A couple things going on here lately. I am back in the tunnel writing my next book. I am trying to keep all the balls in the air as the jugglers say. I have allowed myself to stray from the outline and the story is back flowing in a way I find acceptable. I have received an incredible outpouring on book marketing and will certainly compile it into a post shortly. Working on a trailer for Firetok's relaunch as well as show prep for an event next week all vying for my time. Many things to do, only so many minutes. There is my update. I have been receiving many questions especially on Twitter and thought it was time once again to update the Twitter file. I will put the caveat up front. I do not put myself out there as an expert. I read what the experts wrote, trial and errored most of it and went from there. And things are constantly changing. With the disclaimer being said, I am willing to share my experience for what it's worth.
Getting on with it...
So many times I am asked a question and I have to answer with a question. Not in the evasive, try to divert the subject manner so masterfully perfected by my wife, but more in a let's back up a second manner. Let me understand what you are really asking. My question- what are you doing on Twitter? It is important. Why? I mean more specifically what are you trying to do on Twitter? Let me try to break it down a little. I read this rant about how no one could possibly have a meaningful relationship with 50,000 followers and she wouldn't follow anyone back with this many followers. If this fits what you are trying to do, I will call you a lover, and I hate labels so don't take it disparagingly. You are looking for just enough people you can really love and track their every tweet. I would suggest keeping those you follow at a very small manageable number and deeply enrich each others lives at about 2 sentences per transaction. I get it. I know people who use Twitter more as an instant messaging platform among friends. Nothing wrong with that but someone trying to maintain a small base is far different from another looking to expand. I have met people on Twitter and have very meaningful enriching conversations with them, typically not with public tweets and usually the conversations are more than 140 characters at a whack. If you are serious about limiting your interactions, do some pre tweet screening or sign up for TrueTwit validation. This should keep your numbers down. I want to concentrate on Twitter itself, not all that.
Many twitterites are out looking to meet people or maybe even see what other people in their field are doing. I think initially when I subscribed to Twitter it was because all the authors I studied at the time suggested it to get your book out. That was a lot of years ago and I am fairly certain things have changed. They have for me. Let's assume for now I have a blog I write and I really and I mean really would like more people to read it. Here is my answer to the "what are you trying to do on Twitter?" I promise this is not where I started but now the blog has taken off, it is where I am. I never imagined any of this. I still want as many people as possible to read my articles and I want to have conversations with those people about what they find. That's it. There is a wealth of other really wonderful unintended happenings around it as a result but I will try to keep this on course. The key words for me are as many as possible. I must admit, I would like this number to be bigger.
I want more people to read my blog, so I want to expand the audience which I reach pretty exclusively on Twitter. Are we together so far?
Following. Should be pretty straightforward. If someone interacts with my Tweets pretty close to 100% of the time I follow them. A like, a retweet, a comment. I follow. Why not? This is a person interested in something of mine. I follow. I don't care if their avatar is an egg or their bio is empty or whatever. I accept it on face value. Thank you for interacting with me, I have followed you. Unfollowing is a subject all its own but at least once a week I get on unfollowers.com and unfollow everyone who has not followed back. This may be part of the reason I don't sweat following everyone.
Follow back. Let me define this- someone has followed me. Following back is just that, a response to their follow. Sounds basic but I am finding folks with confusion on fundamentals, making everything else confusing. I don't follow back the follower sellers, the ones whose subject line reads buy 5,000 followers for $5. I just don't. I don't think they are harmful I just avoid them on a follow back. I remember someone with some blatantly racist comment on their profile. Didn't follow that one, but that's about it. I follow nearly everyone back. Its not a commitment, not even dating yet, it's just a follow back. I don't understand being all picky. My opinion is that it is rude not to follow back. When I had more time available I would explore the new followers profile maybe send a tweet or something. I can't really do that at the moment because it seems I am picking up about 100 followers every other day, I can't keep up with that, but it is still a sound practice.
Sharing. You go to my blog, read an article and press the share button. A link to my post has just been generously sent to your followers with a tag via @gordona_wilson. First off hugs and kisses, I really appreciate what you did. What did you do? You shared. This is not retweeting, liking, loving, hugging, French kissing or any other twitter jargon. This is sharing. Now here is where I want to be careful. You just handed me the holy grail of compliments. You think my article is good enough to share with your friends. This is an ultimate compliment. How can I reciprocate on an appropriate level. This is a time to say thank you, yes. This is a time to lazily hit the retweet button, ok, yes. But what if I stagger over to your profile and hit retweet on your pinned tweet. The tweet which obviously means something to you since you pinned it. What if I got really ambitious and followed your url which you also have on your profile and found something really great you wrote and shared it myself. This is a thank you worth doing, and I may find you are an interesting person or something like that. Let me back up again and get redundant in a different scenario. You just shared my article, I roll over and hit snooze button, I mean retweet and go back to sleep. What I have done is REtweeted your tweet to my followers and that is about it. I didn't comment or anything personal. This is not bad, nothing bad about it at all, it just could be better.
Imagine for a moment my house is packed full of people partying their asses off doing whatever people do at a party. You come to the door, I open it and you hand me this awesome cake you spent all afternoon making. I turn to my friends and yell "look what I got!" I mean really, I am thrilled but as I turned to my "friends" to celebrate, my heel flicked the door closed in your face and I never even invited you to come in and have some cake with us. How many times do you bake that cake before you try another house? I realize I am hyper sensitive but once someone hits me in the head with a shovel I can be convinced about the error of my ways. By the way, the cake was delicious and you put just enough of that special ingredient to make the Judge Judy reruns come to life like never before, that party raged on till almost 7 pm. It was outrageous.
Let me use another example from real life. We recently celebrated a holiday where pagans traditionally share gifts in the name of a religion they don't believe in. One of the attendees who I know does not have a ton of money to toss around bought a very nice piece of jewelry as a gift. In this scenario the jewelry was a stretch to afford. It was done lets say out of love and generosity. The recipient opened it, glanced, closed the box, dropped it in a bag and tossed it on the floor. This is the sum total of the reaction. I have to assume the gift wasn't expensive enough. I feel if I do nothing more than retweet your share, I am tossing your gift on the floor and turning up my nose. It's not that the retweet is wrong, it's just that I could have come up with a much better thank you. I will personalize this one more step, I try to get some feedback when you have shared. I really want to know what about the article compelled the share. This is no strategy or technique, it is just what I do because I want to know. Many, many conversations have resulted from this very thing I describe and I love it. It helps me understand what resonates and sometimes even why. More than once something like this has led to in depth conversations, guest posts... etc.
I feel it is a good time to mention another author's advice I read awhile back. He explained how Twitter especially, is scalable and you have to do what you have time for. I personally try to set a specific amount of time to catch up and then check in when I can while I am working. When I had much less going on it was considerably easier to go deep and really look at a lot of blogs and check out other people's books etc... I have had to scale things based on what is happening at the moment. It is going to happen. It will happen again. Don't get all worried. Adjusting continuously, it's part of the deal.