Social Media

A few small notes that will probably turn into a long and rambling blog post anyway (…and probably future posts):

Item the First:

I used to blog a lot back in the day, and that was mainly because I felt the world needed to know what was on my mind. Nowadays, Twitter is my narcissist release valve, so I use this blog mainly for travel writing and/or Big Thoughts. Hence, I use Twitter nearly every day, and my itch to write blog entries gets scratched by that. Sorry.

Apparently, though, my writing on Twitter doesn’t ‘count’ in the real world- I had the esteemed Wall Street Journal/All Things D columnist tell me that my comments (here and here) made in February of this year about Facebook being financially overvalued aren’t considered on the same level as very similar comments made by Henry…this week because mine wasn’t an analytical essay.

So, apparently because a) I don’t have a well-known blog and b) because I can make a point in 280 characters or less and it takes Blodget several paragraphs, I don’t get anointed with the Oils of Tech Prophecy. Anyway, I guess that’s pissed me off enough to try to write more here, at the very least because one of the bad things about Twitter is it’s a real bitch to scroll back 7 months to try to find a tweet that I’m pretty sure I posted. So…more to come.

Item the Second:

I’ve thought a lot about social media recently, and Twitter specifically. There’s a lot of controversy around things like buying followers on Twitter to appear more popular. The Romney campaign apparently purchased a promoted hashtag recently, and (unfortunately for him, but to my amusement) was used against him. I remember when I first started using Twitter and seeing a bunch of links to webpages about ’15 Ways to Gain Popularity on Twitter’.

My one rule for gaining popularity on Twitter is: Be Interesting.

To unpack that a little, I’ll say that you should:

  • Talk about topics you know. If you are really into collectable model airplanes, there’s people that want to hear what you have to say.
  • Try to get something out of Twitter. I use it for advice and answers on everything from whether Tokyo is still growing although Japan’s population is shrinking (it is) to complaining about my cable service (didn’t help). I found out about the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake under 10 seconds from when it started because I was watching my Twitter feed at that moment. Follow accounts you are interested in, and try to engage in a conversation with them. Follow various news organizations. Follow individual journalists. Follow Justin Bieber (if you must). Follow people who have similar interests. That leads me to..
  • Meet people from Twitter. Either meet them through a “Tweetup” or meet people socially or professionally and if they are cool and are on Twitter (redundant, in my opinion), exchange handle info.
  • Moderate your posting. I’d suggest posting several times a day if possible to maintain interest, but don’t go overboard on posting, especially in regards to social media plugins like FourSquare. These plugins are there to advertise for themselves, not inform or entertain your followers. I frankly don’t care that you checked in at the Safeway at 19th and Taraval to pick up a loaf of bread. Sorry.
  • Don’t be a jerk. Although you only have 140 characters, still try to be polite. Reword what you are saying into a question or an opinion instead of calling someone out on what they said. Remember that text doesn’t have non-verbal factors such as tone of voice or facial expressions behind it, so people can’t tell if you are making a joke or being an ass. I tend to ramble when I write and when I talk, and Twitter among other things has helped me strip away everything else from my writing other than the point I’m trying to make, and the tone I’m trying to make it with. It’s been exceedingly helpful.

This doesn’t fall specifically under ‘Be Interesting’, but I consider Twitter to be a meritocracy. Or it should be. You get followers because the person following you wants to hear what you have to say for whatever reason. I don’t follow people simply because they follow me- my philosophy of Twitter doesn’t work that way. If the Venn Diagram of “what a person is saying” and “what I find amusing or informative” cross in any significant way, and I look through their history and it seems like I’d want to hear what they have to say in the future, then I’ll likely follow that person. If not, I won’t. End of story.

Item the Second and a Half:

Twitter is kind of hard to read if you don’t know the syntax (hashtags, retweets, yadda), but if you want to see my daily postings, you can go here.

This is burying the lede a bit, but I’ve created a Tumblr as well, but it’s only for signs. I take a lot of pictures of signs/posters/billboards, etc. I don’t know why, it’s just what I do. I think it’s one way I can easily compare cultures, find humor, etc. So my tumblr is here. Let me know there if you have anything to submit.