First, a poll! There will be another poll at the end 😀
I like Twitter. If you follow me there, you’re probably fairly aware of that fact, since I am on it a LOT. Reason being, I find it wonderful and engaging to be able to communicate with people from all over the world who are interested in many of the same things I am, and to do so nearly around the clock if I want. I have gotten so many cool ideas and expanded my interests and experiences directly because of things I read on Twitter. And it’s always on: there is unfailingly someone around to chat with or a cool blog linked up to read.
The immediacy of Twitter conversations is something that is difficult to reproduce in other social media. Facebook can have a back-and-forth aspect to it but it doesn’t lend itself to real-time dialogue the way Twitter does, at least not in my experience. There was a time, maybe five years ago, when I was active on Facebook. I had my work friends, my old high school friends and my ex-boyfriends, the usual. That’s nice and Facebook is a good way to sort of have an overview of what’s going on in people’s lives, at least the parts that they want you to see.
Twitter was quite popular back then, but I really didn’t get the allure. As far as I could see, it was just vapid reality show celebrities and wannabe celebrities kvetching about too much foam at Starbucks or which stressed out, possibly drugged-out movie starlet they saw at yoga this morning.
Hey, I’m from Los Angeles, so my skeptical expectations were not without provocation. And, also in my defense, there are parts of Twitter that actually are like this: trashy celebs who will do anything to get famous or stay famous and randos throwing insults around at strangers. Luckily, the parts of Twitter that I inhabit are relatively free of all of this.
In December of 2013 (according to the Twitter gods) I started off with maybe one friend- I’m pretty sure it was @Lilulicious, plus it made me follow a minimum of something like 5 accounts to get signed up. I got on mostly to discuss Star Wars: The Old Republic because I wanted to see if there was a community outside of my guild to chat about it with, and my Facebook friends- being work friends, old high school friends, and ex-boyfriends- weren’t particularly interested in my video game fetish or my Star Wars obsession. I slowly started gathering friends (seriously, calling them followers sounds like a cult) and building my little circle of people who were into the Old Republic and Star Wars. I found that when you build a community like that, Twitter can be pretty amazing.
So I have been tweeting since 2013 and I have made some legitimately good friends from Twitter, hardly what would have expected from the self absorbed, zero-attention-span, celebrity-culture vacuum that I had presupposed Twitter to be. I credit my early success in meeting people on Twitter at least partly to the efforts of a user named Madmar, who created a hashtag community called #swtorfamily
Madmar (@swtorfamily) actively sought out people who talked about SWTOR in their tweets and asked them which server they played on. He curated lists and retweeted people’s tweets. He’s not so active on Twitter any more, I think perhaps he’s moved onto other things mostly, but I always will be grateful to him for helping to get a community going in the early days of my Twitter life back when SWTOR and its community were fairly young as well.
Another thing I enjoy about Twitter is the way it puts those of us in fandom in touch with some of our biggest role models and creators. I’ve had interactions with members of the Lucas Story Group, Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fisher, Felicia Day, some of my favorite authors and more. I don’t delude myself that these Twitter communications have some profound impact on these high-profile people and that they know my name, and I don’t care really because I am not a star cluster (there is another word for a celebrity worshiper, but I am keeping things PG here.) I do, however, think that taken on the whole, creators really enjoy hearing from their fan base. I think they like seeing that their work is meaningful to its audience and that they have touched lives. I know that one reason I tweet, or blog, or make podcast and videos, is so that people can enjoy ideas with me, and I can only imagine what it would feel like to have literally thousands of people enthusiastically engaged in what you’re doing. It’s unfortunate that the ugly cousin of positive fan interaction is jealous and hateful remarks, threats and flash mobs, something that all social media seems to be infested with at this stage of our history. Twitter is really a fantastic place to exchange ideas, jokes, silly memes and encouragement and should be a place for dialogue or at least for expression free from bullying. I despise seeing it used as a platform for harassment and impotent rage. Many great creatives have left Twitter due to personal threats and attacks. Our loss.
While writing this, I went to the Twitter Analytics site. I had never visited this website before. I don’t track who unfollows me or any such statistic. (What kind of masochist do you think I am?) And other than trying not to tweet new podcast episodes in the dead of night when people might miss them, I don’t really try to finesse my reach nor I am marketing anything so I just sort of tweet and interact and go about my day. But I saw my stats and – boy howdy! The site shows you how many tweets you made in the last 28 days, (and past months) how many people saw and interacted with what you wrote, how many followers you gained, etc. Okay, I know I use Twitter a lot, especially now that I am living abroad and it is a major way to keep in contact with friends, but I seriously had no idea…
Care to take a guess how many tweets I have made in the past month? Not including all the DM groups I am a part of? If you ask me in the comments, I will tell you. And you will be amazed.
Speaking of marketing or finessing your social media reach: I recently experimented with doing a scheduled tweet. This is something I’ve never done before, because to me, Twitter is about being in the moment, engaging from where you are right now, not sending out random pre-composed thoughts into the ether while you’re actually sleeping or in an MRI or something. I wonder what other people think about this. I know people do scheduled tweeting; certainly businesses and other organizations schedule social media posts to make sure they’re establishing their presence and hitting everybody’s timezone. Fansites do so for the same reasons. But for me personally, it just feels disingenuous for me to send a tweet when I am not really present for it.
But I went about trying it last week. The reason I sent this particular scheduled tweet was to test the system because I had been given, as part of the SWTOR Influencers group, a juicy exclusive video that could I could use in my work and release upon the world– but– it could only be shared after a certain time. And that time, since I currently reside in Australia, was the middle of the damn night. So I wanted to do a trial run to see if I could tweet about it when I was actually sleeping. The last time we got an exclusive (Gods From the Machine) I stayed up till all hours and posted it, bleary eyed, to make sure I was on time. So this go around I thought I would look into working smarter.
I set up a tweet using TweetDeck, which I don’t usually use, that said something innocuous- what I had for dinner- and I scheduled it to post at a prescribed time. I did this for a time when I was actually going to be around so that I could make sure it happened as promised. This way I’d know if I could reasonably rely on it for this big upcoming announcement. The tweet went out as intended and all was well.
Then a few people liked the tweet and responded to it and I found myself feeling guilty. Here they were liking this tweet that had been made for no reason other than to test the Twitter system; I wasn’t actively engaging with them at all. And it was a real issue for me.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is an insignificant sin, but I just didn’t feel good doing it. Now, I am prone to neurotic abstractions and over-sentimentality, so I recognize that many people might not have any issue with doing this at all.
So, I was wondering, Twitter family and friends: what do you think about scheduled tweets? Are they okay, does it depend on why you’re doing it, are they too fake or am I overthinking it? Please let me know your thoughts in the poll below and leave some remarks in the reply section at the bottom of the post about how you use Twitter, what you think of building communities there or any other thoughts you have. Please, give me something to read other than my TL.