Four weeks ago, I created a Twitter account so that I have a social media presence for my writing business. As such, I’m using it to follow writers, publishers, general writer-y things, and a few mindset positivity accounts for good measure. I am cultivating a dream, after all! Whilst I do have a personal Twitter account, I barely engage with it other than for the occasional tweet about my thoughts and for asking Stagecoach Bus to check if a bus is actually running so I can make it to work. I rarely scroll or engage with communities etc. so it’s been a generally great experience to use it with a purpose and interact with like-minded people. But I can’t help feeling that sometimes, I’m stuck between two different Twitter worlds.
1. It’s a great platform to connect with people across the world
Being on Twitter has enabled me to interact with people all over the world. I like that it doesn’t feel weird to follow or interact with somebody that I’ve never met, and we can chat and engage about mutual interests. I like to engage with people – whether that’s to debate, talk or ask and answer questions, so it’s wonderful to be able to do this with people I’ve never met straight from my phone. I also like that people are free to ask questions and get support from a community we’d otherwise be non-privy to and there seems to be a great community vibe. It’s probably my favourite thing about Twitter so far.
2. There are some really talented writers
This was, of course, something I knew, but being on Twitter has enabled me to see them more clearly and appreciate their talent. I love reading others’ work and there are some real diamonds that I wouldn’t otherwise know about if I hadn’t found them via Twitter. I enjoy the fact that I can openly read and engage with other peoples’ work and I have even found some accounts that provide writing training and educating, so I suspect I’ll benefit in the long run, too. These people also seem really open to supporting others and I’ve had a lot of engagement and offerings of assistance, guidance and feedback. I like this side of the community and find it different to the world of my personal Twitter, where I follow a vast mix of people, but where the atmosphere is generally quite negative and there seems to be constant arguing or griping. I utilise my writing account in a somewhat different way, so it’s naturally little more positive because I’ve created a feed of writing-related things.
3. There is a follow/follow back etiquette
This is one of the things I found really confusing at the start. Some people only follow others to be followed back, and if this doesn’t happen, they unfollow. This was quite strange to me initially as I couldn’t really grasp the concept or the point. Why follow in the first place if you’re only going to unfollow? Are people following others because they’re genuinely interested and then hoping for a follow back because that’s an unwritten rule? Or are people only following others to receive a follow back? And is it essential to follow back? And do numbers really matter? So many questions!
I’ve heard and now witnessed first hand, that some people spend time following a vast amount of accounts and when they follow back, they unfollow. Or when they don’t follow back, they unfollow. I had somebody this week follow me for a little while, I didn’t follow back (because I wasn’t really interested) and they unfollowed. This made me wonder, am I being rude? Or is it just a numbers game and nothing personal? I’m sure that this is Twitter basics 101, but it surprised me that people would behave like this. Obviously, there are some people following people just because they want to, but it was interesting to observe nonetheless.
Could I say the word ‘follow’ any more times in one paragraph?! Jeez, let’s move on.
When I joined Twitter, I thought writers lifts were a way of sharing mutual interests – for example, somebody might post about a mental health blog, and then everybody contribute any recent posts they’ve written about mental health. I liked the idea that there’s a common theme and I can read content that I’m interested in. With this in mind, I’ve tried out the whole concept by tagging #WritersLift in some tweets. But my tweets don’t seem to get much engagement from it, and I’m not sure if I’m using the hashtag correctly or that my content is simply not of interest!
5. Everyone is addicted to coffee and defined by their Harry Potter house
So often now, I click on a person of interest’s profile and their bio is as follows:
Writer – Hufflepuff – don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.
I had never noticed it until I started this account (though I suppose I wasn’t really actively seeking writers to follow), but I think the majority of writers must be huge HP fans. It makes me think of the olden days back when I was a teenager (a whole 14 years ago!) when the bio you’d put on a chat room (remember those?!) would consist of your age, sex and location, abbreviated to the more commonly-known acronym – ASL. My reply would be ’14-F-Liverpool’, but I think the 2020 version would be 29, (insert Harry Potter house here), addicted to coffee. And yes, as you may guess from my inability to place myself in a house, I have never gotten involved with the Harry Potter hype, but I sure as hell notice it more than ever now! I guess I missed a trick there. Still, an observation nonetheless and maybe encouragement to one day read the Harry Potter series. I do, however, adore coffee – I think it’s one of life’s greatest blessings, but never one to join the masses, I’ll probably leave it out of my bio for now.
Similar to point three, one thing that I’m noticing is that so many accounts seem to be purely about followers and boosting numbers. There are accounts whose tweets are purely asking for followers, or stating that nobody ever engages with them and they might delete Twitter (at which point people engage with them), or sharing their monthly goals which are to gain followers or get X amount of comments or replies. This is all fine to me and each to their own, but the part I don’t really like is there seems to be a concept of ‘follow for follow’ and ‘reply for reply’. If I engage with somebody it’s because I want or feel compelled to, not because I want any engagement back on my own stuff. Similarly, it feels strange to me to just comment on somebody’s work because they may have commented on mine? I like to read things, but that doesn’t mean I always want to comment on it. But, again, am I being rude?
Overall, Twitter has some great positives for somebody like me who’s trying to learn more about a career in writing and really, the art of writing in general. I’ve enjoyed my use of it so far, and I’m enjoying interacting with people. So I think I’ll stick around for a little longer.