Monday, August 17, 2009
The Problem With Twitter
I have to admit, I don't really get Twitter. It's not for lack of trying. Nor for lack of gratitude. After all, Twitter essentially got me a publisher.
But do I need to know that everyone is chugging coffee every morning as if their mental health depends on it, is addicted to reality TV stars (and their pointless Twitter updates), or is taking their cat to the vet?
I know there are beneficial twitter folks to follow. I have my local newspaper on my home page so I can be updated about traffic jams I most certainly will want to avoid, as well as updates on trials I am interested in. (Yes, I know this sounds weird, but honestly it is the only way I'm getting any information these days about the trial of the boy who murdered my friend). I know there are airlines who update flight statuses (can't you find that out via internet, also?) and coffee shops that offer coupons (what is it with the obsession to tweet coffee?) and whole plots to overthrow governments by organized protests that can only be organized via Twitter (hello, brave Iranians).
I know there are uses for it.
I just can't, for the life of me, figure out how it works.
This is my problem: if you want to effect some kind of change, or market yourself in some way (let's be real - I'm not trying to overthrow a government any time soon - I'd just like to meet other writers and get the word out about my book when the times comes to do so), you have to have a lot of followers. And if those followers have a lot of followers, what is the likelihood that they're reading your tweet anyway?
I can't possibly keep up with 2,000 people's tweets. And let's be honest. Some of you tweeters tweet A LOT!
And it isn't as if I'm not interested in your lives. I am. Really. I just can't keep up with all of you. And still keep a life of my own. Let's even say I stop vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, folding laundry and doing dishes ( gee, what heaven that would be!!), I still have to feed and clothe my kids, find time to write and edit, and squeeze in sleep in there. I could literally be at the computer all day reading tweets and replying to them and get NOTHING done - and be no closer to marketing my book better....
because, and let's be honest, how many of those people are reading and engaging in my tweeted life?
The catch-22 of Twitter is this: to make it useful you have to have a lot of followers, and if you have a lot of followers, you can't build the relationships with those people to make them interested in having a relationship with you - or even notice your tweets among their thousands.
So what do I do? I use Twitter to find people I might not otherwise know about. Writers. With blogs and website. Blogs and websites where I can actually get to know them and interact with them in something deeper than 140 characters.
Sure, I may still check in on Twitter to make sure they've had their cuppa joe and their cat is back to health, but mostly I find them in the real world: The blogging world.