Tweet, tweet, twud!

I’ve been on Twitter for seven months now, and it’s time to question its value for me. I had hoped to use it as a business tool. Yes, I know Twitter is primarily a “social” tool, but I’m not built that way. It’s not that I’m unfriendly, I’m just socially awkward. The evidence supports that.

As of today, I have 116 followers. Some of you are laughing because you had that many followers before the end of your first week on Twitter. I could have amassed more, but I block anyone who isn’t a writer (published and unpublished), agent, editor, publisher, or associated somehow with the writing business—especially if their icon is a scantily-clad woman or I see the words internet marketing in their “bio.” And, of course, I could have a bigger following if I were famous, witty, or fascinating, but I’m none of those. Unfortunately, it seems a good percentage of my 116 tweeple appear to be mimes. Or should that be twimes?

After I post a new blog post, I tweet a link to it. But I also re-tweet links posted by others. I always respond to direct messages, and I remember to thank someone if they retweet mine or include me in a #FollowFriday post. Almost always, I follow back those that follow me. So, I think my Twitter etiquette is good.

What I’m not good at is small talk, though I’ve tried. I even dared to join the crowd and tweet my breakfast choice once. If there’s such a thing as whispering on Twitter—I do that. I simply lack the self-confidence (or wit) to speak loudly in the Twitter feed. Though I frequently respond to tweets that interest or amuse me, most times, I just observe the party … and partying is where Twitter excels.

But the business thing? Well, yes, I see links to many great writing blog posts, but I’m subscribed to most of those blogs, so the posts are in my reader anyway. And to be honest, reading all these “personal” tweets from agents and editors has begun to make me feel like a stalker. At first, being on Twitter seemed to increase my blog hits, but in the last couple months, few of my visitors have come via Twitter. (WordPress stats show Twitter as the referrer when someone clicks through.) Maybe that’s because of the holidays—though proportionately my other top referrers held their own. I even experimented a few times by not tweeting a link to my new post and still got my usual number of visitors.

In the future, after I’m published, I think Twitter may be a more valuable tool. I’m not pulling the plug on it yet, but I’m weighing the cost of time spent on it against the benefits received. So, if Twitter works for you as a writer, please tell me how.


25 thoughts on “Tweet, tweet, twud!

  1. I love your title!

    What this post proves is that I know little to nothing about Twitter. I’m “on” Twitter but rarely remember to log in or check it. So is it working for me? No, but clearly that’s my fault.

    Maybe in 2011? 😉

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  2. Twitter can take a lot of time, I agree, often in just reading the tweets (and I don’t follow even a hundred people). But, I have found a ton of resources on queries, writing strategies, and advice that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    I think Twitter has increased my blog readership but only by single digits. Still, I view Twitter as another resource into the writing world. For me, right now, that’s critical. I can imagine, though, as my writing needs change, my view and use of Twitter will as well.

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    1. Why do you think you wouldn’t have found those links otherwise? That’s what I thought at first, but then I realized that since I’m subscribed to so many of the resources those Tweets pointed to, I would have read them anyway. Also, Jane Friedman posts the top Tweeted links on her site every week. Maybe my subscription list is just longer than yours. Timewise, I think I should spend more of it actually writing! 🙂

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      1. My subscription list is small right now.That’s why Twitter is resourceful for me, just for today. But, you make a good point with Jane Friedman’s best tweets list. And, I agree, less time on Twitter is more time to write!

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  3. I’m not sure how to use Twitter either. I keep up with folks that way, but I don’t think I’d even know how to use Twitter as a business tool.

    When I’m a big-time mega-star I guess I can tweet my bowel movements and TV show choices and everyone following me will care. But I’m not sure how to use it as a business tool.

    I suppose it’s time to read up on it, eh?

    … and yes, it was a social tool first, so it seems it doesn’t really lend itself to business uses well, does it?

    Hm.

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  4. I don’t Tweet. The agent blogs and links I have now are already an overload that distract me from writing. I can’t imagine adding to it.

    I’m lousy at managing my time, and until I get it under control I’m going to ignore its existance.

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  5. I just recently became a Twit and honestly I find it rather boring. I do tweet my new blog posts, and I will retweet at times, but those times are few and far between because I don’t go on very often. I have found a couple of good resources via Twitter, but I would have found them anyway. I don’t understand why anyone would choose Twitter to engage in conversation but of course I am not prone to chatting online or anything like that myself, so maybe it’s just me being a nerd. As for business, no, can’t see it being very useful unless your business is blogging like “Mashable” or maybe selling things online. I guess it does give you some visibility to agents and editors but now that so many people are following them too chances are you are no more visible than you were prior to tweeting. Just my .02. I think maybe one new comment on my blog has been from Twitter, and that’s about it.

    I’m not going to cancel my account but I certainly have no great expectations.

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    1. Well, the thing about visibility to agents and editors is that almost none of them have followed me back, so they don’t see my tweets anyway. But I know what some of them are doing at any given moment of the day, what they’re eating, who they’re meeting with, whatever … and it’s starting to creep me out.

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  6. I know a girl who met her agent on twitter. She was in one of the chats about writing and the agent emailed her after that. Also, even though agents don’t follow me back, I have found that if I respond to one of their tweets, they usually tweet a response back to me.

    But you have more tweets than I do (I’m still in the 400’s) so obviously I must be a whisperer too. I think you’re right in the fact that once you have a contract it would be a good place to network yourself. But before then it can sometimes be a waste of time (and do we really need more places to do that?).

    Also, I didn’t laugh at your followers. I have been on twitter longer than you and just barely reached 149 (and 20 of those came in the last week or so).

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    1. I’ve responded to agents’ tweets, but I’ve never had one respond back to me. I think your dimples must show up in your tweets. 🙂 Oooo, maybe I should use a photo of a cute kitten or something for my icon.

      I haven’t participated in any chats, but I’ve tried to follow a couple and found them very confusing. Maybe I did something wrong.

      I don’t know, I think some people were just made for Twitter. One night, I was watching the feed and saw someone tweet “Hello? Hello? Can anybody hear me?” So I let her know that I did and she responded with “Oh, thank you! Sometimes I think I must be invisible on here.” So, I know it’s not just me.

      Maybe I’ll get the hang of it, or maybe when I’m “somebody” I’ll find it useful. We shall see.

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  7. Like Cathryn, I know very little about Twitter. However, I don’t have a twitter account…There’s something about being on good old dial-up that seems to thwart my internet usage. (Rural Nova Scotia is beautiful but we lack a lot in services.) I have a sister who Tweets and it seems kind of weird to have folks who don’t know you following you. I’m willing to consider the fact that I’m ignorant about it all. I have yet to have anyone explain it to my satisfaction.

    I honestly can’t think anyone would find my tweets interesting.

    I’m glad you posted about this Linda because I really am curious as well as ignorant.

    I love the title as well!!

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    1. Oh wow, I can’t imagine having dial-up again! But I’d probably get a lot more writing done. 🙂

      I’m like you, Laura, who’d care to read anything I’d tweet personally, anyway. Of course, I felt that way when I started this blog, too. 🙂

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  8. I agreed with all of you. Twitter is only another way to discover news links of writing ressources for me. I don’t really have the time to read everything. But sometimes, I found some good links that leed to an introduction of ideas to explore…

    I don’t use it very often. There is so much social site like this… I can’t follow everyone of them. I think it is better if, as you said before, we concentrate our time for writing. Blog still the best and the basic internet ressource for me.

    Thank for this post.

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  9. I don’t know if is any help at all, but I found your site by following tweets. You were listed on the site I just visited and checked it out.

    I have found so many good blogs and resources.

    Best wishes,
    Elledine

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    1. THANK YOU! I already retweet interesting links, but I didn’t know about the bit.ly thing, so I’ve signed up now. I’m pretty sure I can set TweetDeck to use bit.ly to shorten links automatically. So now, all I have to do is get a book published and I’m good to go. 🙂

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  10. You know I love Twitter, though I readily admit (Tricia) that it is an enormous distraction. I’ve blogged all the reasons I love it, so I won’t go over them here. (Note: some of the most fascinating people I’ve met aren’t writers. Go figure.)

    Twitter definitely has increased my blog traffic. My “twitter friends” not only visit my blog but are amazingly wonderful about retweeting my posts. When I write something they like, they take the time to tweet about it, which draws in more readers.

    I think Twitter is perfect for shy people. You only have to be witty and outgoing for 140 characters. 😉

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    1. Oh, Twitter has absolutely worked for you. But, so far, I haven’t developed that star quality … or the kind of “twitter friends” … that you have.

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