How do you use Twitter?


For many years I refused to use Twitter. There were enough demands on my time and energy without this trivial, sound-bite method of communication, I thought. Even though I worked in the field of nonprofit publicity, where using Twitter was becoming an essential part of the game, I firmly held to this principle.

Then I became a book blogger (talk about demands on time and energy!) and saw so many other bloggers happily using Twitter that I impulsively jumped in. And surprise — I loved it! I like the quick, informal interactions, and there’s always something new and interesting to see.

There are some things I don’t like, though. The number of messages in my feed can be overwhelming, and I don’t like not having any ability to filter out messages that are not of interest to me.  (Yes, I have used TweetDeck, but that doesn’t really help — it gives me the ability to put messages into different categories, but then I still have to look at them all to see what’s there.)

There are also things I don’t understand, like Twitter chats. When I try to follow or participate in the hashtag, I have a hard time following the conversation. I can’t find the questions, or some responses are missing, and I lose the thread and get frustrated. Is there some secret I’m not aware of? (Aha — I just figured out I should be making sure I see the posts in “live” view so they are chronological, not “top.” That might help.)

I wonder about some matters of etiquette. There are some bloggers who very kindly retweet some of my posts. I try to thank them every week, but should I be retweeting in return? I’m pretty lazy about that. Also, I know some say you should follow everyone who follows you, but there’s no way I can do that. I have to exclude even some bloggers I really like — not to mention many authors and publishers — because if I didn’t my feed would become way too enormous. Another question: I see some people tweeting multiple times about the same post or event — is this really all right? I can understand you might want to catch those who didn’t see your first mention, but it could become annoying.

Then there’s security. I notice a lot of random people — authors, a lot of them — follow me, and I wonder about their motives. Who can usefully follow so many people? Are they fishing for me to follow them? I don’t really do personal tweets, so mostly I leave them to it, although I have blocked some that seem inappropriate (porn and such). Is there something more I should be doing?

So, Twitter-users, let me know if you have any tips or tricks or suggestions for me. Why and how do you use Twitter? Or if you don’t, why not? Let’s discuss!

30 thoughts on “How do you use Twitter?

  1. For chats I use Tweetdeck and make a column for the chat hashtag only. That way I only see that discussion.
    I don’t follow everyone who follows me. I keep who I follow very low so I can actually read what everyone is saying.
    Sometimes I do schedule a tweet for the same blog post in the morning and night but that is it. I hate seeing the same post over and over for days.


    1. I do the same re: tweet scheduling! Shannon from River City Reading says she has a rule that she can’t tweet about a post in the evening until she has answered all her comments on that post from that morning — which I think is brilliant. It’s helped me respond to comments more quickly AND reminded me to do a second tweet about the day’s post for the afternoon crowd.

      (She said, having not done either of those things on today’s post. ;p)


  2. I’m glad you took the plunge and joined Twitter! I use Twitter to share my own and others’ work and to chat, often in online book clubs or book-themed events. I tried following chats on a separate Twitter client that shows the live feed instantly and, surprisingly, this pace was way too fast for me! I couldn’t keep up in making replies, so I became oddly tongue-tied or “tweet-tied”! I find it much more stress-free to chat using main Twitter app: I simply check both the hashtag feed and the my own reply notifications in case people forget to add the tag (I do sometimes!). I don’t think I miss much this way, and I actually prefer replying in threads and seeing what precededy tweets in the discussion.

    As for the Twitter feed, I do follow back when someone appears to share an interest or when I am writing about their book or post. My Twitter feed is too large to read everything; rather I usually check my notifications and then dip into the main feed when I have a little time. It’s little serendipity, and I always spot something of interest. One’s Twitter feed tends to grow over time, one’s personal corner of the ocean. Because of people’s tweeting their interests, I may see something I wouldn’t choose myself, but likewise I can learn about valuable issues or news I might not discover on my own. I rarely block: only offensive content or aggressive sales promotions. I hope this is helpful, but the main thing is Twitter’s flexibility: you can use it as you wish!


  3. For Twitter chats, I usually go to Tweetchat.

    And I absolutely do not follow everyone who follows me. That would make my feed too big and would mean having lots of stuff in it that doesn’t interest me (like authors promoting their books). I’m sure some authors do follow bloggers to get the bloggers’ attention. I mostly just ignore them.

    I used to do a lot of retweeting and sharing other people’s posts, but I’ve been lazy about that lately. I don’t do that to reciprocate, though, just to share things I think my followers would like. If someone tweets my stuff, I’ll try to thank them in the moment, but I don’t always get around to it. I don’t think there are any hard-and-fast rules about reciprocating or thanking. People do what they can.

    As far as tweeting multiple times about the same thing, there are people who go way overboard. If it’s a habit, I unfollow that person. But a couple of tweets a day isn’t a big deal for a blog post, or even several a day for a big event. The main thing is to spread them out and to talk about other things, too.


  4. I’m with you on initially being Twitter-averse. I was too and, even now, I don’t tweet that often (I think I’ve only sent about 3,000 tweets during the entire 4 yrs I’ve been on it. When I look at other bloggers’ numbers, that seems incredibly low.

    I rarely participate in Twitter chats…I just don’t normally have the time. But, I see them going on sometimes and try to follow along for a bit and find it difficult as well.

    I def don’t follow everyone back who follows me, but if it’s another book blogger, I’ll briefly check out their profile and see if we share any interests (sometimes it’s obvious that it’s a fantasy or romance blog, which I don’t read, so won’t follow back). If so, I’ll follow back. And – I try to cull down the people I follow a couple times a year.

    And – my biggest pet peeve is when someone (usually completely random and not involved in the book or blogging world) follows me, then unfollows me, then re-follows me over and over…I’m guessing in a bid to get me to follow them back. It doesn’t happen too often, but there are a couple names I now know that are big on that.


  5. I use Twitter as a way to express my opinions on things that interest me.

    As such a Tweet a lot about books and history but also about political and social issues. I actually think that they all relate. I find it a really great place to express oneself on an entire host of things.

    There is a dark side, when one delves into these issues one can at least expect rudeness and insults. There are also threats, sometimes serious that tie into folks digging into ones personal information.

    It can also be a great place to connect withy people and discuss things. I have met some really great folks, including people who I have disagreements with over issues.

    In the end however, it can be too time consuming.

    I follow a lot of people but have only a few on notifications, this way I am alerted to everything that they Tweet.


    1. Wow, that is scary about threats and invading your privacy. So many people today seem unable to accept differences of opinion and have a civil conversation.


  6. I have about 4200 followers and I follow all back. Of course I cannot and do not want too read 10,000 tweets a day. I put those I follow in lists. I have three hundred in my “core list” whose tweets I want to read, I have a list for authors but rarely look at. I do try retweet those who tweet me. I think most who have huge numbers of people they follow are seeking followers so they can claim they have large following to potential customers.


  7. I like Twitter, but am still a bit baffled by some aspects of it too to be honest. Chats always look fun and I want to join in, but I can’t keep up either, and I have been pretty terrible at retweeting myself recently, and I hate when my feed is just me promoting my own posts. I’m really wanting to start putting more time into soon, because, like Instagram I seem to go through phases where I’m on it all the time and then others when I don’t post for days. Hopefully we’ll both fully get to grips with it soon!
    Great post! 🙂


    1. I also tend to forget chats are happening till they are over, which also makes it hard to get any practice with joining them. Someday I will get my act together there.


  8. I mostly use twitter for promoting my post and interacting with other bloggers. I usually only participated in chats which is hosted by blogger that I follow on twitter, so it’s easier to see the questions. I actually rarely retweeted other people’s tweet and I don’t think you have to retweeted that person’s tweet back! I also don’t think you have to follow every single person back since your timeline will be really full 🙂


  9. I like Twitter to keep up with current events and to see what people are saying about them. I see it, for now, as a way to keep up without getting involved, which I don’t really have the time to do. I do have a hard time when people Tweet A LOT, and for example when a tv station or other event wants you to tweet a long with the program or event. Too many tweets, so I just stay off until it passes 🙂


  10. Twitter is actually my preferred social media platform for promoting blog content and talking to other book bloggers and readers. It’s also the only platform I use.


  11. I really enjoy twitter too 🙂 I like to use the list feature and make a list of bloggers I’d particularly like to interact with. That allows me to follow everyone I want to follow, but also to prioritize interactions with bloggers I actually “know” outside of twitter. I also use Twubs for twitter chats and that helps me keep things organized.


    1. I’m so bad at keeping up with lists. I started some, but I don’t really check them or remember to put people in them. I should work on using them more so my feed is not quite so enormous and random. I haven’t heard of Twubs, but I will check it out — thanks!


  12. I’m kind of sporadic with my Twitter usage – I’ll go through periods where I’m really good about keeping up and interacting and times where I realize I’ve ignored it almost completely for a week. Tweetdeck lists help me a lot, especially since I USED TO follow everyone who followed me (I figured out that that doesn’t make sense after a while, but I follow about1800 people) – I have lists for favorite bloggers, authors and publishers, so I always check those lists first. I DO need to do a quick reorganization now and again though to keep those up to date (probably need to do one now!).
    Oh and most people say it’s okay to tweet about events or posts a few times, as long as it doesn’t get overwhelming.


    1. I guess that makes sense, because you will catch different people at different times of day. But I still feel reluctant to do it myself — I’m hyper-conscious about being spammy.


  13. When it comes to Twitter, I just… don’t get it. Like, I have an account, I occasionally post stuff, but I still don’t get it. I’m not good at it. I don’t know what to post. I can’t say anything in so few characters lol. I know it’s supposedly really helpful and important and all that, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. It’s more like a bunch of people just following each other to get more followers themselves so that we can all then tell other people (like publishers, in the case of book bloggers) how many we have. But I rarely click on any links I see on Twitter, and I rarely get people on my site coming from Twitter. But maybe it’s more helpful for people who actually get it in a way that I clearly do not 😛


    1. That’s how I felt for a long time, but somehow I got used to it (the small number of characters, etc.) Short, informal interactions are what it’s good for.

      I think there’s no need to use it if you don’t like it, unless you’re a professional publicist who has to. Don’t worry about how “helpful and important” it is — that only applies if YOU find it helpful and important.


  14. I wouldn’t say I’m a “professional” at Twitter, but I do use it as my main promoter. Along with my actual blog posts, I also cross-post my Instagram pictures and tag the author and publisher. For Twitter chats, I agree that they do move fast! I usually keep a tab open for the host (so I can see the questions), a tab for my notifications, and a tab for the actual chat. Don’t feel bad if you don’t follow everyone back or even if you unfollow! I certainly don’t. Some accounts are very spammy so I hate having my feed clogged with that. Good luck and if you ever need help, my @ is @PrincessicaOB!


    1. That’s a good tip for Twitter chats. Sometimes I have trouble finding the questions, so keeping a tab open for the host would help. Thanks!


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