I tend to follow everyone who follows me back on Twitter, as long as they’re a real person and look like someone that will interact with me. I don’t even mind if they disagree with me or have opinions or beliefs that don’t align with my own. But is this a problem? Yesterday, I was tweeted a message about the Twitter rules which state that reciprocal inflation includes coordinating to exchange follows.
I personally think that this rule is ridiculous. In the #WritingCommunity, a hashtag that many writers connect with other writers on, there are many activities that may violate this policy. I’ve seen a good amount of “Retweet for Retweet” posts, and okay, I get that this might be a little spammy. I generally don’t take part in them anyway, I’m not really advertising anything other than my latest blog post. I’ve also seen a lot of “Follow Trains” that get a bunch of people exposure. I’ve got a little bit of mixed feelings on this one, like why shouldn’t I be able to share a list of people that I like interacting with on Twitter? If you find me interesting, you might find these people interesting. Hell, Twitter does this by recommending you people to follow!
But the one that affects me the most is the #WritersLift hashtag. As many of you know, every night I like to connect with the writing community by posing questions for others to answer about the current book they’re working on. I try to help others get insight on their characters and think about things they don’t normally do. It helps us all build out our characters a little more, giving them more depth, and ultimately giving readers a better sense these characters are real people.
But that’s a gray area now. I don’t think people are going to get outright banned for engaging with other people from it, but I don’t want to risk it. Another fellow Twitter user, Ava Lee Mosley, got banned, and if I remember correctly, she doesn’t know why. She very regularly ran these #WriterLift activities, so I’m quick to assume that’s why. I spend so much time on Twitter because I really enjoy it, and the thought of losing that and all the people I interact with scares me. It makes me go into hysterics!
A friend of mine, AJ Jones, isn’t taking it lying down. He started his own resistance against this and is putting his account at stake for what he believes is right. I’m standing right behind him, well to the side… well on the sidelines, hoping that he prevails.
What am I to do? I posted my usual character development question last night, but didn’t use the hashtags. The interaction wasn’t as great as normal, but I still got a lot of good responses and people sharing the posts. I hope that the authors who commented followed other authors that they found interesting! I mean, that’s the point of social media.
Anyway, let me know your opinion in the comments below. I know many people have already weighed in on this, but as you can tell, I had a lot more to say than one tweet or series of tweets would allow.
I love the character questions! I sincerely hope that doesn’t go away. I am putting that in my writing journal to help me further my insight into my characters. This has been tremendous help! I believe that those who will want to truly follow you will follow you, and will want to interact with you. What good does it do to have all these people follow you and no interactions? The point of social media is to talk. I don’t care as much for follows as I do for interaction. Without interaction there is no substance. I rather have people that truly care about me and my work than a bunch of followers who don’t. To me it seems like you truly care about others who write, and you interact. That’s why I follow you and plus you write books I want to read. So there is significant substance there that means something to me. You are not just a follower to me or a follow. You are a person who I find substance with. A person who has value to me and others. I truly hope you don’t go away! I truly value the interaction that we had!
I’ve got no plans to abandon my character questions! Just rebranding them a little 😉 I’m glad they help you get to know your characters a little better.
I think a lot of people on Twitter place a lot of importance on a big Followers number, and that isn’t really what the point of it is. Even people who have a million people have only a small percent that interact with them. My numbers are much smaller, but it lets me have a closer connection to people like you: someone I value and like to hear from! It’s good to know you!
I’ve never just randomly followed anyone just because another writer tells me to. I look at their bio, the following-to-followers ratio, and the things they post. I agree that the interactions are what I value the most. I DO follow most of the people who follow me. And I only retweet what I like or agree with. When I read a post, I look through the comments and follow people who look interesting.
I do the same thing with following, retweeting, liking, etc! The #FF threads I just ignore. You’re not alone!
I get that they want to nip bot behavior, and while I don’t participate in regular writer lifts and follow trains (I don’t really do FF much either), this feels like throwing the baby out with the bath water. What bothers me most is it makes it that much harder for newcomers to get started if that’s how the Powers That Be want to play it
We’ll all get by, no doubt, but it’s irksome to me.
I think if they enforce these rules heavily, it’s going to be hard for new people to jump in and meet other people who they would have liked to have interacted with. Like you said, we’ll get by, but I think it does damage the community as a whole, and the sense of community is the point of social media!
I think Twitter have done the only thing they could – faced with people deluging the system with huge lists of people’s names. The real problem is education – all people need to do is state their interests (including agreed hashtags) in their profiles, then use the search to find each other. The system already supports it, and does it very well (after searching for a tag, click the “People” tab).
That was (and still is) definitely a problem. The blind follower lists is pretty annoying and I just have to skip over those when looking for things to read. Even ads are less annoying. I like the idea of “if you like me, then you’ll also like my fiends: so and so” but I think that’d be against the rules, or at least some shade of gray. The Who to Follow built-in lists are a pretty good way to connect with people, at least initially. Now it just shows me irrelevant results unfortunately.
Wow…thanks for this post. I just started actively twittering in earnest 2 months ago with ZERO followers and just passed 1300 yesterday. I recently tweeted a #followfriday thanks to a group of like-minded artists (many including me produce imagery that sometimes gets used in book cover art) who regularly retweet each others work, encouraging others to follow them in what I thought was an accepted (and encouraged) ritual on twitter. I was planning to make this a recurring exercise once a month, but, in light of this info, will no longer do so.
Personally, I think it may have to do with the promoted tweets program. This program touts 30 new followers per MONTH for about $90/mo. But, with a little elbow grease and use of exercises like #followfriday and groups of mutually engaged retweeters, it is not difficult to average 30 new quality followers per DAY for free – making that promotional program not worth it to many users.
Congratulations on reaching 1300! There are a lot of services out there (legitimate and non-legitimate) that offer to get you followers, but I think getting people organically is the best for having interaction. And it’s that interaction rate that’s most important. Having 50,000 followers who ignore you is worse than having 500 followers that interact with you!
I’m sorry but things like this on social media become nothing more than bubbles filled with everybody endlessly high-fiving each other, “supporting” them, etc–but every keystroke pushed on twitter or any sm is a keystroke that could have been better applied to your actual writing. When everybody a beginned interacts with is also a beginner–where does that typically lead? To a circular bubble most never escape from.
Serious writers at any level should stay off social media as much as possible. And should look for their community in the real world.
That’s a very valid point of view. I’d say that many authors, especially beginner authors, struggle with their writing and finding other like-minded people who support them is useful. Sure, there is community in the “real world,” but those are hard to find for many people. Some people are introverted, others like me live in small towns where there really isn’t much community.
Every keystroke pushed that’s not writing could have been applied to your writing, sure. With that, every second not spent writing could have been spent on writing. People take time off from writing to do many things, some watch TV, some have a day job to go to, some spend time with people online. Some people see social media as a waste of time and energy, and I think that’s fair, but everyone has different levels of interaction they need.
It’s kind of like going to a gym. If you are out of shape and need to work on yourself, should you go to the gym with other people who need to lose weight as well, or are bodybuilders the only people you should associate with? Encouraging others to do what they want to do with their life is something I find to be a positive experience. Does it make me a worse writer? No.
Serious people at anything should stay off social media as much as possible. You can’t just single out writers. Anyone who has a career and spends time on social media is wasting their time. That’s a valid opinion, but one I have to disagree with.