Noodling: Quo Vadis with Twitter?

TwitterHeadIf you’ve been reading along, you know that I have ambitions to be someone who makes their living off the art he creates.

I decided to lead with novels because I love writing them, and creating visual art is harder to squeeze into the extra moments afforded by my life of corporate prostitution.

ProfileShotBut who am I? I’m a nobody, hell, most people who know me know me only as a consulting hooker – and that’s the person they’re interested in. I’ve so cleverly blended in with the lumpen proletariat (like a arty sleeper cell), I’ve cut my throat from a marketing standpoint. I’ve got a lot of hills to climb to turn this around, and one of them was establishing a presence on Twitter.

A little more than six months ago I opened up shop on Twitter (follow me here), armed with as much research as I could muster, and I recently crossed the milestone of 500 followers – so I figured now is as good a time as any to reflect on the experience.

Screaming into a Void

megaphoneOne of the things I want to do with Twitter is connect with other artists, create real community, and to raise awareness of me (as a thing to be aware of) which is easier said than done. Like making friends anywhere, first you need to prove you’re not creepy or nuts – though nuts can get you a lot of followers. It may be a miscalculation not having a more extreme persona, but I’d prefer to build an audience around an authentic “me”.

For the time being I’m still trying to figure out if anyone actually sees the words I type. My gut tells me “no”, but I also think this is the price of entry, frequent posting creates followers – consistently if not rapidly.

I’m coming to understand the Twitter ecosystem, there appear to be strata:

  1. Click-bait accounts – fake people posting links to salacious celebrity camel-toe and  wardrobe malfunction sites.
  2. Buy Followers accounts – just like it sounds, sells anxiety of not having enough followers like male anxiety over wang size.
  3. The Hard-sell accounts – creators selling their work, but ONLY selling their work, no personal touch.
  4. Actual humans – a good mix of the personal and professional.
  5. Celebrity/Institutional – established public humans and organizations, the backbone of the Twitter model.

It’s numbers 1-3 that make it feel like yelling into the void, but I have had some brief, interesting interactions. Which leads me to my next point…

Consume before you Create

toastIf there’s anything close to an iron-clad “rule” in the creative arts, it’s “don’t create things you don’t like to consume”. A writer need to love reading, a painter needs to love paintings, musicians need to love music – and it just hit me as I wrote this that I don’t “love” Twitter. I’ve been so focused on “getting up and running” on Twitter, that I haven’t taken the time to develop a taste for it. Now that I’ve got a handle on the production side, I’m going to explore it just as a consumer. I get the feeling it’s like radio, there’s a lot of stations, you need to learn how to tune into what you want.

Tweeting is Hard

KeyboardThat headline is something I never thought I’d write, but I gotta’ tell ya’, communicating in 140-character chunks is murder. Related to what I said about being a consumer, to date I’ve found that only Chris Rock consistently uses that brevity to create “art” – and I ain’t no Chris Rock (yet).

Frequently I default to using quotes as the way to boost my volume of posts, but if I’m going to get my follower numbers way up, I need to set aside time every week to seriously craft some excellent chunks of text to share. This plus luck may increase awareness of me as “worthwhile” to follow. To wit…

Ride the Waves

On Tuesday I experienced the tiniest form of virility – I was re-tweeted by 26 people (For context I think I’d been re-tweeted five times over the previous six months). This was a combination of a well written tweet (“A bright, cool morning in DC – the kind of morning that makes you question trading freedom for filthy lucre and padded beige walls.”) and a popular hashtag (#1lineWed).

The value of this was that I picked up new followers, and got a number of positive private messages. This was just a lucky confluence of events, but it shows a path forward too. Look for new and trending hashtags, and have great tweets in the hopper so I’m not scrambling to come up with something on the fly (though sometimes that will be best – like I said, ride the waves).

What does 500 Mean to Me?

LadderWell, nothing really. It beats 100, but beyond that Twitter is just a fun thing to play with until I’m selling my books (or whatever other creative output I can share with people for a price). When I cross the 1000 threshold, I’ll regroup, but for now I’m going to:

  • Put sincere creative effort in for about an hour a week to consciously create strong content.
  • See if I can be more active with other peoples accounts, maybe set aside 30 minutes a day for that.
  • Look for opportunities to generate tweets people want to share.

Okay, that’s ME on Twitter, what have been your experiences? Let me know!