Using Twitter the Wrong Way

People tell me I tweet wrong. I use Twitter.com like a bulletin board, mostly posting links to my blogs, sometimes retweeting my publisher’s book links, and occasionally posting links to samples of my books. All that is considered spam, though what I post is closer to ham than spam — it has a bit of meat to it. But of course, it’s all in how you look at it. (Are unwanted posts really spam, though? When you are spammed in your email, you often have no recourse, but if someone posts things you are not interested in at a social networking site, you can unfollow or unfriend.)

Most people seem to post the same sort of things I do, though some are heavy on quotes, some are heavy on retweeting, and others push their agendas (and books) incessantly, posting every few minutes. Yikes.

I once participated in a reciprocal promotion where each of us authors agreed to tweet everyone else’s book links several times a day every day for two weeks. Now that embarrassed me. I felt like a shill, particularly since I had no interest in the books. Still, I try to follow through on my promises, so I tweeted and tweeted and tweeted until I discovered that most of the others weren’t doing anything at all. That was the last time I ever did anything of the sort.

I’ve tried to do different things on Twitter, commenting on other people’s posts, joining in on discussions or starting discussions of my own, but I don’t see the fun in it, especially since few people ever respond. Those who do respond generally know me from Facebook, so it seems a duplication of effort.

So, if I’m using Twitter the wrong way, what is the right way? According to Twitter help, they are an information network, andreading Tweets and discovering new information whenever you check in on your Twitter timeline is where you’ll find the most value on Twitter. Some people find it useful to contribute their own Tweets, but the real magic of Twitter lies in absorbing real-time information that matters to you.” They also suggest that you retweet and reply to other people’s tweets rather than tweet your own, especially those of celebrities you admire.

Truth be told, I often unfollow those who use Twitter “correctly.” I have no interest in “news” in 140 characters. For all the talk about grassroots news and news from the people themselves, most of the news articles that get retweeted into virality originate from the major media.

I also have no interest in celebrities, in pithy sayings, or one-liners. And I certainly am not interested in following private conversations. (Some people use twitter to keep in touch with their friends and families rather than text. Reading those texts makes me feel as if I am at a party where I know no one and no one knows me. Do people have no sense of privacy anymore?)

Hmm. Doesn’t leave much, does it?

I guess I’ll continue to use Twitter wrongly. After all, if anyone doesn’t like what I tweet, they are free to unfollow.

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12 Responses to “Using Twitter the Wrong Way”

  1. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I use Twitter mostly to engage in brief humorous exchanges with other members who use it for the same purpose, but I also like to occasionally get news bits, health info, and such from it. My own blog automatically posts on Twitter with each new entry, but I don’t go back and send out any other tweets on these posts. I think once is enough. I also don’t plan on sending out too many book-related tweets once my book is out. I don’t want to overstay my welcome. If I tweet about my book at all, it will probably be about my humorous/embarrassing marketing attempts, or things I’ve come across that have helped me in the process. I compose my private Twitter lists accordingly, so that I can accomplish exactly what I’m interested in for the short time I’m on the media. If I didn’t use lists, it would be chaos, because honestly, I don’t pay much attention to the self-promotional tweets. I put these followers in a separate list and check in periodically without being bombarded with “read-my-book” messages nonstop.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s probably why Twitter is so ineffective for me — I have nothing humorous to say. Actually, I have nothing left to say — I say it all in my blogs. My blogs post automatically, and the only time I repost is a day or two later if one is especially important, such as the blog for peace article. What fascinates me about the various networking sites is how differently we all use them.

  2. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I think I have been mostly using Twitter wrong too. I often just use it to either mention my books or to send essays on various subjects that interest me. Since I don’t walk around all day with a mobile or a computer I haven’t got into the habit of Twitting or Tweeting or whatever back and forth with any one. I don’t really have much to say about me on a daily basis but what accumulates in my essays, short stories, etc over time I hope is of interest.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s like me — I say everything I want to say in my blog posts, and if there’s anything left over, it goes in a post the next day. I’ve never been one for idle chit-chat, and as far as I can see, there is very little of worth that can be imparted in 140 characters.

  3. shadowoperator Says:

    I guess people use Twitter in all sorts of different ways. I started by following one writer from WordPress whose work I admired because she always puts up announcements (yes, I know they’re called “tweets”) when a new segment of her work comes out. I also get these announcements from WordPress, but I often read Twitter first each day. Then, another talented young writer came on my Twitter when I followed her. After that I found other people whom it was interesting to follow, but my total now stands at 7, and that’s all I need for now (with the election coming up and me following Obama, I get a lot of public service announcements and political tweets that are of interest, plus the original two people post quite often on separate issues, and I still follow them). I also started putting up the titles of my posts on my blog onto the Twitter page, and I’ve got a modest 3 followers from Twitter now on my blog. But I’ve only been at it for a little more than two months, so I don’t think that’s so bad. I think it’s possible to expect too much from social networking sites, because they are basically what I like to call “The Realm of the Quick Hiya.” So I just go on doing what I’m doing and hoping for the best.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      What a great description — The Realm of the Quick Hiya. I think that’s why I prefer blogging — you can actually lay out your thoughts and enter into a dialogue with people

  4. Stephen Leslie France Says:

    Once again Pat, I certainly agree – especially your point about the sense of privacy.

    I don’t think Twitter is created for writers anyway. It was originally formed so people could follow the lives of celebrities and in its evolution, manifested as a great place to find employment.

    Bottom line, it’s still primarily about stalking celebrity news, so it’s not the most productive medium for promoting writing…at least in my opinion.

    http://stephen-leslie-france.blogspot.com/

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Isn’t weird how celebrity defines so many lives, not just the one celebrated? I can’t think of anything more boring than to follow the lives of celebrities, but at least, now that you’ve explained the situation, I don’t feel bad about not doing much on Twitter.


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