I love Twitter. It’s like a big giant party full of friends and friends-you-haven’t-met-yet, plus that weird guy who skulks in the corner by the hummus. Working from home, it’s been a lifeline of chat, advice, watercooler gossip, and alleviation from the relentless blink of the cursor. I’ve no idea if it’s helped me sell books, but I’ve certainly reached more people that I would have done shouting to myself in my living room. And I’ve had fun.
The other day someone sent me this link, which I suppose makes sense if you don’t actually WANT to spend your whole life reading Tweets about The Apprentice (what’s wrong with you?), but I found kind of depressing. http://publicityhound.net/5-things-they-never-tell-twitter-newbies-but-should/
So no, I don’t have a ‘social media strategy’. Wouldn’t that be unfun and awful? Instead I just act like I would at a real party. Greet friends warmly, shyly say hello to a few new people, and occasionally drink too much and say things I regret in the morning. (OK, often). It seems to work fairly well. So why is it some people behave so bizarrely on what is meant to be a ‘social’ site? You wouldn’t walk in to a party and start slotting business cards into people’s pants, or stand in front of them and say, ‘Hello. Today I had soup for lunch. Please listen while I describe it.’ Would you? When someone’s following you on Twitter, you’re asking them to listen to you and give a small piece of their valuable time to your 140-character musings. Why not try to make it interesting? And I don’t understand the obsession with ‘following back’, or only following those who follow you. Again, it’s like being a party and saying, ‘Hello. I am John, and want to tell you about spoons for ten minutes. YOU MUST LISTEN.’ Then stopping, and the other person starting, ‘Hello. I am Mary. I’m going to talk about hamsters until it’s your turn again.’ In a conversation, you don’t have to measure who talks most. Sure, it might seem rude if someone never replies, and turns their back or talks over you, but if they’re doing the Twitter equivalent of gazing over your shoulder, surely you should just walk away with dignity, and talk to the weird man in the corner, and/or weep in the toilet until your eye makeup runs? **
(** male equivalent, I don’t know. You have to pretend you’ve got hayfever? In February?)
Musing on this, I’ve compiled a list of the Top Ten worst Tweets people do. This is not to say I’ve never done some or all of these myself. I absolutely have. It’s easy to slip and Twitter would be deadly dull were we all networky-strategising spambots. In real life, I know I’ve often stopped to listen to myself babbling on and thought, ‘God, I’ve been talking about pens for half an hour! Why has no one stopped me? I’m so boring!’ Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. Like an actual party, nobody will really remember what you were doing. They’ll be too busy thinking about their own RTs.
- The banal tweet
‘I’ve had a lovely day with @Random_friend with cake and puppies and sunshine. Now I’m going to eat a lovely dinner! Hurray!’
Er, so what? Damn you and your happy puppy-filled life. Now I feel bad about sitting here alone with my Spaghetti Hoops and box-set of Dawson’s Creek Series 4.
2. The ‘I’m cool and political’ tweet
‘Watching Jonny Hellzapoppin’ Mad Politician on #bbcqt. Can’t believe no one is addressing the vital issue of the hamster-baiting industry #unacceptable’
Some of don’t know what #bbcqt is and in fact are watching ‘Fat Pregnant and Still Eating Doughuts’ on Despair TV. Now we feel inadequate and will rush out and subscribe to The Economist, never read it, and not be able to get out the door due to the volume of newsprint. It’s all your fault, you and your darn ‘caring about the world’ rubbish.
3. The promotional-robot tweet
‘BUY MY BOOK. IT’S ON AMAZON. BUY IT. GO ON GO ON GO ON.’
C’mon, dude. At least chat a bit. Don’t walk into the Twitter-party and shove copies of your precious tome into the bowl of Wotsits. It’s rude and soooo boring it makes me unfollow you. Then you unfollow me in pique, and you miss my awesome tweets about cardigans. EVERYONE LOSES.
4. The apologetic tweet
‘Oh I’m so sorry to mention, but I have a book out! Dear me! I must go and hide in the corner to recover from the social faux-pas of mentioning it! In fact I will away to burn all copies in a shame-pyre! Bye!’
I really don’t mind hearing about your book. I like books and I like writers, that’s probably why I follow you. At the imaginary party, you wouldn’t be rude in saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I have a book out. No biggy. It’s cool. So tell me more about your Pilates classes.’ Honestly, you don’t have to apologise.
5. The ‘cute stuff my kid says’ tweet
‘Just came down to see Intelligensia, (4 and a half), reading the collected works of Joyce. ‘Mummy,’ she said, ‘I could write better than this man, he doesn’t do proper sentences!’ LOL!’
I mean, it’s cute sometimes, but please, sparingly. Sparingly. Party equivalent = a brief flash of the photo. Equally as bad are people who tweet about their cats and/or dogs. Maybe even pictures of their dog, oooh, I don’t know, wearing a Santa hat?
(Yes, it’s the fifth circle of Twitter hell for me. Doesn’t he look cute though?)
6. The ‘I’m dead popular, me’ tweet
‘#ff @randomtweeter @otherrandomtweeter @otherotherrandom tweeter @manonthebus @auntiemary @auntiemarysdog’
And its equally annoying adjunct…
‘RT Thanks @firsttweeter @otherrandomtweeter @otherotherrandom tweeter @manonthebus @auntiemary @auntiemarysdog’
It’s lovely to say hello and mention others and be kind, and Twitter etiquette hasn’t quite settled down yet, so we want to be polite. And we all appreciate RTs and mentions, of course we do. But I don’t think we need to thank each and every person for each and every thing. At that party, you don’t rush round anxiously saying, ‘Dave! Thanks for introducing me to Karen! And…*rushes over* Karen, thanks for introducing me to Bob! And Bob….’ Think of all that time you’d waste when you could be talking about house prices.
7. The ‘in-joke’ tweet
‘@supercoolhipstertweeter @diffidenttweeter @hasntworkedouthowtousetwitteryettweeter Hey, let’s not forget the penguin earmuffs! BAHAHA!’
In-jokes can be like standing in the corner of the party surrounded by chums and laughing loudly while quaffing champagne. I’m totally guilty of this. Sorry.
8. The ‘objectionable tweet I think is made OK by use of hashtag’
‘Listen to the hamster, spinning in his wheel, sooo annoying! #ihatehamsters #hamstersshould bekilled #nomrhamsteriexpectyoutodie’
Haven’t you seen those experiments? We can TOTALLY read even if there’s no spaces. And saying ‘Just sayin’ ‘is both annoying and meaningless.
9. The ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious’ tweet
‘Oh, it’s raining! That’s wet. I don’t like being wet.’
Yes. Yes we know. It’s raining here too. Thanks for reminding us.
10. The ‘here’s some stupid blogpost I wrote, please RT’ tweet
‘Here’s some stupid blogpost I wrote, please RT’.
Well. That was a bit ‘meta’, wasn’t it. What’s your favourite Twitter sin? (Twin? No, that doesn’t work at all). Try also following @humblebrag for another sin I didn’t mention, because they do it so well.