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Monday, July 26, 2010


I am a failure at Twitter. Try as I might, I simply can't keep up with with all the tweets. Am I damned for eternity? Is there a Twitter hell for those of us who shame the Twitter Blue Bird of Happiness?

Someone told me that I need to put the people I want to read in a favored list group, and just keep up with those folks. But that begs the question: Why follow people if you don't intend to read their tweets?

Am I missing some subtle social protocol?

I know some of you are Twitter-wise, juggling from tweet to tweet like a short order cook flipping tweet-burgers. How do you do it?

Because of my mega guilt for not being able to follow everyone's tweets, sometimes I go days without signing on to Twitter. It bugs me because some people have really good tweets and I feel like I'm missing out.

keeps me up-to-the-minute on events and for that alone I make the effort, but I feel like I'm losing ground. I need some advice.

How do you handle so many followers? How do you decide who to read?


Marianne Arkins said...

I don't use Twitter for anything but a way to funnel other things onto Facebook. Yes, it's true.

I don't see the point, to be honest.

For LASR/WC/Aurora we get more visits from Facebook than from any other site except Google. I'm very pro-Facebook (but you have to keep away from the games like Farmville that are a total time suck).

Mike Keyton said...

I'm sorry, Maria but I hold to my original view that Twitter is just a waste of finite time. (opinion not stricture) Facebook at least puts everyone's random thoughts and actions on to one page, but even that I find a bit 'busy' / 'bitty' and I'm wondering do I want to know this? In like vein I hesitate to post anything for much the same reason. If you have nothing crucial to say, why say it? It maybe both facebook and twitter are useful platforms, and you do 'meet' people you've otherwise never know...but what is the actual value of a 'tweet' ?

Dru said...

I failed at Twitter, so now I only Facebook.

Linda Leszczuk said...

I'm a Twitter holdout. I do Facebook and Blogs but the whole concept of Twitter just makes me wonder, "Why?"

Marian Perera said...

That's one reason I never got on to Twitter. It's difficult enough keeping up with blog, discussion boards and Facebook while getting enough work done on my writing.

Liz Fichera said...

I'm Twitter-challenged too. Twitter is like being in a room with a lot of people talking but no one really listening.

I log into Twitter every day but I only view the "tweets" that are staring at me in the face. I don't usually go back and read old tweets. It would be a full-time job!

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne, Mike, Linda, Dru, Marian:

I agree, it's a huge time suck, but I can't deny I've gotten some of my best leads from there.

As for Facebook...

Someday I know I'll go to the dark side, but I'm trying to hold out as long as I can. LOL!

Sorry for the quickie response, but I am snowed under big time.

Thanks for all your opinions. I don't feel so bad now.

Maria Zannini said...

Liz: Me too.

Sometimes I scan the list for names of people I know consistently have good intel, but I can't keep up.

KarenG said...

There is absolutely no way to keep up with it. It's frustrating and gives me a major headache. I don't understand those who love it so. And I've noticed that many who have huge twitter followings don't do much with their blogs. I much more enjoy blogging. It's slower paced and more personal.

Krista D. Ball said...

I've landed freelance writing work from Twitter. A friend of mine landed a freelance editing job from Twitter. So, Twitter isn't all that bad.

The trick is to manage your following list. I just can't follow every person who follows me. Otherwise, I miss the important stuff. If you spam me on "Follow Friday" with thanking your 5000 followers individually, I will dump your butt. Sorry. Also, I'll probably can you if you do a Twitter "reading" every weekend, where you tweet from your book. At 140 characters, this is painful.

I think the success of Twitter on a personal level comes down to why you're on it. My partner loves Twitter because he can follow William Shatner (ok, I do, too, but besides the point). I'm there to connect with business contacts and fans. I don't really have fans - mostly just people who owe me money - but I have business contacts (which I pretend are my fans) :)

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: I prefer blogging too.

While I adore that Twitter news is almost instantaneous, my relationships come from the blog.

Maria Zannini said...


I was hoping you'd come on because you do Twitter very, very well.

I don't understand all the nuances in Twitter like Follow Friday, etc. I use it primarily to scope out potential markets or the latest publishing news.

If I should come across some interesting intel I put it on Twitter, but I'm not nearly as good at it as others.

Twitter is useful. I'm just not that good at utilizing its full potential.

Krista D. Ball said...

(Really long comment incoming - you have been warned)

Thanks for the Twitter compliment! I've had two previous failed Twitter attempts before this one.

What I do is talk about the things that I don't want to blog about. I try to keep it roughly 50% personal, 25% my writing, and 25% everything else.

The 50% personal is where I take the funny things about my life and tweet about them. See, if my life was like Maria's, I'd tweet about homesteading. It's incredibly interesting and it would allow you to talk about small things (Found first egg from Sally this morning!) without needing to blog a lot about it. Instead, I'm stuck with messages to my step-children, cats, and the backyard squirrel.

I do talk about writing, my writing, and blogging. Occasionally, I even say intelligent things on the subject.

The 25% everything else is just that. One thing that I do is RT non-writing comments. I tweet about my political views, my thoughts on sexism, abortion, sex, etc. I don't directly comment (if I'm going to talk about those things, I'll blog it and take an open stand where all can see). However, I can RT articles and such that represent my viewpoints (or, my outrage). I indirectly share my thoughts that way.

I see Twitter, from a fan's prespective, as a way to learn about me as a person, and me as an author. To know me is to know my writing. I've had people say "I don't really the stuff you talk about Twitter" (ok, again, these are family members, but the point stands). I'll tell them "then you won't like my writing. Here's someone that you will."

On the flip side, a lot of people have discovered that they like my writing from Twitter. They liked my tweets, they liked my blog, and then discovered that they liked what I write.

I use Facebook differently, using that more like a forum discussion.

I hope that helps.

James Garcia Jr said...

Hello, Maria, and everyone else who has commented.
I was one of those who did not see the point of Twitter either. Who cares what I am doing today, right? Unfortunately, a lot of folks who buy books do tweet, so; therefore, I should find ways to reach that audience. While I am only selling a few books in this newfound career of mine, there are very few things that I can be saying "no" to.
I enjoy the up to the minute sports news; the tweets from some of my fav artists like Train, John Mayer (when he behaves himself) and Sara Bareilles; and seeing what some of the bloggers/writers/readers are doing at the moment in terms of books.
There's a lot of garbage out there, too, unfortunately. I think we just have to take it day by day.
Thanks for the post.

Maria Zannini said...


I know Twitter works as a networking tool because I have found several people--including you--just by seeing your tweets retweeted by others.

It's when you're retweeted (and often) that you realize, 'hey, maybe I need to find out more about this person'.

It's true that while many tweets seem nonsensical and even dull, that is exactly where the cream rises to the top. You can easily pick the interesting people from the boring ones.

Maria Zannini said...

James: Definitely Twitter's biggest advantage is its immediacy.

And the even bigger picture is audience. I am beginning to see a pattern that favors the younger, hipper crowd, those that understand technology.

It's a market of enormous potential, especially useful to YA and techie writers.

Maybe it'll take me a couple of tries to get it to work for me. I haven't given up, but perhaps my answer lies in carving a smaller piece of Twitter so I'm not overwhelmed.

Thanks, James.

jackie b central texas said...

My Blog posts are networked to Twitter as is my Facebook. I use my Tweets to promote you lovely authors and friends blogs who have book giveaways. Found many a new book or author from other's tweets. All these things are the only reason signed up for Twitter, just to use as a networking when I want to Tweet certain tidbits or retweet things for others on my listings and some that I notice that ask for people to retweet. I am only a reader not a writer and unlike a lot of people who seem to live on Twitter I too use it sporadically. Reading my books and playing on my blog and reading others blog posts are much more fun than hearing about some one going to the grocery store or painting their toenails!

So yes and no for me it is a time waster, but only when I want it to be at my own convenience....
jackie ^_^

catie james said...

I'm a twit when it comes to Twitter. Sure, I'll Tweet on occasion, but for me to get too deeply into the "conversation" would just be one more time suck. I keep the account open "just in case" because I know it's a huge marketing tool, but it's really not my bag. I'd also love to delete my FB account, but these days it's the only way to keep up w/family living out of town 'cause nobody picks up the damn phone anymore - ARGH!

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: ...hearing about some one going to the grocery store or painting their toenails!

I really never understood those sort of tweets. I suppose it might be mildly amusing to people who know you, but to the vast majority? I don't think so.

But like you I've found quite a few new authors and books--all due to Twitter.

Maria Zannini said...


I think as long as my mother is alive the family will continue to pick up the phone.

My extended family likes Facebook though. Which means I'm doomed when my mother kicks the bucket.

Fortunately she's as healthy as a bull.

Lynn Colt said...

I'm a failure at Twitter too. I joined because my friend was going to tweet her trip through spain and I wanted to be able to comment. Now, I follow like four people, but rarely log on. Maybe if I got an iPhone or Droid I'd tweet more often ...

Maria Zannini said...


Hmm...I have a Droid. I thought about adding Twitter to my apps but haven't done it yet.

I have to admit, the really nice thing about the Droid is that I am NEVER without reading material. It is much easier to catch up on blogs in between waiting for this or that. I feel as if my time is better utilized.

Maybe I'll add Twitter to the Droid and see if I like it. I probably won't tweet from my phone for the same reason I don't comment on blogs off the phone. I don't like pecking at that tiny keyboard, but reading is no problem.

Thanks for the idea, Lynn!

Anonymous said...

I just consider Twitter as a conversation I can peek in on from time to time. I know I am occasionally missing good stuff that happens when I'm not logged in, but you can't be everywhere. It sort of like dropping into the coffee shop and catching up with local gossip. If the right person is there at the same time you are then you might get some invaluable bit of news. If not you then you rely on your network of friends and hope at least one of you will hear the news and share it, via retweeting, blogging, facebook, or personal email, depending on the type of news.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: coffee shop

This is a good analogy. I understand now why some people retweet their own tweets so often.

People miss things all the time.

Thanks, Charlie.

Anonymous said...

I also fail at twitter. I feel your pain. I have an account and never ever use it. Maybe we're not failures, but revolutionaries!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I really like Twitter since I downloaded Tweetdeck--it helps me keep up with people if they've responded to my tweets or mentioned one of my tweets so I don't miss as much.

MaryC said...

Maria, I think of it pretty much like Charlie described. If I have time, I check in. When I do check, I click on my good friends' names to see what they've been up to.

Then there are the saved searches. I love them. For example, I tend to join in the #1k1hr hashtag. That's a way of me committing to writing and knowing there are other people out there doing the same thing at the same time. That may not matter to a lot of people, but for me it's an incentive not to give up if the writing is tough. They're sort of my cheerleaders. Same with #amwriting

Right now - and all this week - I'll be following the #RWA10 hashtag and I'll pick up all sorts of fun stuff from the conference in Orlando.

I think the key to not letting Twitter rule (or ruin) your life is to use it rather than be bound by it. If I miss something, no big deal.

Maria Zannini said...


Ref: revolutionaries

I love this! Now I'm going to have to make a costume to match.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: You're another one who's really good with Twitter.

I'll take a look at Tweetdeck later and check it out. Thanks!

Maria Zannini said...


Saved searches? How do you do that? Interesting...

MaryC said...

There's a search button in the right hand margin. When you search for something, you'll get a list of all the tweets with that topic that will say Real-time results for (whatever topic you searched). To the right of that is a little green circle with a + sign that prompts - Save this search. If you do, it will appear in that right column under under saved searches and you just click it for updates.

For example I have #RWA10 and #notatrwa saved so if I click them, I get all the conversations and I can read as many as I choose.

Hope that was clear.

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: search

That's brilliant, Mary! Thank you!

Mike Keyton said...
Thought you might find this article interesting