Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Twitterings and Followers

I've been thinking a lot about these two aspects of the online and bloggy world:

Twitter - the extremely popular know-what-everyone-is-doing-anytime-in-40-characters-or-less social networking site.

I haven't been able to make myself join this. I am not sure what makes me not like it so much, but I have an inexplicable aversion to joining. I think part of it might be that I am fairly certain I couldn't come up with a single interesting thing to tweet about throughout my day. These would be typical tweets for me:

-sitting at my computer (still)
-wishing students would use the library
-reading a book (shocking)
-pulling weeds in the garden (or since I would be tweeting this, how could I actually be outside weeding?)
-should be cleaning my bathroom
-too lazy to make dinner
-flossing and brushing

Really. No really. That's what it would be like. Who would want to read that? I wouldn't. I rarely use the Facebook equivalent to tell people what I'm doing. I suppose these would be more useful and exciting if I lived a more useful or exciting life. For some reason, I'm just not sold on the whole Twitter thing.

Followers - and the widget to display them on blogger.

What is the purpose of followers exactly? At first, I figured it was some kind of "look at me, I have tons of people who think I'm awesome" - you know, a status symbol - the more followers you have, the more popular you are (which reminds me of my really non-popular high school days) (hmm, maybe that is why I don't like it) (this is probably not a grammatically correct sentence, but I had to add that Trish of Hey Lady! Watcha Readin'? wrote a most lovely post about this feeling). Maybe if I had 400+ followers, I'd want to display them too, but I don't and probably never will. And I honestly don't care (much).

But, then as I thought about it more, I wondered if it might be the way people keep up with new posts and such. Just because I am an RSS fanatic myself, doesn't mean everyone tracks blogs that way. I will shamelessly tell you that I have about 10 followers myself. I honestly don't know how they became followers either, since I don't have the widget. I'm impressed they took that extra effort to sign up with no real incentive.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I "follow" about 12 blogs. Why? Because I got extra entries in their contests. Shallow, silly, but true. I read these blogs the same way I do the other hundred or so blogs I subscribe to - on google reader. It makes no distinctions there.

So, here are my questions for you:

If you twitter, why did you start? Do you regularly update? Do you follow other people? Why?

If you have the followers widget, why? Why do you follow other people's blogs? Do you wish some blogs (ie: mine) had the follower widget in order to make it easier for you to follow?

OR tell me any other thoughts you have on these topics!


  1. Great questions! I have answers! :)

    The Twitter thing is a very strange business. Turns out it's not really a "this is what I'm doing" thing... though at times it is. What it REALLY is, is an ongoing chat with whoever happens to also be on at the moment. So if you join, and connect with the gazillions of bookish people out there... you can follow ongoing bookish type chat that's... ongoing. :) BUT... then if you want to feel a part of things, you have to be brave enough, or feel worthy enough, or have confidence enough that your "thought" is interesting enough to jump on in.

    Otherwise, you sort of feel like you are eavesdropping, which is okay really. I mean... it IS Twitter.

    So that's kinda fun for the most part. A constant conversation.

    The other thing I like about Twitter is it fullfills some sort of celebrity stalking fantasy for me. If you follow your favorite celebrities, you truly can stay updated with what they are doing, what their life is like, and how totally normal (or not) they are. I get a kick out of that.

    So Twitter...sometimes I like it. Sometimes I don't.

    The follower thing with blogs... I also don't get. What's the difference between that and subscribing, except everyone knows who's doing what. Yeah, I don't get it at all. I "followed" blogs so I could use the widget that turns my followed blogs automatically into my blog roll. I think. But I still have to keep up on it, which I don't.

    Then I put the "who's following me" thing on my blog, just for the heck of it really. Mostly because I wanted to see who ended up clicking to follow me!

    Sheesh, I guess I had something to say about this topic, huh? Maybe that's a hint I should make my own post on it one of these days. Hmmm....

    Now, an experiment. I'm going to go Twitter this post of yours, and let's see if you get any responses from a bunch of Twitterers... Tweeple? Twits? :)

  2. Yeah. What Suey said. (I'm not here because of Twitter... you're on my bloglines feed. :-)

    I joined Twitter because my 13 yo joined up, and I found I use it more. I sometimes ignore it, and sometimes I feel like a bit of a voyeur, but sometimes it's fun to be having conversations with bookish people around the world.

    Scares me though, to think who just might be following me, so I keep my personal info to a minimum.

  3. I use twitter more as a chat room than anything else. I suppose I'm not the best user, though. I signed up because Scott Westerfeld's on there. Yeah, totally weird.

    As for the following system, I know some people who actually get their blogs that way instead of through RSS, but what I like best about it is that it automatically adds an RSS feed to my google reader. When I say I'm following a blog, it shows the owner that I like their blog, and then it goes into my google reader which is where I read everything anyway.

  4. I just don't know of any other forum where bloggers, authors, publishers, booksellers and reading fanatics all occupy the same space. It's great to be able to discuss issues/reading in ways that you normally wouldn't be able to. And it's not really a "what are you doing" but rather a "what am I reading" "who's blog do I think you should read" and "let's discuss this issue/book together."

    I know a lot of people have an aversion to it but I must admit that I'm a fan. I love it. I do. I've been able to make connections in ways that I don't think I would have otherwise. And take for example, our recent party. I don't think half of those authors would have been there if I first hadn't connected with them via Twitter.

    As for the whole Followers thing. Well, I'm on WordPress. So I seriously could care less. I follow everybody through RSS.

  5. About Twitter, I agree with Suey, Melissa and Amanda. I use it mainly as a chatroom. Something like 80% of my tweets are @ replies. There was a site that gave me the stats once, but I forgot what it was! Sometimes, depending on the mood I'm in, I just follow the conversation without contributing, but even that can be fun. I don't really feel awkward about it or anything because that's the nature of twitter.

    As for the followers widget...I'm in the minority, but I'm not a big fan. I don't mind it when other people display theirs, of course, but I don't have one and I don't follow any blogs. On the other hand, I subscribe to around 200 via Google Reader. I guess I just dislike the lack of privacy of publicly following a blog. What makes me a bit uncomfortable is the idea of making the whole lists of blogs I subscribe to public. What if I unfollow some of them for some reason and the owners notice? I'm not saying they'd resent me, but they might feel rejected, or wonder if they did anything to upset me...I've had that happen to me :P So yeah, there's some potential for hurt feelings there that I'd like to avoid.

  6. I joined twitter because I found out I was missing conversations about me (partly) and about books I wanted to hear about and about BBAW. It's just an extension of the blog. I don't tweet about my everyday (although some do)--I just tweet my blogging and reading relevant stuff.

    And I found this post because someone tweeted it.

  7. PS: I agree with Natasha about Twitter too, but she posted her comment as I was writing mine :P

  8. The amazing thing about twitter is that it instantly leads you to the best posts in the blogosphere! I arrived here after seeing a tweet from maw books, and once I realised it was a good post I re-tweeted it for you!

    I now feel I know what is going on behind the scenes in the blogging world, have formed better relationships with many bloggers and find the best blog posts much quicker than before - you should give it a try!

  9. Like Amanda I use Twitter as a sort of chat room. I follow mainly other bloggers (both book and mommy) and publishers/authors. I follow some celebs and TV shows as well.

  10. Twitter, like blogs, is used differently by different people.

    I use Twitter to keep abreast of what's going on in the land of books & music, and to share links that I don't blog. Plus, I can quickly interact with people (especially my blog's readers), even more quickly than an e-mail.

  11. I just saw this re-tweeted from Maw Books by Farm Lane Books and got intrigued...that's what I use Twitter for. Because sometimes I see interesting things on there. I tweet my new posts and don't chat a lot, but find it fun to listen when I have a moment.

  12. I, too (like many above me), think of Twitter as a conversation. Bloggers, readers, writers, publishers, publicists, all in one place. I can take part in the ongoing conversation, or I can just "listen."

    Also like some of those earlier commenters, I am on Wordpress, so the follower widget? Means nothing to me. I subscribe to blogs I like and read via RSS.

  13. I had a Twitter account about a year ago and deleted it because like you said, what am I going to say? "Doing the dishes".... "Painted my toenails"

    BUT - once I started book blogging, I opened up a new Twitter account to communicate with other book bloggers and I really enjoy it. I can see in short and quick messages if they have a new review up.... a link to a wonderful article or post... and pick up great info on new books.

    As for the followers on my blog - I dont even know how to track them so I do not know how many there are. I am unaware of a widget for followers on wordpress and not sure if I would use it if there was one.

    I do follow blogs I enjoy so I can flip through my reader and see whats new and click on what interests me.

  14. I started to Twitter to creep (aka - read stuff from people I was following; I wasn't really tweeting much myself). I follow a lot of News and celebrity gossip. But now, I love to tweet with fellow bookworms. I love how twitter brings bookworms together. I just participated, for the first time last night, in the #tuesbooktalk. Using that hashtag (the # symbol), you can chat with other fellow bookworms and I even found some new peeps to follow. I even got a book recommendation. Why follow peeps on twitter? To find out when they post on their blog, to see what they're reading, to ask a question, to find out what/when contests are going on....the list goes on. There are also a lot of authors on twitter now.

    Followers on blogger - I admit, I started following peeps to get those extra entries for contests. But now I follow every blog I read so that peeps who visit my blog can find some new bookworms out there. I love finding new peep's blogs!

    I, too, found this post via twitter :)

  15. I got talked into Twitter, against my better judgement, by a friend. I felt the same way that you do. Who would want to know that I really should be cleaning instead of sitting at the computer? Now I am an addict. I get twitter updates on my phone. I follow about 100 people and about that many follow me as well. I use it to promote my blog, talk to friends, keep track of what's going on over at CNN, NPR. You should definitely give it a shot!

  16. Wow! I can see I will have to rethink some of my preconceived notions. I will probably have to do an entirely new post about this because I (and you) have so much to say!

  17. I got on twitter in the middle on winter when a bit bored. I found I like the scatter shot commentary I get from some of those I follow, the updates on books, music and so forth from others and the funny tweets from a few comedians both famous and not.

    I follow people that I find interesting, that I find informative, funny (comedian funny) or that have a commonality with me be it gardening, baking or homeschooling etc. I follow famous people because I'm in Iowa and it's about as close as I can get to some of my favorites like @alyankovic and @wilw.

    I do not have a followers widget. I follow bloggers for the same reasons I choose my twitter followers: interesting, funny, informative and commonality. Occasionally I have stumbled upon someone whose writing is so fantastic I follow simply to enjoy there writing.

    If I want to follow you I'll find your RSS feed it really isn't that hard to do especially with my handy dandy Firefox browser!

    Good questions!

  18. Twitter if you are a writer or a business person or if it is the only way your relatives will connect with you, but other than this a person really only needs one social networking to bring friends and family together. If you have little time to devote to social networking, I would suggest to drop facebook and do twitter. 140 characters is quick and takes less time than facebook.

  19. I didn't get a chance to read the comments, so maybe I'm repeating.

    1. I use Twitter to keep up with stuff going on in the book-publishing industry. (Mawbooks pointed me to your blog, and then I recognized you as one of my followers.)

    Other people point me to interesting articles, opinions, blog posts, etc. I have connected with people I never would have connected with before.

    2. I do have the followers widget, but I don't give it much credence other than this: Since I have a book on submission with my agent, I suspect editors will Google me, to make sure I'm safe. If I can make it look like I have a popular blog, then that may help me to look like I have a platform. (All part of my master plan to fool them all!)

    3. You only "follow" to enter contests? Except with my blog, right? Right?

    4. As for being too boring with Twitter, I definitely have that problem. Which is why I don't tweet as often as I should. Otherwise, my tweets would read:

    Hi Twitter. My head itches.

    Hi Twitter. You guessed it- I'm sittin' on the couch again. Trying to reach the remote.

  20. Brodi, excellent points about following. Maybe someday when I am a writer and intend to become famous (who doesn't?) I will find the followers fulfills the master plan.

    And I should clarify the "I only follow because" with this: I would normally just subscribe to said blog, but in order to get me extra pointages (honestly) I follow instead. Same basic concept, (I do read your posts - with humorous pleasure, actually) but now I get to say - hey, gimme the extra entries already!

    Maybe if I twittered we could send back and forth dull twitters about sitting around instead of cleaning or reaching for remotes :)

  21. I'm here because Natasha tweeted a link to your post :-). Twitter is about conversation, as several other people have said here already. It's fun to throw your random observations out to the universe, or read other people's random observations, but it's best when you're trading tweets via @replies with others.

    I "follow" some blogs and subscribe to others, but they both end up in my Google Reader either way. I have the Followers widget on my blog because I'm very curious about who's reading me, and it's one of the few ways I can actually find that out at an individual level.

    If you join Twitter, look me up - I'm florinda_3rs :-).

  22. I used to not use the followers widget b/c I, for one, did not want to focus on number of followers but I also didn't want to show how few I had, lol. But I did start using it. I noticed sooo many other people used it and that way too, I figured authors can easily see how many followers I have etc. Plus, I had someone tell me once they didn't know how to follow my blog without it there so there's that too. Of course, now I'm sort of obsessed with the numbers going up BUT I have to say I do try very hard to remain on a personal level with everyone who follows my blog b/c I don't want it to be a numbers thing ever. (though I'm doing a big giveaway for my upcoming follower milestone but I think it's sort of fun and I'm trying to show my appreciation for followers somehow).

    As for twitter, I can never keep up with all the posts, but the ones I do, it's a really easy way to converse. And I tend to meet other book bloggers on there whose blogs I haven't seen before!

  23. So... another thing Twitter does... drives traffic to your blog! :) (Esp. if Natasha tweets it!)

    Loving this conversation you got going!

  24. Hello, Melissa! I have two younger sisters, both are librarians so I felt very comfortable coming over to your blog when Natasha mentioned on twitter you had written on the topic here today.

    I went on Twitter first because the communications dept. here at RIF told me I had to do it to meet more people in the current literacy field...but I have found it to be a great way of testing ideas, confirming beliefs, sharing thoughts. Just tonight there was a great conversation going between Natasha and one other, a sixth grade reading teacher about read alouds with that age student. I chimed in a few times and realized an article mentioned was something I had missed, would like to read and asked for the URL to be sent. All very casual, but most informative.

    As to your blog questions, I read blogs I learn about on Twitter and through publications, come to follow some as regularly as my job allows but don't use any formal system or process for following except on a very few.

    So, please come by and visit www.rascofromrif.org sometime; we're leading into a one-year birthday for my blog and 43 years for RIF. By the way, what kind of librarian are you: school, community, college, other? Just curious......

  25. Rasco, thanks for your comments. I'm interested in all things reading (obviously) so I definitely need to check out RIF!

    I am actually a college librarian - though at some point I would love to get into a public library. I don't get a lot of questions about what to read (I don't get a lot of questions period), but I do get to talk books casually with a few reader students.

  26. Well, judging from the amount of commenters who found you through Twitter, you should definitely sign up! Looks like one of the advantages is increased traffic on your blog. I don't get Twitter at all, but maybe I'll sign up now. FB takes up enough of my time - Twitter's probably just as addicting.

    I'm with you on the followers. I love that I have followers, but I don't actually follow any blogs. I have hundreds on my Google reader that I can barely keep up with. It seems like the Follower thing is a lot like Friends lists on FB - it exists to show the world how popular you are :)

  27. I don't mind the whole follower thing. I only have a few handfuls myself. I count myself as a follower if I am subscribed to the blog through my reader. I mean isn't that the basic idea of following? That you are getting the updates whenever they post? I think the follower app just makes it more visible to the world, even though I think you can follow privately if you want.


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