I love you guys. I really do. You know I do. I love my #mywana #wewrite #amwriting and more hashtags friends on Twitter. You guys keep me motivated and cheer me up when I get down. But I gotta tell you, some of you … Dude, you’re doing it all wrong.
And I admit this is all my opinion, BUT….
You know how sometimes you say something to someone off-the-cuff and when you stop to think about it later you realize that it was more profound than you intended it to be? I like to think of these statements as coming from a higher power that just happened to find your mouth as you opened it. Well, I said something to a Twitter friend last week like this when she complained about someone who had DMed her with a rude message telling her off for not retweeting his posts and promoting his book more. I said to her that the point of Twitter is to make friends, not billboards.
I stand by that statement. Twitter is for making friends, not billboards.
If you haven’t read Kristen Lamb’s book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media then you need to drop whatever you’re doing and go out there to get it. Kristen does a very good job of walking you through all the necessary steps to maximize your social media presence and persona. It’s invaluable information. I’ve run across people on Twitter who I wish I could hand a copy and say “Don’t come back until you’ve read this eCover to eCover.” Because there are some common mistakes out there that are so easily avoidable.
Mistake Number One: You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. I have the uncomfortable feeling that some people out there think that signing up for Twitter and following a bunch of people entitles them to follow-backs and retweets. I worry that these folks go on the hunt for followers, not friend. They get really tetchy when they feel like they’re not getting what they deserve. But the thing is, none of us deserves anything. Following people on Twitter is not some magical key entitling you to be promoted. We have to promote ourselves.
Which leads me to…
Mistake Number Two: Spam. I think it’s wonderful that there are Writers out there in the Twitterverse who have written and published novel in various formats. I’m super happy for you all. However, reminding me on an hourly basis that your book is on sale now doesn’t make me want to buy it. Sort of the opposite. Also, it’s a wonderful thing that there are folks out there who enjoy promoting other authors. But ten RTs back-to-back obliterates the effectiveness of all of them. I’ll be honest, when I see someone fill up my feed with a dozen posts like this I ignore all of them. That’s not the point.
I think there must be a magic equation out there, the fine line between broadcasting and spam. I love it when people retweet interesting blog posts or links to buy books, but one at a time, with a little discrimination (the good kind I mean). I’m far more likely to click on a retweeted link if it stands on its own as a genuine recommendation, not just a link in a chain that hurts my eyes.
Mistake Number Three: Standoffish Profiles. Here’s another pet peeve. I hear about someone on Twitter I’d like to follow. I go to their Twitter Profile. It includes the words “I don’t auto-follow back”. Congratulations, you’ve just told me that if I follow you I will get nothing out of the relationship and that you will view me as just another number. You’ve insulted me before we’ve even met. I don’t care if you don’t auto-follow back or not, but advertising that fact is like saying “Here is a fantastic Rolex watch that you will never be able to afford so don’t bother looking through my shop window”. You don’t have to auto-follow back anyone. But you also don’t have to be a jerk about it. And besides, your ratio of followers to following tells me clearly that you don’t follow many people, so why rub salt in the wound? I also tend to shy away from following people who have hugely disproportionate numbers of followers to following, unless they’re a name I recognize. Why? Funny you should ask because….
What are we all doing here on Twitter?
We’re networking. Social networking. I prefer to focus on the SOCIAL in social networking. Because as Kristen explains in her book, people want to buy books from folks that they know and with whom they have a personal connection. Well, that’s the technical explanation. Me personally? I like people. I mean, I really like people. I’ve been online participating in social-type forums since my first computer in 1997. I have met some super-fabulous-awesome people online. In 2000 I flew cross-country to meet up with a group of folks from a social website I was part of and had one of the most fun, memorable vacations of my entire life. I have sent and received care packages across oceans and continents to “imaginary friends” in exotic places that I’ll be lucky if I can visit someday. And you know what? Nothing makes me happier than sending words of encouragement to my fellow Twitterati when they’ve reached a milestone, are having a bad day, or just type “hi” in their Twitter feed. It’s all about people.
So ask yourself: “Why am I on Twitter?” There’s no harm in answering, “Because I want to sell my book”. But if that’s your only answer, if you aren’t approaching this wonderful medium with a grander sense of community and caring, are you really using it to its fullest potential? I would argue that if you’re using Twitter as a tool for promotion rather than a conduit to reach people then you’re doing it wrong.
And right now I have the deep urge to buy the world a Coke and teach it how to sing….