All That Twitters Is Not Gold

“Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.”

I love Twitter.

However, when I first started tweeting, I was a bit intimidated.  After all, I’m a little nobody in this little corner of the world.  What right do I have to talk about myself?  Moreover, why would I expect anyone else to care?

http://twitter.com/#!/shilpiiz/status/13977719037501440

It should come as no surprise, then, that I was once a wallflower in the Twitter dance, marveling at the other glittering tweeps, who seemed to know all the steps.  My one-sided relationship with Twitter involved getting the latest news from my fitness gurus; laughing at (but not replying to) a self-deprecating tweet; and, in general, being a spectator. Eventually, I realized that I actually should be interacting with these tweeps: that I was expected to give feedback, share a tweep’s news/updates that I thought particularly compelling and generally, put as much into Twitter as I was getting from it.

http://twitter.com/#!/CtKscribe/status/27074847500

I remember the first time that I interacted with Christina Kingston (@CtKScribe).  She came highly recommended by Clement Yeung (@clementyeung), and after a few clicks around her website, I found her to be fresh and witty, and her social network skills were truly enviable.  I had to follow her.

Along with being a social media goddess, she has a heart of gold.  She was the first person to include me in a group conversation, which even now continues.  I’m so grateful for that interaction, because through it (and her), I had the privilege to know and meet such supportive, loving, and, of course, fun ladies.  I began to learn Twitter’s full potential and realize that even though it was (and is) a lot of fun, I can also use it to create lasting friendships with people who actually care about my goals.  People who remind me that I am not alone.  They are definitely golden threads in my Twitter experiences.

“All that glisters is not gold.” Prince of Morocco, Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

Naturally, the more I interacted on Twitter, the more friends (I hate saying “followers”) I acquired.  I love meeting new people, and finding seemingly like-minded writers is especially thrilling.  So thrilling, in fact, that I overlooked some…quirks (constant self-promotion and ambiguous RTs to name a few) in favor of being friends.  After all, these people had more followers, more tweets, more gravitas, than I did, so who was I to unfollow them? Thankfully, I got over that thought quickly, and was able to see past the false glistening of some when compared to the truly golden on Twitter.

“A gentle riddance.” Portia, Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare

Twitter is my fun experience, something completely voluntary, and I don’t need to interact, follow, or associate with people who are negative or who produce negative feelings in me.  I am no longer worried about the repercussions of pressing the “Unfollow” button, because honestly, life is too short to waste on what is the equivalent to voluntary spam, especially when I have such great people in my life with whom I’d rather invest my time.

When I think about where I’ve drawn inspiration from over this past year, I realize how grateful I am to these golden threads I follow on Twitter.  They have motivated and supported me toward my goals, some of which I never thought I’d achieve.  They are the ones that matter, and to whom I’m truly indebted.  Sharing the people who have made the most impact in my thinking is just a small way for me to give gratitude and joy back to them.

What impact has social media had in your life?

[This post is tangential to my Across the Twitterverse series.  Other posts include: Thursday Thoughts: on Twitter (yes I know it’s Friday)Across The Twitterverse: The ListsAcross the Twitterverse: The Retweet.  They don’t need to be read in order but it may be nice to see where I’m coming from.]

Across the Twitterverse: The Retweet

This post is part of my Across the Twitterverse series, and is dedicated to Debbie Burns (@DB_Smyth), whether she likes it or not 😉

If Twitter is a Micro-Blog…

Though Twitter is set up more like the chat rooms of yore, it is essentially a microblogging site which just happens to be very useful for real time social networking.  When we blog using traditional platforms like WordPress or Blogspot, we tell people what’s going on in our little corner of the universe.  Usually, the posts tend to run long, and so blog posts are generally sporadic, usually revolving around the blogger’s Important Events or Momentous Thoughts.

Twitter, on the other hand, was designed to fill in those gaps between the Important Events and Momentous Thoughts.  It’s to tell your friends/ family/followers what you are doing on a more daily, run of the mill basis; perhaps, what led you to write about Momentous Thoughts or Important Event.  Plus, it helps to get the word out to more people when those bigger events happen in your life.

…Then, What is The Retweet?

The best description that I have come across for The Retweet is from one of my favorite Twitter Friends, Tina Kingston:

http://twitter.com/CtKscribe/status/28843504067

If tweets are mini blog posts, then to Retweet another Twitter user’s tweet is essentially like having a guest blogger post something on your blog.  You invite guest bloggers because you WANT to write about a particular subject, but feel that this other person can write about that subject better than you can (for a variety of reasons).

That is what The Retweet is: you are using another tweep’s words to encapsulate what you would have said, but since they’ve said it so well, you have decided to just quote them and give them credit for it on your profile.  You have Retweeted his/her tweet.  (WordPress now has a “Reblog” feature.  Think of it like that.)

There are two ways to Retweet: The Classic way and The New way.  The New Retweet is kind of annoying because you really don’t see or know if anyone has Retweeted a tweet of yours unless you deliberately look for it (under the “My Tweets, Retweeted” tab on Twitter).  The plus side is that New Retweet prominently credits the original tweep for his/her words.  And, it also breaks up the monotony of your profile’s timeline.

On the other hand, Classic Retweet is denoted by an “RT.”

http://twitter.com/#!/KimberlyKinrade/status/9445337987022848

I prefer Classic Retweet because 1) the Tweep knows that I’m Retweeting and 2) I can add a comment to the Tweet, making it a more streamlined way of following conversations, since not all Twitter platforms show conversations easily.

Either way, I find the Retweet complimentary because it tells me that other people find value in my tweets, enough that they want to share it with their own followers.  This practice allows other people to find me and perhaps follow me, too.  (Remember, just because your profile is public doesn’t mean that people will automatically find you based solely on your tweets. Except for spambots.  They’re always there.  Lurking.  *cringe*)

At the same time, I use The Retweet to find new tweeps with whom to connect.  (Think of it like a “word of mouth” referral: when you find something you like and just HAVE to tell your friends about it, you do so without prompting, because you love it so much.  That’s how I see Retweets by my friends: they must like this person/tweet, so therefore, this tweep must be worth following, or at least, this blog post they’re retweeting must be worth reading.)

I personally find Retweets with comments (RT) encouraging, and I want to be able to spread the love and encourage others.  I mean, one of the very first RT with comment I received was from one of my favorite fitness heroes, and I will be honest, I was beaming all day when I saw it*:

http://twitter.com/#!/Shawn_Phillips/status/24009676893

What It Means to Me

I look at Retweets as just another way to encourage others and spread the knowledge, laughter, quirkiness that I have found in the original tweet.  I love being able to Retweet @KierstenWhite’s auctions, and help raise money for a deserving person.  I love Retweeting any of @NatalieWhipple’s posts on her writing journey.  I love Retweeting fitness or writing articles/quotes that I have found informative and/or helpful in some way.  I love spotlighting anything that has improved my life or helped change my level of thinking, in the hopes that someone else may find it useful as well.

To me, Twitter, with all its functions, is just another way to spread joy, and honestly, have lots of fun.  And, maybe, with this mindset, you will be able to delight in it as well.  Join the conversation.  That’s all that Twitter is and the more you share and interact, the more you will get out of it.

Speaking of Interaction

Do you have any thoughts on Twitter?  Please share!

Up Next: Keep the Conversation Going

*Shawn Phillips’s articles on high-intensity interval training, and book, ABSolution, helped to spark and flame the fitness fire in me almost 10 years ago, and it’s still going on strong now.  To be able to connect with someone who has been so influential in my life is one of the reasons why I am so happy and grateful for Twitter.  Plus, he likes Maui almost as much as I do! 😉

On Twitter

[This post is written in response to one of my lovely NerdSquad tweeps, @AnnieLCechini, of The Ink Phantom.

Realizing more than ever that brevity is not my strength, this post is the first of what seems to be a mini series.]

Twitter.

Some say it’s a complete waste of time.  Some view it as a marketing tool.  Others see it as a way to network (read: gossip).  And, most of the time, it’s a little of all of the above.

Lucky for me, I primarily use Twitter for fun.  I enjoy following certain people or businesses for information that I deem is important (for example, @HealthRanger), or because I love their products (@TropTraditions has the BEST certified organic virgin coconut oil!) But, I also love meeting new friends, and admittedly have found a lot of my nearest and dearest writing buddies via Twitter.  (I still remember the day that Melissa, aka @melissaveres and I found each other and bonded over Mockingjay.  Le sigh.)

So, how can you use Twitter effectively so that you can balance having all the fun with the business of finding more friends on Twitter to follow (or follow you), so that the fun just keeps being had?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  Here are some ways that I use Twitter to keep it fun for me, and hopefully, for my friends (admittedly, I don’t care so much about the number of people following me; unless the number ends with a “9”, then I will beg for someone to follow me. Must Have. Round. Numbers.).

I’m going to assume that you already know the basics of Twitter (though, I’ll be writing a little bit about that in the future), and are a generally nice person who won’t flame other users.  And, let’s just say that you just want to find more friends to chitchat with, and don’t necessarily care about your follower count (though it would be nice if you did get more followers.  The more friends, the merrier, right?).

The More You Give The More You Get

First of all, the more you acknowledge and interact with your followers (or with those whom you follow) the more likely it is that you will get followed back, and will be acknowledged by other twitter users.  I see many twitter users that state that they don’t auto follow, but they do @reply.  I think it’s safe to say that 99% of Twitter users are like this.  I know for me personally, I don’t even see new followers since I tweet almost exclusively from my iPhone, so @replying to me would be the best way to tell me, “hey I’m here, please followback!” (without actually saying, “please follow back.”  You have no idea how much that annoys me.  I follow people whom I find interesting and don’t, you know, act like spam.  But that’s just me.)

There are several ways to find and acknowledge new-to-you tweeps on Twitter.  Replying to a tweep who mentions you is, of course, the most obvious way.  But, other methods include retweeting a user’s tweet, or acknowledging a tweep who retweets something of yours.  It’s not really necessary, but I find it complimentary that another user liked my tweet so much they wanted to retweet it.  I found a lot of fun friends that way that I wasn’t originally following, like, off the top of my head, @soulwindow and @clarakensie.

Another way to acknowledge fellow tweeps is to recommend them to your friends, the most popular method being Follow Fridays (denoted by search hash tags #FollowFriday or #FF).  (Twitter has also broken down follow days to #MusicMonday and #WriterWednesday, too if you REALLY want to spread the love.)  Please note, I find it a lot more meaningful to be recommended by tweeps who 1) actually follow me and 2) aren’t recommending EVERY user on their following list.  Besides, I only recommend those tweeps that I find truly enjoyable and have had either great conversations with them, or have acquired great information from them, or both.  This way, I can really personalize why I follow and recommend those tweeps above the other nice folk I play with on Twitter, even if it’s to say they’re sweet.  Better than being lumped together on a list just because.

Finally, one of my favorite ways to interact with tweeps is simply responding to a tweet that I found particular funny or moving or whatever.  For example, shortly after I discovered Annie on my follower list, I saw this tweet on her timeline:

to which I replied:

and then, she said:

Our very first conversation, after which, a friendship (and blog post) was born!

As you can see, if I laughed or snickered at it, I feel the need to reply to the user in some manner (even if it’s just to say, “LOL”).  Usually, I retweet with a comment, so if other users or followers of mine find it interesting, it will be easier for them to follow the conversation, and possibly join in.  (This is Twitter!  The whole premise IS to join the conversation!)

Be Yourself

Just an obvious note worth mentioning: while you’re friending, following, and otherwise interacting with tweeps on Twitter, please remember to be yourself (or, more specifically, act like a real person).  I know.  EVERYONE says “Be Yourself.”  But, it’s really true.  No one wants to follow, or will continue to follow, someone who just posts links to who-knows-where, with no explanations.    No one wants to follow spam.  (And, I KNOW I don’t want to be followed by spambots…they’re creepy! *cringe*)

Also, think before you tweet: would you think it’s acceptable to act this way in real life?  No?  Then, maybe it’s best not to do this on Twitter.  (If the guy I unfollowed because he wouldn’t stop listing his followers EVERY DAY of the week actually DOES walk around yammering off the names of ALL his friends in real life, as if he were reading a phone book, to EVERYONE he knows, then I will need to amend my statement.)  No one wants to follow someone out of obligation, either, kinda like no one wants to feel like they’re being sold to, even though they were in the market to buy something.  (Random User: “If I follow you, will you follow me?”  Me: *pushes block user option*).  This is especially true if you actually NEED to have a certain amount of followers for whatever work/job/industry you’re in.  Don’t make me feel like I’m a sale. However, if you make a personal connection you’ll probably end up getting a follower.  (Just like in real life sales, imagine that.)

Me?  I’m nerdy, goofy, and love a wide variety of random things.  I like finding and following other random and funny tweeps.  If tweeps want to follow me, that’s great, and more likely than not, if they start talking to me, I will follow them back.

Oooh, Shiny!

Twitter is my shiny toy that I like to play with when I’m not pulling my hair out with my work in progress.  And, I like being able to share my joy over it with you.

This is just the first, general post, so to speak.  My next Thoughts on Twitter post will cover how I handled not being overwhelmed by all the shiny, aka, my a-ha moment that gave me the ability to follow more tweeps without missing out on all of their fun tweets and possibly driving myself insane.

Also, please help me name this series, since, you know, I like to label stuff, and my “Thursday thoughts” category is more for insights from current events that inform my writing, whether to preview another blog post or work in progress.  Thanks!