(A couple rules to up your success with social media and increase your followers.)
Twitter, I think I love you. Like more than a friend.
I have a confession, I read all of your tweets. Yes, if I follow you I read all of your tweets. I don’t follow 4,531 people then put you in a list of “good people” then secretly follow 60 of you. Sorry to break it to you, but just because someone follows you doesn’t mean they read all of your work, you are probably in a “list”. Do you really think President Obama reads all 600,000 tweets from the people he follows? You can argue that’s not the way social media works but that’s how I use my account. It was once tweeted that: “Facebook makes you hate people you already know. Twitter makes you love people you’ve never met.” I only follow people that I love to read about and I think that makes it all the more special.
With Facebook you are constantly barraged by your friend’s pics of instagrammed latte art, how bad their day was, or the ever cryptic hey look at me “people suck”. For the most part people don’t “suck” but their writing ability does. Thirty years ago you used to have an editor or a book agent to have a voice in the world but now with the Internet any one feels like they can comment on anything no matter how mundane their thought is. Your every thought and every move is not worthy of being published.
With Facebook you make your own universe of friends and pseudo-friends. With Twitter people create a reality of people you want to be friends with. Comedians, writers, or people that tweet about your similar interests.
I’ve written down my rules for Twitter before and how I use the platform. I don’t expect people to do what I do but I do generally follow people that have a similar writing style. If you want to boil it down to two general rules it’s:
2) Be entertaining to a complete stranger
The first one is easy to accomplish if you catch yourself doing it but it deserves it’s own category because it’s so often abused. The second rule is a little more elusive though. Generally no one but your mom is going to care when you check-in places otherwise they would be your foursquare friend. Telling people what you are eating/cooking right now is self-indulgent. Constantly posting links to articles, RT kudos sent to you, and digital condolences are also selfish. No one is going to click on your instagram photo unless you provide context. And as followers what are we supposed to do with vomited thoughts like “Mondays are crazy man”, “Ugh I hate traffic”, or “home run Phillies!”. How are we supposed to respond to that? No one cares about these things but you. This is social media so be social and engage people.
One of my other favorite quotes is “you don’t write a tweet, you compose a tweet”.
Most of my jokes on Twitter go through a draft process so I can figure the proper syntax and meter for the punch line (yes comedy has a rhythm). Your followers subconsciously notice these tiny differences and it makes a difference in the long run. As random as they appear to be, I would be willing to bet Twitter king @robdelaney or Twitter queen @kellyoxford do the same thing. If you want to read self-absorbed poorly written garbage tweets you can follow celebrities like Snooki or Khloe Kardashian. People that are “good” at Twitter usually have a method to their madness. You follow people on Twitter because you have an emotional attachment to them. You know them in person, they entertain you on TV or in movies, or maybe they make you laugh. To gain and keep your followers make them feel an emotion. Take a minute to draft something before you share it, consider the consequences or if it’s even a worthy thought, and then hit “send”.
So it’s not a personal attack on you when someone unfollows you and it’s horrible poor form to call them on it when they do. They elected to follow you in the first place and they are completely within right to do the opposite probably because of something you wrote (or constantly poorly wrote). This isn’t an attack on you as a person because I’m sure you’re a very neat-o super cool IRL but maybe your writing ability just doesn’t match that. I’ve dated women I wouldn’t even follow on social media. Just because I love you in person doesn’t mean I’m going to love or want to hear your every thought. And that’s ok, your writing ability is also something that can easily be changed by just being mindful of what you write.
If someone does unfollow you though you can’t tie your ego to it because it truly means nothing in the grand scheme of things. I lose followers all the time and I can’t/don’t let it affect me. I don’t obsess over websites that tell me “this person unfollowed you” because it’s impossible to write a joke without offending somebody and I realize my humor isn’t for all (but let’s be honest, how high brow do you think tweets will be from a guy named @foodlatio , NOTE: Now @BackleyChris ).
So why obsess if a complete stranger follows you or not? Just keep doing your thing but above all, be engaging.
[Photo: The Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas that signifies the middle of Route 66]