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Getting a Handle on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter confounds me.  Although I’ve never been to a rodeo, I feel like it’s the feisty calf that my cowgirl self can’t lasso.

I have had trouble wrapping my head around this site, and was immediately dismissive of its necessity.  Who cares what Ashton Kutcher is saying about anything?  And pith has never been my strong point, so that 140 character minimum equates to writer’s block for me.

But it’s hung around, and in fact is growing in leaps and bounds, getting harder to ignore.  I had coffee with a Vancouver marketing dynamo, Jennifer Maloney, of Sip Publicity, and she encouraged me to get on Twitter. Her explanation was that Twitter was like one big cocktail party, where you meander around catching snippets of conversation which will occasionally interest you, and some which will not.  Facebook, on the other hand, is more like a barbecue, where you are in the company of those you know personally.

Equating any site on the internet with a cocktail party is music to any SAHM’s ears.  SIGN. ME. UP.

I love the game of cocktail parties, as everyone is ducking and jiving to have an interesting conversation with someone they barely know.   I’ve used the old “I just need to refresh my drink” phrase in efforts to dodge conversations containing the words “projectile vomiting” on more than one occasion.  Conversely I’ve lurked on the outskirts of tight circles discussing shoe sales or juicy tidbits of gossip, straining my ears so hard to hear that I practically fell on top of their cosmopolitans.  Yet my social calendar is devoid of these swanky little numbers.  Could Twitter really fill this crater?

I took a deep breath and created a Twitter handle, although I still had no idea what I should be tweeting about.  The next step was getting a list of followers, because what is the point of tweeting if no one is listening?  I already talk to myself far too much.  Jennifer had recommended looking at lists that interesting people are following.  If you’re interested in yoga, you might follow people who are following Lululemon.  I know, that’s a lot of following for one sentence, but welcome to the Twitter world of tweets.

There are many different people on this social networking site for many different reasons.  Like anything on the internet, watch out for spammers and anyone who tries to tell you how to make quick, easy money, and of course anyone who wants you to take your clothes off.  In fact, it’s really no different from real life; spidey senses should prevail.

As with any worthwhile achievement, the key to Twitter is patience and perseverance.  You are not going gain followers overnight, something that bothered me for a couple of months.   It’s a numbers game, where people generally follow people who have a large number of followers. These people are called influencers, and there is a certain amount of notoriety to be gained from hanging around them.  Exactly in the same way as everyone wants to be associated with the popular kid in school.  We grow, but we never really change.

The Twitter world at first seemed like a strange universe, where people were speaking a language I had never learned, with weird symbols like @, #, RT and DM.  But like skinny jeans, I’m slowly coming around to this fashion fad which seems to be here to stay.

The days of drinking and driving are firmly gone, but drinking and tweeting is encouraged!  Mix yourself a cosmo and join the party.

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  1. January 19, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Fabulous post, my friend! I know next to nothing about Twitter, but in the past day or so, have thought about signing up–as so much up-to-the-minute news in Haiti gets tweeted by journalists who are living on the front lines of a developing story. I’m sure this happens the world over, but I’m discovering it here. I’d love to know more about your tweeting and any more advice you might share with those of us who COMPLETELY ignorant about this stuff–the back bone of social networking, almost.

    • January 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Twitter would be a great way of getting your message out about Haiti, but it will take you time to develop your followers. Get started and I will try my best to help you through the maze!

  2. January 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Fun, informative post, Deanne…it’s pretty much made my decision on Twitter for me: “Pith on it!” I don’t do well at “real” cocktail parties…I think I’ll stick with people I know!

    Wendy

    • January 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. It’s barely for me, but there you go! In an age where time wasting is at a premium, it’s good to make firm decisions about where to spend your time.

  3. January 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Great post! Great enough to make me question my staunch avoidance of joining Twitter since it tweeted onto the scene! If I break my anti-Twitter ways, I will follow you, dear, hands down!

    • January 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Get on Twitter now so you can tweet about your impending book deal in a few months. Seriously.

  4. January 20, 2011 at 3:17 am

    I’m glad you eased into the Twitter scene and have enjoyed it…I’m still a hold out. I never won at popularity contests as a child, so I have no reason to think it would be any different now 🙂 Oh, and me at a cocktail party? That’s a recipe for embarrassment, so I think I’ll stay in my cave a bit longer!

    • January 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      You are not alone; but it’s really not as scary as you might think.

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