I’ve been getting some questions about Twitter for a while now, so I thought I’d do a quick post. Here are five general features on the often-underrated social media platform and how I use them. Although this post approaches Twitter from a writer’s perspective, I think there’s some pretty useful information for the average Twitter user as well:
1.) Following + Unfollowing
As a general rule, I don’t automatically follow back everyone who follows me. I have no desire to clutter my feed with irrelevant accounts. Nor do I desire to constantly be bombarded with promotional tweets and/or retweets.
Instead, I look through each account’s most recent tweets and check to see whether they engage in conversation. If they do, I follow them back. I also tend to follow back people who reach out to me first, either through mentioning me or messaging me privately. After all, we’re here to make connections. Twitter shouldn’t be a call into an empty void.
As far as unfollowing goes, auto-DMs receive an immediate unfollow, as do accounts that retweet 20+ tweets in the span of 20 minutes. Why does anyone do that? Stahp.
Despite my meticulous attempts to keep the clutter out of my feed by being wary of the accounts I follow, I still find myself overwhelmed at times by all the material I come across. For this reason, I use lists.
None of my lists are public, but if we’re friends and/or interact with each other often, you’re probably in one. This allows me to just scroll through a select group’s tweets and stay knowledgable about my friends’ lives. In the interest of full disclosure, I have a “writer friends” list, “IRL friends” lists (subcategorized into high school and college), an “agents to submit to” list, and an “agents I’ve submitted to” list (always a gut-wrenching pleasure to read.)
One thing I’ve noticed lately is that people like to reciprocate when I like their things. This is extremely sweet and extremely flattering, but I promise you I don’t like your stuff unless I genuinely “like” it. When you assume I’m doing it only because I want likes in return, the whole process loses its value. This holds true for Facebook and Instagram, too.
HASHTAGS ARE GREAT. Utilize them, but don’t abuse them! Thankfully, Twitter’s character-limit keeps it from getting too crazy, but I’ve noticed people leaving streams of hashtags on Instagram. If you find yourself tagging a writing-related post with something completely unrelated, you’re only in it for the likes. It might be nice in the moment, but you’re hurting yourself in the long run. Instead, how about tagging them with relevant tags that get you noticed by other writers? Some good ones for writers on Twitter are “#amwriting,” “#amediting,” and “#amreading.” Search for any of those and you’ll find a dazzling (and sometimes, overwhelming) array of new friends. If you blog, look into “#MondayBlogs,” but remember to retweet and share others’ blogs as well as your own.
5.) Profile Pictures
Find a good one. “Good” is entirely subjective. Find one that represents you well, but then hold on to it for a while. When I’m scrolling through my feed, I tend to subconsciously search for my friends’ faces. Those I don’t recognize are generally lost in the clutter.
And there you have it – hopefully, that helps those who asked, but if you have more questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to me again.
When I joined Twitter in 2013, I had no idea how integral it would become in my writing career. In just three years, I’ve met incredible readers, bloggers, artists, and writers. I’ve caught a glimpse of “the creative life” as it applies to people all around the world. I’ve helped and been helped through some of my life’s and my writing’s particularly rough patches. I’ve received book recommendations from people of all backgrounds and backstories, book recommendations that now litter the shelves of my home and my heart. I’ve gained invaluable insight into the publishing industry through mistakes made and lessons learned by my peers. I’ve made friends I now can’t imagine life without. And above anything else, I’ve learned that even in this vaguely spiritual and deeply personal activity that often values solitude above anything else, I am never alone.