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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Twitter Questions/Thoughts

As I was traveling around the web this weekend, I found a comment on a blog where someone posted that publishers and authors don't have a good Twitter presence because we don't follow everyone back who follows us. That stopped me cold and I've been thinking about it ever since.

I don't follow everyone back and I'll tell you why. Because if I was following 1000+ people, I wouldn't be able to keep up with anyone. Sure, I could put everyone on a list and check in on it from time to time, but I've done that on Facebook and I never remember to click over to the other lists. Clearly, this isn't a solution that will work for me.

The other thing is that when someone follows me and I see they're following 1000 or 10,000 people, I never follow them back because I don't believe they have any interest in me or what I have to say. The question is do other people react this way or am I in the minority on this? I do tend to think a little off center, so it's certainly possible that most people don't have this attitude and I'm ascribing it to them.

In large part, the people I'm following on Twitter were the first ones to follow me. Most of them I hardly knew or didn't know at all when I started, but I've become friendly with them since then. I believe I wouldn't have developed those relationships if I was following thousands of people and I like forming relationships with others. I wanted to stay around 100 people to follow because that allows me to really keep up, but I've crept upward and am around 175 right now. That's busy enough for me that if I can't check in for a few hours, I can't take the time to read the tweets that were posted in the meantime. There are just too many. It makes me feel bad when I know I'm missing people's news, but it's simply too much. If I was following thousands, I'd never keep up with anything.

I automatically don't follow anyone with SEO or marketing expert in their bio. I get a lot of this. I don't follow people who are tweeting in a foreign language. I think it's cool that they're following me, but because I only speak English, I don't understand what they're saying.

I've also stopped following authors because I'm following a lot already and I want to follow other people and get different perspectives on the world. I'm surrounded by writers online often because I'm a writer, too. But right now on Twitter I'm following a professional surfer, I'm following someone who links to paranormal news (Which is where I read the headline that inspired the story that became Demon Kissed), and I'm following a tourism tweeter from Tahiti. He posts links frequently to things going on in Tahiti which gave me a throwaway line in a project that I felt lent it authenticity that it might not otherwise have.

While I don't autofollow, I do read and chat with people who @ reply to me. In fact, I love it when people start a conversation. I enjoy chatting on Twitter and the people who do get added to my followers list, tend to be people who talk to me with some regularity. So if you're worried about bothering me, don't. I can't always answer right away while I'm at the Evil Day Job (EDJ), but I do answer eventually, and if you see me on Twitter in the evening, feel free to send me a tweet. :-)

I will also unfollow people. If someone isn't tweeting for months, they tend to get taken off the list. I also have a pet peeve about people who live tweet television shows and movies. A comment now and then during the show, fine. No problem, but a steady stream for an hour? No. Especially on reality TV shows which I loathe with the fire of a thousand suns. I've reached the point where I'll unfollow anyone who does this regularly.

I also stopped following all the rugby teams. I have a hero who's a huge rugby fan and I know nothing about the game. When I tweeted about this and had some rugby associations start following me, I thought awesome! What a cool way to learn about rugby. Only they were talking about players and about team moves and I didn't know any of these people or teams and I just ended up skipping over the rugby posts. I suppose it's like this for people who don't know anything about baseball following the official Cubs twitter account. Not a good way to learn, only a good way to keep up with teams if you are already familiar with them.

Anyway, I've kind of rambled here for a while. If you made it this far, thank you and I have a question for you. What do you think of the following situation? Am I right to not autofollow everyone? Or is my reasoning flawed? Should I follow everyone who follows me as long as they're not an SEO, marketer or spammer even though I'd never keep up with anyone? Or should I keep doing what I'm doing, following a smaller number and answering @ replies? I'm really curious what others think.

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As the corporate showdown between Amazon and Macmillan continues, I wanted to remind everyone that you can still buy my books and preorder In the Darkest Night (March 30, 2010 release) at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books a Million, Powell's, as well as many others. Until the situation is resolved, I'll be adding this to my blog posts.