Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Five Lessons I've Learned About Twitter: Lesson #2

This week I've been sharing with you five lessons I've learned in my first three months or so as a Twitter user promoting my crime fiction novel, Blood Passage.Yesterday in Lesson #3 I explained how I discovered that Twitter is easier for me to use than Facebook.

Today's lesson: It's better to spend the time on Twitter than to auto-tweet.

When I first opened my Twitter account I tried to keep track of everyone I was following and those who were following me. This lasted a couple of weeks before my list became hopelessly unmanageable.

After a little research I found Friend or Follow, the free online tool I mentioned yesterday. Instead of scanning a two-column document trying to spot who was missing, I could use an automated process that takes about three seconds, then begin pruning the Follows who obviously weren't going to follow back.

It wasn't long before I noticed there were quite a few tweets being repeated by certain people, day after day. The same quotation, the same book promo, the same invitation to "Like" on Facebook. Either these people were dogged and relentless, or they were using another kind of automated process. On top of that, I discovered during a few sleepless nights they were also up, tweeting away. The same tweets. What the--? Are they cyborgs that never sleep? A little more research revealed they must be using an auto-tweeter app. Write your tweets, set the time, and go to bed. The program tweets for you, sends an automated Direct Message to new followers, and does all sorts of other very useful, time-saving things.

I looked into several of these apps, thinking I could streamline my own processes, being rather conscious of the amount of time I was spending on Twitter. It seems, though, that Twitter is getting serious about the repetitive nature of some tweeting, i.e. spamming. Some of these apps have now been hamstrung so that they're no longer the insane robot spam machines they might have been. Given the clutter I see in my own timeline, I'm just as glad.

More importantly, though, I realized how impersonal automated tweets seem to me. At first when I saw something clever or interesting I'd tweet a reply, hoping to engage them in some kind of dialogue. When nothing happened, I clued in. It's obvious the person posting them is not online, they're off at work or they’re curling or they're snoozing or something while I’m sitting here like a schlub reading their tweet.

Part of what makes Twitter so effective as a social medium is the opportunity to interact with the online community I've joined. I've become acquainted with some very friendly, quirky, fascinating, intelligent and utterly charming people through Twitter. I have an opportunity to learn from them, joke with them, share my own experiences with them, console them, encourage them, and be encouraged back.

I can't do any of that nearly as well through automated tweets, automated DMs or the rest. Although Twitter is an important marketing tool for me to spread the word about my book, I like to think that the people at the other end of this constant stream of electrons would prefer to interact with another real person rather than an autobot mindlessly doing my bidding while I catch a few zees.

As a result I've concluded that it's much better to spend the time to sit down at the keyboard and tweet my tweets in person than to auto-tweet. If you tweet to me, I might be on long enough to tweet back. Fun, that. And I'll just have to settle for less than machine-perfection and 3:00 am book promos. So be it.

Tomorrow: Lesson #1: My Top Ten Followers Include at Least Thirty People

No comments:

Post a Comment