I’ll be honest: Twitter used to mystify me. I had no idea what people could possibly have to say in only 140 characters. Then, one day, just over a year ago, I joined the Twitter-verse. After a year of connecting with people and making new friends I began to see the beauty of Twitter and how useful it can be.
But that’s just it. It can be useful, or it can be so darn annoying that I want to delete my account and never get back on it. Ever.
Over the past few weeks I have slowly but surely grown incredibly annoyed at certain Twitter practices. At first I thought it was just an annoyance at certain things that certain people do, but then I realized that my annoyance ran much deeper.
Twitter, like Facebook and other social media, I believe, is a tool to connect people and keep them in touch. However, if we use them solely or even predominately for our own gain then I fully believe we are missing the point. We forsake followers for actual relationships. Do I want to increase the number of followers I have? Do I use Twitter and Facebook to market my book? Of course I do. But if my whole point is to market my own ideas and my own projects then I’ve missed the point entirely.
What’s the point?
The point is to form relationships and connections. Whether I have 2.3 million followers or 2 followers makes no difference. How I interact with them does make a difference. Quality over quantity, folks. What’s the point of tweeting a “thanks” for the 17,000 people who just followed you (and tagging them in all of the tweets) if you never connect with them beyond that thanks? And what about the people who already follow you who now have to scroll through ten pages of tweets thanking your latest and greatest followers?
What’s the point of asking a question of your followers if you never engage with them through their responses? I get that 140 characters is small, but in my time on Twitter so far, I’ve seen what a difference those 140 characters can make…if you use them wisely. My twitter followers are the sole reason that the book has page numbers. They were a pain in the butt, but when I asked my followers if they like a book better with page numbers their responses and reasons were overwhelming, and we were able to dialogue about the benefit to other features a book could and should have. Connections were made and it was, and is, beautiful.
Tweeting about how you are 17 followers away from 500 followers and asking people to follow you does virtually nothing (pun slightly intended) for forming actual relationships. Tweeting a verse of scripture or an inspirational thought can. Tweeting about how you’d like to give a cyber-hug to all of your totally rad 7,524 followers does little to increase holiness. Asking your followers how you can pray for them when you go to adoration or Mass (and actually praying for them!) can.
If you feel the need to write most or all of your tweet in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS just to get people’s attention, then maybe we are doing something wrong. Sure, you can blame it on the massive amounts of blogs or information that are thrown at people, or you can look inside yourself and see what you can do to grab people’s attention without cyber-shouting at them. Besides, every time we point the finger at someone else to blame for people’s lack of attention, there are three fingers pointed right back at us (try it!). Furthermore, wouldn’t you rather let your work (book, blog, pictures or anything else) speak for itself and spread organically, than resorting cyber-yelling and trying to shove your ideas in people’s faces?
What’s my point?
Sure, you can increase your Twitter or Facebook following. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing my following grow and word about the book spread. Twitter and Facebook have been highly instrumental in my marketing strategy for the book. But if I have 10,000 followers but never interact with any of them on any kind of personal level, then what is the point of having 10,000 followers in the first place? Call me old fashioned, but even when I’m limited to 140 characters I’d rather have quality over quantity, both in my followers and the people I follow, and in what I’m tweeting.
In essence, this is the same message that Saint Paul wrote about when he wrote to the church in Corinth:
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1
Our latest blog post may have been written in angelic tongues. Our increase in Twitter followers may be the stuff of legends. But if we do it without love, without seeking to serve Him first, then we are a resounding gong and a clashing cymbal. To paraphrase Saint Paul, if we tweet in inspired words and wise keystrokes, but do not have love, we are a meme no one understands or a passed over thought. So speak, tweet and Facebook in human angelic tongues…but do so with love.