Monday, October 8, 2012

Quality vs. Quanity: Or why mass following on Twitter may not be the best strategy

As promised, today's post is about Twitter. And since it's a week late, I've had a little bit of extra time to think through it. But before we get into Twitter, let's talk about friends.

I've always been pretty good at making friends. But the trick is keeping them, finding the ones that stick forever. When I look back at the biggest friend-making events of my life (high school, college, work), I realize I have a handful of friends who were, at the very core of everything, real. Those are the people who are still in my immediate circle of friends.

With these friends joys and heartaches are never solitary endeavors. We're not afraid to cry or laugh or sing or dance together. We share recipes, stories, style ideas. We talk like friends, because that's what we are.

Also, real friends = the best memories

Now think about Twitter. What is it? It's a form of social media. Social media. It's not some platform for you to use only to push out messages about yourself, your blog, your book. It's a place to engage. To make friends.

I see so many writers with thousands and tens of thousands of followers. But then I look at how many people they're following, and nine times out of ten it's more. Why is that a problem? Because there's just no way to engage that many people on Twitter. And unless you're Lady Gaga or Beyonce or Maureen Johnson (yes I just put her up there with those pop stars), they probably aren't paying all that much attention to your Tweets.

I'll say it again:  They probably aren't paying all that much attention to your Tweets. And if you're trying to use Twitter to build a platform, to show agents: Hey! All these people will read my book! Think again. If you aren't engaging them, if you aren't building relationships, or if you aren't one of the most hilarious people on Twitter, it's not going to work.

So is it bad to do a search for writers and connect with them? Is it bad to follow people back if they follow you first? No. But that's only an initial step in connecting. I don't automatically follow people who follow me. It's the people who include me in Tweets, who try to start a conversation, that I want to connect with. And I do the same to them. Those are people I want to support. Those are people who will support me.

Are you on Twitter? If so, leave your handle in the comments! I always want to support my blog followers.


  1. I couldn't agree more with this post. When I first started blogging and tweeting I was so concerned with amassing a bunch of followers. I did giveaways and was thrilled every time the followers number climbed. And then most of those people never ever commented on my blog again. Some of them stuck around and I feel like I've built up a good rapport with those folks, but as for the others? They only wanted to win a book.

    I've actually found myself caring less and less about these numbers and am just grateful for people like you who make a point of visiting and commenting and including me in your Twitter conversations. That's what matters to me now. :)

  2. I'll be the fuddy-duddy here and admit I've done absolutely nothing with Twitter. I feel like blogging (and blogging well -- I mean like engaging with other people like you say here, holding a real discussion) takes a lot of time. And a lot more than 140 characters :)

    1. Definitely agree--but Twitter is great for those in-between conversations.

  3. I am on Twitter (@AuthorMJFifield). I tend to follow friends and people who make me laugh. And I tend to tweet really stupid things about my day job. But I do it in haiku form. =)

  4. Can I second what Jaime said?

    I'm so much more concerned with the friends that I've made through my blog, reading their comments, and visiting their blogs than I am with my cut-and-dry followers numbers.

    Great points as usual, Liz!

  5. I agree with you and Katy! And I love all the much I've read from your blog so far today :)