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WHAT’S THE USE OF TWITTER

12 Jan

I’m new to Twitter and a little suspicious of what it can actually and practically do to make working or personal life better. But I have been using it for three months now and thought I’d share some of what I’ve learnt. Most of it is common sense. I decided to set up a non-professional account first as it would be an easy and comfortable way of learning. I put up a new novel on Amazon KDP in October 2011 and used this as my Twitter starting point. I ran that for a couple of months and built up a little following. Then when I felt comfortable enough to engage with other career advisors and professionals, I set about developing a work account. Below is some of the stuff I’ve learned. Thanks to all those that have followed, re-tweeted, mentioned and engaged in discussion or exchanging of information.

WHEN USING TWITTER FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGAGEMENT

DO’s

  • Listen to what people in your area of professional expertise are saying – observe how they interact
  • Share resources – be helpful
  • Connect with fellow professionals / business links – lists – who to follow – Network!
  • Raise discussion / promote debate on issues that people can engage with comfortably
  • Use Twitter to get feedback on a particular issue
  • Use Twitter to raise your professional profile or the profile of your business or organisation
  • Use Twitter to source resources
  • Words to remember – Connection / engagement / respect / curiosity / Prudent Humour
  • Think local / think national / think global
  • Do remember the eyes of the world are potentially on you – Twitter can be a time to shine – but also to corpse, plank, bottle, make a complete fool of yourself
  • Remember in business – quantity does not equal quality. Keep  your list / lists lean and make sure they work for you
  • Use those same instincts and sixth senses about people that serve you well in to real world when you are on Twitter. If somebody you have no link to, that has no followers, and whose profile says ‘call me. Let’s take it from there,’ starts to follow you, chances are you should ignore them and report any problem.

Just my opinion here but much of what happens on the internet and on Twitter specifically falls into two simple categories – the good and the bad. Engage with the good – professional, hard-working, serious, generous, beneficial, intellectually challenging and constructive tweeters. Ignore the bad – the rude, show offs, shoddy, lazy, unhelpfully negative and those simply tweeting to blow their own twumpets.

DON’TS

  • Forget your reasons for using Twitter as a business / educational / networking tool
  • Use Twitter to snipe at people or grind axes in an unreasonable, inappropriate or abusive way
  • Make humorous comments at other people’s expense
  • Use Twitter to hurt or exclude people
  • Swear
  • Share personal experiences excessively. The contents of your belly button are not usually a subject of global interest
  • Be conned by the idea of breaking down boundaries. Sometimes, and especially in the world of work, boundaries can be there for very good reasons – ie self preservation, mutual respect, avoidance of misunderstanding. It’s worth remembering the old ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ rule when engaged in any form of social media.
  • Mix business with pleasure. It’s quite common on Twitter to have a number of accounts or alternatively lists. One option is to run a fun account that ties into your hobby or leisure activities and the people you enjoy following. Then you can run another that is business related. You can also operate different lists on the same principle.
  • Use Twitter excessively to market your product. Tweeting fifty times a day that you have just published yet another scintillating new novel on Amazon KDP will not result in any great increase in sales or the type of followers you want to attract. It will annoy and may result in people unfollowing you.
  • Panic if a peculiar tweeter starts following you – you can report them if a nuisance arises but most just go away when ignored
  • Mistake late night familiarity from someone like Charlie Sheen for friendship or even connection.

COMMON COURTESY

  • Say thanks for the follow / the retweet / the favourite – I’m told this becomes impossible once you have a few thousand followers. But good manners costs nothing and is almost always appreciated. So do it while you can.
  • Acknowledge someone else’s work where ever possible by using RT = retweet or a direct reference
  • Reply to comments and connects and mentions as much as possible
  • Remember people are busy, may have painful stuff going on in their lives that you can never know about, so always show respect. A wise person once said In all your dealings with people, you should factor in that they may be suffering in a way you will never see or know or comprehend. Then take them as they are and find a way to make your connection with them work to the benefit of all.

I began my Twitter journey three months ago. Since then I have gone from being vehemently anti-Twitter to a point where I now recognise the opportunities for professional connectedness and sharing of resources. I mistakenly thought it was all about celebrities tweeting about the mundanities of their lives and loudly proclaiming the end of / beginning of various affairs. But I have found it to be a useful and efficient means of networking with co-professionals and keeping up with developments in my particular field. I have learned a great deal and connected with some truly inspiring career professionals across a broad spectrum of interests.

I wonder if anyone else has similar views on the subject of Twitter. Some of the content of this blog may be blindingly obvious. But it would be interesting to get a little feedback or additional Do’s & Don’ts for those of us not all that familiar with the use of social media as a tool in the work place.

©Mary Hosty January 12th 2012

Thoughts on Twitter – I don’t really care what Demi Moore has for Breakfast

19 Dec

 

Twitter: Part 1 – I don’t even care what Demi Moore has for Breakfast

 

I recently published a little cross-over novel on Amazon Kindle called Lancelot & The Return to Hades Chimneys. Now here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005U444US

 

The whole epublishing experience is new to me and I found the process interesting though hopefully I’ll have a better handle on it next time round. Successful, kind, accomplished and hard-working literary friends, together with two highly techno-savvy young chaps advised me to get on Twitter. The techies in particular assure me that it is probably the best free marketing tool ever created and suggested I conduct a six week campaign and see how it goes. If I didn’t make any progress, well at least I would be able to find my way around Twitter for future projects or even just for fun!

 

I quickly became like a child in a sweetshop and wanted to link up with every careers blog, every current affairs, fashion, travel & science magazine and journal, every organisation, every product, every publisher & agent, ever artist & writer in the world. As for my own modest marketing campaign – it was like shouting (which I can’t really do any more – but that’s another story) like shouting out in a crowd of millions of people and organisations and hoping that someone, somewhere in that immense swell of humanity would hear the plaintive little cry and say ‘ah yes what a witty riposte!’ I will immediately rush to my laptop or kindle and download Lancelot and The Return to Hades Chimneys. What me naive??

 

I quickly armed myself with all the anxieties of being out there! What if nobody likes me? What if the only followers I get are porn merchants? What if I’m banished for being boring, talentless, middle-aged and clueless with Social Media? Was that passing comment about fake animals really a dig at one’s poor attempts at subtle self promotion? And what about the pointed tweet of only speaking when spoken to? Does that mean butt out little last book only published electronically lady in American Publishingese? What are the accepted courtesies and civilities of Twitter? Did I put my foot in it when I asked Roy Keane if he would appreciate a dog like Lancelot when he recovers from the loss of his beloved Trigg? When somebody famous tweeted back to my devilishly witty remark about the Vancouver Olive Branch, was it unbelievably twee of me to tweet back and say thanks so much for noticing? When a follower with a hundred thousand followers of his own retweeted one of my tweets, was it just plain foolish to be so excited about it? There is also the awful possibility of unintentionally hurting a friend in full view of the entire universe. Or drawing the wrath of some dragon in a den somewhere. Not to mention the worry of accidentally slandering someone or providing misleading information. Do others share these anxieties or is it just people of my generation and older?

 

Another annoyance is that Twitter shatters the mystery of writers and columnists I admire – splendid writers of note, columnists whose opinion is respected because it is born out of reason, knowledge and experience. Their comment is measured, it is in most cases unstintingly fair and often funny. Such columnists make us think, challenge us, leap to the defence of the weak or persecuted, verbalise our own inexpressible emotions at times of great joy, sorrow, turbulence or fear and sometimes simply make us laugh at our own foolishness. But really I can make enough vacuous, ill-informed and occasionally cruel comments of my own while watching telly late at night and do I really need my head cluttered up with the unkind and cutting remarks of others, even if I do otherwise admire their work? I really don’t care what Demi Moore has for breakfast. Life is sufficiently cluttered already with virtual stuff – email, text, blogging, skype, skype text, internet, endless searching, researching, referencing, down-loading. And that’s before the business of actually living gets a look-in – eating, working, washing, dressing, house-keeping, real socialising. It’s possible to live for days in this eerie world, possible to trade in virtual life for the real thing.

 

For anyone who does a bit of writing so many interruptions to one’s time and thought processes, can leave little time for actual creativity. Moping about in an aimless sort of way is essential for human creativity. History has shown that some of mankind’s most wonderful inventions and discoveries have come about as a result of idleness, boredom, frustration. Archimedes and Newton, Steve Jobs, great literature, great art, great music. How in the name of all that’s beautiful and innovative in the world, can Twitter contribute to the creative process? It’s all very well to say oh I just do my twittering early in the morning or in the evening when all my creative work is done for the day. But the point about that is – the evening is for focussed indolence and idleness, two essentials for the creative process. You can be damn sure that if Gauguin or Picasso had to sit down in the evening and spend an hour updating their blogs, another two hours composing and sending out articles to various online journals in order to maintain their profile out there, followed by a final hour of tweeting frantically, the quality and quantity of their work would have been affected. Picasso might have had less time for eviscerating the women in his life but that’s another issue. Likewise James Joyce or Samuel Beckett. It would be all fun and games for a while and swipes at the auld country and enigmatic references to Godot, then who knows where it might have lead. Actually that would make a nice little humorous column in Phoenix or The Irish Times and could run for years. The Samuel Beckett Blog. The Complete James Joyce Twitter Archive! I wonder what other creative people think about this aspect of one’s virtual life??

 

At this point I must own up and say I am as mercenary, egotistical, vain and deluded as anyone, I have the same marketing goals as all corporations and organisations that patrol the realms of Twitter – that is to raise my profile and sell my product and attract good business contacts. I read Guy Kawasaki’s tips eagerly and admire their honest functionality. It’s just that it has opened up an awful new realm of anxiety for someone who is uncomfortable with verbal swordfights, who was brought up on the old fashioned principle that if you’ve nothing good to say about someone then it’s best to say nothing at all – except of course when driving and when watching telly late at night. That you shouldn’t tell anyone your business, that talking about yourself is boring and can be interpreted as showing off.

Yet I’ve learned to like Twitter and to feel quite at home there. How did that happen?

 

Next: Learning to like Twitter – Learning to make it work for you

Next after that: The Middle-aged woman’s TEN TWITTER COMMANDMENTS

Meanwhile you can follow me on Twitter 😉

@lanceybesthound

or for Careers

@MaryHosty

 

Social Media, Careers, Writing, Life & The Large Hadron Collider

14 Dec

Social Media, Careers, Writing, Life & The Large Hadron Collider.