Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I joined Twitter a few months ago, and I’m still not quite sure I completely get it (of course, I don’t always get the remote control either, so technological advances sometimes elude me). I do tweet—am I using that word correctly?—usually updating a couple of times a day and/or responding to someone else’s tweets—but some things about the Twitter craze are kind of mysterious to me.

I read in a blog that some people feel that courtesy=following people back when they follow you, to which I say . . . huh? If I have someone start following me and I check out their tweets and bio, looking for hints as to why they would follow me (they’re another writer, for instance) and end up simply puzzled as to why in the world they would care about what I have to say, I don’t follow back. Or if their tweets look like a bunch of ad-type things, why would I want to sign up for ads? I thought one of the points of Twitter was that you could follow people without their following in return (unlike Facebook, where you friend each other). I often do follow people back if I can tell we’ve got something in common, but I’m not going to automatically follow back, nor do I expect all the people I follow to follow me.

I also have some difficulty being interested in the tweet blizzards you get from some Twitterers (I’m pretty sure that’s not the right word, but close enough). I started following one person and he/she tweeted so much that I finally unfollowed (whereas if they’d tweeted less frequently, I would have stuck with them). I’m probably missing the point of Twitter entirely to be impatient with tweet blizzards, but sometimes it’s just too much. Since this person hadn’t followed me back, I didn’t feel guilty unfollowing. By contrast, now there’s someone I started following, figuring their tweets would be entertaining, and when I found out I wasn’t interested in most of them—batten down the hatches! Major tweet blizzard!—I felt too guilty to unfollow them, since they’d started following me. So I remain huddled in the tweet blizzard, knowing if I’m going to be this neurotic then I need to learn how to create those list thingies so I can quietly sideline the tweets I don’t really want to see. Yeah, I’m kind of pathetic, I know. But now you know the secret of getting me to keep following you—just follow me back and I’ll feel too guilty to unfollow you, even if you tweet 7000 times per day and never eat or sleep.

The tweets I like the most are the amusing/interesting personal comments or announcements from people I have some kind of connection with, even if I only know them via cyberspace. Rob is someone who uses Twitter in a way that appeals to me. He's blogged about social media before--sorry; I'm way too lazy to find any of his old blogs and link to them now--but he knows what he's doing and I like how he operates on Twitter. I'd follow him even if he hadn't threatened me with social ruin and ostracism if I didn't. I follow a couple of literary agents who are entertaining and interesting. I tried following a major publisher, but unfollowed when I realized I wasn't interested in most of their many tweets. Same with an industry publication. At this rate, I'll never become a champion Twitter person.

So if you’re a Twitter person, what do you think of it? How do you use it? Do you tweet often? Rarely? Whom do you like to follow and why? I’m curious to get some other opinions on this.


At 9/01/2010 11:33 AM, Blogger Jennie said...

I don't get it. So far it has mostly been a waste of time.

At 9/01/2010 11:37 AM, Anonymous Wm Morris said...

In Soviet Russia, you don't get Twitter -- Twitter gets you.


A few thoughts:

1. Never feel guilty unfollowing people. Even if you've been following them for a year. If they are no longer providing value then unfollow them. It's not like Facebook. Some people may be offended, but they shouldn't. Twitter is a performance and conversation space. If you really want to be friends friends then those ties should be stronger somewhere else (even though they can manifest themselves in twitter).

2. Twitter can seem overwhelming what with the constant flow of updates. But you don't have to read every one. The beauty of twitter is that you can dip in and out of the stream as you have time and inclination. If there are people whose updates you don't want to miss, create a Twitter list and put them on it.

3. If you are going to post your blog updates to Twitter, handcraft the links rather than use an auto-updater. It doesn't take that much time and Twitter feeds that are auto-blog-updates are lame and don't add a lot of value to the conversation.

4. Humor is good.

5. Don't obsess over follower counts or how many people you follow. In fact, I've pruned several followers (e.g. blocked them) as well as people I follow on my non-AMV account because the noise was getting to be too much and there wasn't much value to it. Twitter is about the casual conversation and the delight of sharing cool, interesting, and/or funny things.

6. My rule of thumb when someone follows me is that if they haven't bothered to put together a record of 6-10 updates first and/or haven't filled out the bio field so I can have a sense of who they are then I don't follow back. I also probably won't follow if they've started following 700 people right from the start. Start with a core group and add over time.

Finally, here's how to connect with me: @motleyvision for my Mormon culture, publishing and (some) sci-fi stuff. @morriswm for technology, PR, higher ed, food, sports and some Minnesota-specific updates.

At 9/01/2010 11:52 AM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Rarely. And I even made a mistake on my last one: you DID include the recipe!

I'm familiar with the tweet torrents (alliterative) but I would feel guilty unfollowing the one person who does the most on mine. She's actually mentioned being hurt by people unfollowing, so I figure, doesn't really hurt ME to keep her.

Anyway, I like it because I get short little bits of entertainment in a sort of digest format. I'm sure it'd be worse if I was tracking them in real-time, but I generally read once a day and get caught up.

Here are some I'd recommend for humor/entertainment:

SlushPileHell - writer-oriented humor
Weird Al Yankovic - most of his are pretty funny, sometimes includes pictures
Eric Snider - movie reviews, fun stuff

I follow some actors on shows I like (note: do not follow Ice-T, even if you love him on SVU) and a couple of singers/bands to get updates. I had one band follow me after I followed a band I liked, and it turned out that I liked the new band, too. (Good job, Twitter!) And of course, my favorite writer people I like to stalk, I mean, follow.

Lastly, I just have to mention this one, because when I saw it and went to see previous tweets, I couldn't breathe for laughing. (Dang, it's been taken down!) There was a twitter account set up for "BYU Bell Tower" and the tweets were on the hour:

At 9/01/2010 12:44 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

I have a twitter account because my editor made me. I honestly don't understand the appeal. I simply post links to my latest columns.

I'm super lame.

At 9/01/2010 1:18 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Twitter can be really useful in some areas--like searching by hashtags for certain topics and the like.

To manage your tweeting, you can set up lists (say, just your real-life friends on this one, writing industry people on this one, and so forth) so that you can click on one of your lists to see those updates and not be overwhelmed by the blizzard of tweets throughout the day.

I find it useful--and fun. I don't spend a ton of time on it, but I've found lots of great information there. I subscribed to several news sources, so I often hear about breaking news via Twitter. And lots more.

Jaime Theler did an entire post about Twitter. It's really helpful for figuring out how to use it and benefit from it.

At 9/02/2010 12:23 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you for the comments and suggestions. I feel more Twitter-educated now!

Ha ha ha, that's hilarious about the Bell Tower tweets!

At 9/02/2010 3:14 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

My husbands uses Twitter as a part of his job. He works for the fire department as the public information officer, among other things. When he gets a call about a fire, or a traffic accident, then he Tweets about it and his followers can use this information, depending on who they are. All the news media follow him. They use it by going to the scene and get a good story and great pictures. The public uses it by avoiding intersections that are blocked by emergency vehicles. He has over 700 followers. Lately, he’s been getting re-tweets on his tweets, which means you can add all the followers of those accounts to his. This is major networking. I can see how his tweeting works in his field, but in the world of writing . . . I don’t know how it would benefit the writers.

At 9/02/2010 7:59 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Jennifer Weiner has almost 16,000 followers.

Brandon Sanderson has nearly 10,000.

If you follow them, you know when the next book is coming out, and you might get all sorts of little juicy nuggets along the way.

If nothing else, I can keep updated on the state of Robison's health and rat wars. =)

At 9/02/2010 8:32 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I sort of use it ... from time to time ... and that's about it.

At 9/04/2010 12:24 AM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

Well, I had a very long blog about how I use Twitter, enumerating the types of folk I follow, but I lost it! You're probably all blessed.

At 9/04/2010 12:25 AM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

Comment, not blog. I'm still sleep deprived.

At 9/07/2010 2:54 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

I don't get twitter, but I want to . . .

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