That little blue bird has been around for a while (okay, not that blue bird) but Twitter is still a mystery to many people, and I believe part of the problem lies with making things harder than they need to be. I am by no means a Twitter expert but that’s okay because you probably don’t want to be followed by Twitter experts. Why not? Because Twitter experts game the system. They look at numbers and statistics and SEO. They concentrate on their Tweet vs. Retweet ratio. Are those the people you want to follow?
What’s sad is that I used to try to be one of those people. I wanted a perfect little image on Twitter, always agonizing over what the right to say was . Then, one day, during an especially stressful morning when I didn’t care about being perfect, I tweeted something like, ‘Well, great way to start the day. Cat just yakked in the living room.’ That’s probably not my exact tweet but it was really close. That one little tweet got tons of retweets and was even favorited a few times. However, at that moment I decided retweets and favorites weren’t the major goal. Don’t get me wrong. Being marked as a favorite or having a tweet shared with hundreds or thousands of others is great, but it stopped being important to me because I realized I had been leaving the social out of social media. I learned to kick back and relax on Twitter. My followers increased and I began having more fun on Twitter because I was actually following real people and real people were following me.
I think being real is a huge part of online communities. For most people on Twitter, you’re just a little avatar, a brief bio, and 140-character messages. It’s up to you to shatter that boundary and show people the real you.
One thing that also helps is thinking about what you like and don’t like. Are you a writer with a new book coming out? Do you like to have people tweet you with ‘BUY MY BOOK. ITS TOTALLY AWESOME.” Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You click over to this person’s profile and all you see are a hundred messages telling people to buy his (or her) book. For all we know, it could be a bot. A simple rule of thumb is don’t do it if you don’t like to have it done to you.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying to keep your new book a secret. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know you have a new title every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with it because all your followers are following you because they like you as a person and not just as a tiny little avatar. After all, if you were sitting back and enjoying a coffee and a good friend came over and told you he just wrote a new book and then someone suddenly burst through the door and shouted, “BUY MY NEW BOOK,” before ducking back outside, which one would you consider buying.
Keep in mind that different strategies work for different people. I follow Redbox on Twitter because they occasionally tweet coupon codes and new titles coming out. I don’t expect to see a tweet from Redbox saying the cat yakked or they just made a cup of coffee because the day started too darned early. It would be cool if they actually did do tweets like that but I don’t expect it. However, I wouldn’t follow an actual person that only had sterile messages like that in their stream.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a blogger, or just someone who really enjoys reading, being real is what it’s all about. Let people get to know the real you and Twitter will become a fun, vibrant hangout for you… and you might even sell a few books to your friends along the way.