Twitter Update: My Latest Thoughts

Okay, raise your hand if you knew, when you read this post, that I’d say this:

Twitter is growing on me. And, no, not like mold.  :)

Honestly, it’s still not my favorite social networking place. My brain chemistry is still happier on Facebook, with the layout of the page and the way you can follow comments directly off the original update.

But I’m getting better at skimming through the tweets. I don’t feel, anymore, like like I’m only seeing stuff I’m not interested in and missing the tweets I really want to read. Just to get a little scientific here, maybe it’s one of those ways I can stretch my brain “muscles,” carve some new synaptic paths–which, you know, is always good. If painful.

And there are some interesting things going on out there at Twitter. Here’s what I’ve seen so far.

  • I mentioned that I’d heard there were more agents and editors on Twitter than on Facebook. So far, this seems to be very true. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we writers jump all over them, but it’s interesting to hear what they’re saying to us and to each other. Also, agents do send out tweets that they’re open for questions–which does give us a chance to find out some specific info we’ve been wondering about.
  • This week, Jessica Faust and Kim Lionetti of the Bookends agency are doing twitter-pitch contests. They look like a LOT of fun. And let’s face it–really good practice. You’ve got a couple more days, and you can find out the details here.
  • Mary Hershey and Robin LaFevers of Shrinking Violet Promotions are trying out Twitter for a month. They’re challenging some of us to turn the tables a bit–instead of tweeting about what we’re doing, to tweet a question to everyone else about what theymight be doing. The other day I asked people what their favorite character in their WIP was doing, and I got some great answers.
  • There’s an interesting site called TweetChat. They set up occasional “conversations” on a specific topic. I believe there’s a weekly (?) poetry chat, and I stopped by once for an interview (where a moderator and everybody else tweeted their questions) with my friend Susan Taylor Brown. It was a bit chaotic, but fun, and I’d like to try a few more.
  • Follow Friday. I’m just gathering a few names to do this one tomorrow. Every Friday, tweeters (I refuse to call us twits!) send out a few ids of people they enjoying following on Twitter. It’s a nice way to check out other people you might want to follow, and it’s one of those good Sally-Field moments, too, when you see your id in someone else’s FF.
  • Retweeting. I do like this one. If someone tweets a thought or a link that you like or find interesting/helpful, you can retweet it. (If you download Tweetdeck, which I prefer to the Twitter page, there’s a button that makes this REALLY easy.) Basically, it means that the people who are following you will get to see the tweet, check out the link, even if they’re not following the person who originally posted it. It’s a nice feature–it means I get to see some good tweets I might miss, and it gives me a chance to “introduce” people to each other.

There are still a few weird things about Twitter. I’d still LOVE to find an app that threads the conversations for me–that shows updates and all subsequent comments in the same place. If you hear of anything like that, puh-lease send me a note!

I’ve got things set up so my tweets go automatically to Facebook. I like this–saves me retyping. BUT it happens automatically with my retweets as well, which gets confusing on Facebook. I’ve passed on a few announcements of someone else’s success or good luck, only to have my Facebook fans congratulate ME!

A few weeks ago, I started getting a LOT of what I call “icky” followers. Some of them were people who have nothing to do with writing or other things I’m interested in–the Twitter equivalent of the door-to-door salesperson asking me if I want to buy a dozen eggplants. (Note: I could be a vegetarian if I only liked vegetables!) But others were definitely gross, porn-type tweeters. Okay, no, I’ll call them twits. They weren’t tweeting to me, but they were showing up on my Followers page. The Followers page is where other people can go and see who is following you, in case there’s someone they might like to add to their own list. For me, this mostly means other writers are coming to see who’s following me. And then they would get, yes…ick.

If this happens to you, there is a way around it. There’s an option on the first page of your Twitter settings called Protect My Updates. If you check this box, then you get an email telling you someone has asked to follow you. You then have the option to accept them or decline them. There is a potential downside to this that Susan Taylor Brown (a social-networking guru, as well as a wonderful writer) was telling me about. She’s going to send me a note later describing how that all works, and I’ll update the post. So stop back in for the full story! UPDATE! So I went back & forth with Susan a few times–because she’s a VERY patient teacher (check out her online social-networking class here), and I am not the most fast student on this stuff. The basic thing seems to be that, when you protect your updates, you are creating an additional step for someone to follow you–some people may not bother, which might lose you followers. Also, they can’t see your updates when they go to your profile, so they can’t get an idea of the kinds of things you’re tweeting about. Same possible result–people may decide it’s not worth the effort/chance to follow you.  I can’t tell if that’s been happening to me or not. I am still getting people asking to follow me, and I’ve only said no to a couple–really just the eggplant salespeople! But, obviously, I wouldn’t know if people were passing me by. I know I’m supposed–in terms of promotion–to be in this for the numbers, but it’s hard for me to think that way, so I’m not too worried. Susan suggests also that these “icky visits” may go in waves, so I may try unprotecting for a bit every now and then and see if it makes a difference.

Finally, I found a couple of recent posts about the actual USEFULNESS of Twitter.

As a side note, I’ve personally had a couple of experiences on Twitter AND Facebook that have proven to me these are places I need to be. They may or may not lead to anything concrete, but I’ve gotten opportunities from both that I would not have gotten without being out there.

If you’re looking for me, I’m still at http://www.facebook.com/beckylevine and http://twitter.com/becky_levine.

15 thoughts on “Twitter Update: My Latest Thoughts

  1. I joined Twitter a couple months ago, and I have to say it’s rapidly becoming my favorite social site as well. I love the brevity of it, the challenge of squeezing conversations into 140 characters! And I love how easy it is to meet and communicate with so many great people who I never would have had the opportunity to meet in real life – yourself among them! It’s a great place.

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    • beckylevine says:

      It is all these things! I still find it trickier than Facebook, obviously, but I’m getting better at managing it.🙂

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  2. I’m really holding back on Twitter. In some ways, I can really see the benefit, but this glaring light with flashing red letters keeps screaming “TIME SUCK” at me, and I can’t really disagree.

    But yeah, in the two days I’ve been on the site, I got about three weird followers. I got email alerts and blocked them, but what is the downside of this? I’m curious!

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    • beckylevine says:

      Oh, and I should say that I have met some people on Twitter who are NOT on FB that I’m glad I’ve met. They’re the other big reason I’m not backing up and out.🙂

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    • beckylevine says:

      I don’t think you’re wrong to hold back. (Okay, Twitter afficionados did NOT hear me say that!). I’m honestly not sure if I hadn’t started, and I knew it like I do now, whether I’d go there. The biggest thing for me is just, somehow, hearing more from agents and editors about what’s happening–and you’re already agented and edited!

      Susan’s working on explaining the downside to me–she’s being VERY patient, and I’m being pretty dense. As soon as I get it figured out, I’ll update! And I don’t think there’s a downside to blocking email alerts–it’s actually to choosing tha setting option. You might check your list of followers–I wasn’t getting those alerts for all the creeps that were following; that’s what weirded me out.

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  3. I am finding Twitter useful in finding agents and editors who are on there, although I’m still not sure how it’s going to benefit me yet. I’m still more of a lurker on Twitter.

    And I’m eager to hear Susan’s explanation because I followed your recommendation when twits started showing up!

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    • beckylevine says:

      I’m going to update the post now. I think I have the basics!

      I think with all these sites, it’s sort of a “you never know.” To go out there with an actual goal/intention may just be a way to get disappointed. But to chat, get acquainted, and then see what happens–maybe that’s it?

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  4. I’ve gotten a few icky twits following me but I clicked on the Block link on right.
    I assumed that kept them from following. Am I wrong about that?

    Thanks for all the input. I really don’t understand a lot about Twitter and just haven’t tried to learn. I do the basics.

    You seem much more active. Good for you for figuring it out.

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  5. beckylevine says:

    The only problem I had with that was that I wasn’t getting notified about all of them. And the notes weren’t going into my spam folder, so I think it’s a problem on Twitter’s end. WHen I went to look at my Followers list, I always had a few surprises.

    Well, I just play out there. And see what happens!

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  6. Loved your comment about stretching one’s brain – always a good thing!

    Is there some way to delete all the old direct messages I have in my box from way back & then keep it current?

    I, too, have some surprises in my followers’ list, & the number of people I’m supposedly following grew by ten yesterday when I just added one!

    FYI I’m passionate about inspiring & teaching people to capture the character of a loved one in a bio-vignette – would love your comment about my blog. Thank you. http://www.telltalesouls.com/blog

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    • beckylevine says:

      Lynn–thanks for stopping by.

      I use TweetDeck & there’s a nice button just to delete those DMs. Don’t know if there’s an equivalent on the Twitter page.

      Your blog looks great; I like what you’re doing with memoir.🙂

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    • beckylevine says:

      Lynn, I think probably not now, but thank you. Much of that, I think, is still her story to tell. She’s working on her memoirs, which are fun for me to read, though.

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    • beckylevine says:

      You know, I honestly think FB OR Twitter is fine. Other than that there seem to be more agents/editors on Twitter. The problem is, once you get started on both, you’re sort of THERE.🙂

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