I'm a newbie on Twitter and so far, I'm undecided. It's a great way to network with people in your fields of interest but it's also a great way to network with an overwhelming amount of useless information.
I got started when I found a list (somewhere in my Reader) of Tweeters in Christian publishing: publishers, editors, authors, bloggers, and literary agents. It seemed like a great way to start connecting with those in the field, so I started an account.
My first week went great. I followed a handful of people, and they were all in related niches; it was manageable. I'd tweet comments of encouragement and see occasional tweets back.
But then I started seeing some of the same faces over and over again, sometimes with seven or eight Tweets in a row to share useless information and spam-like URLs, one after another and of various kinds. I quickly grew to loathe seeing tweets from certain people because I didn't care if they were going to bed or that their poop was green today.
I was on Twitter overload.
I took a break (after about seven days) and decided to only Twit (or is it Tweet) when I posted a blog. After all, the masses needed to be supplied with a link to my site (note the opportunity for a link) because my posts are hilarious and contain useful information and fun artwork.
Of course, I soon realized that self-tweeting can be selfish tweeting. So now what did I do?
- I write about the Adventures of Mr. Busypants, my 6 year old with autism and I’d like to publish a collection of quirky, funny essays that celebrates in a if-ya-don’t-laugh-you’ll-cry kind of way the busy antics of my son. I use Twitter to find websites of people that have similar interests to mine (i.e. autism, publishing, Christians, teachers, writers) and make good candidates for effective networking.
- I'm slowing the pace. I can't develop connections with everybody, so it's easy to feel like a twUtter failure. For now, I've designated one day a week (maybe two) to spend an hour connecting with 10 or more people I'm following by visiting their websites and commenting or by direct messaging them from Twitter.
- I don't follow someone without first checking out their website. If I like their site enough, I'll subscribe to it in Google Reader so updates are sent to one central location. So if I'm only following someone on Twitter, it's to bookmark them for future reference and occasional communication. If I subscribe to someone through Reader, there's a more authentic connection being made, and I'm not merely pretending to follow this person on Twitter.
- I make an effort to post comments on sites that I read to establish a connection. If the site's material doesn't resonate with me after a while or if that author doesn't reciprocate and they're not interesting enough for a one-sided relationship, I simply unsubscribe so my Reader stays manageable.
- As far as those "I just ate a cookie" and "oh, now, I just ate another one" people who clog my Twitter page with their smiling faces and useless information, I stop following. That's just TIM! Life is too short and nap time is only so long.
- I also don't follow everyone who follows me. If I'm not interested in a follower's niche, I would rather use my time to develop connections with those with shared interest. It's not personal. It's Twitterness.