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So Tell Me: How Do You Use Twitter?

I love Twitter.  It's second only to blogging as my preferred form of social networking.  You'll rarely see me on Facebook, except to accept friend requests and  "like" or comment on the occasional thing, and I don't like Myspace.  
But the problem I have with Twitter is that I approach it too much like blog reading.  I like to follow certain people closely so I can read most, if not all, of their tweets.  This has kept me from following as many people as I would like.  But that list is growing as more people become active on Twitter, and I'm beginning to lose track of tweets anyway.  I hate feeling like I have to be selective!  Until recently, lists seemed inconvenient to me. I have everyone divided up into groups like "writers," "agents," "publishers," etc. and I don't like clicking around from list to list.

Well, I've given it some thought and here are my options (the two I'm aware of):

1) I could make a list of "favorites," as I've seen others do, and lump all my favorite tweeters together.  Since I use Tweetdeck (love!), I could keep my "Favorites" column up next to my "All Friends" stream and follow both.

2) I could subscribe to their RSS Twitter feeds and have tweets come into my reader with all the blogs I read.  Definitely more discreet, but not at all convenient in terms of "real time" following.

What do you guys do?  I see people following thousands and it just boggles my mind.  I'd miss tons and tons of great tweets!  Do they track certain people somehow (lists, a reader)?  Or is it that they simply have a different approach to Twitter?  I saw someone explain Twitter one time like a big party you're stepping in to.  You only know what's going on while you're there and interact accordingly, but I still haven't been able to shake the desire to know what certain people are tweeting all the time.  Does that increase my stalkerishness? Heh... maybe. 

So Tell Me:  Do you use Twitter?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?  If you do, how are you using it?

P.S. The picture will take you to my Twitter page, and if you'd like to leave a link to yours in the comments, please do!)


Shannon O'Donnell said...

I haven't taken the Twitter plunge yet. I'm not sure I can spare the time for another obsession. :-)

MH said...

I have the same issue as you! I don't use any application for Twitter (maybe that's my first problem) and I want to make sure I don't miss any great tweets, I don't follow so many people. Interested to hear what you come up with!

Casey Something said...

Shannon, you probably don't, but I'm still tempted to draw you in anyway. Muahahaha.

Michelle, I think the favorites list is going to be the way to go. I could call it something less obvious so as not to offend anyone. I think it'll work best because I'm using Tweetdeck. I want to be able to follow all the other people too, so I like that I'll be able to have both lists side by side.

Anne R. Allen said...

Somewhere I read that Twitter is like a cocktail party, where you wander through hearing snippets of conversation, and every so often you join in, then move on.

So that's how I do it. I haven't sought out followers, and I don't automatically reciprocate every follow. Sometimes I unfollow people who dominate the conversation or talk about stuff that doesn't interest me. This may not be the best way to build "platform" but it's the only way I can manage.

storyqueen said...

no time = no twitter.

It is hard enough to find the time to read all the blogs I want to. I can't imagine (with my job AND writing) when I could tweet...or read tweets.

And yet, whenever someone talks about twitter, I do feel like I am missing out on something...

Good luck sorting it all out!


Alicia Gregoire said...

I use Twitter to get publishing information and to keep track of certain people. I use TweetDeck to break it up just like Casey does. The only time I have problems is the weekends when I try to remain offline as much as possible. I used to skim through the backlog of tweets, but that would take an hour sometimes.

I think the key with Twitter is not to follow thousands of people, but have a core group based on what you want to use Twitter for. Over time you'll find that certain people rarely tweet and when they do it's BS. Or they only use Twitter to direct people to their blog, which if you follow in a reader, seems redundant.

Anonymous said...

I don't use Twitter and I don't follow Twitter. My brain is too close to exploding as it is. :)

Terra said...

I like Twitter and use it and have and follow about 2500 peeps. Hope that isn't shocking. Lisanowak's comment here made me smile, and to prevent my brain from exploding I am not on Facebook. I prefer blogging to tweeting, it is more personal and I can say more. I have categories on Twitter like humor, authors, garden, Christian, etc. I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter, or I would have no time to write.

Martina Boone said...

I need to check out TweetDeck. I use TinyTwitter on my Blackberry to get the people we follow, but that list was getting overwhelming. What we ended up doing was using the built-in Twitter lists feature and creating lists by subject. That way, when we want to check out what YA/Kids Agents are saying, we just click the link. We did the same thing for YA writers, MG & PB writers, publishers, editors, SCBWI members, etc., and each time we come across someone interesting, we add them to the appropriate list. (BTW, you can also follow a list, so anyone interested in picking up with this can go to @4KidLit and follow.)

I hate not being able to follow everyone, but this way Marissa and I can actually get a better chance of reading what people are saying.

I wish Twitter made it easier to see previous tweets and move from page to page on lists though.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't follow Twitter yet just because I already spend too much time on blogs. It's starting to get overwhelmingg with trying to squeeze time in for writing with working and taking care of my family. If you come up with any advice, I would appreciate it, because sometimes it's taking away from the enjoyment of writing to have so much to do. I think I feel too much responsibility to read and comment on all the blogs.

Deni Krueger said...

I don't Twitter. Facebook is for family. I blog once a week. Writing is my priority now, and if I did the other stuff more my writing would suffer.

Anonymous said...

I adore Twitter. I started out scared stiff of it, now I think it's my favorite online activity. Like you, I wish I could follow more people, but I save it for my favorites. Maybe I should try out tweetdeck!

Casey Something said...

Anne, I think we must have heard the same thing. You just described it better! I like the idea, but I enjoy some people's tweets so much I want to see the all. I wish I had the will power to approach Twitter more casually.

I've also unfollowed people that tweet too much or aren't that interesting, but I don't want to do that anymore if I don't have to. That's why I think this favorite thing will work out good.

Shelley, I don't blame you. I've had to cut way back on blog reading to balance it with Twitter and everything else.

Alicia, I like the idea of having a core group as well. I tend to add people for awhile and see what they're like, so my group is sort of ever changing. I'm definitely developing a group I'll be happy to follow for as long as they're tweeting though. : )

LOL - Lisa. Yes, we don't want your brain exploding. You better stay away.

Terra, it sounds like you're able to follow whoever you like since you're not on much and not trying to keep up with everything and everyone. I do that with Facebook, so I can certainly understand the approach.

Adventures, I really like Tweetdeck. I wouldn't tweet nearly as much if I had to keep a web page open and keep refreshing it. It sounds like you do really well with lists!

Natalie, I know what you mean about blogs. I hate to admit it but I've had to cut my blog reading waaay back. I'm trying not to feel guilty about it, but I enjoy Twitter enough that I'm making room to balance the two.

Deni, you're probably really smart. Sometimes I wish I'd never gotten sucked into the black hole of social networking! But I do love it. *sigh*

Wen, you should try out tweetdeck! A favorites list would be absolutely easy to manage in and it would sit right alongside "all friends" and "mentions." The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Way more sense than subscribing to a bunch of feeds. There are one or two tweeters I might do that with but for most of them, I don't think it's feasible.

Thanks for chiming in, everyone!

Elana Johnson said...

I do tweet, but I'm a hit-and-miss girl. I try to respond to every person who @'s me. Then I might lurk for a few minutes, see something someone said and engage with them.

That's it.

I don't stalk. I don't use anything but the web (shocking, I know).

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the #yalitchat on Wednesdays, which is the main reason I signed up for Twitter.

Beth said...

I sampled Twitter early on, was unimpressed, and haven't gone back. I found that too much of what was being written was stuff I didn't really need to know. Probably I'll try again at some point but, like others have said, it's difficult enough balancing my family, my writing and the rest of my life. It's easy for me to get distracted at the computer, and I try to remind myself every time I sit down why I'm really sitting here. It's all about the writing!

Heather Kelly said...

I think you've hit on here why I don't like to twitter. I don't like coming to the party halfway through. I don't like the feeling of missing what was said before, so feeling like I don't understand what is being said now. I'm a big picture kinda gal.

I have a twitter account, and have tweeted once, and abandoned the poor thing. I don't think I've updated my facebook profile in months :) I think I will end up doing twitter, but it will take me more time, and I'm not willing to spend it now.

Unknown said...

I tweet sometimes, but I'm mostly a lurker.

Scott said...

For the most part, I don't. I think about it, but just don't do it.

Unknown said...

I don't use Twitter. I signed up for it and read the #YALitChat transcripts but don't participate in them. I love blogging and FB but don't have time right now for anything else -- I'm trying to finish my next book and that's where my spare seconds are going.

Stina said...

I like Twitter for finding great blog posts and contests. I don't follow conversations very often. Too difficult. And I tend to read the messages of the avatars I'm familiar with. So if you retweet something and it's not your avatar, I might not read it.

I have a facebook account but I rarely use it. My blog is linked to it, and I get private group message through it, but that's about it.

Beth said...

One of the biggest boosts to my writing career was reading The Artist's Life by Julia Cameron and doing the weekly program. No exercise was harder than the week we had to give up reading. Give up reading? For a week? I thought I'd die. But what it taught me was that I filled a lot of time that could be spent writing, with reading instead.
You may want to take a deep breath before you read this, but have you considered a twitter-free week? Especially given your Monday post: maybe it's that free space that your mind needs right now. Just a thought....

Kourtnie McKenzie said...

I've heard Twitter is amazing stuff, but I haven't been able to get into it... for the same reasons you mentioned, it's hard to follow too many people! And I feel like if someone follows me, and they're not just out to commercialize I product, I am obligated to follow back.

Kate Evangelista said...

Same here. I don't have a Twitter account...yet. One day!

Brigid N. Burke said...

Hmm, well I do use Twitter, but probably not as effectively as I could. Some posts are personal, some are about my writing--new blog posts, new publications, etc.

Those Twitter feeds that I've seen that appear to be the most successful are 1. updated several times a day, 2. funny and/or interesting in some other way, and 3.regularly re-tweeted, or part of a "follow Friday" (#ff) by someone with a lot of followers. In my own feed, I have a lot of trouble with the second one!

Oh yes--and if you want to follow me, my Twitter page is at http://twitter.com/brigidnburke



B.E. Sanderson said...

Ack. I'm staying away from Twitter. I used to be a chat-addict, and I just know I'd get addicted to Twitter, too. I'd get on and never get anything else done ever. They'd probably find me wasted-away in front of the computer, drooling on myself.

Casey Something said...

Elana, I love #yalitchat, but recently it has seemed like a waste of time for me. Only rarely do I learn something I didn't know. Plus the chat happens at 6 in Cali, which is usually when my husband gets home and we do dinner. Not a great hour for me! The conversation is certainly interesting though! Love the comradery.

Beth, I didn't like it when I first signed up. It confused the heck out of me, but I kept lurking on and off and eventually got sucked in. I think it's a great networking tool but I suggest only using it if you like the platform.

Heather, that's totally understandable. Sometimes it's frustrating to see people talking about stuff when I have no idea what it is. Some people are also very cliquey with their friends. I find the best links on there though! That's my favorite part.

Am I following you Kay?

Maybe one of these days you will, Scott. If so let me know!

That's awesome Kristi! It's great that you know your limits. Sometimes I don't think I do!

Stina, I find a ton of great blog posts and contests on Twitter as well. Love that.

Beth, I didn't tweet at all during my week at my mom's house. I didn't even check Twitter, I don't think. It was nice. I'll admit, I didn't miss much, but I did miss having the connection to my friends.

Kourtnie, you have to stick to the platforms that are most comfortable for you. So if Twitter's not your thing, don't force it!

When you get one, Kate, follow me and I'll follow you back.

Brigid, I mix personal and writing as well. I don't think I'm particularly interesting either. I certainly tweet more for me than anyone else. I like throwing my random thoughts out there into the world. I have to be careful though. Sometimes I forget I have agents and other industry peeps following me. : /

I'm following you now!

Good for you B.E.! Chat addiction is rough.

So, I decided to create a favorites list and give that a try. Turns out you can make your lists private. How awesome is that? So, using tweetdeck, I now have my favorites (Elizabeth Law, anyone?) next to all my friends and can keep an eye on everyone. Love it!

Christina Farley said...

I really like Twitter actually but I don't use it as well as I think I could. I don't have a phone with access to internet and all the lit chats are either when I'm sleeping or working. But it's still very imformative. I followed you!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Twitter... my love-hate time-suck of choice. I use it to goof around, mainly. I pimp my blog posts, and those of friends. I tweet utterly random things, mainly amusing myself, but possibly amusing other people. I get involved in silly conversations, and VERY occasionally serious ones. I threaten my literary nemesis. (Sure I have one. Don't you?)

Most of the time, however, I duck in, see who's around, and duck back out. Certainly I have my favorites, the people who consistently entertain, but I don't stalk them, per se. It's the cocktail party I drop in on to spout witticisms, converse with a few folk, then run off. And boy, is it addictive...!