I Could Give a Tweet: Lessons Learned From My First Year On Twitter

I was a Twitter skeptic.

When various friends recommended Twitter, I scoffed at the idea of a social media that—I erroneously believed—took Facebook’s update feature and distilled it down even further to a mere 140 characters. The whole endeavor seemed like a perennial waste of time, time that could only be narcissistic at its core.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken (although the time-killing element of Twitter is a real danger, not because of its uselessness but because it’s so easy to succumb to checking one's Twitter account with a compulsion that rivals any other addiction).

So, a year ago, I relented and created a Twitter account because I’d recently just gone-live with this website, and I wanted to drive traffic to my blog. I assumed that all I would need to do was throw the link to my site around, and shazam!, I’d have a bazillion hits on the website and blog.

Let’s just say that it hasn’t gone that way. Not at all. And I’m grateful that it hasn’t.

I became discouraged quickly—as I will when new activities don’t immediately lend themselves to instantaneous results—when no one would follow me or otherwise pay attention to my tweets. I was about to give up when I accidentally discovered the whole # hashtag search feature and realized with a ‘Duh’ moment of enlightenment that there are entire Twitter communities blossoming from the hashtag topics that I am interested in.

The #amwriting hashtag saved my Twitter existence AND this website. Johanna Harness http://www.johannaharness.com/p/blog-page.html created the hashtag in 2009 for writers just like me, creative folks who wanted to connect with other writers. She was gracious and welcoming, and that connection was just what I needed to resuscitate my Twitter existence. Thank you, Johanna.

Getting back to why I’m grateful about the organic growth of my Twitter existence: the number one rule on Twitter is to be authentic. You can’t assume that anyone will give a Tweet about your 140 characters or your embedded links if you don’t first connect with the folks you follow. (And yes, you need to follow and follow and follow.)

No, the number of my followers hasn’t exploded, but there has been steady growth, and the growth is based on (save for the spammers) shared interest and real interaction. It’s often a time-consuming process, but well worth it, given the number of wonderful folks I’ve connected with.

Looking ahead to my second Twitter year: my Twitter goal is to explore followers and followees beyond my (still growing) list of writer colleagues. The one (small) downside of following and being followed by other writers is that we become the defacto audience for each other’s writing, and while that’s well and good, we need to be reaching beyond our group to our non-writer readers. Or at least I do.

Twitter on!