Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Twitter: Now I Think I Get It

by G.M. Malliet

I was reading a newspaper the other day. You know, a newspaper. It's this thing that gets printed on a printing press and gets delivered to your door, in my case by a guy in a pickup truck. A printing press? Well, a printing press--just, never mind.

Anyway, the article I was reading on this old-fashioned handheld device was about Charlie Sheen. I had, up to this point, actively avoided reading about Charlie Sheen. I had never seen his TV show and I have no plans to see it now. But somehow an article in the mainstream press made me think this was something I needed to be up on. It mentioned that Charlie has about a gazillion followers on Twitter. All of which is prompting a lot of online comment, which the Post (print edition) duly reported on.

I am not in the group of people bashing Charlie. I really, truly am not--it's clear this is a guy with troubles of his own, and if it were someone less blessed with money, talent, opportunity, looks, and the works, no one in the world would be interested in bashing him. But there was one comment repeated in the paper that made me choke on my coffee laughing--I really couldn't help myself. It was from Rob Thomas (http://twitter.com/ThisIsRobThomas) and it went like this:

"the more charlie sheen speaks, the more i think, "you know, lindsay lohan really seems to have her [stuff] together."

Now, I'm sorry, but that is funny. Bundling together two people who simply cannot see they have the world by the tail? Yes. Because we all have this blind spot to some degree? Yes--although most of us are operating on a much smaller budget. (Charlie's upcoming live shows are selling out, btw.) And so of course, I had to go online to see who Rob Thomas might be. It turns out he's a songwriter, and (as of the last time I looked) he has 219,150 followers on Twitter. I would bet he had a whole lot fewer followers before the Sheen tweet.

And surely some of these followers have gone on to look up Rob's Web site...

This is the power not of tweeting, but of tweeting in an original way, combined with some Zeitgeist-y thing that gets you mentioned in the mainstream press, driving people to go online to see who this funny or interesting person might be.

But without print, I'd most likely never have heard of online Rob.

The other day Paul Hochman, the Director of Social Media at St. Martin's Press, was interviewed at Jungle Red about how every author MUST be doing Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube--but only for 20 minutes a day (relief). I do all three (sometimes) although I am lamer when it comes to YouTube than I am with, say, roof repairs. But I did try with my first book, and I have an old trailer up there somewhere that at least ten people have viewed.

Would anyone shopping for a book start with YouTube? Probably not. But they might find a book through that Zeitgeist-y thing, so if you're an author, you need to be there.

Facebook I'm not crazy about lately. No reason, except it's become such a promotional tool it no longer seems friendly. My opinion? Authors are starting to overuse FB as a vehicle to sell their books and only to sell their books. A little of FB is starting to go a long way.

Twitter, as you can see, I'm coming around to. There are all kinds of people on there commenting on all kinds of things.

Cricket did a great blog here the other day about the many different sources for books these days, and that blog made a similar case. It's not an either/or proposition. Writers have to take advantage of all the choices out there. Online, in person, and what have you.

But, not all at once.

And only for 20 minutes a day.

Now, if someone could please just explain the point of FF on Twitter to me...

G.M. Malliet http://gmmalliet.com/
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter image taken from aperture.org.


Alan Orloff said...

I do Twitter. I do Facebook. I blog. I do Goodreads. I Inter-surf. I know there's something else I should be doing, but, darn, I can't remember what.

G.M. Malliet said...

Alan - Inter-surf? Something I've missed? What is Inter-surf?

You missed You-Tube.

G.M. Malliet said...

By the way, if you comment here and want to be followed or whatever, be sure to leave your twitter and/or FB address.

Beth Groundwater said...

I do Facebook, Goodreads, and check a couple of dozen yahoogroups and blogs daily. I've been dragging my feet on Twitter because I have a hard time thinking of one interesting Facebook status a day, let along frequent tweets. And, frankly, I don't really care what Lindsey Lohan, Charlie Sheen, etc. are doing, so I don't think I'd be following many other Tweeters. Sigh! I know eventually I'll be dragged kicking and screaming onto Twitter, but I don't know where I'm going to shoehorn in the time to learn and use it effectively.

Lois Winston said...

As I think I've mentioned previously, I don't FB. I hate FB. Loathe it with a passion and wish it would self-destruct. I don't Tweet, but Anastasia does, and she's kind enough to Tweet about me @anasleuth.

Alan, I know what that other thing is you're supposed to be doing. It's write the next book! That's the real problem with all this social media, and I'd really like to meet the person who can tweet, FB, Goodreads, blog, etc., etc., etc. AND get through their emails in all of 20 minutes a day. I want that cloning technology!

G.M. Malliet said...

I don't think email was counted in that 20 minutes. There is just no way. I probably spend at least half an hour a day just on email.

Darrell James said...

I FB but have yet to tweet. Just listened to a BEA webinar about the benefits of Twitter and I think they've convinced me. (Maybe.)

Mark said...

I'm no Twitter, and I've actually found it kind of fun. Plus I've won some cool free stuff on it. http://twitter.com/carstairs38

Facebook can be fun as well, although overselling by authors is annoying. Mention something once and then drop it. I don't need 5 links to the same thing in the same day. Really.

G.M. Malliet said...

Mark - Mention it, then move on. Exactly correct.

I'm still not a big expert at Twitter. But if I "have" to do this stuff, I want to do what is fun. Not something that annoys me and everyone else.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I love using both FB and Twitter. And while I often post the same information to both (I do reach different audiences, even with some overlap), I enjoy them in different ways.

I follow a lot of journalists/news agencies and paralegal/law updates on Twitter which keeps me current on a lot of news items. While FB is purely social and for marketing. And I don't follow nearly as many people as follow me on Twitter. It's amazing how often an off hand remark will be picked up by somone on Twitter, retweeted and bring in more followers.

One rule I have for both - if an author is ONLY about BSP, they are gone from my list.

G.M. Malliet said...


An article today on how book trailers are becoming essential to book promo.