To Tweet or not to Tweet

Friday Freebies is a weekly event in which I post about self-publishing, particularly as it relates to children’s literature.

My opinion of Twitter has been all over the board. I was reluctant to sign up because the short message format didn’t appeal to me. Exchanges of only 140 characters sounded shallow. How do you get to know anyone by firing off a succession of short blurbs? And did I really want thousands of these blasts bombarding me all day long? How do you get to know 10,000 followers anyway? You can’t! But I signed up at the strong recommendation of many friends and fellow authors.

I did meet a lot of people quickly and the exchanges felt very impersonal. That bothered me a little till I realized these aren’t supposed to be pen pals. If I want to share my bad day or brag about my kid’s report card, I can get on the phone and call someone who cares. Except for two or three, none of my twitter friends could give a rat’s behind for such things, and quite frankly, I don’t want to hear about their Aunt Martha’s divorce either. Twitter doesn’t work that way. But it is a great place to exchange information and meet others with similar interests. It’s a bulletin board, not a post office.

Once I figured that out, I jumped in whole-heartedly–and promptly burned out. I was trying to take in too much, respond to every “follow,” return tweets, retweet, keep tabs on the site all the time and tweet frequently. It was taking over my life and I hated it. So I backed off–too much. I all but disappeared for a few months. In fact, I was ready to abandon it altogether until I found a useful little tool called Buffer.

Buffer lets you schedule tweets. How cool is that!! Now I can pop on Twitter at my leisure, pre-write up to four posts a day (with the free account) for up to two days ahead, and not think about it again till I want to. Very convenient. This also makes me much more willing to interact on Twitter. And I’m learning how to color my posts with my brand to make them more appealing and noticing slightly heavier traffic on featured blog posts.

I think I’m finding a balanced approach. Twitter has the potential to be a powerful and useful tool, but it’s now subservient to me and not the other way around. It’s not making a world of difference for me, but I’m willing to keep at something with potential. I’m all about baby steps because eventually they can get you somewhere.

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10 thoughts on “To Tweet or not to Tweet

    1. Michelle Isenhoff Post author

      That’s a great way to use Twitter. I don’t think Twitter makes a whole lot of difference as a marketing tool unless you’re someone famous, so I don’t spend too much time at it either. But you never know who might catch a tweet and check you out.

  1. swlothian

    I totally share and relate to your experiences with Twitter. If you aren’t careful it can consume you with very little tangible benefit. I’m not really a big fan of Twitter. It’s mainly just full of bizarre tweets and spam. I’d estimate that 90% of it is not really useful.

  2. Darlene Foster

    I enjoy twitter but try not to spend too much time on it. I have made some great contacts but most of them I know from other sites as well. I find it a good learning tool. I will check out Buffer. Thanks!

  3. Patricia Tilton

    I signed up for tweet a long time ago and had an account but never used it. Just wanted to follow the work of Greg Mortenson in the middle east. But, I use it occasionally and a few people have promoted my blog because of certain authors I’ve interviewed or reviewed. I rarely go on and get few messages. I have a hard enough time keeping up with blogs, FB etc.

  4. Susan

    Thanks for sharing your experience re Twitter. I’m just starting to learn about it. I actually like the challenge of the 140 character tweets, in the same way that I enjoy the challenge inherent in flash fiction or six-word memoirs.

    1. Michelle Isenhoff Post author

      Lol, or like trying to fit a whole story into a picture book. The short format keeps time-wasting to a minimum for me. Thanks for swinging by, Susan. I’ve actually been on your site a few times, too!

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