Twitter for Authors part 2. Hamburglar, Thank yous and WTF?

Let't talk-

I do believe it is time for another discussion on Twitter. I see Twitter as an iceberg and I can only see the snowflake or two on the top of it. I continue to study as I attempt to gain an understanding and have found a couple of things really making me scratch my head.

Case study number 1

Check this out. I received a message asking for my thoughts on a website. Typically I ignore direct messages because 98% of them are trying to get me to like their Facebook page. That whole thing gets its own paragraph somewhere else. In this case it was a real person. I went to the site, read a couple of articles and in general liked what I saw. Good stuff on writing and it looked like a recent project. I messaged them back willing to talk about it with my personal email address, since I learned somewhere along the line Twitter messages are limited to 140 characters. Not much room for feed back possible in 140 unless you consider "looks good, keep it up" as helpful. A cat could be that helpful.

I shared a couple of the articles and got a huge response. I keep a close eye on my stats, so I know I sent many hundreds of people to the site in a short period of time. Here is where it gets weird. Now they want to know what it is I want to discuss before sending me an email. This is Twitter on the internet not the Hamburglar in McDonaldland. If you have a little box of secrets to pull out when no one is around, lock the door and turn the light off, don't put it out on the internet.

Back to Twitter.

When my daughter was young she taught me the phrase WTF. You just pronounce the letters, you don't say it phonetically. I have tried it and can't get anywhere without a vowel. It was used at the time to describe an unbelievable circumstance. So let me get this right, I am asked for my input, I not only read several articles and offer my opinion but promote the crap out of your site, and now you are going to be all vague and suspicious like I am trying to get something from you.(?) I don't get it. WTF. Where is Officer Big Mac when you need him? Slap the cuffs that little burglar and talk some sense into him.

Case Study number 2

Here is another one I don't get. A collaboration post featuring a group of fellow authors. It was promoted and received very well. The specific stats are unimportant but I know the traffic had to be good for the authors featured. It was a mixed bag of results. I followed the authors and looked at some of their work prior to publishing the post. Call it due diligence if you must. Some of them were promoting the article heavily, hopefully because they liked it. But the one I don't get is the one in particular who never even followed me back. I am not talking about J.K. Rowling or Stephen King here, These are independent authors whom I assume would appreciate the increased exposure. I read it as a something for nothing expectation. I hope I never reach that level of success, if it even exists. I just saw a post where another author met Stephen King at a book signing. I said Stephen King is still doing book signings? If there is one author on the planet who could ditch his fans I think he could get away with it. But he is out doing his own book signings. At his level of success I hope he isn't doing it just for the money. Through my rose colored glasses, he still appreciates fans. I actually follow him on Twitter, the day he follows me back or shares something of mine I suppose I will have arrived.

Thank you gone wild-

A recent read described the whole thank you "thing" gone out of control. Don't get me wrong gratitude is never out of place but let me explain what this author was driving at.

You "famous lady" go to my blog and share an article with lets say a lot of people because you are a very well liked person. I see that you have shared my article and I respond by retweeting it and saying thank you.

What did I really do? I screamed and yelled to all my friends "Hey look at me, famous lady shared my stuff...Look at ME, look at ME, Yayyyy!!" So sending famous lady a "thank you" message is polite. But a much more gracious act would be to look at famous ladies site, her tweets, her books... hell there has to be something of interest she is doing.  How about share that with your friends? It makes sense to me. It takes a little effort to put into practice but it is worth thinking about. I very much appreciate retweets and typically respond asking the person if they read the article.

Why? Because I am genuinely interested in what they liked enough to retweet it. I want to know the why of the share. What did you like about it, what compelled the share? It is no strategy or gimmick. I am writing. I love, love, love it when someone connects with something I wrote. I want to talk about it. I want to hear the good or even the bad. I will admit, asking questions also clues me in to the robot Twitter accounts who are merely promoting, not looking for interaction, but I swear that discovery was a by product of my curiosity.

What are you doing on Twitter?

Essentially it boils down to what are you doing on Twitter. Are you looking to build a following? Just search "Tweet the opportunity" or wait one second and check my followers list. The follower vendors will sell you 5000 followers for $1.99 or some such nonsense. And these will be people you are interested in and who will devour your writing. I personally think it is interesting to "listen" to people. Part of my pleasure is reading articles and posts from other people not too different from myself. I always share something of interest unless the blog doesn't have share buttons (see caveat).

Talking and listening to other people may be another more grass roots approach at "building a following" and I have found some genuinely interesting people along the way. More important to me I have received feedback on my writing which fuels my desire and passion to learn and develop more.

So I guess its time for a caveat.

Share buttons. If you don't make it super easy for readers to share your content, they wont. Many wont even then, but they definitely wont if you make it difficult. Get share buttons on your site and make it easy. There is more to this of course but at a minimum, get them.

The summary-

I strongly believe the whole thank you thing needs to be rethought. After all, your retweet just exposed my words to a bunch of people I could not have reached on my own. I appreciate this, I truly do, so I will continue to try to thank you in a better way than whispering thanks after you have walked away. 

Bottom note- if you are interested in having a conversation about this or any other subject on this blog, get a hold of me. I want to hear about it. Unless of course you just want me to like your damn Facebook page, send that as a direct message so I can delete it.