The Happy Whisk.
Twitter appeared on the social networking scene less than five years ago. It was quickly made popular by celebrities such as Aston Kutcher and Demi Moore.
Twitter is essentially real-time micro-blogging. A user sends "tweets," a 140-character message through twitter.com or by text messaging to a Twitter gateway number. By default, all tweets are public, but they can be addressed to a particular person or blocked from public view.
Like any social media, Twitter has its proponents and detractors. The service has received a bad rap for some inane chatter along the lines of "I ate a banana for breakfast" or "My dog pooped on my carpet." On the other hand, Iranian civilians were able to send out word through Twitter about the 2010 election protests and the subequent government crackdowns.
Writers can use the service to stay connected to readers, but that goes back to building social relationships. Tell them something that would be interesting to them, something that makes you human. If you use Twitter to just sell your books, the high-pressure tactic not only turns off potential readers, but some of your regular followers as well.
Part of my tirade last week concerned someone (and I will not mention names) who started following me on Twitter, so I followed in return. But then I started getting tweets every two seconds. I'm not kidding. And it was the same five tweets over and over again.
Please understand, I don't have a problem with writers tweeting about their books. That's how I discovered the wonderful Jon F. Merz and his Lawson vampire series. But don't drown out everyone else in the process.
If you want to play with Twitter a little bit, here's my shortlist of writers with a clue on how to use it:
Like I've said before, if you're not comfortable with a social media format, don't use it. But as I tell GK when faced with a new food, try it before you make a face and claim it sucks.
(Edit to add: Ivy had a lot of good questions in her comment, so I'm answering them here.)
Why did you follow them back?
In general, if someone follows me, I'll follow back as a courtesy and out of curiosity.
Have you since stopped following that person?
Oooh, yeah. Immediately. And that person unfollowed me less than an hour later, which is fine.
Did that five in row Tweet come directly to your email or did you have to go read it on their page?
All tweets for the people I follow go to my Twitter homepage. I'm on an ancient cell plan, so I don't use texting. Once you unfollow someone, their tweets disappear from your page.
The thing you want to remember is tweets need to have a purpose, just like a blog. Here, my purpose is to inform and entertain, and I try to carry that over to my tweets.
Good luck. I don't think you're going to get people to stop Tweeting about doggy doo or how many cookies they ate for lunch. That's what they like to do. Why not stop following those kinds of Twitter folks?
You're totally right on that count, Ivy. I don't plan on trying to stop these people. I simply don't follow them.
That's part of the reason I posted my shortlist of writers who I think use Twitter effectively. A writer's goal for his/her Twitter account should be the same at his/her goal for a blog. In your case, Ivy, I read your blog because anyone who loves Wonder Woman is automatically cool in my book and because I love to cook as well. You captured my interest, and you've kept me interested for a long time now. I think that's every writer's ultimate goal.