Twitter Voodoo and Other Adventures in Social Media

When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it sounded ridiculous.

I have enough trouble with editing, and typically have to shave off entire paragraphs to get my blog posts to a reasonable length.  How was I ever going to get something meaningful into 140 characters or less?  Then I would read celebrity tweets in “Us Weekly” and I would laugh.  Who cares what Ashton Kutcher eats for breakfast?  Definitely not me.

As it turned out, like so many things, I was wrong.

I'm pretty sure many of the folks who follow this blog already know and love this movie... (Photo Credit: trashness.com)

I’m pretty sure many of the folks who follow this blog already know and love this movie… (Photo Credit: trashness.com)

A friend explained to me that he used Twitter in lieu of business cards, that it was an easy way to connect people to his writing as well as his contact info.  That was probably the first time I considered entering the Twitter universe, and mainly because he made it sound so efficient.  I’d send you to a link to his blog, but he currently writes in invisible typeface…

Since a lot of other bloggers also use Twitter, I figured I’d try it out.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it.  I figured it would be an easy and painless way to market the blog.  I told myself I wouldn’t be obnoxious about it, that I wouldn’t expect people to follow me, and I wouldn’t spam people with ridiculous levels of self-promotion.  Instead, I would use it efficiently, as a way of keeping track of blogs and writing resources.  Essentially, I would use it for networking.

Again, I was wrong.  As it turns out I LOVE Twitter, particularly when used inefficiently.  Basically Twitter is where I say everything I’d normally just forget.  It’s great for those moments when you’re sitting at a doctor’s office or a soccer game with nothing else to do.  I don’t think it’s a particularly great place for deep introspective thinking, but it’s linked to me to a lot of interesting content that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

One of the first links that I found was to a speech given by author Susan Orlean.  She described Twitter as “creative” and “great for procrastination”.  Being a master of procrastination myself, I now understand why I love Twitter so much.  Creative procrastination, anyone?

There are still a lot of things I don’t understand about social media.  I’ve figured out Twitter lists, which I initially thought were some form of internet voodoo, but I have yet to master the subtweet.  I also haven’t figured out HubPages, Klout, or Huffington Post “fanning”.  I still have a lot to learn, but the girl who preferred letters written with a quill pen?  She’s gone now.  She’s busy taking pictures of quill pens and posting them on Instagram.

For those who follow me on Twitter, you should know the following:

  • I’m told this is all wrong, but I do NOT follow everyone who follows me.  Instead I check out their tweets and/or follow all the clever folks I already know, which helps keep things more manageable.  It’s happenstance that my numbers are usually the same.
  • I hate hardcore marketing, and attempt to keep things very low-key, but…
  • I do try to retweet things that are interesting, funny, and/or useful.
  • I often favorite tweets rather than outright saying thank you, but I totally appreciate how nice you all are!
  • Lastly, I don’t participate in Friday Follow out of laziness.  (Since I’m too lazy to check out a bunch of new people all at once, I assume others are also too lazy.)  I am far more apt to follow someone who’s a clever twit, so I prefer to directly retweet people.

For those who’ve also made the plunge, how do you feel about your own ventures into social media?  For those who haven’t, what are you waiting for!?  Seriously, if I can be converted, anyone can…

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58 Responses to Twitter Voodoo and Other Adventures in Social Media

  1. I just wrote an article for a freelancer’s site about using Twitter… I’m no authority, but I admit, it’s been quite a useful part of my online PR work. And I win more contests on twitter than anywhere else.

    • I’ve never entered a twitter contest, but I think Twitter is great for PR. It’s particularly great when friends pitch in and retweet each other, so that a hardcore sales pitch isn’t necessary.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I spent so much time developing my Facebook page that I lost sight of what I had a social media presence for. Now I’m backing away from Facebook and shifting my emphasis back to the smaller page, which has many fewer likers but a much, much greater proportion of readers among them. I want my blog to be the core of my online presence but to have fun doing whatever I do online to maintain that presence. The blog and Twitter (which I neglected until a couple of weeks ago) are fun to me. I only spend a few minutes a day on Twitter, but I feel much more connected to folks as a result of that time. On Facebook, I felt like I was preaching, whereas on Twitter I feel like I’m conversing. Social media is starting to feel refreshing instead of aggravating again, and I’m so grateful for that.

    • I do think enjoyment is important, but it does depend on your goals. I blog mainly for fun, and only recently have I even begun to think about freelance. Even still, it probably won’t affect my blog, as I’m thinking more along the lines of trying to write articles, not monetizing the blog.

      Like you, I don’t find Facebook to be fun. To me, it’s work, with relatives constantly asking for pictures and what not. I’m glad that not too many real-life friends and family read this blog because that’s really what they would want.

  3. Hey! After reading who and why you follow, I’m honored! I thought a lot of the same things about Twitter that you did before you dipped your pretty manicured toes in it. I just joined so I could put a follow me button on my blog. Everyone else had one, so why not? I started of course by following a few of my favorite celebs, like I’m sure most people do. And ya know what? They’re pretty quiet. Celebrities are the last thing I look for on Twitter now. My blog pals are way too funny. My stats don’t show a direct link from Twitter per se, but my visibility, follows and page views have almost doubled on average since I started tweeting my fool head off about nothing. I love to play the hashtag game. I’ll sit in my bed or in the car and read people’s funny movie titles and what not. I follow a couple people that I really should unfollow, because every single tweet is a plug for their book. I hate that. I hope that if people can see what a fabulous and brilliant dork slash genius I am through my tweets, they will check out my blog and eventually join the crazy train that’s speeding to absolutely nowhere. I wish all the bloggers I love to read were on Twitter, because it’s amazing what a person with a quick wit can do with only 140 characters~ such as yourself. And one last thing. How cool is it that our beloved story wrangler Michelle told the world through Twitter that I’m “a little more than insane” in a John Cleese kind of way. Without Twitter, that awesome shout out to me would never have happened. :-)

    • I check out blogs and tweets before I follow people. Sometimes I worry that I’m too picky, but I’d rather not be one of those people who follows and unfollows spastically and makes everyone either feel badly or annoyed. I have 2-3 people who ROUTINELY follow and unfollow me, to the point that I’ve considered just outright blocking them, but I’ve decided to just ignore it.

      I think Twitter brings more blog hits too, but it doesn’t always seem to show in the referrals. Most days, it’ll show maybe 6 “referrals”. Meanwhile I’ll have 20 comments. There’s no way each person was typing in my blog address, so I’m thinking that section doesn’t work so well. Twitter is lots of fun, but you’re so right that blogger friends make it even better! And without it, you wouldn’t have been told that your insane in a John Cleese kind of way…

  4. goldfish says:

    Gah. I tried it and didn’t like it at all. I think I’m just too antisocial for the Twitter.

  5. iRuniBreathe says:

    I’m on the fence about Twitter and have been so for a long, long time. This post, however, may have pushed me to the side where the grass lies in neat bunches of 140 blades.

  6. Dear Liz,
    I’m really confused. I just left Facebook, because it made me feel sad and unpopular at times. So, I don’t know if it’d be for me. BUT…I could be persuaded. I’m kind of missing my hourly status updates!!!
    hahahahha!!!!
    Love, Lis
    xox

    • If you’re truly missing banal status updates, you should definitely join. Plus, you can provide me personally constant updates on what you’re eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

      P.S. I kind of hate Facebook too. Thankfully, my lunchmeat page is mostly auto-generated.

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I don’t know what many of those things are that you mentioned–HubPages, subtweets, or Huffington Post fanning–but I do know I’d be lost on Twitter if it wasn’t for my lists. Lists are the only way for me to separate the substance from the endless promoters. I just wish I had more time. Between the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other forums I participate in, I can no longer keep up with all of them daily. I have to alternate.

    • I’m new to all of these things too, and as I add more people I can definitely see why lists are helpful. I used to alternate on days I wrote versus days I visited other blogs, but lately I’m not that organized, and it’s all one huge jumble…

  8. raeme67 says:

    I check out people before I follow them, too. I have been on Twitter about a year and I still do not understand it all, but I like it!

  9. Peaches says:

    It’s gotten me a few blog hits…maybe a follow or two, but I think mostly it lets me interact with some of my readers and other bloggers more personally which I love. Heck, I follow you. I think we had an exchange once (I don’t keep track). I like it for the glimpse into people’s lives I don’t always get, but I don’t like it as a personal social networking tool. I still prefer facebook for my IRL friends and fam.

    • Although I totally understand people wanting to be anonymous, I do think it can make the social interactions trickier. I’m not anonymous and I write pretty openly, but even I don’t want every single aspect of my life on social networking. So, it’s always that delicate balance… but it is great to have an easy forum to talk to other bloggers!

      • Peaches says:

        I keep them very separate, they aren’t even hooked up to the same accounts, and it’s pretty easy for me. People in my life here don’t know about my blog (except for one and my hubby) and my blog friends don’t know my local friends or fam. For me, it’s easier and it allows me to be more open with my writing. If somebody I don’t “know” doesn’t like something that I’ve said, I can take it. It doesn’t bother me. I can examine their statement intellectually. But if a close friend or family member maybe had a criticism (which sometimes happens with writing, especially my more opinionated topics) that could be really difficult and strain otherwise good relations and I KNOW I have close friends and family who disagree. We both know we feel differently, but…anonymity here allows me to be more me, especially considering most of my opinions are significantly in the minority where I currently live.

  10. Love twitter. That’s all I can say. Any social media experience is about who you follow. Twitter is completely customizable for this. I could go on, but I’m at my 140 word limit.

  11. speaker7 says:

    My venture into Twitter has been a dismal failure. I don’t use it. Maybe I should tweet that.

    • It’s funny that you don’t love it, since your responses are always so pithy and funny. And failures should always be tweeted because everyone can relate.

      I just drank a half a bottle of tequila, but my spelling is still pretty good. Guess I’ll have to drink some more. #EpicTequilaFail

      Actually, I’m not sure if that tweet is a fail or a win. I’ll get back to you after I drink some more.

  12. I keep thinking about deleting my Twitter account. Hasn’t really done anything for me and I don’t know about 99.9% of my followers. It’s kind of weirdish, creepyish kind of place sometimes. I’m sure it has value if you have some level of fame already, or maybe a business or personal profile that you can put out there. Facebook is different, just a place where my friends hang out.

  13. Mooselicker says:

    I still don’t like Twitter much. It’s still a good thing to have. Like when I finally do go berzerk the cops will have more evidence on me.

  14. Adam S says:

    I was reading your tweets just now, clicked your page link, and here I am talking about Twitter… I had to laugh. Great article.

    I love Twitter now. I didn’t really get it at first, but now I’m starting to see how valuable it could be — even though I use it almost exclusively for cheesy one-liners. It’s definitely a great tool for reaching out to hard to reach people. I’m kind of learning as I go. I have a long ways yet…

    The only other social media platform I use for my blog is Facebook. The only reason I like Facebook is because everyone’s on it. I don’t really have any email followers, and nobody on my personal friend list blogs, so it’s really just another way to make it available. I’m getting more Twitter followers than Facebook though.

    Now, Twitter makes sense, and I’m starting to wonder what Facebook is for? I think it’s going in the direction of MySpace. But what the hell do I know?

    • My mom would kill me for saying this, but I’m not a Facebook fan. I have an (autogenerated) page for Love and Lunchmeat, and then I have my personal Facebook page which is basically the bane of my existence. I go on about every 4-6 months and add pictures of my kids, usually after endless requests from my mom. My kids are cute, but the whole thing just feels like an obligation. Also, the monetizing of Facebook has gotten ridiculous…

      Twitter is different because there’s no weird obligations. The occasional thank you, but that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure how many people actually come from Twitter. I’m convinced the referral part of the stats page is not accurate. Even on days where I have 100 hits, it will only list maybe 6 referrals. So… where are people actually coming from?

  15. Adam S says:

    Completely agree with the *obligation* part of it all…

    I’m not sure where their coming from, but someone found my page with this:

    “i’m really lucky i took my hidden cam that day, otherwise i wouldn’t be able to shoot this hottie’s sexy big ass in grey butt pants”

    ?

  16. SocietyRed says:

    Ok, I’m convinced, I’ll try to be a twit again. Thanks for making me see why…

  17. kidfos says:

    Invisible type face eh…

    As for only having 140 characters to play with, more than enough to get any point across. Well so long as you omit needless words. Like the good messier Strunk said in my other little black book. Personally I think he would have loved twitter.

    • It’s like an invisible superpower. You’re welcome.

      So often, I’ll read a tweet and realize it’s funny, but would be funnier with three less words. (Yeah, half the time those tweets are mine.) That said, I think many bloggers/writers are working on undoing years of academic writing, using fancy words where simple words would suffice and endless padding. Those rambling 10-12 page term papers are a curse in more ways than one.

  18. I went through the same thing!! I thought Twitter was so ridiculous, and then I don’t know what happened. I became a convert.

    I don’t follow everyone who follows me, either. Especially if they’re following like 47,000 people and just want to be Twitter-famous/whore out products/be obnoxious.

    • Yep! I do the exact same thing, and that’s part of it. And you always know those people because they often follow/unfollow you repeatedly as they try to get your attention. Plus, I just don’t think it should be mandatory. How many people can you follow before your stream is just a giant mess?

  19. Nina Badzin says:

    You know I wish more people would do THIS: “I often favorite tweets rather than outright saying thank you, but I totally appreciate how nice you all are!”

  20. I do social media and digital marketing for a living so I’m totally biased when I say I LOVE IT. I agree with everything you and your friends had to say about it being an easy way to connect with people. I’ve found it a really good way to make an introduction, much like commenting on a blog.

    • It is a really easy way to connect with people although I used to be more afraid to talk to people. I used to sit and read really good blogs in quiet awe without ever saying a word. Once I started blogging myself, I realized how incredibly silly that is.

  21. El Guapo says:

    Ok, I do recognize the picture and the movie, but have to admit that I don’t recall what adjectives he is using to describe the texture and embossing of the business card in that pic.

    And as far as twitter, as long as you’re enjoying your time on it, yeah, you’re doing it right.
    And anyone who says otherwise is a Gavin (and I have no idea what that means, but it’s a twitter thing).

  22. Pingback: Subtweets Were Not Invented By Twitter | Edward Hotspur

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