I Want To Love Twitter, But It’s Doing My Head In.


Before you carry on, please be aware that this is a rant. You are warned.
Everywhere I read it says that I should be embracing Twitter as a new writer. I must build a platform and the best way to do that in the modern age is to use social media, and the best social media tool to put yourself out there and meet others like you is Twitter. Ok, I get it, and I really really want it to work for me but – shit – I must be doing it wrong.

To give you a bit of context, I have about 1,100 followers and I follow about 1,400. I’ve given it a good go with the current strategy for about 3 months but I’ve now had enough. I want to use twitter to engage with interesting people, build new relationships and genuinely join in with topical discussions online. I thought this was what it was about.
However, all I get is drivel, endless streams of marketing, noise and people that seem hell-bent on telling me that they follow Christ. I obviously follow the wrong people but how on earth do you find the right people?
Sharing Links
There are some people that literally share 50 links a day, what is wrong with these people. I have never followed a link from someone on twitter because they’ve said ‘hey want to know more about life?’ As a writer I know the marketing potential that Twitter could hold but I follow a lot of writers and all they seem to do is tweet about their book and forward other people’s books. It’s like some massive book fair, in the biggest stadium known to man, and after you’ve walked past the first 10 tables the next three billion just seem to become irrelevant. There is just too much noise.
Follow Friday
I know what the idea of follow Friday is, and to those that don’t, it’s a way for people to recommend good people to follow from their own list to their followers. Perfect networking. But it has now become an excuse for these sad people that dress in their mother’s clothes to post every bloody follower they have just to prove that they have friends. Guess what? These people are not your friends, and if they only knew you then you’d be unfollowed in a heartbeat.
I want to get to know people on Twitter. I want to build relationships. I want to meet people eventually one day that I’ve spoken with on twitter for years. I want to give some of myself and more importantly listen to other people’s lives and share with them. But at the moment it’s like finding a friend in a gigantic mental asylum. People running in your face shouting about inane nonsense as you stumble around the corridors desperately trying to find someone else that’s normal.
The Party Idea
I’ve read the advice from various sites telling you to use Twitter like its a real life party. You don’t walk into a party and start shouting about yourself. Me, me, me, me, me, me… Because the chances are you’ll be either left in a corner peeling a label off your bottle, or you’ll be punched in the face and not invited again. If you’re a mess up in real life the chances are that you won’t be too much different in the virtual world. Please become self-aware and notice the way that people respond to you. If you always feel it’s just you then it probably is.
I absolutely don’t have a problem with religion. I want everyone in the world to feel free to be able to believe what they want. That is the only way that we can evolve, I’m sure of that. But… If you are a born again Christian then please do not feel as though in 140 character profiles you think that telling others what you believe is the most compelling thing about you. It’s the opposite. If that’s all you can think of then it just shows how little else you have in your life. I believe many weird and wonderful things but I don’t tell people all about them when I first meet them. Scary.

I know this has been a rant today and if it helps, it has made me feel a lot better. But I’m going to change my Twitter strategy and have a mass cull. My timeline is going to look like the killing fields over the weekend. I want to follow the beautiful, interesting people that follow and read this blog for example but at the moment I can’t see your comments for this other toss.
Tell me if you feel my pain and please give me any advice you may have on how to remedy it.


6 responses to “I Want To Love Twitter, But It’s Doing My Head In.

  1. I feel your pain. I do advertise my books on Twitter, but I try to throw in comments on other tweets and different news related items. I have my blog go to my Twitter. I’m like you on the can’t find your friends for the dribble. I got put in Twitter jail this week for too many follows, but they were fellow authors, not just random follows. I have 1500 followers and am following 2000, well Twitter does not like you to get a big lead on your followers. So I went in and deleted almost 100 of those I was following that didn’t amount to much. Good luck with your mass cull.

  2. Oh dear Mike, doesn’t sound like you’ve had the best of times mate! I reckon you’re spot on with what you’re saying here, I think it’s pretty easy for Twitter to descend into a nightmare place for some of the reasons you list – and there are more!

    I’m not really qualified to speak on “social media strategy”, I can only share my own experiences. Interestingly I was going to write a post about how much I love Twitter! it’s been a fantastic support in helping me grow as an artist.

    I guess one of the first questions is: what you hoping to get out of it? That will probably help you decide how to use it. Whilst the mantra seems to be “get as many followers as you can as quickly as you can”, that probably makes more sense for a “brand” than an individual. I’ve read plenty of reports that suggest social media is one of the worst ways to convert potential customers – to get a significant following you need to invest a lot of time/money into it for relatively little in return. There are better ways of “marketing”. I could be totally wrong there, but that’s how I feel about it. So I’m not on Twitter to get followers who then want to buy my art – though if they happen to come in via the Twitter door I’ll not be unhappy!

    The reason I love Twitter is that it’s like being part of a large creative circle. You can share your creativity with others, you can see their’s and you are challenged to think about your work in different ways. It’s also a total gold mine for interesting articles and information that you might otherwise never see without dedicating yourself to trawlling the net for stuff.

    As a self-taught artist and lacking friends that are also passionate about photography, I’ve previously found it difficult to interact with other photographers to help my improvement as well as generate ideas and philosophize about the art. I often wonder if building up such a network is the biggest advantage of going to “art school”.

    Twitter has stepped in to fill this void and I get a lot of inspiration, support and challenge from being active within the (small section of) the photographic community on Twitter. It’s like having a massive group of like-minded friends to learn from and share with. There are other online communities that I use but much less successfully – Facebook (which I hate more by the day!) and Flickr – they don’t seem to have the depth, variety and level of engagement that I find on Twitter.

    With respect to your comment about “online friends” there are a good number of folk that I get on really well with on Twitter, and have actually met some of them in real life (gasp!) and expect to do so much more. Indeed there are a few of us talking about doing a collaboration, and I often bump into my contacts while out on the hills with my camera.

    That all might sound a bit “ya-boo, it works for me!” but I’m just sharing my experience so that you don’t give up hope on it! I can only really talk about it in this “creative circle” form, rather than using it to sell, but if you find the right people I’m sure you will have a much better experience.

    So that I don’t dilute or pollute the experience, I’m quite cautious when it comes to following people – at the moment (after about a year) I follow 196, with 203 followers. I wouldn’t call it a “strategy”, but here’s how I approach Twitter:

    – follow people you have a connection with/want to find out more about/respect in your field
    – watch for other people cropping up in conversations that interest you
    – check what they tweet about before adding them, do they engage in conversation or are they just shopfronts & spammers
    – there’s a big difference between someone sharing interesting links and a spammer – somebody who only tweets links is not someone I’m interested in following, and if someone does that I unfollow with extreme prejudice!
    – never follow to get a follow back
    – having followers is nice and all, but it should happen naturally through a dialogue with someone. Ultimately I want to find people that are interesting and helpful and engage with them. It’s nice to be followed but getting more followers isn’t a target for me (though I think this just happens by picking like minded people, talking to them normally, offering them support/help, etc)
    – keep it focused – Twitter gets really stupidly messy when you start mixing celebrities, football and everything else in with your passion. I only follow where they are related to photography, creativity, blogging, and local businesses. I’ll sometimes search for other interesting topics, but I don’t follow. I could use lists to keep things separate, but I rather like having my Twitter feed dedicated to my “photography group”.

    As you’ve concluded yourself, I’d massively cut who you’re following (I struggle to keep up with 200 contacts – over 1000? That sounds like hell!), and then gradually add people in that are genuinely good people to interact with. If you get the balance right I reckon you’ll find it to be a really important asset.

    Hope that helps, good luck! 🙂

    • cheers Dunc. You’re always a man that gets right to the nub of it. 🙂

      Seriously, thank you for your advice. I am going to change to more of that approach and I have already come to the conclusion that you can’t use it to sell either. Like you say, I want it to be more of a circle of advice and inspiration and news rather than noise. I will attempt to re-shape and report on my success in the weeks to come.

  3. LOL – looks like that’s my blog post right there ^

  4. I’m not on Twitter or Facebook or any of these virtual realms as I don’t see the point. I can appreciate that it may be a useful approach for getting in touch with like-minded people but I would think that that is about as far as it goes. But, as I have already said, I don’t have a twitter account.
    Here’s what I think needs to be considered:
    > It seems to me that what you’re really attempting to do is ‘market’ your wares………. not to win friends. Am I right?
    > Your products will be purchased by REAL people in the REAL world, not the virtual world. The role of the virtual world is to provide for you a marketing platform, so how about focusing your cull by going back to the basics of what you are using Twitter for or expecting Twitter to do?
    > All products need good marketing to initially gain success and then to maintain that success. One of the first marketing strategies to use for a new, or any, product is the one of raising customer awareness to the existence of your product. So why not give some thought as to WHAT you want your customers to know about YOU and YOUR PRODUCT?
    > When you know what you want your customers to know……….TELL THEM! Access to potential customers is what all these social media sites seem to be able to provide.
    > I think that the Twitter followers that you’d want are those who are potential customers…..and customers do not have to be your friends.
    Great if 1500 followers are potential customers but if their not then what are they for?
    > At this stage none of your customers actually exist, as your product has yet to arrive. However your marketing plan SHOULD already exist so I’d not only cull your Twitter but I’d focus ALL your on-line efforts to raising customer awareness!
    > Set a publishing date if you haven’t done so already………..Christmas is coming!
    Hope this helps!

    • Thanks for this.

      Sadly, Xmas is going to come and go. The learning curve has taught me a few things,
      1) Realistic Expectation setting
      2) One thing at a time
      3) I’m doing a lot of work right now. 23:22 on Sunday evening and still working. Need to start showing some product for it but still not getting any nearer. STRESS. Luckily, I talk to others about beating this sort of thing so it should be a doddle. 🙂

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