To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question…

I took advantage of downtime over the fall and Christmas to write a couple hundred pages of my third manuscript. Good thing, because this is the first weekend in two years where I didn’t have time to write a single word on my book.

Since mid-August,  despite switching from law to real estate and working hard to build my new career, I’ve managed to find the time to write and to post a new blog entry almost daily. That hasn’t been hard to do.  Until this weekend.

I worked hard on a listing – helping my clients clean and declutter, getting the house staged, while working on an offer for another couple who are also friends of mine.

I had great intentions of writing at least a chapter or two.  But nada. Not a word. Because of my working life?

No. It’s Twitter that’s killing me. My time gets sucked into that open hole – whole minutes vanish down the constant stream of random noise and news and quickly turn into hours.

It makes me wonder: does Social Media like Twitter really add anything to marketing and networking in return for that investment?

One author says ‘no.’ He says that if you want to find him, forget Twitter and Facebook, read his book. (On the other hand, he had 5,000 friends on Facebook, which really means he had none.)

But that’s kind of how I feel about Twitter. I find Facebook intimate. Twitter, on the other hand, is like wandering around a market in Bangladesh, trying to find someone who speaks English.

One of my pals (on FB and Twitter) says you use Twitter for notifications, not conversations. But I don’t want to ‘notify’ people of what I’m doing unless they’re friends of mine. I like FB because I actually get to know people there. We even do stuff in real-time together. On Twitter, we’re just, well, tweeting.

I don’t think I ever would give up Facebook, but unlike Twitter,  I control who I communicate with there. Twitter, on the other hand, is jam-packed with strangers who post things I feel obliged to read because they show up in my feed.  

Anyone’s thoughts? I’m tempted to de-tweet or re-tweet (retweet but nevew suwwenda) or whatever the proper term is for closing a Twitter account. Because my time is precious, limited, and otherwise committed, and this new media is taking a whole more of it than I expected.

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7 Responses to To Tweet or not to Tweet, that is the question…

  1. Denise says:

    Hi Peggy. I’ve struggled with Twitter being an effective tool for me as well. But then I found one of my favorite authors on Twitter and it changed my mind. She’s an international bestselling author author and she finds the time to send personal answers to readers. The first such answer I received sent me over the moon.

    I also follow a newer writer who is wonderfully funny and charming. I enjoy her Tweets immensely and have, as a result, bought two books from her back list.

    I believe what Twitter offers is the opportunity for your reader to feel you’re accessible, but part of that too is reader demographic. For me, my readers will expect me to be on Twitter, and so I’ll oblige. With the reader experience extending far beyond the book itself anymore, I imagine I’ll try a variety of social media resources well through publication before I determine whether or not each one is a success or failure. Good luck making your decision on whether or not to keep Tweeting or to fly the coop.

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  2. Beth McColl says:

    I think I might be that pal Peggy refers to…

    I use Facebook mainly for personal, social contact, and yes it’s a great vehicle for contact and conversation, generally sharing stuff with your friends. Peggy and I are college buddies, and had been completely out of contact for more years than either of us would care to admit! Facebook brought us back in touch. But I have decided to be on Twitter in a business context. I sell travel, so while I sometimes tweet or re-tweet an opinion, many of my tweets are about something I’m promoting that day. My ambition is to have all my customers follow me on Twitter, and thus have instant access to my travel ideas and specials, and of course to entice new customers not only with my own scintillating tweets, but with the followers (and “followees”) I have, and the stuff I re-tweet.

    That’s hard; takes a long time to build up and a bit of discipline to do well. I find that most people who offer to follow me are people who want to sell ME something, often totally unrelated to travel! I block them unless I think they have some relevance to me and my business. I tend to follow travel companies like Westjet, Trafalgar Tours, Delta Hotels, etc., to keep up to date on what they’re featuring, and on what’s happening — e.g., pulling tourists out of Cairo. Many of them use Twitter very well for that. And of course I follow my interesting friends, like Peggy and our mutual friend @pirateannie. But I’m feeling an urge to set up a second Twitter account for personal friends and pursuits…

    Although it took me a while to “get” it, I now like Twitter. It can be a black hole if you’re not disciplined. But I like logging in and getting a quick rundown on what’s happening in the world I’ve chosen to follow. The trick is to only follow people you are truly interested in! And being an iPhone girl, I don’t allow Twitter to bleep at (distract) me whenever something comes in! For me it’s quite similar to logging into Facebook and running down the status posts. The difference is that it’s much more awkward to have a _conversation_ on Twitter, but I really don’t think that’s Twitter’s intent.

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  3. Leanne says:

    I think that Twitter can be great for authors, both published and aspiring. It can be a great support network and in the last 6 months most (if not all) of the books I’ve bought have been a result of something I’ve seen on Twitter, and it’s introduced me to authors I never would have heard of otherwise. It’s great to be able to engage with people you admire and I love the “behind the scenes” tweets of bestsellers – it makes them seem a lot more approachable. It can take a while to get into though and it isn’t for everyone, but good luck making your decision.

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  4. I think all the social media rob a writer of time. I carve out writing time first thing in the morning and on weekends. But since I’ve been on Facebook and blogging, that time goes to the social network. It often does on weekends too. Yes, I’ve begun to “tweet” but only mildly. I’m not committed to stopping at all the “market stalls.” whereas with Facebook, I like to read everything that comes in — and follow blogs like yours. It’s an hour or two a day. Your blog is always worthwhile, of course!

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  5. Anne Devereux says:

    First, I’m going to shock you all by quoting one of my least favourite authors, Jonathan Franzen:

    “”It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”

    and

    “Every good writer I know needs to go into some deep, quiet place to do work that is fully imagined. And what the Internet brings is lots of vulgar data. It is the antithesis of the imagination. It leaves nothing to the imagination.”

    I can’t get into his writing, but he has a point. The Internet can be a huge timesuck, and that goes for email and Facebook and blogging, as well as Twitter. I actually spend very little time on Twitter – I use it as a kind of gleaning tool, make my mark a couple of times a week, and that’s that. I really really loathe Facebook, I never post anything there, and I follow a select few people that I know in person (with the notable exception of you, Peggy, who I know via Beth and have never met “in real life”).

    It is a fact that all of these new media/social networks can be a dreadful black hole if you allow them to be. It takes discipline to use them strategically and not get sucked into the obsessive checking and re-checking. I do think though, that if you think of them as tools, you can use them to your advantage. For you, Peggy, specifically as a debut author, I think Twitter gives you a platform that will allow you (when your book is finally on shelves) to connect with readers and, more importantly, garner you more readers than, say, a personal Facebook would.

    And to the author who shrugs and says “if you want to find me, read my book” … well. That’s great, but who’s going to read it if you don’t advertise and promote it? Because that’s what Twitter is for authors: an advertising and promotional tool.

    Or you could be like Franzen, and cut yourself off from the Internet entirely …

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  6. Maddy says:

    I certainly think the notification element on Twitter is useful to give people a nudge but then so is facebook too. On the other hand nothing beats switching off the internet completely so you can stay focused on what you’re really supposed to be doing – we could all do with a bit more of that : )

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