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Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Take on the Twitterverse

Now that Oprah's talked about Twitter, there will likely be a lot of newcomers over on the service.  As someone who's been there for a while, I thought I'd mention a few things I've learned, a few things that are enough to make me stop following someone, and things that are annoying.


Don't automatically follow everyone who follows you.  There are spammers out there who count on auto-followers.  Check out who's following you and decide from their posts whether or not they're someone you want to follow back.  If they are a spammer, make sure you click the block link.  That's how Twitter finds these people and closes them down.

Only follow as many people as you feel you can keep up with.  My limit is around 100, which is where I'm at now, and sometimes even this is overwhelming.  Yes, I feel bad for not following people, but I just can't keep up with more.  I do see every reply people make to me (that would be @Patti_OShea) so if I'm not following you and you say something to me, I'll see it, and if necessary, reply back.

Conversely, make sure you're following enough people to make Twitter interesting.  Too few, and you won't understand why it's so much fun.  For me, it was getting into the 25-30+ range that really made it a blast.

You do not have to page backward to read every message that came through while you were at work.  I used to do this, but it's so time consuming.  Now, if I have a lot of posts backed up, I'll just read the first page and ignore the rest.  Yes, I'm probably missing someone's great news or something else that I really want to see, but I just can't take the time to back up and reread everything that was said while I was away.

Find a Twitter client.  I like Tweetdeck the best once I got used to it--and changed all the colors from the default black.  If you're using Firefox as your browser, you can get an add-on called Twitterfox.

I think reading through some of the reasons why I stop following people will also provide some tips for Twittering.

Top Reasons Why I Unfollow People and Annoyances

Every post is either promotional in nature or thinly veiled promotion.  Authors are particularly bad at this.  I'm happy to hear about your new release if you're part of the dialogue on other things as well, but when it's all about you and your books, I'm clicking the unfollow link.

Don't Retweet (RT in the Twitter lingo) constantly.  Please.  Only retweet the particularly interesting tweets you see.  Also do not retweet yourself and please don't repeat yourself.  There was one tweeter who constantly posted the same tweet about his books over and over.  He also repeated other things he said over and over.    For days.  Argh!

Don't live tweet TV shows.  Ever.  I don't care about spoilers, but it's really aggravating to see post after post after post about a television show.  Especially one I don't watch.  I don't live tweet the baseball games I'm watching, you don't live tweet your TV shows, deal?  Once or twice during an hour long show, fine, but there was one woman who was posting 25, 30, 35 times in an hour.  I used to logoff of Twitter while that show was on and then I realized I could just unfollow her.  I did.

If you don't interact with others, merely post your own tweets, I'm likely to consider unfollowing.  Reply to people.  Start a dialogue.  Congratulate people with good news, commiserate with people who have bad news, contribute to conversation.  It's fun.  Trust me.

If you're going to share a link, please offer some kind of explanation about what I'll be clicking over to see.  Posting a link with "This is great" doesn't make me want to click a masked URL.  Something like "This is a great video about a singing cat" along with the link makes me more likely to check out what you're sending.


And there are a lot of these.

I feel as if I've become friends with people that I'd never met online anywhere else.

I feel as if I've gotten to know people better that I already knew online, but only in a really superficial way.  It's been cool to make the connections!

I've been able to ask research questions for things that it might not be easy to find the answers to otherwise and get almost instant answers.  I've been hugely grateful for the generosity of the Twitter community.

One of my favorite things about Twitter, though, is that I can join in any conversation without feeling as if I'm intruding, leave the conversation without feeling as if I'm slighting anyone, or just follow a conversation without becoming part of it.  It depends what mood I'm in and how busy I am.

This is just plain fun!  Almost like instant messaging with dozens of people at once.  Give Twitter a try, find a few dozen people who post often to follow, and see if you don't get hooked yourself.