December 07, 2008

Twit Lit

I've been on Twitter for a while now, long enough to have some thoughts, such as they are. In no particular order, just stream of consciousness. What do you think?

  • It is definitely a time sink. All the reasons I thought it was silly are true, though I am amazed at how interested I am when someone is "doing laundry" or "decorating the tree" Some, like @rightgirl & @linc4justice, even make mundane things quite clever. There are, however, a couple of people who just post their location - no activity, just an address. I find that odd but not too interesting, though I imagine it helps if someone is looking for them.

  • People who aren't on it, don't get it. I sure didn't.

  • There really is a sense of community. Just as there are people who actively campaign for more readers on their blogs, there are people who actively campaign for followers on Twitter. Just as I have been happy to get readers passively on my blog, I have been passive on Twitter - and yet they come, much faster than a blog. Just as I have come to like several of my readers (whose blogs I frequent), I really like several of the folks I follow on Twitter - and I look forward to their tweets.

  • There are no rules, other than the 140 character limit. Still some basic common sense problems stick out to me.
    1. If it takes you 10 tweets to make your point, you aren't Twittering, you're blogging.
    2. If you post 20 times in less than a minute you are just static. I don't want to follow static, even if you are occasionally brilliant. I don't want to wade through all the other crap you put up there. Most notably on my list was Bodhi who puts up some great stuff, but there is just too much other junk along with it - usually all in a clump of tweets.

  • If you feel the need to re-tweet your own stuff, feel free. But if you posted 10 links to articles a few hours ago, don't post the exact tweets in the same clump. Even better, consider some things
    1. Twitter is a RIGHT NOW medium, the time is probably passed.
    2. Your followers probably saw it the first time. Be sure it is still relevant and so interesting you should send it again.
    3. If you are still thinking about it since you last tweeted about it, perhaps you should blog about it and link that.
    4. You run the risk of being seen as repetitive static and therefore unfollowed. For me, most notably was eMOM. Though I fully support the cause, posting every 15 seconds asking your followers for money got old after a couple of days.

  • This "new media" (that has been around for years) is part of the system touted for Obama's victory. GOP & Conservatives are jumping on board now. I can see the community building aspect, but I am still unclear on the making a difference in campaigns/governance part. I am following candidates & advocates to watch the development. I hope we are finding & utilizing more (and more effective) tools, but that remains to be seen. I tweeted about the GOP jumping on social media too late for 2008, but may get ready for 2010. One of my real world/blog/Twitter friends replied with "too little too late. it'll be a completely different ballgame, tech-wise, come 2010." I think that is true, and we need to be watching for it.

  • You have to participate. This is no place to be a lurker.
    Tweet. Reply. Join in.
    I also find it odd when I find someone who doesn't follow back. No, you won't want to follow everyone who discovers you, but a big discrepancy shows an unwillingness to play along. Having 2,013 followers while you only follow 31 seems a bit anti-social in such a social medium.

  • You get spam on Twitter, too. Fairly easy to weed out when they try to follow you; following 1,500 people, less than 30 followers, less than 2 updates - and usually a link to some MLM scheme.

  • I don't see how they can monetize it, but they clearly need to.

  • Like the rest of the internet, remember it is public. You never know who is going to be watching - tweet freely, but be smart.

  • They need a better search function to find friends. Still relying on posting here & hoping friends find me.

  • It is a fantastic resource for immediate news. The volume of tweets coming out about Mumbai is a great example. Sure, you run the risk of bad info coming out, perhaps confidential or sensitive information, but that is true with any media. The corrections on Twitter are just as fast & furious as the tweets.

  • The shortcut for sending a direct message is to start the tweet with "D " and their ID. This makes it difficult for many of my tweets when I try to say something about D - I have to reword everything. "D and I are watching football" becomes "Watching football with D". Or I have to give him a new nickname...

  • May come up with more down the line

UPDATE: See also 5 Mistakes of New Twitter Users

UPDATE 2: Choose your user name wisely. One of the main things - length. Yes, size matters. When you are writing your tweet, that 140 character limit may not come into play, but when someone tries to reply, direct message or retweet, every letter in your username eats up valuable real estate. For instance. "@pinkelephantpun" is a killer. You can attach and display your real name with your account if you so choose - so your username can be short & sweet.

Add a profile pic or avatar. That default is ugly and far too prevalent. But...don't steal someone else's avatar...I'm just sayin'

Put something in your bio and/or post several updates before you start following people who don't know you. They will click onto your page to see who you are and what you're about. Give them some information to go on.

See also: Setting up a professional profile on Twitter

UPDATE 3: It is good to tie your blog to your twitter account, and there are several tools that tweet for each new blog post. However, those give no 'value add' to the info and, if the sole content of your tweet stream is from tweetfeed, why bother? If I want to follow your blog, I can use RSS much more efficiently. If you have nothing else to say and don't want to join in the conversation, Twitter may not be for you.

UPDATE 4: Say something! As of now (Jan 31, 2009) E_Stampede ["Informational Network about Social Media for Republicans"] has 5 updates in 5 days, all saying the same thing. Yawn. If you are going to bill yourself as all about social media, perhaps ya' ought to be sociable....

Posted by Vox at December 7, 2008 07:32 PM | blogs , general

I follow the 80% rule on my followers, if I know you or have a similar interest I'll consider following you. If I don't and you are a real person I won't necessarily block you but why should I follow someone I don't know or care about?

I check the reply section regularly and will reply to folks I don't know who follow me and have good comments, I eventually often add those people as followers.

If you add twitter and don't use it I'll ponder dropping following you after a few months of silence.

I only block spammers and mass adders who are self-promoting without interacting with others.

Posted by: Thomas at December 7, 2008 09:23 PM

Last thought RE: "2,013 followers while you only follow 31"

People don't scale there are only so many personal relationships they can manage. I find 130+ people I follow plenty and don't add many new anymore, I know I am not far from a practical limit. Scoble has tried to link to many more (Factor of 10) and he has noticed he can't keep up with conversation.

That said there is a balance, just because I follow Wil Wheaton, I don't expect him to follow me, he does look at his replies and has replied to some of my comments. But if someone is famous they simply can't match half or maybe 10% of their followers, I am more concerned are they replying to people who do tweet at them and they don't follow.

In the end it's about conversation.

Posted by: Thomas at December 7, 2008 09:37 PM

I definitely see your point about follower/followee not scaling. However, it seems that if you are on a lot, and you are contributing a lot, you would find some people worth following. There are many ways to filter and avoid overload (which I should really use) and so much info to be had. It just seems odd that anyone would want to participate and yet have very little desire to consume.

Even someone in the media, though I realize their numbers will, and should, reflect a higher percentage of followers to followed, should be a bit curious about what is going on in the conversation.

But, what do I know....

Posted by: Vox at December 8, 2008 08:43 AM

And, just to be clear, I don't think that he should be following ME. I just think there are bound to be people out there that would be of interest to him if he was willing to look. That's all.

BTW: I admit to having no idea why anyone would follow me, but I am always surprised to see people post "I got some new followers. Why are you following me?" Because it's Twitter - that's what we do.

Of course, I don't ever want to ask because I figure it would lead at least a few people to say, "You know, why AM I following her?"

Posted by: Vox at December 8, 2008 10:23 AM

I follow you because I am new and you followed me first... no idea how you found me though... maybe through #tcot.

If you are wondering why people follow you, aside from your witty banter, your twitter-pic probably keeps em hanging on ;)

Posted by: cacoop at December 9, 2008 11:09 AM

I have to agree with you on every point you made here Vox. Now that I have been doing it, I now get it and the appeal. Weird how this happens with every single person who now tweets.

I also can see this being something valuable in media, politics and so on. I'm also trying to use it in the employment arena - though I'm struggling what to tweet about on my career twitter account because I can't keep saying, "I'm looking for a job or updated the resume, etc." over and over - so that one is a work in progress right now. I haven't gotten anything out of that account yet.... but I know that will take off soon. Just a gut feeling it will be a good way to network very soon.

The one thing I have struggled with is to follow someone who is following me. The question is... to follow or not to follow? Some people, even if they follow me, I don't find their twitter interesting enough to follow just because they are following me. Lately though, my biggest fault is I haven't been adding people to my followers list just because they are jumping on my list to follow me faster and faster and just haven't had the chance to check em out yet and reciprocate. ha!

Posted by: Martini Girl at December 9, 2008 02:50 PM

oh... here is one really annoying thing that makes it also difficult. I have the personal twitter account and I have one I created for career networking... the sucky thing about this is that Twitter doesn't let me log into both at the same time. If I have the one logged up and then open a new tab with it just shows me as signed in on the one. So I have to sign out completely on one to log onto the other. This makes it a hassle and defeats what I'm trying to do effectively. I want to be able to have them both up at the same time. Gah.

Posted by: Martini Girl at December 9, 2008 02:57 PM

All I know is you are Sexy and Twitterliscious!!

Posted by: D at December 9, 2008 03:03 PM


I don't think you will ever be able to, let alone want to, follow everyone who follows you. Sometimes, I imagine, people will follow you based on a reply you made to someone they follow - and not really have anything in common with you at all. You are unlikely to follow back, and they will probably drop off.

I was thinking more in the big picture sense. A huge following should, in most cases, result in a decent size group of followees. There are a few exceptions. hotdogsladies and NickWarren are basically broadcasters, not looking to 'converse'. I love both of their quick stories, but there is no reason for them to follow anyone. Are you following them, BTW? Fun

Don't remember how I found you. I assume I saw you say something witty to someone I was following. I am a sucker for someone who makes me smile. Thanks for the follow back :-)

Posted by: Vox at December 9, 2008 07:07 PM