I’ve been away from Twitter, at least as a regular user, for a long time, probably a couple/few years. After becoming annoyed with Facebook, I decided to return to the Twitterverse for a little social interaction. Let’s just say that I was a bit shocked by how things are now versus how they were back then (whenever that was).
Let me start off by saying that back in 2011 when my books, led by Season of the Harvest, finally “broke out” and started selling oodles of copies (grossing over well over $150,000 that year), I had focused on building up a big Twitter following prior to the release of Season of the Harvest that February, and I feel like the platform played a significant – nay, major – role in boosting sales.
I also invested in TweetAdder, a program to automatically follow/unfollow users according to a variety of filters, and that really helped build up my following to over 80,000 users before that and other programs like it were banned by Twitter. The nice thing about TweetAdder was that I could focus on people who, at least based on their profiles, were interested in reading and books.
Despite using the automated approach, I still tried to directly engage with as many people as possible, particularly with those who tweeted to me or DM’d me (excluding spam, of course!). I made a number of really good friends on Twitter during that period, and wasn’t just blasting out a bunch of promo crap without engaging with real people, which is what made things fun and rewarding.
But then, as with most things, people went totally crazy. Authors (looking at my particular niche) went ga-ga with marketing on Twitter, with many, if not most, just sending out endless streams of promo tweets and little else. It was at that point that Twitter’s value to me, at least as a promotional platform, fell off to near zero. I’m guessing that was maybe in 2015 or so, give or take a year, and that’s when I stopped using Twitter on a regular basis.
So, just a week or so ago, I decided to jump back into the Twitter pool, hoping to rekindle some of the fun social media interactions I used to have back in the day. I started going through my feed, really looking at the posts people were making, rather than just skimming through, and was aghast. What the hell was I thinking when I followed so many of these accounts?
Of course, the answer was “follow-backs.” I don’t know what the convention is now, but it used to be that if someone followed you – particularly if it was any sort of business concern – they wanted you to follow them back. That way you can get oodles more followers! They’ll retweet your stuff and you’ll retweet theirs! Your sales will explode! Gaaaaaah!
That sounded fine on the surface, but in retrospect was a really idiotic approach, especially if, like me, you also wanted to use Twitter as a venue for actual personal interaction. Looking back on it, why in Hell would I want to follow anyone whose feed was packed with tweets that I wasn’t interested in? Was I ever going to retweet their stuff? Hell, no. Were they ever going to retweet mine? Hell, no! And doubly so, why would I follow someone who didn’t tweet in a language I could understand? Aside from a user who maybe posted images I found fascinating (which is certainly possible), what’s the point of following when I can’t even understand what they’re saying? Duuuuuuuh!
And then we get to the retweets. Okay, yeah, RT’s have been a thing since forever. But now it seems like a huge amount of the Twitterverse is just a massive echo chamber of accounts (many of which I’m sure aren’t even used by living, breathing people anymore, if they ever were) retweeting crap. Some, I swear, seem like retweets of retweets of retweets! I mean, sure, if you want to share something you found that you like and think your followers might like, that’s great. But if you look at your stream and the only things you’ve tweeted the last half dozen to a dozen times are RTs, you’re likely going to find yourself on my growing list of accounts to unfollow.
So, speaking just for myself here (well, obviously, since it’s my damn blog), I’m interested in what you have to say. I can get news direct from the news sites if I want. I can scope out products I may be interested in by following the brand or company accounts. I don’t need to follow anybody to get that stuff. Heck, I can even get loads of cat pictures – which, of course, was the whole reason for the invention of the Internet – all on my own. But I probably wouldn’t see a picture of your cat, or know the funny (to your followers) story about how he tore down the drapes while chasing after a fly. I won’t know from anyone else if you scored a great new job, or if you got hit by some sort of crap and could use some words of encouragement, or something you cooked in the Instant Pot today that I’d love to snag the recipe for. While some folks may not think so, everyone has unique and interesting interests and things going on in their life to share.
Anyway, I hope that gives you some food for thought. Make your social media presence – whether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. – about you. You don’t have to make yourself “more interesting” by retweeting tons of stuff from someone else. And if you want to say hi to me on Twitter, just click here and give me a shout!