Lately I’ve been developing a bit of a sore spot on my fingertips for many a twitter user. The purpose of twitter was to help build social community, connect with one another, make friends…but obviously the world tends to twist original intent around and make it ugly.
I have nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter. It’s not much, but I’ve been building it for a couple of years now. I would say half of my followers follow me for my tech writing and the other half follow me for my fiction. There might be a few stalkers sprinkled in there for good measure and some might cross over. Making those different types of followers is not an easy task…but there’s one rule I try to adhere to as much as possible:
Tweet with respect…twespect (as it were).
That doesn’t just mean to be nice. That means be respectful with other’s time, bandwidth, and generosity. If someone mentions me in a tweet, I’ll repay in kind. If someone sends me a message, you can be sure I will reply to personal messages and tweet (although every now and again they do slip by my notice) and to those people I have developed twitter friendships (twindships?) I will continue to cultivate those.
But my real problem is this:
What are these? These are hashtags created so people can shout out to the twitterverse (can I copy-write that?) those tweeps they follow, like, find interesting, etc. I try very hard not to abuse this. In fact, I try to go so far as to let the ‘verse know why they should like, follow, or stalk those particular tweeps I find stalkable.
What most users do is this:
#FF @a @bunch @of @names @that @means @nothing @to @me.
Why does that mean nothing to me? Because that is just a list of names — I don’t know why they are stalkable or why I should care about them. And it seems the tweeter put next to no effort in the effort. But then, some take this a step farther and just retweet someone’s effortless tweet. That’s like, in the wonderful memory of Mitch Hedberg, when he said:
When someone hands you a flyer, it’s like they’re saying here you throw this away.
I don’t want to come off as seeming like my method of tweeting (twethod — are you sick of these yet?) is any better than any other method. But think about it, we’re all trying to do the same thing — sell our work. Only thing is, we’re trying selling our work on Twitter to people who are also trying to sell their work on Twitter. That’s like an island full of girl scouts trying to sell their cookies to one another.
So instead of wasting so much time and concern on twitter trying to boost sales, use it to boost your brand. Make other writers want to get to know you and then want to spread the word about you. And those few followers you have that aren’t fellow writers just might be the one’s to catch the “you fever” and start spreading it like wild!
In the meantime, a bit of sincerity will go a long, long way in the ‘verse to help build that brand and community each of us so desperately needs.
That brand and community will speak, quite well, for itself. Sales will soon follow.