Using Twitter the Wrong Way

People tell me I tweet wrong. I use Twitter.com like a bulletin board, mostly posting links to my blogs, sometimes retweeting my publisher’s book links, and occasionally posting links to samples of my books. All that is considered spam, though what I post is closer to ham than spam — it has a bit of meat to it. But of course, it’s all in how you look at it. (Are unwanted posts really spam, though? When you are spammed in your email, you often have no recourse, but if someone posts things you are not interested in at a social networking site, you can unfollow or unfriend.)

Most people seem to post the same sort of things I do, though some are heavy on quotes, some are heavy on retweeting, and others push their agendas (and books) incessantly, posting every few minutes. Yikes.

I once participated in a reciprocal promotion where each of us authors agreed to tweet everyone else’s book links several times a day every day for two weeks. Now that embarrassed me. I felt like a shill, particularly since I had no interest in the books. Still, I try to follow through on my promises, so I tweeted and tweeted and tweeted until I discovered that most of the others weren’t doing anything at all. That was the last time I ever did anything of the sort.

I’ve tried to do different things on Twitter, commenting on other people’s posts, joining in on discussions or starting discussions of my own, but I don’t see the fun in it, especially since few people ever respond. Those who do respond generally know me from Facebook, so it seems a duplication of effort.

So, if I’m using Twitter the wrong way, what is the right way? According to Twitter help, they are an information network, andreading Tweets and discovering new information whenever you check in on your Twitter timeline is where you’ll find the most value on Twitter. Some people find it useful to contribute their own Tweets, but the real magic of Twitter lies in absorbing real-time information that matters to you.” They also suggest that you retweet and reply to other people’s tweets rather than tweet your own, especially those of celebrities you admire.

Truth be told, I often unfollow those who use Twitter “correctly.” I have no interest in “news” in 140 characters. For all the talk about grassroots news and news from the people themselves, most of the news articles that get retweeted into virality originate from the major media.

I also have no interest in celebrities, in pithy sayings, or one-liners. And I certainly am not interested in following private conversations. (Some people use twitter to keep in touch with their friends and families rather than text. Reading those texts makes me feel as if I am at a party where I know no one and no one knows me. Do people have no sense of privacy anymore?)

Hmm. Doesn’t leave much, does it?

I guess I’ll continue to use Twitter wrongly. After all, if anyone doesn’t like what I tweet, they are free to unfollow.