me unfollow someone faster than constantly posting links and nothing else. I read people’s blogs because I want to learn; I follow people on Twitter because I want to get to know them.

    When I do know a person and know their tastes, I am more likely to click on their links than if they only posted information-rich tweets. As with all social networking, I believe it’s entertainment first, information second.

    Currently, I am working with my library as a sort of social networking librarian. I have witnessed our following double in size when we started posting "behind the scenes" pictures or fun tweets from our puppets mouths. Seseme Street also does this very well.

    I believe there is a way to update somewhat personally and keep your personal life out of Twitter. After all, us writers building platforms is just another way of saying we’re branding ourselves. And if you’re all cut and dry in public, I can only imagine what your writing may be like.

    Anyway, great post, simply because you’ve got us all talking. Social networking is an incredible resource that definitely needs to be studied closely.

    Lisa Kilian

  20. Porter Anderson

    Jane, good post.

    HootSuite has saved me. I use it to actively monitor one list in publishing and another in ATP tennis, which I enjoy. I do hit "Follow" on many people because I know folks want to show a big number of followers. But I make no effort to follow my main feed. The HootSuite dashboard lets me hide it. With you aggregating things weekly for us and Guy Gonzalez putting out his transmedia daily (that’s Paper.li, he’s using), I’m sorted.

    Chuck, I don’t think you’re wrong to repeat, judiciously. Each of us is one car on I-95 at rush hour.

    But here’s what I find frustrating: So many frequent tweeters don’t discipline their output to focused, business-oriented tweets. They mix in personal comments. Sometimes appallingly personal. Dinner was the very best ever, the kids are being the worst ever, the cat has thrown up. (So have I at this point.) Nothing wrong with tweeting about life. But doing this on a business account? Apparently thinking one’s clients should be exposed to the Thurber carnival inside one’s home (or head)? I wonder what some authors think when their agents spend the workday tweet-carping about office coffee, disappointing submissions, where lunch will be, and what a favorite sitcom character did on last night’s show. All in superlatives. Always the best or the worst. The gray in between takes too many characters.

    In line with your news/content/information Twitter-triad of usefulness, can we cordially encourage colleagues to create a business account for the world at large and a personal account for the friends who care about last night’s HoneyBaked Ham?

  21. Greg Pincus

    I think there are a ton of ways to use Twitter, regardless of what the founders might say. There are also different types of platforms you can build, as the contrast between Nathan’s approach and yours shows. Both are valid, but they serve different purposes.

    I think you also could add one element to your list of why your follower count has grown (and perhaps why you were on Twitter’s recommend list): you had a reputation and platform outside of Twitter that carries over. Writers are gonna follow the "voice" of Writers Digest – you’re instantly a trusted source. That could be why your Twitter use evolved that way, in fact. Most of us take longer to get established, though it’s certainly possible to do so. Still, your name and Writers Digest’s name make a huge difference.

    As for the outside tools that use who you follow to create repackaged content, I see the challenge there in terms of who you follow. Yet I still follow anyone who seems like a "real person" (as opposed to a bot or a salesperson or a quote spewer, etc), but I very, very, very rarely look at my unfiltered timeline. Instead, I search by words or phrases, setting up lists or columns on Tweetdeck. I can find all the relevant information that way, not just based on who I follow but based on who is talking about what I’m interested in. And I often find new people to follow that way. Sure, it’s not laid out all pretty like, but then again, I don’t need the info laid out that way. I see it on topic anyway.

    I think that making following decisions based on outside tools doing your curation rather than you doing it (as in your weekly tweet list) is a choice, not a necessity. Yes, those new tools can create useful pieces of content, and if that’s the prime reason you use Twitter, great. But again, that’s only one possible way to use Twitter.

    As for me, I’m still at the point where I want to hear new voices and build connections. I haven’t found it top-heavy yet, even as I’m nearing 5,000 people. I suspect there are different tipping points, so I reserve the right to change my mind later!

  22. Nathan Lowell

    Interesting post, Jane, but diametrically opposite to the way I use twitter – particularly as platform builder.

    I’ve been on Twitter since April, 2007. To me, twitter is a river. I sit beside it sometimes and watch what flows by. Occasionally, one of my friends comes floating by and we exchange greetings, swap stories, share recipes, renew acquaintances.

    As an author, it’s my main tool for building and growing my relationship with my fan base. They know I’m there. We talk about their experiences with my stories. Or problems they have with getting them. I’ll let them know where and when to get the new ones. We build trust and credibility.

    As my books have started to come out in print over the last year, I’ve tried to follow more "industry" people. What I’m finding is that most writers just talk to other writers — emphasis on "to" — and that’s not really what I’m looking for as I’m sitting beside the river.

    Perhaps I’m missing the boat on twitter. I’m not there to find people who are spreading valuable information. I’m there to build relationships. I’m there to have conversations. I’m there to ride the Cluetrain.

    So far it’s working for me. Your mileage may vary.

  23. Sharleen

    Interesting article,Jane. (I just RT-ed someone’s post on if/when one should repeat tweets, Chuck.) I’m still in the 100+ for both following and followers, and already I find that too many. I can’t imagine following 3,000.

    With few exceptions, I follow only people in literary or social media fields, and my tweets are about these same topics. Your post has made me wonder where I am heading with twitter but, more importantly, where twitter itself is heading. Maybe we’ll all soon be using tools to try to make sense of the huge number of tweets out there. If you don’t have something to help make sense of it, it becomes nothing more than a time-waster. I already waste too m uch time online…

  24. Chuck Sambuchino

    I only follow about 450 people, but it’s still way too much info to process. That made me think that if 95% of other people’s tweets miss me because I only visit a few times a day, then 95% of people are missing my tweets, probably, as well. That’s why I’ve started to tweet the same things 2-4 times over the course of a day to cover a wider space. (I’m not talking about random updates, like "So tired right now," but rather any helpful articles & links.)

    Anybody else have an opinion about repeating tweets?

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