Before Twitter, my online routine consisted of the casual participation in a few forums, watching YouTube videos and looking at friends’ photo albums and funny memes—only nobody was calling them memes—thanks Tumblr and FAIL Drawing Guy. My daily dramas were chronicled in detail for a close-knit circle of similarly angst-ridden friends. I was also a bit of a news junkie—and that was good enough for me!
Illustration by RealityTC
To say that I thought Twitter was an extension of the worst part of Facebook was an understatement.
There were prominent newscasters who I had only ever heard speaking about foreign policy sharing intimate details about their personal life. Did I really need to know this? No. Was this at all relevant to my life? It wasn’t. Was it oddly fascinating? It was! So four years ago on Halloween I joined the potluck that is Twitter—and it absolutely changed how I use the web. Twitter is now my conduit to news and serves as my primary hub for social media interaction—often with strangers I’d otherwise never have contact with. It’s a great gauge for the vibe of the hive—if you know what I mean.
Because I didn’t initially see any real purpose for Twitter, I basically used it as an instant messenger and no one was trying to become Twitter famous. After a few celebrity interactions, I had found a new outlet for one of my favorite pastimes—talking to the TV. (No, RealityTC did not stem from a love of reality TV.) Suddenly, TV was fun again because SOMETIMES THE TV TALKED BACK and SO DID THE OTHER PEOPLE WATCHING!
Clearly this was a dream come true.
It was also why I accumulated so many tweets. They tend to stack up when you are lol-ing back and forth. I’m now back to chat rooms for that sort of thing.
Me at Jury Duty: “You might wanna have a look at my Twitter.”
Because I come from the online school of thought that any future prospective employers should “love me for me” and most of my clients were already used to my generally direct and unusual habits, I tend to say whatever I want on my Twitter. Luckily, I’m not a racist or a serial killer—but I occasionally share what would make people in other fields unemployable. Obviously, saying whatever you want comes with sometimes-unseen consequences and you should consider this before taking the fuck-it-I’m-just-gonna-say-it approach.
TEAM UNFOLLOW BACK
A lot of people follow back whoever follows them. I am not one of those people. I’m just not interested in following people back who are never going to read my tweets because their sole purpose for being on Twitter is to sell something—which, in case you haven’t noticed is most people.
One of the things I like about Twitter is that it is pretty self-selecting. People either like you or they don’t. I always tell people to just be yourself and not worry too much about how many followers/unfollows you have, because there is truly something for everyone. I follow people whose tweets I want to read—and there are fewer people like me now!
A MATERIAL WORLD
Twitter seems to be evolving from a social network to a sales network and it’s getting harder to find interactive people. I try to find people who reply to others and who seem to post more than just links. I make exceptions for a few famous people, but I don’t follow many celebrities. It’s just not fun to read one-word tweets no matter how famous you are—I’m talking to you Bieber.
Trust me on this: Celebrities are the least interesting people on Twitter unless one is following you!
If you’re looking for new people to follow, try searching for activities in your area. If you’re attending the State Fair, South By Southwest, or a local Beer Fest search the hashtag for it and you’ll instantly be connected to like-minded people. Some of those people might actually become valuable to your network in the future.
DIRTY LITTLE SECRET—BOUGHT FOLLOWERS
Some look at buying Twitter followers as just another form of advertising, but it’s not for me. Sure, more followers boost the perception that you are popular and I’m not gonna lie—perception is important—but I have yet to see actual case studies that show hits turned into sales. At the end of the day—fake followers are fake.
You can also build your audience by using a number of auto-follow tools that work based on keywords, or audiences you’d like to reach. Most people who have large numbers of followers with a 50/50 ratio are building their audience this way. I tried this and found it to be so untargeted that I ended up unfollowing most of the people I followed using the tool. I may give this another try at some point, but for now I’d rather have 50 people who are good engagers than 1,000 who are simply collecting more followers. Twitter’s advertising program is another option that may be right for you. In short, you have to vet people unless you’re just playing the numbers game like everyone else.
YOU CAN HAVE A TWITTER STRATEGY—BUT TWITTER IS NOT A STRATEGY
Don’t make Twitter (or any other social platform) your sole marketing strategy. Twitter is a tactic, not a strategy. I also think it’s a mistake to post duplicate content across all your social networks. Apart from your latest blog or video post, audiences are different on different platforms and should be treated as such. There are lots of social media experts who can tell you how to leverage your presence online if you want to communicate across a number of platforms.
ARE YOU SORTA FAMOUS? CUZ I HAVE NO IDEA WHO YOU ARE.
Sometimes people follow me who have a lot of Twitter followers or have verified accounts and I have no idea who they are, even when I go to their website. They assume that everyone knows what they are famous for—but there are very few people who are that famous. I don’t care if you have a record deal or a popular YouTube channel—most people don’t know who you are. I’m sure I will love you if I get to know you however, so tell me more about yourself—somewhere!
IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED OR ANNOYED TWITTER MAY NOT BE FOR YOU.
Sooner or later, someone on Twitter is going to annoy you. I’m sure I have annoyed many over the course of my 50,000+ tweets. Occasionally, someone I like has unfollowed me and that sucks (pretending you don’t care about cool people unfollowing you is bullshit by the way). I try not to take it personally—and neither should you! There are tools to mute people if you like them sometimes, just not during the Super Bowl or Political season. You may also choose to list people and not follow them. I do this with a lot of news sources because the news tends to crowd my timeline and then I miss personal tweets. Judgy tweets turn me off, but there are very few deal breakers for me on Twitter. I read a LOT of content, even from people I might disagree with.
MY FAVORITE MISTAKES
Somewhere along the way, some super smart marketing geniuses made up some rules for Twitter that I never followed but are worth reconsidering. They include:
- Scheduled tweets: Many “pros” schedule their tweets using various software to avoid tweeting too often.
My take: I don’t want to talk to robot you. I want to talk to actual you. Tweet less. Tweet during peak hours. Find your Tweet sweet spot—just keep it real. If you do autotweet, make sure you check in live as well and actually respond to people who give a crap about your content because they’re getting harder to find.
- Send an auto DM to anyone who follows you with your book, porno I mean film, music, blog, website and buy links.
My take: You don’t need to send me a DM to check out your stuff—I followed you to check out your stuff! Occasionally I click on DM links, but mostly I just delete them. Chances are, I’ve already checked out your site.
- Avoid politics, religion, war or anything unpleasant.
My take: Most people feel uncomfortable around these topics. I’m not one of those people. I personally think polite public discourse is great. If you want to please everyone, talk about sports, weather, your kids, pets and retweet celebrities that everyone already follows.
- Always be positive—even when you’re faking it.
My take: I call these people Posinazis. Their positivity comes off as very disingenuous and it frankly makes me feel a tad ragey. I am human. I have bad days. Sometimes I tweet it. If you judge the world by social media, everyone is making shitloads of money, is full of gratitude and shits rainbows in their spare time. Gratitude is awesome, but sometimes on social media it starts to feel like a sales pitch. If you do this, MEAN it. People can feel when it’s fake.
- Always have something to sell.
My take: It’s okay to not have an agenda. You don’t need an agenda to be part of a larger conversation or enjoy other people’s content.
- Never tweet when drunk, ambied, in the hospital or otherwise medicinally compromised.
Confession 1: My Twitter was founded on insomnia and fake-sponsored by Ambien. I didn’t know I was tweeting funny shit in the beginning because half the time I didn’t see it. Sometimes these tweets come back to haunt me and I think, “Damn, now that made some good sense!” or “What the hell was I thinking?” Sadly for you, I’ve been Ambien-free for a year.
Confession 2: I sometimes enjoy people’s drunk/Ambien tweets. East coast people are better partiers and LA people are the biggest namedroppers. I honestly don’t know how so many people go out so often and still function at 6AM. Some secrets just can’t be had via Twitter.
And when a celebrity goes on a rampage—still Twitter gold. C’mon. I love when you people retweet that shit. Meow.
Editor’s Note: My views haven’t changed much since I posted this, but I will be posting an update at some point! A lot has change since I wrote this post!