Writers everywhere are flocking to Twitter. In some ways it’s become the water cooler of the writing world where we can hang out, chat with like-minded writers, meet new friends, celebrate good news, and keep tabs on industry happenings.
While there aren’t any hard, fast rules for using Twitter, there are some blunders that might hinder our effectiveness, especially if we’re hoping to use it as way to broaden our web presence.
Here are ten top blunders that I see writers making on Twitter, and since I’m not a Twitter guru, please chime in with your thoughts!
1. Over-chatting. We should be aware of how long we’re carrying on our conversations with others. If we’re starting to clog up the twitter stream with a lot of @’s to the same person, then perhaps we should send them an email or carry on our conversation via direct messages.
2. Not interacting enough with others. Some people over-chat, and then some don’t chat at all. Remember twitter is a social media. If we’re relying too much on scheduled tweets, posting only links, or tossing out a tweet and then disappearing, we’re not maximizing twitter’s potential.
3. Not responding back to tweets or direct messages. I admit, I can’t always keep up with responding to everyone who sends me a tweet. And granted there are times when direct responses just aren’t necessary. But if we’re only having one-sided conversations, then we’re missing out on relationship-building that can help us long term.
4. Forming cliques. Of course everyone is going to have a closer group of friends. That’s only natural. But if we want to broaden our web presence, then we have to make an effort to meet and interact with new people. Using hashtags like #amwriting #litchat #yalitchat #followfriday #writers can help us meet other writers.
5. Bordering on unprofessional. If we’re using Twitter for purely personal reasons without a thought to how it might help our writing career, then I suppose we can say and do whatever we want. But if Twitter is part of our writing platform, then we should be unique and let our voices shine through, but show some discretion in what we share. Also, our twitter name should be the one we plan to have on our published books. And we should make sure we put "writer" somewhere in our bio.
6. Not following people back. About once a week, I make a point of following people back. If someone is obviously using twitter as spam, then I don’t. But I always try to follow everyone who is legitimate. I personally don’t see any reason why we would limit our following, especially with the ease of creating lists and organizing followers via Tweetdeck and other applications.
7. Sending auto-direct messages to new followers. They’re cold, impersonal, and totally defeat the purpose of twitter. I never respond to auto-mated messages. However, if someone makes a point of sending me a personal direct message, I will usually try to interact back.
8. Using twitter as a billboard. I’ve noticed that published authors tend to do this the most. They hop on Twitter primarily when they have a book signing to announce, a new book to promote, or an interview to share. Or they use twitter to feed links from their blog or facebook, and that’s it. Those authors are essentially spamming and doing themselves more harm than good.
9. Focusing too much on self. Yes, it’s okay to post links to our own blog posts. And yes, it’s okay to share personal information. But if that’s all we do, then we’re missing out on one of the great things about Twitter—the opportunity to genuinely encourage, support, and promote other writers.
10. Using inconsistently. No, we don’t need to be on twitter all day, every day. But again, to get the full benefit, we need to make a point of jumping into the tweet stream on a somewhat regular basis. If we don’t have anything to say, then we can always respond to the tweets of others, ask questions, or retweet interesting links.
Those are some of the blunders I’ve noticed. What about you? If you’re not on Twitter, what’s holding you back from the water-cooler? And if you are hanging out there, what other blunders have you noticed? What kinds of blunders bother you the most?