Monday, August 01, 2011

Getting Your Social Media Straight

Okay, by now you're on one social media platform or another. Some prefer Facebook, others Twitter, and you read, if not maintain, blogs. Sometimes, however, we go on a Twitter binge or shortchange a blog post.

Twitter means 140 characters or less. Short, pithy, to the point. When you have to write ten Tweets to make your statement, it's time to write a blog post or switch to Facebook. The mindsets of the readers are different on each forum.

Twitter followers are reading Tweets like an AP ticker tape, one headline after the other. They don't want to think they have to stay on point for the next point, then the next, then the next.

Facebook followers like checking in and out, with nothing very time sensitive. They can type a one-word response or a hundred. Few molds and liberal rules.

Blog readers are prepared to read for a minute or two, assuming you've written good material. They invest a chunk of time in your creativity.

I once followed a marketing guru on Twitter. One evening she tweeted 17 times in an hour. We knew each other, and I dropped her a note thinking she didn't realize it. She apologized and said she gets carried away. I laughed and said I did the same at times. The next day she did the same. On the third day, when the number hit 40 in 60 minutes, I unfollowed her. I'm a Twitter lover. I don't want to read essays in 140-character increments. She writes great editorials and blog posts, but the continuous domination of my Twitter feeds frustrated me for some reason. I'm probably one who wouldn't be excited about reading a serial novel on Twitter, though it's been successfully done like Matt Stewart and his book The Literary Revolution.

In another situation, last week the President asked the public to Tweet Congressional Representatives. Then his staffer commenced to posting each and every state's representative, waiting four to five minutes between each state. People fussed. After all, you can only live in one state. Who wants to deal with 49+ additional Tweets? The smart staffer could have put a link up with all the Twitter accounts. Even repeating the message once an hour would have been more respectful of Twitter subscribers. Glad to see leaders using Twitter, but they get more mileage out of it by using it wisely. (No, I'm not professing to belong to one party or another.)

On a blog, people commit a little more, expecting a bigger message. So if someone logs in to read your daily post and finds a one-liner, you run the risk of frustrating him. Don't ask me to explain the logic, but I'm not making this up. Twitter is fast; blog posts are not. It's as if readers are stunned by the altered state when they pull up the feed, email or direct link to the post.

Some readers prefer short stories over novels, others like novellas over flash. Not only be consistent in posting to your social media outlets, but understand what's considered acceptable, consistent and appealing to the readers. Time is a precious commodity to people, so make them feel you are helping them use it efficiently, and you'll create longer-lasting fans.

Think differently? Would love to read your comment. Leave your blog address, Facebook address, and Twitter account, too, so others can sign up.


Anonymous said...

These are great points. I, too, have unfollowed someone for the simple reason that his tweets were dominating my twitter feed. Lately I've started to wonder how many active tweeters it's possible to follow without the feed getting too rapid to read. Even using Tweetdeck, I don't think it can be more than a couple hundred.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this! It's great, especially as a writer, to be reminded of the very different uses of these media. Learning to use them correctly can really help hone our different writing skills.

Dicy McCullough said...

Thank you Hope for explaining clearly the uses and function of each of these media. I just recently signed on to twitter and have already experienced having too many active tweeters. Solid information about navigating through the social media maze is always appreciated.
@Dicy McCullough

Carol J. Alexander said...

Great reminder, Hope. Twitter is my favorite SM site because I don't have a lot of time. And, because I have several interests, I follow writers, homesteaders/rural living types, and homeschoolers. So, I can just scroll down and read what I'm in the mood for. However, there are those that rarely get my attention because they tweet too frequently. We're talking once a minute! Also, I'll keep all this in mind when I start to get chatty. :)

Kathleen@so much to say said...

I'm only so-so about Twitter, although I know many who swear by it. I try really hard to post something cute and short a couple of times a day, because otherwise all that comes up on my feed is a string of links to blog posts!

I've accepted any and all friend requests on FB, but now I wish I'd separated my followership a bit. My family and friends' info on Facebook gets swallowed up in other people's links to whatever daily posting they like...and unfortunately, I can't "hide" those without hiding the whole individual. Still trying to puzzle that one out...


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nice clarification of the different aspects of each one. I seem to have fallen into using each of them exactly that way: Twitter for really short tweets; FB for a longer, but brief comment; and my blog for something in more depth. Like you, I don't like to see endless tweets from the same person.

Wren Andre said...

I'm still new to twitter, so I thought the constant tweeting was the norm! And yes - it is very frustrating. Overall, I like the concept of twitter being a way to flash something witty or of interest in a sentence or two - or maybe even a little flash piece - still working that one out. I may be too blabby for it in the long run! Thanks for the observations Hope.!/WrenAndre3000

Deeps said...

I appreciate the labor you have put in developing this blog. Nice and informative.

Val said...

I post daily on two blogs. On the rare occasion that I have run short of time and been unable to post, several of my regular readers emailed me, thinking something was wrong. Now, I try to schedule a post to run on days I know I'm going to be unavailable, or I put up a short paragraph explaining the reason. No complaints so far.

Miss Chivuss said...

I never actually thought of it that way, but it seems so obvious now that I see you point it out. I'm not a power user on Twitter (I forget about it half the time), but when I see the same person dominating my feed for more than an hour on those rare occasions I DO log on, I get frustrated and start thinking of ways to filter that person out.

With blogs that have only one sentence to a short paragraph, I often wonder what the point was to even hitting "publish".

You wouldn't publish an obit in the classifieds. You wouldn't publish an op-ed on the front page and position it as news. Now that the rules of media are changing, so is the etiquette. It's nice to know that people are paying attention to those rules, even if most of us can't quite articulate why something bothers us.