Right now, about half of you are rolling your eyes and the other half are nodding your heads. I'm going to ask both groups to bear with me for a few moments here.
Explaining Twitter to people is very difficult, especially if you're explaining it to someone who already thinks it is dumb or pointless. Comedians love to make fun of Twitter - but they only do that because (like everything else they make fun of) it is popular.
I want to clarify some of the criticism of Twitter. It is not about updates like this:
- "Sitting at the bus stop. Someone has body odor."
- "Just had a bagel and cream cheese. Yum!"
Now, that's not to say that these kinds of posts don't have a place. That place is to personalize it, make it human. One of these (though these are the most boring of the mundane, try to spice it up) every now and then can remind you that you're seeing updates from a real person and not just some news bot or blog feed. However, if that's all that a person uses Twitter for:
They're doing it wrong.
They'll be "unfollowed" faster than you can fall asleep. (Except for the spambots, which is a whole other topic. Don't get me started)
This is how I defend Twitter to people (most of whom haven't even been to the site, btw) who think it's stupid:
I primarily use Twitter to follow people in the publishing industry: agents, publishers, publicists, published authors and unpublished authors. These people tweet about what's going on the industry and, most importantly for us aspiring authors, how to break into it.
The advice I have received on Twitter has been invaluable and is simply not available anywhere else. There is one agent, @colleenlindsay who conducts randomly-timed #askagent discussions, where you can ask her and other agents any question you want about how to be successful in the publishing industry. Some professionals, like @BostonBookGirl, @RachelleGardner, and @Bookgirl96, do a fantastic job of balancing 'real person' tweets with 'business' tweets. And, God bless them, (or Godiva bless them, as @Janet_Reid would say) they do this all for free on top of their not-so-light schedules!
I've also met some great new friends on Twitter. Other aspiring authors like @JasonAMyersTX and @ChristaCarol are great for companionship and consolation when I need it. Some published authors like @MaureenJohnson are just plain entertaining to follow.
And this is not unique to the publishing industry. I encourage you to seek out Twitter communities like this in the industries you're involved with, whether it be Veterinary, Web Development, Marketing, etc.
I also like to follow local news outlets like @orlandosentinel and @cfnews13 for up-to-date info, especially on topics like traffic and at-large dangerous criminals.
So, for those of you who don't 'get' Twitter. I'm going to ask you to check it out. You're going to have to give it some time before you really get in the swing of things and you're going to have to invest time every day for you to get anything out of it. Follow me, I'm here if you have questions.
For those of you who love Twitter, please try to be patient with the haters. It doesn't help the public image if we get angry. We know that there is valuable interaction available on Twitter and it's just too bad if others don't see it for what it is.
If you would like a basic rundown of Twitter and how to use it, check out this slideshow I created.