Posting things on Twitter is quick and easy. But is anyone listening? In my case, mostly no. But I still end up with my own scrapbook of things that interested me at one time, in one way or another, a collection of dragon legends. If I want to find them later, it might be easier to look on my own Twitter feed than start over with a Google search.
It's exciting to post something that gets retweeted, a rare red letter day for me. And so far this always comes as something as a surprise to me. At other times I will post something, expecting others will pick up on it, and nothing at all happens. Oh well, try again later.
Sometimes I wonder how some people have so many followers! I looked for Patti Smith on Twitter, as her music, her writing, and her ideas are all very interesting to me. I found her as @pattismith with only 500 followers and one tweet, which promoted her album, Banga. Perhaps she then had second thoughts about this whole twitter thing and went off in another direction.
So someone else came along and started sending out tweets of things Patti Smith has written or said. Whoever came up with that idea has accumulated over 24,000 followers! Wow, those are some long coat tails! And an interesting strategy.
Tips & Tricks to Get More Followers
Before I had ever done much at all on Twitter, I read a long article about a very detailed system that resulted in over 10,000 followers in just one year. Easy and nearly foolproof! But if you read carefully through the labyrinthine steps it suggests, you find it works given that you're starting with 1,000 followers. So I asked him how you get those first 1,000 followers. He didn't have a system for that. Ha ha. He suggested I tweet about things on which I have some expertise, some authority, like Bob Dylan. Well I'm over eighty followers now, many months later. BUT, I've accumulated a lot of dragon legends on my twitter feed in the meantime, so that's something.
Do a Google search for "how to increase engagement on twitter" or "how to increase your followers on twitter" and you get lots of tips & tricks to try out. It occurs to me that a number of these articles were written as part of a strategy for those writers to get more followers on Twitter. I hope I don't sound too skeptical or jaded.
Or make it easy on yourself and just buy a few thousand followers!
Even Twitter itself has recently written its own article on how to get more engagement, which amounts to using more photos, videos, quotes, numbers and hashtags in tweets. If new users get no engagement with their tweets, they're more likely to give up on Twitter, something that does not please Wall Street.
And Then There's Amanda Palmer
She probably has the most followers of anyone I read on Twitter, having recently gone over one million, after a little over five years of using the system. Which makes me One in a Million! She has this all in perspective, saying, "I don't feel like I have one million 'followers'. I feel like I am profoundly connected to one million people, and that's different."
What did she do to hit one million? Did she follow these tips and tricks? Did she carefully follow a system with Tweet Adder? Did she game the system? I don't think so. From what I have seen in scanning her tweets (and she is verrrry prolific in her tweeting) the main thing she seems to be doing is communicating with her fans, other people. Like they're in the same room with her, ignoring any barriers of distance, country boundaries, or limitations of any kind. She is connecting with people and communicating with them and that seems to me to be what social networks are for. Right?
She recognizes the power of Twitter and the responsibility in having one million followers. She wrote about this when she went over the one million mark, writing about the recently departed Pete Seeger, who had a voice and a message, but a limited audience, especially during the time when he was black listed. She had recently learned a lot about Woodie Guthrie too, discovering there was a lot more there than she had ever known. "in short: i knew he was pinko, but didn’t know how fundamentally punko he was. pete seeger, too." Her eyes were opened.
Read her article, it is long but perceptive and moving, as she recognized through her twitter feed that she had a strong connection with the folk world after all.
". . . turn on my twitter feed with a sense of absolute reverence.
reverence for the fact that you, me, and the rest the world are not disconnected.
that neither CBS, NBC, MTV nor the NSA get to decide whether or when we talk to each other, or what we talk about.
reverence and awe for the fact that “the news” is no longer “they’re all saying…”, but rather “we’re all saying.”
that the deep things and the messages we care about are shared,
to him to her
and through the whole wide world,
giving no fuck about what “the authorities” have to say about it.
that is folk.
that is punk.
there are lots of people trying to steer the boat of information-sharing in different directions.
wikileaks. the recent twitter-ban in turkey. snowden. the RIAA. the DMCA.
we cannot, should not, MUST NOT take our freedom to be connected with and to each other for granted."
Well I'm not sure about that yet. I do describe myself as a writer and I really enjoy writing, when I have something to say. Writing often helps me clarify what it is that I have to say. At one time I would have said I was a trumpet player. But am I a BLOGGER?
I have a number of my own blogs. This one, one on Blogger, another on Posthaven, and I post fairly often on Twitter. Are they a vehicle for my writing or for blogging? I've been closely following Dave Winer for many months now and he's a real blogger. When you look up "blog" in Wikipedia, you read about Dave Winer. He was the first and he's been doing it steadily now for twenty years. He has 65,500 followers on Twitter, but I don't know how many of those read his blog. Well compared to that, I have essentially no followers. I'm just learning, a complete unknown.
"At dawn my lover comes to me/And tells me of her dreams/With no attempts to shovel the glimpse/Into the ditch of what each one means." - Bob Dylan, 1965
Uncle Art Was a Blogger
Well to be fair, when I knew him the Internet had not yet been born and probably Dave Winer had not been either. Uncle Art was a collector of unusual, interesting, fun oddities that he came across in his reading. He would clip them out and put them in his scrapbook, an assemblage of curiosities. He loved to share them with his friends. He couldn't help himself. He'd have them read the clipping he found out loud and would then laugh loudly with us all about it. And he always had great new things to share every time we went to visit him. I'd like to be as cool as Uncle Art was.
I suspect he is the main reason I like to collect interesting, unusual stuff. And maybe that's mainly what I do in writing in my blogs. "Hey, look at this thing I came across. Pretty neat, huh?"
And those tend to be the sort of things I like in the many blogs I read. But to have some credibility in a blog, it helps to be an expert in the subject you write about. Using Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule, I suppose I could say that I have some expertise about tax accounting and tax preparation, some more about Bob Dylan, and some more about ham radio. But am I driven to write about those topics? No, but if I find something interesting in those areas, I would be inclined to share it with others.
And maybe my blogs are like Uncle Art's scrapbooks: a place to stash amazing things, so I can find them again later. This stems from my inclination to organize information and ideas. And even without followers, it makes my blogs useful to me.
The Unedited Voice of a Person
In 2007 Dave Winer gave a pretty clear explanation of what distinguishes a blog from other writing on the Internet. I'm just now finding out about some of these things.
"If it was one voice, unedited, not determined by group-think -- then it was a blog, no matter what form it took. If it was the result of group-think, with lots of ass-covering and offense avoiding, then it's not. Things like spelling and grammatic errors were okay, in fact they helped convince one that it was unedited."
Using that standard, this would be a blog, which would make me a blogger!