Engagement vs. Promotion: How I Learned to Tweet

Time for an in-between manuscripts blog post! In a perfect world I’d be updating this blog more regularly, but the truth of the matter is I tend to center most of my creative energies on one or two specific things, and the peripherals such as blog posts and parenting tend to suffer.

I’m currently about halfway through The Curse Servant (so rejoice!). While I was hoping to make a June launch date for Servant, I’m recognizing that this sucker is a lot bigger than Curse Merchant in scope if not in word count, and thus requires a bit more engineering. If you don’t follow my Facebook Author Page, then you’re missing some selected snippets from the Work in Progress… hie thee thither so you can catch up!

Speaking of social media (see what I did there?), today was all about Twitter and how much it wasn’t working for me. Let me back up a couple steps.

Two years ago when I first started a serious endeavor to pursue writing as a career, or something like a career, I absorbed volumes of rote wisdom from the Internet. In the several dozen months since then I’ve recognized that some of that advice was not only dubious, it was outright blather. A lot of this toxic wisdom centered on how to use Twitter to gain readership.

So, I did what most nascent author-types did… I followed any account that looked like it was related to the publishing world. A lot of it made sense, particularly literary agents who seem to have a good sense of how to maintain a personable, relate-able persona online while maintaining content that was, you know, actually useable. I follow-backed (followed-back?) fellow authors, and in no time at all I discovered that my Twitter feed had swollen into a corpulent bulge of mutual self-promotion. It was a din of voices, all desperately grasping for notice, none of them listening one to another. It rendered impotent my ability to follow actual conversations on Twitter.

"Hey hey hey... how am I supposed to talk when you're too busy not listening?"

“Hey hey hey… how am I supposed to talk when you’re too busy not listening?”

Here’s the problem… you can’t employ the Hard Sell in the online 21st Century world. I asked myself “Self, whose tweets are you reading and why do you care?” The answer: real people who are actually talking about things. I pledged long ago to actually talk about things on Twitter. In other words, I chose to be a person and not a product to be consumed.

Sure, I have a product out there. But I can’t claim to have ever read a 150 word pitch on Twitter and declared “Sweet Crispy Jesus, I must buy that ebook!” I have, however, garnered a firm sense of an author’s voice from her Twitter conversations and concluded that she was a “good gamble.”

Furthermore, I’ve begun to identify the Twitter profiles on my feed that do little more than constantly spray spam onto the body Internet, and have chosen to remove them from my feed. Why did I make this decision rather than to create lists or use a Twitter app to weed through the chaff? The decision had nothing to do with marketing… it had everything to do with wanting to find and participate in genuine conversations. There was no benefit to keeping the promotion mongers on my Following list. I’m not offending them by un-following. It’s likely they would never notice.

What I have seen, however, is that it’s much easier to interact with real people now that my feed is relatively free of one-sided promotional broadcasting. It doesn’t just make my voice heard, it allows me to hear others. And that’s far more enjoyable than endless scrolling.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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