What Twitter Taught Me in 11 Months, Three Weeks and Six Days

by Nancy Wurtzel on April 24, 2012

A year ago, I became a somewhat reluctant Twitter convert. Launched in 2006, Twitter already had 300 million users when I joined. Was I simply too late to the party?

I’d long been a Facebook fan. Yet, after spending close to a year on Twitter, I now view Facebook as a family reunion, while Twitter is a crowded, noisy cocktail party held in the Wild Wild West. On Twitter, anything can happen – and often does.

So, how can you tame the big, lively, fast-moving social media platform that is Twitterland? Like any social gathering, there are always some guidelines. Here’s what I’ve learned over the last year.

Jump In.  Twitter is a pretty straightforward social media platform.  To get started, you can find video tutorials online or ask a friend for help.  I suggest observing what others are tweeting and what subjects are trending. However, everyone has to begin somewhere, so just jump in and don’t be afraid.  You’ll get better, faster, smarter with time.  Honestly, you can’t break Twitter.

Twitter Is Not Just About You. It’s about the community.  You’ll have to be informative, generous and entertaining in order to be popular on Twitter.

Follow the Golden Tweet. Not everyone will do the right thing, but be a good example. You will quickly flame out if you constantly attack others, use gratuitous profanity or are boring. On the flip side, when you don’t like what others are saying, then you can ignore or block them. Yes, you’ll encounter irritating and inappropriate people on Twitter, however you’ll also connect with some great individuals who will enrich your life.

Keep It Real. Nothing is more annoying than a person who only tweets quotes — and a lot of them. Another irritant is when someone relentlessly sells a product, a service or themselves via Twitter.  You’ll have more success when you share information, comment, retweet and dole out a few favorite stars.

Be Relevant. Try introducing topics and see if others respond.  Check to see what are others talking about in your area, across the country and around the world.  Make sure you are not passing along urban legends or inaccurate information.  Use humor often.  Mix up your tweets.  Try tweeting without any links or hashtags.   A short tweet is refreshing and it will probably get retweeted more often.

Stay in the Game. If you don’t tweet, you are asking for people to unfollow you. On the other hand, it is just as annoying when people swoop in once a week to post 40 or 50 tweets in five minutes. Twitter is not an intense race with a finish line. Pace yourself, show up and you’ll build a following.

Nobody Likes a Narcissist. “I’m with my hubby at the Park City Grill in Phoenix.” Ugh. Sorry, but you lost me at hubby. Tweets with meaning and substance will win the day. I’ve run across people who have tweeted close to 100,000 times. Do they ever sleep? Do they have a life other than Twitter? Must they tweet everything? Personally, I see it as a bit creepy.

You Are Not a Number. People become obsessed with their followers. That number will invariably go up and down. Tweet and interact with honesty, personality and goodwill.  The followers will come.

Original thoughts and perceptions are what will draw people to you on Twitter.  And, generosity will win you both respect and a dedicated posse.  I’ve had a great time on Twitter and many of my connections have become real-life friends.  If you are not tweeting yet, come join me soon.  You’ll have a great time.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorie Eber May 25, 2012 at 10:50 am

My Twitter account got hacked yesterday. Why would anyone do that?

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Nancy Wurtzel May 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm

The rats. Really…just so upsetting, I’m sure.

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Tammy April 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Twitter for a long time. When one of my blog posts was retweeted by a person “unknown” to me and I instantly received 2 dozen subscribers, I was convinced of its power. I have made friends with it ever since. And, I’m happy to report, I’ve made some pretty strong alliances there. Ones that I respect and nurture. I’m the better for the connections. I’m still learning the lingo, the Twipi’s and such, but I’m a work in progress so why shouldn’t my Twitter be as well. Thanks for sharing!

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hi, Thanks for the comment, Tammy! You are the best. Glad we are tweeps! So, I bought your book and will read it soon!! Hugs to you, Nancy

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Lynda Schrader April 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

I started Tweeting late, too, and I really liked it at first. It is a quick way to keep connected and I met a lot of fascinating people. But as time has gone by, I find it irritating and overwhelming. I like the cocktail party in the wild west analogy. Facebook is so civilized. I can catch up easily. I think I am following too many people on Twitter. I need to weed it out a bit, but I am nervous about offending someone. Crazy,huh!?

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I hear you….better to pace oneself. You can certainly unfollow someone and they probably will not even notice. Thanks for reading!

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Melanie April 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

I was very late to the Twitter party, too. You make great points here. I like checking the twitter stream because it is never, ever dull! Or I guess if one tweet is dull, there’s always the next one.

Have you tried a live Twitter chat yet? Now that was wild. I was scolded by the moderator for not staying on topic! I thought being off-topic was part of my charm.

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:14 am

Hi! Should have mentioned Twitter chats/parties, but can cover that in another post. Yes, I do #wineparty on Friday nights. Just search #wineparty about 8pm Eastern and you will see the stream of tweets. Kit at Blogging Dangerously (she’s a blogger) moderates. No pants required and bras are optional, too. You don’t have to drink wine, but more fun if you drink something! Try it out and let me know…or I will see you there. All nice people. Tx for reading and the comment!

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Melanie April 25, 2012 at 11:27 am

Ha- yes, I had noticed the Friday night wine party from time to time. I’ll check into it one of these weeks. It did look like a fun group.

One of the chats I went to was put on by a publisher– it was interesting, but a bit too serious for my tastes. It’s Twitter, I kept thinking.

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

Exactly!!! Pants optional is more to my taste. Why take it too seriously…better venue might be an interactive tutorial. Tx again!

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Tracy April 25, 2012 at 10:55 am

Great post! I tweeted sporadically (literary info/news) until recently when I started blogging. Now, alerts of my posts are tweeted–guess I need to be a bit more interactive than that :) I’ll incorporate your tips–thanks!

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:15 am

Hey Tracy — wow, thanks for coming to read and for the nice comment. I’ll check out your website. Come back again and tell your friends!

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Nadine Feldman April 25, 2012 at 9:21 am

I haven’t tweeted a whole lot lately except to recommend blogs and so forth because I just completed a long move. I’m hoping to get back into the Twitter stream more now. I was also a reluctant convert, but I really enjoy it.

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:18 am

Hey, Twitter does take time…but I do love it. Tx for coming to read and comment (you are such a faithful reader and I most appreciate it). Warmly, Nancy

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DarleneMAM April 25, 2012 at 5:20 am

Nancy:
Great post! I follow a few people who do what I call kamikaze tweeting…40-50 tweets in five then silence for the next 24 hours! It’s rough to like them! That said, I’m not attached to a computer all day so I do cluster my tweets; I may be walking a fine line and end up not liking myself!
Regards, Darlene

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:17 am

Darlene, Thank you to my new best friend!!!! Hugs to you. Counting the days to BlogHer!

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Odhiambo April 25, 2012 at 5:00 am

I joined twitter three years ago while still in high school but never twitted. I recently linked it to my blog but still i haven’t twitted, yet. But as you’ve said, i will jump in and tweet away my thoughts ;-) Thanks for this…

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Nancy Wurtzel April 25, 2012 at 11:19 am

Give it a try…you will probably have a blast. Honestly, I’ve made some really great connections with other bloggers and like-minded people. All the best!

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