Sunday, July 3, 2011

IT'S TWIT TO BE SQUARE











Whenever I mention Twitter in conversation to my friends or husband, they all kind of look at me a little blankly.  It’s like I’ve chosen Swahili on the DVD language selection and they can’t quite work out  what in the fuck I am talking about.   As an aside, I wonder if anyone actually does choose a language other than English to watch a DVD in.  You know, just for shits and giggles.  Or just so they can hear Hayley Joel Osment tell Bruce Willis that he sér dautt fólk in Icelandic.  Once again, I digress....




I don’t really talk about Twitter with my husband.  Mainly because I think he perceives it to be a giant pickup joint. This of course is coming from the guy whose sole use of the internet is to Google tits, but if we do discuss it, the conversation goes something like this;  “So, you are talking to strangers?”  Um yeah, I guess I am.  “And they are just there like right now, waiting to talk to you?”  No, not waiting for me per se, they are just on line at the same time. “How do you know they aren’t serial killers?” Well, that I don’t. But I’m not entirely sure the mad woman next door doesn’t have a sharp axe with my name on it either, so we are taking chances everyday. “What do you even talk about?” Well everything. And nothing.  




And  granted, twitter is really hard to explain.  The best I can come up with  is that it’s the Watercooler of the here and now.  It’s where everything and nothing happens.  It is used to discuss issues that are happening right now. The television program that is on, right that very minute, can be dissected and debated.  It is  used to ask for advice and recommendations.  It is the place I find out about breaking news, in fact, often before most of news organisations on TV.   




It is also the best way to find your tribe, the people you have stuff in common with, whatever that may be.  Writers, readers, scientists, people who knit, sports enthusiasts, atheists, mothers, labor/liberal/green/independant voters,  people who live close by, you name it, you will find your like minded kin on Twitter in a way you never could have before.  Twitter is always on.  Something is always happening. And basically there is always someone there to make contact with no matter where in the world you are, or how alone you physically may be.   




I have seen firsthand how it promotes authors and their work.  How when they immerse themselves and actually get involved with their readers, it increases sales, respect and immediate feedback.  Kylie Ladd (@kylie_ladd)  made the comment today that when she released her first fiction novel, After The Fall, the silence was deafening.  This time around, with her new novel, Last Summer she has had immediate feedback from buyers and readers.   Kerri Sackville (@kerrisackville) is another Twitter success story.  Kerri, a writer who started with a popular blog, wrote a book and through her on line presence, has used twitter to both connect with her readers and gain new ones.




And if Television networks are in any way smart, they will be paying attention to Twitter.  The appraisal of a television show has never been more accurate.  The reviews are immediate and honest.  Q and A (ABC) and Masterchef (Ch 10) are two perfect examples of the media crossover. 




The same applies to advertising.   For instance,  Coles, here’s an idea, check out the opinions on Twitter to see how you new  Down, down campaign is coming along.  Heads up, people freaking  hate it with a passion and some are actively boycotting your stores as a result.



Politics are constantly being discussed on on Twitter and even though I dream of world where we can all just get along, I know by watching my twitter stream that is just me living in fantasyland.  From what I can make out, right now in Australian Politics we have two major political parties governing by self-preservation.  Changing and tweaking their policies to popularity and Polls and forgetting to actually just get along with oh, you know, running the fucking country. 




And the mood of the voters is so easy to access on Twitter.  In fact I know this works.  I know when I wrote THIS,  and it was tweeted, the Premier of QLD read my Open Letter and we corresponded directly by phone and email soon after. That would never had happened pre-Twitter.  It just would not have.  




Twitter has been the reason anyone has paid me for my writing. But, I guess more importantly than any of that, it has led me into legitimate friendships.   Ones I truly count as very special.  Which I know, if you are not someone who uses the internet,  sounds naff, but it is incredibly true.  




To be honest, if you are reading this blog, upselling Twitter is preaching to converted.  I have found they go hand in hand.  I started my blog very soon after I found Twitter.  Some find it the opposite way around, but they certainly find that one compliments the other.  And if I’m being completely honest I should tell you I signed up to Twitter and didn’t touch it for 12 months.  I had no freaking idea how it worked.  I looked at the blinking cursor and the empty box and wondered what on earth I was supposed to do.  So I did nothing .




I’m guessing boredom is what brought me back.  Or perhaps I heard someone talking about it. Either way, I signed back up, followed a whole heap of celebrities (you do this at first, but I’ve got to say, I much prefer the everyday people in general) and local radio/television personalities.  Then I simply waited for people to follow me back.  I “tweeted” funny observations.  I “tweeted” people back when they asked questions or said something I could relate to.  And just over 2 years later, I am unequivocally  hooked.  In fact, I recently appeared in this publication as one of the 500 people you should follow on Twitter.  As an “everyday” person.  That’s either really cool or really sad.  


I'iiiii am everyday people





Best advice, give it a go.  Don’t use it solely as a place to promote yourself  as a business if you’re not willing to get a little bit personal and have some fun.   Use hashtags.  Hashtags, ideally are used  for topical reasons.  For instance #qanda at the end of a tweet will direct others watching this to find you and your tweets.  The other way is to use them in a smartarse or comical way. Like this:


@Bern_Morley Text from husband: "Hey, want me to grab some shite for dinner?" Well, when you make it sound so appealing. #sure




I asked on Twitter tonight for some advice for newbies.  Here are a few of their answers. 




@RobertHoge Jump right in. It's easier to understand once you start having conversations.


@gilfer Don't believe anything you read. Swear copiously. Don't talk about work, your clients, or your employer.


@zoomosis 1. find funny people to follow, 2. celebrities are (mostly) boring, 3. don't expect to learn how to use it quickly




@YogaJG get tweet deck or some app that allows you to see everything happening on one screen...So the conversation makes sense 


@Skip91 jump right in, it's the only way :)




@KerriSackville Don't tweet drunk. Except if you want people to follow you #loveadrunktweep


@nicmclachlan  bio is more important than avi #ireckon


@MsPraxis  learn what a hashtag is, how to shorten links and post pics


@Lisa_lintern and don't try too hard...just be yourself


@LovelyWife  Talk to people!!


@TheaTweets  Do some searches of your interests...follow HEAPS of people...follow the tweeps of your favourite tweeps! And, tweet a LOT! :)




@melkettle I wrote a blog post about using twitter for biz recently. Happy for you to use or quote or just get ideas! www.melkettle.com.au


And finally:






@LozVox FUCK YOU COLES. HONESTLY




Any advice on Twitter?  Need some advice?

24 comments:

Kevin said...

After signing up on twitter, it didn't take me a year to start tweeting, but it did take me a few months of staring at the cursor and reading tweets before I finally 'got it'.

Great post.

Mrs M said...

My husband got me onto Twitter...and Jayne Kearney. I resisted for so long but here I am. And now my husband makes those smart arse I told you so type remarks about how much I enjoy it.

And the other thing I love is that it gives us opportunity to talk direct to people we admire. And for the most part, they respond.

Love & stuff
Mrs M

Twitchy said...

Twitter's been wonderful for anything from a laugh to broadening my horizons on social issues. I've met fab Tweeps who I would now miss if I didn't catch up with them for a while. PS For the record I like it when people post funny animal pics or kids' quotes.

Nick said...

Bern, I've been trying to write a guide to Twitter that non-nerd people would get, I'm just going to point them here instead. Nicely done.

Tatum said...

love your post! i'm only a newbie to twitter...and I <3 it...the water cooler analogy is perfect. it's what's happening & what people thing, right here, right now. Tatum xx

Kylie L said...

An independent bookshop person (employee? owner?) in Sydney has been tweeting me as she has read 'Last Summer' all weekend. I have never met her (him?) before in my life and quite possibly never will.... but I got to watch my novel unfolding for someone, and to a writer that is like crack.

I love Twitter for soooooo many reasons (one big one being your good self) but right now that's a bloody good one. Another is that I had a tweep to stay in my actual house this weekend, and not only did she not murder me, she made me laugh and talk nonstop for two days (even if she did blog about my naked husband). Yet another is that I'm here online at 12:30am (curse you, Wimbledon and Tour de France double header). In my real world all my friends are asleep, but if I wanted to there would still be people I could talk to on Twitter. I was a reluctant conscript, but am now a complete convert. #okpossiblyaddictbutwe'llletthatpassfornow

Ms Styling You said...

Ah Bern. How timely is your post? My husband - he who has paid me out about Twitter since my first tweet two plus years ago - signed up today. He is a communications consultant and it took him going to a work conference last week to get with the program. Now I'm not sure if I want to share my friends!

purple_cath said...

Shhhhhh Bern!!! What are you doing!! I dont want people I know from IRL on there. Isnt there an unwritten rule that tweeps adhere to - No selling the benefits of twitter? Great post. I wouldnt have "met" you if not for twitter. You make me laugh out loud and snort and so do so many others. You are right about meeting those that have so much in common, its wonderful how it works and those friends are important. Congrats on the mention in the mag I hadn't seen that.
I do though honestly get sick of those who think its a waste of time and roll their eyes when I mention twitter. They just dont get it.
#youknowiloveyou!! PS Im not reposting on fb I dont want family to see the benefits =) XXX

Alison said...

I joined Twitter a couple of years ago and it too took me a while to get the hang of it. I discovered blogging through twitter, via a friend and I've met some pretty interesting people through it. I've found that the more you tweet, the more followers and new friends you meet along the way. I shall look you up on twitter tonight.
Alison x

MsKymOG said...

Love this, love Twitter! And I miss it. Pesky work and life are getting in the way at the moment. Plus all the books I keep buying that are written/recommended by twitter folk. I can't recommend it enough, but only if you want to spend time connecting with people,

propinqua said...

So at the risk of outing myself as a nerd..... (wait, what? You knew that?)

I watched with horror the flooding in Queensland earlier this year - all on twitter. But I was also fascinated by the way both normal people and the emergency services used the power of twitter for good. I am occasionally in the business of bushfire management, and I know twitter will be a total anathema to most emergency agencies (certainly the bushfire ones) - it doesn't really conform to command and control. But if they can get their heads round it (let go a little), there's a massive opportunity waiting.

Really enjoyed your post Bern.

Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

My nana is one of them ones that doesn't understand the internet as she doesnt have it let alone have a pc or mobile.

The best way I explain twitter to her is its like having a combo of snail mail pen-pal and a person you would talk face to face just your doing it via a keyboard.

It's a lot safer then going out trying to meet new friends say in night clubs etc you can get to know them online first then hit the night clubs together.

My nana loves my explaintion & now uses it to her friends to explain what her Grand Daughter does on twitter.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Kerri Sackville said...

I am thrilled to appear in this post, oh Goddess of Twitter. And never tweet drunk #tweetdrunk! #tweetdrunk! xxxx

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Great post Bern! #forshiz

Miss Kate Daily said...

Hi Bern

Like you I joined twitter a while ago, didn't get it, left it, and returned with a bit more of an idea about it and its potential after seeing a social media presentation by @trevoryoung. Still things I don't get how to do - and still wish there was a 'like' button like on facebook! But finding facebook so boring (and slow) in comparison now, and seriously, I have learnt so much about my topic of passion - writing - that's its been amazing. It's helping me grow. So didn't expect that.

Terry said...

Spot on Bern, I like Twitter and didnt understnad until I actually started having a go. Like you, I cannot explain it to anyone. One of my mates still thinks people use it to tell others thay are going to the toilet, and those sorts of things. #goodshit

Jackie K said...

Great post - I am finding more and more people feel the same way about Twitter. I used to scoff at it, then got a bit curious when I read someone say it was their favourite social medium ("why?" I thought - so gave it a go). I loved immediately, though it took me some time to work it out, and I am completely hooked. My advice: don't follow hundreds of people; don't follow too many big names; follow news sites and journos and commedians and some small-to-medium size names. And just do it!! I LOVE Twitter, but apart from my sister who I talked into it and now she loves it too, I can't talk about it to anyone I know as no one else understands it either. I have no interest in facebook anymore, but do check in to respond to and keep up with friends. Just wish they'd follow me onto Twitter!

joeandmaisiesmum said...

Spot on Bern. If, in a parallel universe, I ever wanted my mother to embrace Twitter, this post is where I'd send her. xxx

nikkimoffitt said...

Love this post -
Commentary from my recent birthday celebration - I have one friend here who doesn't tweet but does read my Twitter stream regularly (she's weird I know ;) - I had a cake, they sang Happy Birthday and then I said a about two sentences of thanks. She said -I have to say you're much funnier on Twitter....
My husband who makes fun of my obsession constantly is the first to turn to me and say 'tweet that up' when he makes what he feels is an amusing comment or life changing statement. He also is always asking for the rugby scores - but I can't see he will ever jump on for which I am thankful because my brother, mother and father and even step mother are on there so its nice to have one person who I can hang shit on that won't retaliate because they don't know.

Smudgeblurr said...

Hey Bern,
Great post! I was on FB first then migrated to twitter but i think i followed too many people as it got a bit overwhelming when you would log in in the morning and see 300 missed tweets and i didn't have time to read them!! might have to come back and see what I have been missing...
Wx

Jodi @ The Scribble Den said...

Love Twitter. I joined on my birthday three years ago. (Don't know why my birthday but anyway??). Joined mainly for business purposes and my inquries exploded. I found many new clients via Twitter.
But mainly love the information sharing and the great 'tribe' that I follow and converse with. Actually have been a bit off the radar lately so looking forward to becoming Tweet obsessed again! LOL

bronnie said...

Well, you know that I'm a fan. And I also HATE the Coles ads and have tweeted about them bitterly. Still no tweet back from @ColesOnline though. Sigh.

Picklebug Designs said...

Nope. Havn't gotten the twitter thing yet. Maybe it's because I see my brothers twits through facebook and they all seem like pointless drivel. Maybe I just havn't seen the good twits. Ha!
But I get the husband thing. My husband doesn't even get Facebook, calling them fake people, although they are all people I know!
I don't even try to discuss the blog with him!
Rach

Penbleth said...

Twitter can be tremendous fun, it's worth remembering though that it is also a sort of comedy club for a lot of people so don't always take everything at face value if people seem to be wise cracking a lot. Also, if they DO make a lot of jokes and someone likes them, click on the little star as these go to star collection sites, the most popular of which is favstar.fm which has leaderboards and everything. The more stars the better the jokers feel about themselves. Also, if someone posts something a reader likes well enough to retweet, please hit the built in retweet button rather than doing RT or via. The person gets the stars themselves and it stops the risk of having to shorten the tweet, change the spelling or otherwise alter the original. Saying that, anything is better than posting someone else's tweet as your own. Tooters go a bit crazy when that happens.

Jump in, have fun, write what you want to write, tell some jokes, sign up for favstar.fm if that is your thing. Give out stars and make someone's day.

@penbleth