How are You Using Twitter?

I’ve been using Twitter for a while now. When I first joined Twitter, I wanted to find out how to make the best use of it, so I read a number of articles online that dished out advice on how to use Twitter correctly.

Among the things they taught were:

  • Engage in conversations
  • Don’t talk about yourself all the time
  • Share, i.e. retweet, profusely and generously
  • Look out for people who converse regularly on Twitter, and follow/befriend them
  • Don’t look at Twitter as a tool for spreading your content, but as a channel for reading content

All totally sound and reasonable advice, which I heeded immediately—until I got familiar with Twitter and slowly but surely discovered this:

There are no rules for using Twitter. (Or any other tool for that matter.)

I’ve followed people who almost constantly engage in conversations with their followers, as advised. But I soon realized that I’m always looking at a snippet of their conversations on my feed, and I didn’t feel like I was getting to learn anything about/from them, other than the fact that they either have many friends, or they are chatterboxes.

I’ve also followed people who retweeted profusely, and while many times people you follow do retweet things that are of interest to you, for many of these folks retweets make up all their tweets, to the extent that you don’t know who the hell they really are. I don’t want to follow a automatic retweeting machine, thank you. I’d rather follow a real human being.

And while it does sound like it is a better idea to converse with people rather than blabber to yourself, on Twitter—for me, that is—I like to think the opposite is true.

Coz when I follow an architect on Twitter, I want to catch a glimpse of what life as an architect is like. I want to hear her mumble and blabber about her projects and challenges and creative endeavors, much more than I’d like to hear her conversation with others. And if I follow a librarian and all he does is retweet all kinds of random stuff or chatter with people, then I will feel disappointed, and invariably unfollow him.

Similarly, when someone follows me, I assume she doesn’t necessarily want to chat with me. Or see me chatting with others. In all likelihood, she wants, through my tweets, to find out what I do, and to find out all the quirks and nuances and annoyances that’s unique to my profession. And so, for the sake of these followers, I’d much rather fill my feed with my constant blabbering rather than with retweets and conversations. Which is why, recently, I’ve cut down on my retweets on cinema and art, choosing to favorite them instead. Wouldn’t want to disappoint my followers, do I?

Screenshot of me blabbering in consecutive tweets on Twitter
Me blabbering on Twitter

And when I looked at my past tweets, I realized a majority of them were retweets on films, followed by those of nice photographs/architecture/painting, etc. Most of these works, too, were by established masters of the craft. And I had to ask myself, why was I doing that? These masters of craft, even if they’re still alive, no longer need any form of promotion or free marketing. It’s the young, ambitious, but unknown who need the retweets, yet we ain’t giving them enough love. That’s also why, right now, I make it a point to retweet living people, many times young ones, who need more attention and promotion.

At the end of the day, I guess, there is no one right way to use Twitter, or any other tool for that matter. The key is to actually try things out for yourself and discover what works best for you, and you alone. What about you? How are you using Twitter?