Did you know when you unfollow someone on Twitter, the button is red?

I discovered that today. I unfollowed a couple of people. My mouse hovered over the button for a few seconds as I waited for the sudden attack of nerves to pass. Then I scolded myself, because really, I could give two shits what they think of me unfollowing them, and clicked away.

You might be asking why I unfollowed. Or you would be, if you cared. See, it’s all got to do with etiquette. I’m not talking about your standard social media etiquette where you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. It’s more about bein’ a bot.

New blog followers, you’ll notice the comments section doesn’t require that you verify your identity before your comment is posted. That’s because the moderator is turned on. I’m notified of all comments posted to this blog, and if someone new wants to post, I have to approve it first. There’s only been one instance where I said no, absolutely not, and it’s because the commenter was pushing a service. I don’t sell shit other than shit I make up, so please don’t use my blog to promote yourself. If I like you enough, I’ll do it for you.

Back to Twitter. Over on Kristen Lamb’s blog, she’s got a piece up about the five mistakes self-published writers are making. Aside from the obvious (publishing before you’re truly ready to publish) number five got my attention, and asauged any remaining guilt I had about the button going red.

The offenders were guilty of number five. Waaaay guilty. I have a gadget that allows me to check my Twitter stream from my iGoogle home page, and it displays so many tweets at a time. I think it’s like, twelve. One woman was a constant tweeter. Somewhere near the top would be one a line from one of her glowing reviews for her second book. Again, down at the bottom, would be another line from a glowing review for either a) the same book or b) the first book. She was also guilty of retweeting like it was going out of style.

I get it. She’s self published, she’s doing everything she can to boost sales. But between the same tweets being tweeted what seems like minutes apart and the retweets for other self-published authors, her tweets about something actually interesting (she knows quite about PR and putting together a viable platform for yourself) got buried. I couldn’t take it anymore, so the button went red.

As a counterpoint to this woman’s method of promotion, I sometimes check the blog of a self-published erotica author. I like her style: she makes a bargain with her readers. If she has a new story being released for Kindle, she’ll ask for certain number of reviews before she’ll offer it for free for one day. And she doesn’t always do this. Sometimes she’ll trade reviews for an excerpt of an upcoming story. Sometimes she’ll just lower the price for two days. Whatever she chooses to do, it works, and she always follows through. Most importantly, even though she blogs every day, she doesn’t bash her readers over the head with repeated requests for reviews. She mentions it once, when the new story goes up, and maybe once more, when she’s close to the requested number of reviews. Her sales are steady, she gets the reviews she wants (which is really the best thing any author could ask for) and her readers and blog followers feel like they scored. Everybody wins!

The other offender was also guilty of overtweeting, only a fair number of his tweets were completely random and having nothing to do with anything relevant. I followed him because he was an author. I expected stuff about being an author. Instead I was treated to stuff I’d find on my Facebook news feed. Buh-bye.

Navigating the social media waters when you’re trying to promote a product (or yourself, as the product) is tricky. Most of the people I follow on Twitter are either writers or agents, with the occasional editor or publisher thrown in for spice. Both Liv Rancourt and Rayne Hall, if they’re tweeting to promote their various books, do so sparingly, and they choose actual lines from their respective works, designed to hook you. Rayne, who also happens to be an editor, tweets editing tips, much as Adrien-Luc Sanders does. Liv will retweet blog postings, but when she does, they’re always well written and either helpful or entertaining (I particularly liked the one about reality TV signalling the end of the world :))

For the most part, I’ve noticed the agents and editors use Twitter the way I use Facebook: to hold sometimes funny, sometimes juvenile conversations with each other. I keep them on my follow list because that only happens half the time. The other half they’re tweeting about something I need to know, like not to poke the Alot. (Although one editor rarely tweets about work. It’s almost always personal. Did I somehow stumble across her personal handle rather than the professional?)

Which brings up my next point. I signed up for Twitter with the thought I’d use it in a professional capacity. To an extent, I use this blog in a professional capacity. When I query, I include my Twitter handle and my blog address. You will never find me talking smack about my employer either here or in my Twitter stream. I might not do so good with the whole cursing thing, but other than that, I’ve got my game face on. I save the really nasty down and dirty for emails between friends.

Bottom line: there’s more to being a good little social media user than your standard “don’t bash so-and-so.” Lots of landmines to skirt around, but I think I’ll figure it out. Eventually.


4 thoughts on “Twitterquette

  1. Well…I wasn’t one of your Red Button victims since I actually saw this on Twitter! I don’t go on Twitter much because it’s uber overwhelming. But like you, I only do it for business purposes (with the exception of today where I had to express my personal thoughts regarding KStew steppin’ out on RPatz. What can I say?). I do not have my Twitter or personal FB or author FB streaming to my phone because I would go insane. Change that and you’ll probably function at an 11 instead of your normal 13 (10 being high). Luv, me.

  2. I’d never unfollow you! I don’t mind the Twitter stream on my iGoogle page. It’s a nice ten second distraction from work, and without it, I doubt I’d have heard about the last few pitch contests I entered. I turned off a lot of the notifications, though, because the constant barrage of emails (from Twitter and my personal FB account) was exhausting.

  3. I haven’t read that particular post by Kristen, but in general she teaches that your twitter feed should be a mix of posts – if you’re going to do promotional stuff, you also have to RT other’s content and you MUST connect with others in a meaningful way to show the human being behind the @________ . The key to networking is building relationships, and at baseline twitter is a networking tool. And yes, I have no doubt you’ll learn your way around. Because you rock, that’s why…

    1. Aw, why thank you! See, when you retweet, though, it’s purposeful. It’s not just “Hey, buy this dude’s book!”. Hell, I probably wouldn’t have started following Kristen’s Twitter in the first place if you hadn’t retweeted a few of her blog posts.

      Yeah, Kristen’s post was pretty awesome. The great thing about it is it’s applicable to ALL authors, not just self-published ones. These days, newbie authors, even those with a traditional publisher behind them, have to put in a lot of work to move units as well. Books, no matter who publishes them, won’t sell themselves!

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