Sunday, September 25, 2011

Social Media Manifesto I: Twitter Rules

I never wanted to be on Twitter. But a writer friend set me up on Twitter and Tweetdeck while I was at her house one day and I was very quickly sold.

Twitter affords me the opportunity to talk with people all over the world. I have Twitter friends in London, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and Scotland.

Twitter lets me connect with other writers and with readers. It also grants me access to the innermost thoughts of agents, editors, and publishers. Interestingly enough, I find that the Twitter feeds of writers overwhelmingly tend toward the positive, while those of the agents tend to be snark-filled.

Thanks to Twitter, I've discovered new writers that I love and new agents that I admire. I've also run across writers that I wouldn't read if you paid me and agents who are so vitriolic that I wouldn't want
them repping me even if it meant a quick, sure sale. Shortly after I joined, I mused about life lessons I've learned from Twitter. They still hold.

My Twitter Rules:

  • If you mention me (@MuseInks), I'll send you a thank you. And I'll mean it. But if you're one of those who RTs every mention, I'll stop thanking you for the shoutouts. That sort of thing is just a social media vicious circle and it wastes my time.
  • I won't follow you just because you ask me to for the same reason I don't buy every thing I see an advertisement for. Give me a reason to follow you and I will.
  • I don't care if I have a million followers. I'd rather have just a few who read what I say and who respond to me.
  • I don't automatically follow back if you follow me. It depends on your Twitter page (I look at the feeds of everyone before I follow). If you only tweet about something you're trying to sell, or if you never RT, or if you tweet only quotes, or if you never engage your followers in conversation, I won't follow you. Why would I?
  • I personally approve all content in my Twitter feed. I might schedule a tweet for a later time, but not before vetting the content. I won't auto-tweet.
This last rule leads me to my issues with Triberr. More on that tomorrow...

In the meantime, what rules do you have for your Twitter & SM accounts? How do you manage them and make them work best for you?


Lynn Hallbrooks said...

Great thoughts. My twitter use is kind of scatter-shot at the moment. I'm still learning about it and how to balance everything. I do like your rules.

My main re-tweet rule that I try to go by is: It has to be helpful to someone in my follower group which is eclectic. Now that I'm getting more followers and following more people/ is getting a bit crazy. As for my followers, I've never told anyone what they can and can't re-tweet so it is their choice to 'forward' what they like.

Sure, I'd love it if they re-tweet about our book. That is one reason, I'm on here. The other is to learn more about people and things that will help me grow as an author.

Leah Petersen said...

I love seeing this on your blog today because I blogged about it myself last week.

I fell for a lot of the "follow back" and numbers race crap for a while. I've since learned better.

(I still follow you.) ;)

Ami Hendrickson said...

Lynn and Leah,
Thanks so much for commenting. I spent the weekend wrestling with social media Rules of Conduct for a client, which made me re-evaluate my own approach.

I've become a die-hard follower of someone because of a single tweet. Once we've engaged in conversation, it takes a lot to lose me as a follower -- though I drop racists and bigots as soon as I realize they've sneaked in. :P

Lynn: I agree w/ your RT rule: It has to be helpful. (Or funny. Which can help someone get through the day, IMO.)

Leah: How refreshing to find someone who is unfazed by the "numbers race crap." Loved your blog post, BtW!


James Piper said...

Big topic.

I don't autofollow. I want a manageable list of followings where I actually read their tweets, perhaps click on links, perhaps reply, occasionally ponder the message.

It's easy to play the autofollow game to build up big numbers but to what end? Is anybody reading them?

Ami Hendrickson said...

The big numbers thing has me stumped too. One of my staunchest followers, however, is Lonny Dunn (@ProNetworkBuild). He consistently tweets personal messages to me yet he has over 55K followers. I honestly don't know how he does it.

To many people -- authors especially -- have several thousand followers, but are little more than automated "buy my book" drones. Engagement is nearly nil. As evidenced by their Amazon sales rank: their efforts are also in vain.

I have a couple thousand following me & try to be as engaging as I can w/out taking time away from my writing. Some days I am more successful at that than others.

ProNetworkBuild said...

Anyone with 500 or more followers has little or no chance of seeing a tweet live, even if they keep their twitter open 24/7 and drink lots of coffee. The chances are better of winning the lottery of me spotting any one tweet from the thousands that fly by.

Thus, I just spot something I like, and stick to mentioning people who mention me. At least I try. Is it from a moral purpose? Probably. Do I owe it to them? Probl not. Do I miss some and they get a complex and never talk to me again? Likely. I can't worry about that, another 25 new people are clamoring to say hello today, and I try to get to them.

Funny you mention this, as just this week, I loaded up all those mentions into Social Oomph and was being nicey nice ( for once ) and attempting to shout them out... and Twitter never sent the mentions out!! So I am steamed, but I keep plugging along, do what I can, and hopefully nobody get's too upset.

I remember your first tweet to me, which was: "I saw the word 'Networker' and then read some of your tweets, and thought I'd take a chance"

I guess in the long scheme of things, I've measure up.

I Tweet at @ProNetworkBuild

PS: Alot of writers I follow and watch have very small accounts. They tend to micro manage the process, not realizing ppl grow bored of Twitter, fall off, fall out, stop tweeting, so their timelines get even more narrow. Ppl should always be adding new tweeps to refresh the conversation pool.

Marie Loughin said...

Funny, I came up with the exact same approach completely independently. Anyone who only advertises or pushes quotations out automatically is never going to read your tweets, so why follow?

Samuel_Clemons said...

i follow everybody back. imma ferret. i only way 1.5 pounds, and nap alot. on the rare occasions when i am awake and tweet, i don't let spam bother me. i play wif all the animals in the barnyard. i can't see all the tweets, and don't care to. so why bother? i follow enough funny people, something will strike my fancy. i follow enough writers, i am sure they'll post something retweetable.
everybody has an agenda, some are just more obvious than others, that's all. and since everyone has an agenda, why bother to judge them? i leave that to the Great Pop Tart, and my ferretzen tells me not to worry about it, it's just a tweet, it's not gonna matter when i get centered. i don't think so much about what anyone else is tweeting anyway, the world revolves around me, right?

did i ever tell you the story about my uncle freddie? i hear he might get a twitter.... yep. if he does, i don't know whether to deny knowing him, or avoid him on twitter... should i follow him back? he's always calling me a moron...

i hear the tea kettle whistling


moondustwriter said...

I appreciate that - the twitter world can become a merry-go-round
It is very helpful for networking and I have3 met some fantastic people but there is life before and after twitter

Ami Hendrickson said...

ProNetworkBuild: You do a heckuva job. I still don't know how you manage to make sense of over 50K followers. You da man.

I am not da man... And I'm OK with that.

Samuel Clemons: Wow! The Famous Ferret himself commented. I am honored. Congrats on reaching your 30,000th follower. My mind reels. I appreciate that your followback philosophy and mine differ. But your approach to Twitter & mine are similar: see what shiny object catches your fancy, then tweet it to your followers! You excel at that.

Marie: Interesting that you and I came up with the same philosophy. Great minds think alike, eh? :D

MoondustWriter: I need to remember your comment that "there is life before & after Twitter." Twitter does, indeed, breathe life into my day. But sometimes I get more accomplished when I determine to pull the plug.

Belgerith said...

I am sort of new at twitter, or at least having a bunch of followers that is. Recently hit the 100 mark and I am amazed at those that have thousands of followers and follow that many. I follow a little less than 200 and I sometimes get overwhelmed with the number of tweets that I see.

One thing I have learned is that I do not blindly follow people that follow me. I will mention new followers in my timeline, but then I check all new followers profiles to see if they are someone I want to follow. I do not follow back everyone that follows me. Thanks for this list, and I was entertained.

Celeste85 said...

Hi Ami, I also have some issues with Triberr, so am very interested to see what you think...

Ami Hendrickson said...

It sounds as if you are approaching Twitter intelligently -- I don't understand why some people blindly follow back. Unless they follow but never intend to read what people say. Hmmm... Oh, and I'm glad you were entertained. My job here is done. :D

I think Triberr is great for broadcasters. But I'm not a broadcaster. I'm more of a shouter-outer of things I find interesting instead of an equal-opportunity billboard. Still, I like some things about it. My mini-tribe has some great members. Ah, but you know that. ~wink~

grammakaye said...

1. I'm clueless to what Triberr is & look forward to finding out.

2. I'm at my 1st anniversary on twitter. I'm still in trial & error, somewhat organized chaos daily & weekly. Lonny @ProNetworkBuild & Sam @Samuel_Clemons have kindly rescued me on several occasions.

3. I love writers & my biggest twitter mistake was not to list writers at first follow, so I could at the least peek in to that timeline & give a tweet about them more. I do have an @Samuel_Clemons list that I do have a chance to peek at once in a while.

4. I have a very junky PC but Lonnie (Lonny?) & Sam got me to Tweetdeck which has been very helpful to me. I wish it would do more than what it does & having direct twitter & Tweetdeck problems the other week, my Travel list got lost or I accidentally deleted it..there were vibrant people there I miss.

5. My primary reason (agenda as Sam would call it) for having come to twitter is because I am an NFL football Packers fan. I now have 2 lists of other Packers fans (close to 700 total) I can keep a 'fan football pulse'. I've been blessed with many non-football or other team followers who understand this about me. Others leave because it frankly drives them crazy.

6. I RT many things & am an avid Follow Friday @mentions human being. Some of those mentioned folks, my @mentions to them might be the only mentions they would get. Don't we all want to be acknowledge or recognized at some point?

7. @ProNetworkBuild is correct about not being able to see all the tweets. While having a list helps me, if I catch a tweet rolling by & it is someone who has been nice to me, or someone whom I haven't seen in a while...I hit the RT as fast as I can.

8. Currently it is "do the best that I can with the time that I have each week" ~ the only firm & fast rules I have made the past month or so...when I check a follow to see if I'm following back, if there is a porn link, I also don't follow back, I block them. If someone has little to no bio & no tweets, I not only don't follow back, I block them. If someone has little to no bio & a few tweets, I read the tweets when I check the profile page, you may not believe how many tweeted then deleted & therefore there it is said '....hasn't started tweeting yet.' I block them.

9. Twitter is still even after 1 year now fascinating to me, but it is also 'work' & being retired, I make the effort to take a stab at the 'work' part of it.

10. Though I have nothing to sell, the primary in my mind for myself is "If you want a friend, you need to be a friend." I hold 'convo' to be the best and then sigh cuz I am incapable of getting around to everybody personally each day!

I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

Anonymous said...

I tend to give *most* people who follow me a chance at a follow back. I figure even if I scour their twitterfeed, I might miss some gems in there, so I try following them for a while. If all I ever see are RTs and the social media equivalent of commercials, I'm probably going to unfollow.

I like being able to interact with people, but how am I to interact if everything someone tweets is self-promo or retweets? Social media, is a think, full of social pitfalls. This was a great post. Thanks for sharing! said...

I am always afraid I will not follow the social media rules on Twitter. Now that I'm a part of Tiberr, it scares me even more because I am such a polite person. Thanks for the post. At least I feel that I am not alone in not responding to some people. :)