I’m not a great social networkky dude.
- I’m totally erratic on Facebook. I’ve missed important births and deaths due to my erraticness.
- I have an interest in Pinterest that apparently isn’t strong enough for me to try it. Or even to understand what it is.
- Google+… I don’t use except to apologize to people who have sadly included me in their circle.
- I signed up but still can’t get rolling with Goodreads.
- But… I love Twitter.
I haven’t been on Twitter long but I find it a fabulous place to loiter. Though in order for me to enjoy it, I follow some rules. Now keep in mind that my goal is just to enjoy the thing, not to maximize followers or sell something. Sure, it would be nice if three or more of my followers bought my book, and I’m sure that I’ll occasionally mention book release details, but it sounds painful to think about making $$$ on twitter. My goal is to enjoy the experience enough to actually stick around.
MY BASIC TWOOTERING [sic] PHILOSOPHY
I think of Twitter as a 140-character venue for storytelling. I will sometimes point people to a cool article or to one of my shameful videos, but mostly I try to treat it like a standalone place to tell micro-stories or one-liners. (If you follow me, you know I also have a weak spot for intentionally bad writing or productivity advice.) I’ll also retweet things I appreciate.
So keeping that philosophy in mind, here are my not-always-followed rules:
(Oh. Before you start. I’ll be sprinkling in tweets that I’ve appreciated over the months. They aren’t necessarily associated with specific rules. Click a tweet to see more tweets from that author.)
- NO HASH TAGS. I don’t care what smart marketing people tell me about the benefits of hash tags… they look ugly. Occasionally, I’ll use a hash tag if there is a really good reason (like for a specific event). But with so little room to tell a story, why clutter it with awkward codewords? Using hash tags is like ending a poem with your grocery list. (OK. Bad analogy.) Though I admit some people know how to use hash tags as a punchline to their tweet. I accept that. When it is funny.
- RETWEET QUALITY MATERIAL. Not much to elaborate on here. Though I probably should do this more often. I’m a self-absorbed asshole.
- ARROGANTLY USE PRIVATE LISTS. It may seem two-faced, but I often use a private list to check-in on people. This list initially has everyone I follow but if a person talks too much (say, 20 tweets an hour) or they get too self-promotional or too preachy or start obsessing over something that doesn’t interest me, I drop them from this private list. I still check-in with everyone I follow, but that only occurs when I have more time. The private list is my way of quickly checking in.
- LIMIT WHO I FOLLOW BACK. I admit at first I followed anyone that was foolish enough to follow me. But I’ve gotten less desperate now. So I only follow people either (a) who have a hell of an ability to say something funny or smart on Twitter, OR (b) who are competent on Twitter and also have an interesting blog or book or I admire them in some other way. I don’t follow people who #use #more #hash #tags #than #content. I don’t tend to follow organizations (I get standard news stuff elsewhere) unless the organization has put a hell of a tweeter in charge of their Twitter presence. And sometimes I don’t follow back simply because I got too lost and confused that particular week. It’s not you — it’s me.
- IMMEDIATELY UNFOLLOW ANYONE WHO…. says something horrifying. Like something unironically racist or hateful. Or something positive about Santorum.
- NO MAINTENANCE OR ANALYTICS. I don’t spend time scrutinizing my followers or who I should follow. I don’t do analytics. I don’t check if people follow me back. I don’t worry that some people I follow never say a thing. To hell with all that analysis. I just want a Twitter feed full of cool people.