That’s the question I’m asking myself after doing my best to use this apparently essential social media tool. Firstly to declare my interest as they say on political shows, I’m not much one for Social Media. I just see most of it as a waste of time and resources with the resources being my time and energy. I guess I just have never found a real use for it or see a valid reason for it. Like smartphones, daylight saving time, speed bumps on roads and coffee shops. I mean really, who is going to spend £3-£4 for a hot drink that could be had at home for about 99% less of the price and probably with much less sugar and floating marshmallows. By the time you’ve decided whether you’re going to play along with their pretentious French or Italian names for big, medium or small, you can be at home with a nice drink made for a few pennies.
I can kind of see the point with Facebook. I got in touch with lots of friends I hadn’t seen for a long time and got to become friends with some bloggers, writers and people who have come on my tours. Sometimes these nice people even lead you on to be friends with similarly pleasant individuals. As for Twitter? Purrrrleeeeasseeee.
I’ve been on Twitter for 3 and a half years and quite frankly I struggle to find a use for it. I know the theory of course but in practice it reminds of that journalist in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop who having spent some time travelling and living with Patagonian Indians concluded that the whole venture had been mostly a waste of time.
I only follow about 280 people on Twitter. Apart from a very small handful of famous or important people and institutions that I follow, there are an equally number select group of friends or bloggers and writers who have become friends and then there are 260 people who I barely know who they are or how they ended up on my iPad.
I have 260 followers too but except for a handful of them, I have never interacted with any of them. Few of them feel such a close allegiance to me to actually reply to me or retweet or ‘love’ my tweets. That may well be because I am even more boring than I think I am. It’s even more likely however that is because they just don’t get to see what I tweet.
I’ve found that so many people have tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers and that these people are in turn following equally massive numbers of people in return. If I can’t keep up with my 280 people, how can anyone cope with 100,000? I could tweet that I’ll give everyone £10 to each person who replies within an hour, and the chances are the only people who would reply are those who I’d happily give £10 to in any case.
If following the Twitter feeds of thousands of people isn’t hard enough then the task is made harder by people trying to sell me stuff. I’m not sure if it works for them generally, but it sure doesn’t work on myself personally. Nothing is quicker or more guaranteed to make me take umbrage and most likely remove someone from my feed straight away than people who tweet excessively. Authors and book related people seem particularly bad this, so many times I look at Twitter, and I see 3 or 4 posts by the same two or three people doing nothing but advertising themselves or their book. As the Prime Minister once famously said, too many tweets make a tw@t.
I don’t want to just know about the books of an author or a gig of a musician or a special offer from a supermarket. I want to know how the author is feeling today, what inspired the musician. I can’t honestly see why having 100,000 people in your feed either in a related, or unrelated profession is of any use whatsoever. How useful are 100,000 fellow authors to me? Probably not as good as a handful of human beings who write and I can interact with such as the lovely Malla Duncan who so often does very good deeds for me. Of course I try to do the same for others but it can be very difficult when it is hard to see their tweets, even with the use of Lists.
Partly this is all down to the early Twitter etiquette of having to follow someone who follows you. It is simply rude, is it not, to not follow someone who follows you? So a few clicks here and there and you soon end up with a growing list. Things can get really out of hand when it seems that some people just add you in the hope you will add them back, maybe they are in some sort of competition to get the most Twitter followers. I long ago stopped following people because they follow me and sometimes your very keen new follower with 90,000 fans will unfollow you when they see that you’re not wanting to add to their hoard of followers.
Really, though, if I follow the world’s best archeologist then why on earth would I think they have any interest in what I do. I, after all, am following them. It isn’t Facebook, we aren’t equal in this relationship, and he owes me nothing.
There are lots of interesting people on Twitter but finding them is one problem, communicating with them and having them see you to communicate back is another issue. Funnily enough, it is the more legitimately famous people who have either corresponded with me, or in turn, have answered one of my comments. I’ve had more tweets from William Shatner (Captain Kirk in Star Trek) than I have from 99% of my followers or indeed of those who I follow that proclaim themselves to have countless fans and followers but not that much to show for it except for a twitter feed of book promos.
I’ve had debates with politicians, conversations with journalists. Even one or two “stars” who have messaged me after seeing my tweets or hashtags. No need to follow each other, we all know where each other are if we need each other or have something to say.
I realise with just 260 followers that it is kind of obvious my heart isn’t really into Twitter, at least not on a commercial basis. I’m thinking of removing most people and starting afresh organically. Perhaps only following my own followers after they have interacted two or three times as I’d rather have ten good followers than 260 quiet ones. I might have far fewer than my all already meagre total, but at least, I know they are there for a reason. After all, for my favourite Twitter friends, that is how we all met. We didn’t know each other and weren’t in a popularity contest; we just took an interest in each other.
I’m just not into the numbers game. I’d already promote and support my friends or good causes and for everyone else, if they don’t engage with me in any way at all, what’s the point in having them at all? Why pretend they care about me at all or I, them? That doesn’t go for you, though, many of my best twitter crowd are those who read my blogs and vice-versa.
I’m not sure I ever sold a book or a tour from Twitter. Certainly my WordPress stats show that I get only one or two people to my blog a week out of 2-3000 a week on average.
How do you find Twitter? Useful, clutter or mostly a waste of time?