A few weeks back I posted “To Tweet or Not to Tweet?” It finished, “I still haven’t made up my mind, but I’m close. I guess it’s like swimming, and you have to go ahead and jump in. You could follow me @crottymark to see if and when I take the plunge.” Well, I wouldn’t describe it as an all-out plunge, but I have begun to send out some Tweets. Look to the right and you’ll note a Twitter feed and a link to become a follower. I’m starting to understand the whole appeal.
In that post I also outlined my misgivings. I’m going to insert the list, with each item following by some updated thoughts in italics.
· I don’t want my tweets to be all about me and/or self-promotion, i.e. links to my blog posts (although those are okay provided they are not the total)
I haven’t fallen into this trap at all. In fact, I’ve mainly done promoting of other people’s work. One time I almost sent out a Tweet when a person wrote about an idea I had posted on a year or so ago, but I refrained. It just felt too self-serving and even mean-spirited.
· People don’t need my status updates. Besides, I have enough trouble keeping up with myself.
I sort of violated this one once, but it was in the right spirit. I wrote that I had commented on someone else’s blog because I wanted to draw some attention to the fabulous piece on bicycling by Jonathan Martin.
· I don’t want to be an overtweeter, sending out multiple ones every day.
I think my maximum has been three, and I usually do two. Sometimes none. I’ve also changed my song on this one a bit. I don’t want to send out multiple tweets a day, but some people I follow do so; and since they are good, I don’t mind.
· I often write to figure things out, and I can see myself thinking through an essay to try to arrive at a worthwhile tweet.
I still struggle with this one a bit, but I’m coming to see a Tweet as a brief insertion into a much larger conversation.
· The character limit intimidates me. I have to adopt Tom Peters’ idea that it increases rhetorical discipline.
This has been easier than I thought, particularly thanks to the url shortening feature in TweetDeck. I grow a bit frustrated when I would like to share quotations…and I cringe when I resort to removing letters from words.
· The entire endeavor strikes me as potentially overwhelming.
I’m just very disciplined about how often I check. As I said a few years to someone who saw me ignoring my BlackBerry as it kept buzzing, “I control the Blackberry; it doesn’t control me.”
· Sending out tweets just doesn’t feel like me.
Contrary to what I expected, it does feel like me. I tend to listen and think carefully, then speak briefly. I also like to just put things out there for people to consider.
Beyond that, I’ve discovered a few other things. I’ve written a few times that thoughtful followership can be just as important as good leadership. This principle certainly holds true in the Twitter-sphere. I used to grow very frustrated with Twitter because I felt I received little useful information. But then I began to follow a few different people whose work I know and respect, and I decided to follow a few of the people they were, cutting out the ones who frustrated me. Revolutionary, right? Anyway, now I find the stream of information more refreshing and nourishing. That whole PLN idea really works, and I’m excited how Twitter is adding a new dimension to mine.
I’ve also been reminded of how generous good people can be, as people have welcomed me, replied to Tweets, re-Tweeted. It creates a really nice vibe within the network. That, of course, again means you are linked to the right folks.
I’ve also realized what an ego I can have. Whenever I gain a new follower, receive a mention, am re-Tweeted, I feel that tiny surge of importance and pump of self-esteem. Then after a while I head over to the blog, and if views went up afterwards…three hips and a hooray! Seriously, it does bring a degree of gratification to know that what you’re laying out there for people seems to matter.
Any disappointments? Just one. Early on I replied to a Tweet by legendary management guru Tom Peters. Alas, no response. (And it was a great point.) Maybe it’s just as well. Imagine how my ego might have swelled then.