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!