Twitter’s White Noise

I discussed different kinds of social media recently, and I want to take a moment to rail against Twitter.  Now, I don’t hate Twitter.  It’s a necessary tool for self-promotion, and it helps me follow people that are interesting to me—or who might be useful to me someday, let’s be honest—and hating a tool seems pointless to me.  The bus system in Guadalajara is often dangerous, noisy, smelly, downright surreal, but hating it would be a waste of my time.  I need it, so I enjoy the ride as best I can.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t complain in my own way.

Although I’m still learning to use Twitter, and am certainly not an expert, I do have some opinions on how it can be better utilized, and a few things to avoid.  Please feel free to add your own.

  • Retweeting is good.  When we tweet something interesting, useful, or even funny, it makes the person feel good to know that they have a bigger audience, at least for that one tweet.  It might even bring more followers.  But please, don’t retweet everything.
  • Promotion is fine.  For many of us, it’s the main reason for having a Twitter presence.  However, reminding me every few minutes that your book is on Amazon, it’s a good read, and oh, look what this person has to say about it is just annoying.  The effect you want: my interest in your story.  The effect you get: me never wanting to hear from you again.
  • #FF.  Suggesting people that your Twitter followers might want to follow is a kind gesture.  I need to do this more often, to promote people I think are really worth following and to repay those who have done it for me.  But please, I beg of you, don’t tell me to follow everybody you know all at once.
  • Whimsy is fun.  I appreciate the odd out-of-left-field comment that shakes me up for a moment, sure, but a string of nonsensical sentences gets old. “Delicate coke cough syrup aftersmell” is not as clever as you think it is, especially after a couple dozen of similar tweets.
  • We want to know how many people we are following and are following us.  Our followers really don’t care.  Please get rid of that service that announces every day how many people started/stopped following you.  That is of no use to me.  Twitter already gives you the numbers, and you can check your list to see who all those people are.
  • Your thought can be longer than the tweet allows sometimes, I understand.  Please make every effort to keep it short, and if it goes over, stop and let your followers know that it will continue with a (cont),
  • lest you leave them
  • confused, looking through their feed, already filled with so many
  • different tweet topics coming through the feed.  It is difficult to
  • Does consider become do? Layout proof for breakfast, shaking off giant roaches, dancing transsexual…now?
  • know when the thought is going to
  • The 5th Annual NANO Prize, publication and Otherwise. New blog entry, starting the StoryADay Guides.
  • end, or if it already did,
  • It’s not me. I guess it’s a dish best served with Durkee’s fried onions and in place for today, not me.
  • so don’t do that.

For those of you on Twitter, is there anything you would add to this list?

(This week’s song: Man, It’s So Loud in Here, by They Might Be Giants.)

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10 Responses to Twitter’s White Noise

  1. ED Martin says:

    I completely agree about the promotions. There are a few people I follow who ONLY tweet about their books, or retweet promos of others’ books. And it’s the exact same tweets over and over! I’ve gotten to the point that I barely skim those kinds of posts, looking instead for helpful links or proof that there’s a real person at the other end of the account, not a Hootsuite bot.

  2. One Saturday, soon after I was just starting on Twitter, one person was responsible for over 90% of the tweets I saw in one hour. They don’t do that anymore, so I assume somebody told them to cut it out.

    I don’t really mind if it’s once a day. I do intend to check some of those books out, if I know the author or not, because the subject did catch my eye. I am forgetful about those things, and the reminder may come when I have the extra cash.

  3. noelashland says:

    I’ve only been on Twitter a week, and I’ve already witnessed everything on your list. Too bad it’s a necessary evil. Great post.

  4. I completely agree about the retweets. I’ve had to unfollow a couple people because all I was getting in my newsfeed was literally just the 54895782 retweets of completely inane stuff. I wish twitter was more user-friendly and provided us more filtering options. It shouldn’t be so much work to find the interesting tweets floating among a sea of crap.

    • That is a big problem. Facebook has a lot of stuff to wade through, but you have a bit of control. Also, Twitter is so much in so little space. The smaller the space, the louder the noise, no?

  5. Don’t tweet so not much help to you here, George. Interesting read, though.
    Oh and those nonsensical tweets remind me of the status updates from some people I know on Facebook. One of these days they are going to catch me a bad mood. “This status update makes no sense. People really shouldn’t post when they are off their meds.”

    • Yeah, I’ve had better luck on Facebook. The filters are just better there. Plus, I’m more connected to the people on my Facebook feed, for the most part, and there isn’t nearly as much noise, in my experience. (We’ve discussed this before, I know–my friends never tell me their bathroom habits.)

  6. CJ Jessop says:

    Pretty much everything you said is what annoys me most about Twitter. I go on there maybe once a day and have to wade through all kinds of stuff to see anything interesting. I don’t mind a bit of promoting, but several posts within a short time frame and I’m like you, I start to skim that person’s posts.

    I try to only post when I have something new on the blog, or to answer a friend or an #FF. Once in a while I even remember to do a #FF of my own.

    But as you said, it’s helpful for networking so I stick with it, and sometimes I see things that interest me and make me want to check out a blog or book, so it’s not a total time waste. But yes, I prefer Facebook.

  7. Yeah, I definitely agree with you here. I have my own doubts about Twitter. To be honest, I sometimes find it extremely annoying. It’s mostly the constant self-promotion I see there. I’ve even unfollowed some people because they were self-promoting too much,

    That being said, I do self promote my blog on twitter, but I don’t overdo it. One link to my blog post every few hours is the most I can do, and frankly the most I will ever do. I don’t know why some people think that constantly linking to their own stuff every five minutes is going to get them more followers/readers. If anything, it’ll get them less.

    And #ff are annoying too, since when most people do #ff, they never say why I should be following these people. It’s just a string of names without any context.

    Still, I’ll stay on Twitter since it is somewhat good for networking and meeting other authors and publishers.

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