I don’t fail at Twitter like I fail at message boards. (See my last post.) I have however recently concluded that I need to overhaul my Twitter experience a bit.
Let me say right up front that I am simply never going to be able to do with Twitter what a lot of “success coaches” or “networking wizards” say I can do. I’m not going to be able to make lots of money by landing all kinds of clients, ingratiate myself into the elite, or obtain a fantastic mentor through use of Twitter. Those are things that I struggle with as a person and have always done. Twitter won’t help me do those things to a great degree.
Yes, I know there are many uber-success stories about how Twitter turned careers around or landed someone their dream job. I know some of them personally. I’d love to be able to do what they do, but I’ve tried and I cannot make it happen. So there’s that.
That being said, over the weekend I did come to realize that I had let my Twitter experience grow a bit flabby. Jump the tracks a bit as it were. Too many people saying too many things that didn’t mean anything to me. “Unfollow them” you will say, and in many cases I did. But it’s not just a matter of unfollowing a few people and being on my way.
From the start, my goals with Twitter (in no particular order) were to:
-Discover content I had not previously discovered related to my various subjects of interest.
-Have an alternate news source.
-Meet interesting people from all over the world.
-Connect specifically with like-minded people from my area.
-Establish some career leads.
-Gain a bit of influence.
-Get the occasional attention of “important” people.
-Eventually establish the constantly talked about “platform” that writers seem to need.
I have succeeded a little bit in most of these goals. Some I have achieved more in, and others I have achieved, quite honestly, nothing in at all. i realize some of it is me. That I am not a particularly charismatic person. That’s been the story of my life on and off line. I’m not happy about it, but I get sort of used to it. But when you take my personality out of the mix and accept that I will never be a power broker with thousands of followers, it becomes clear that my use of Twitter needed some work.
To begin with, I need to be looser with using lists. For most of my time I have only used one list; “Writing/Writers”. It’s purpose is self explanatory. I’ve shied away from lists in the past because I tend to get too meticulous when it comes to categorizing things. “Writers” becomes split into “fiction” and “non-fiction”. Then both fiction and non-fiction become split into “famous” and “not famous”. And so on, like a fractal. I thought the best way to avoid that mess was to limit categories. But lately I think I was wrong.
Now I can’t go ape shit with all of the sub-categories and sub-sub-categories. I will just have to live with broader lists than my mind would conceive. (I created “Arts Assorted” this weekend and populated same.) But if I am ever to have a chance to home in on tweets about a specific subject, I need to set them aside. Even with Tweetdeck, I can’t filter through everything that comes in by subject. I happen to catch something once in a while, but I decided I needed to cordon off some tweets to read specifically at a later time.
I also decided that I needed a better system for who to follow and unfollow. I don’t exactly follow people indiscriminately. If I find they tweet a few things I like within the #amwriting hashtag or something like that, I will follow them. Sometimes they continue to tweet things that I like. Just as often they don’t, but I continue to catch their avatar or profile picture out of the corner of my eyes as I read other tweets…for years. I get accustomed to their face, as it were, but hardly register what they are saying anymore. So I’m trying to establish a means by which to determine if someone is interesting enough to follow. Perhaps a list of people I may want to follow, but haven’t yet. Give them a month to be interesting, and if not, gone.
It’s a little more difficult when they have followed me back already to just unfollow them. But I also got to thinking…they may be following me, but do we interact? Early on, when I retweeted them, or asked them a question or two, or just shared my thoughts on something they posted, did they ever reply? If the answer is “no”, or “hardly ever”, I’m more prone to unfollow now than I used to be. Unless you are famous or post unusually astute or useful things, I’m tired of following people that don’t engage me. Half the point was to engage people, and if you follow me but don’t talk to me, goodbye.
This does lead to one thing that sort of pissed me off during my streamlining, though. Several people that I have actually worked with stopped following me, even though I was still following them. I realize a person is free to unfollow anyone they wish, (I am in the process of it myself after all), but if you have heretofore had a decent exchange of ideas or shared projects for a while and then just up and not follow me one day…that’s a bit of an insult. If I’m not a random internet entity anymore, I think I deserve to be treated with some degree of dignity. I won’t be, because people are rude, but that doesn’t change my mind any on the matter.
Now, what about my own end of Twitter? I can only say I try to post what I find interesting, funny, useful. Like anybody I will tweet the occasional, “I’m eating breakfast” type of thing, but by and large I try to share articles I read, small pieces of advice, quips on current events or pop culture. I’m passionate about my views sometimes, yes. But generally I think I’ve used Twitter in the proper way. As in offline life, I can’t account for why what interests or amuses me doesn’t seem to interest or amuse a lot of other people. Ergo, I’m not sure what exactly I should change about my own Tweeting in order to enhance my experience. I’ll think on it, but on that end I feel right now I am doing the best I can do with that by and large.
Again, I am never going to be able to do as many of my more successful friends do, and take to Twitter and land five job offers in a day. But nor am I using it to simply post pictures of my pets either. I have been on if nearly four year now and learned a lot, but it’s time I start making it work more for me. These steps are the first in that journey.
If you have any other thoughts, feel free to share them here.