Using Twitter Effectively: Part 10 of 10 – Inactivity

Nat RussoHow-To, Twitter, Writing 22 Comments

We’ve finally arrived! Welcome to Part 10 of a 10-part series on Using Twitter Effectively. We’ve covered all the dos and most of the don’ts, but one don’t remains:

Lack of activity.

This one is simple, so we’ll keep it short and to the point.

A Disclaimer

This series was originally written over a 10-day period in 2013. I’ve included relevant updates throughout the series as Twitter changed policies and procedures. Please be aware that I may not have caught all of the changes. If you find such a change that isn’t captured in this series, please leave a comment with the new Twitter policy, and I’ll update the series accordingly. Cheers!

Activity Begets Activity

Physics 101. A body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force. So does a body at rest. If you want activity then you need to be active.

Mic Drops Won’t Build Your Platform

You’ve seen a mic drop before, right? A performer does what they consider to be an amazing performance, holds the microphone out to his/her side, drops the mic and walks off stage as if to say “yeah…that just happened and don’t you forget it.” [Think back to that famous scene in Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America where they’re at the fund-raising banquet and the lead singer of “Sexual Chocolate” drops the mic after the Whitney Houston song. Best mic drop ever!]
The equivalent on Twitter is Tweeting and then abandoning your account for days, weeks, or months, before returning to lay another mic dro…err Tweet on us. Then another lengthy absence, followed by another mic drop, etc.
People aren’t going to flock to you just because you hung out a shingle that says Writer. Unlike the lead singer of Sexual Chocolate, you have not appeared on the “What’s Goin’ Down” episode of That’s My Momma! So you need to work a little for it. Interact with people regularly and your social network will grow.

If You’re Not There, You Can’t Contribute

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said it, so I’m not even going to offer a guess at a number: Building your platform is about being a contributor, not a consumer. If you approach your Twitter experience in a goal-oriented way, then you probably came to this conclusion long before I said it.
The most common way in which a person decides whether or not to follow you is by taking a quick glance at your recent Tweets. Every Tweet you create is time stamped. All a person has to do is look to the right of a Tweet and they’ll see the amount of time that has elapsed between the time you originally posted it and now.
Things happen. People go on vacation. They get sick. They get busy with various things. By looking at your recent Tweets it’s very easy for a person to determine whether your lengthy absences are rare or frequent.
Place yourself in a potential follower’s shoes. You’re looking for some new people to follow, but you’re unsure about two of them. Those slots are valuable if you’re bumping up against that ratio I spoke about in Part Three – Building a Meaningful Following. So you decide to take a look at their recent Tweets. 
Person A has a pretty active feed. She Tweets a few times per day and seems like she knows what she’s talking about. On occasion she posts links to articles that helped her become a better writer. There’s a healthy mix of original content and retweets. So she’s not only a producer of content, but a decent curator as well. In fact, if you produce decent content, she may even retweet you! As you scroll down the feed you notice there was a period of about 3 weeks where she had no activity. But a closer look reveals it was a vacation…she posted something about it, maybe some pics or witty comments, etc. It doesn’t appear to be the norm for her.
You’re still on the fence so you head on over to Person B’s profile.
Person B’s last tweet was three days ago. Maybe he was sick or on vacation or something. Scroll. Nope, his previous tweet was 6 days before that. Is it important info? Hmmm…the first tweet was about his crappy coffee, then nothing for a week…until he had crappy coffee again. Ok, benefit of the doubt…what about before that? Dog pictures, a conversation about unicorns that took an odd turn…and something about weird pickles you’ve never heard of.
Person A wins.
Anyone who follows me knows I like to post, on occasion, about my crappy coffee (which is why I used that example). But the operative words there are “on occasion”. Know your following. Know your community. Don’t get me wrong, we want to have fun here. We want to joke around with people! We want to make new friends, and new friends often spend a lot of time laughing together. That’s ok! Just remember why you’re here, and keep your goal ever before you. Have fun, but have fun while contributing.

In The End…

So after ten posts on the subject of using Twitter to build your writer’s platform, what’s the bottom line? What’s the secret sauce? What the hell’s a booyah pickle anyway? (Sorry…trade secret on the pickles.)
In the end, the only thing that matters is that you’re a contributor to your chosen community. Contribute valuable content by offering your opinions, lessons learned, interesting articles that are on topic, and yes…your unique sense of humor. Keep your goal in mind and your platform will grow faster than you can imagine. And when you look back on it, you’ll get a chuckle out of what little effort it took, relative to the overwhelming sense of community, support and friendship you’ve received in return.
So, what do you think? Was the series a helpful one, or just a bunch of random windbaggery? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Nat Russo

Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.

Comments 22

    1. It’s an exercise of mine every Saturday to sit down with JustUnfollow and go through the list of people I’m following that are not following back. I unfollow each of them. They’re the folks I followed the previous Saturday and I figure on average a week is enough time for them to follow back.

  1. This was just random windbaggery. I keeeed!

    These were really great, Nat. Especially for a newb to Twitter and utter Luddite like me.
    The gist I got was: Be yourself. Unless you’re a shallow schill. Then be someone else.

    1. Don’t know how I missed seeing this comment yesterday!

      You hit the nail on the head. The cool thing about being an artist of any flavor is that people are interested in us, because whatever art we create comes from some place deep within.

      In a way, what we write (paint, sculpt, draw, dance…) and who we are tend to feed off one another.

      I think success in any community comes down to being true to who you are, and being a contributing member of that community.

  2. Also, FYI and not quite on topic, every time I try to comment in your blog, if I leave the comment box and scroll up or down, it won’t let me type in the comment box again. Weird, right? Maybe cuz I is on ipad?

  3. Love, love, loved this series Nat. Could have done with it when I first started twitter but still plenty of useful tips for me now. Will make a mental note to remember to keep holding the mic! I’m going to try creating my first list now and will add you at the top!

  4. At last I have a clue how to work Twitter without giving my life over to it. Can’t thank you enough, Nat, this series is so helpful and informative. I’m off now to follow up the notes I took whilst reading all ten parts and I want to pass a link to a couple of my writer pals.

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      Ann Marie! Not sure what happened, but I seem to have had a tech fail! I just got the alert for your comment at the same time I got the alert for the latest one below you.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. Thank you, Mr. Russo. I’ve finally digested the entire series on Twitter and found it very useful. You have so many great tools for writers on your website. I look forward to reading the rest of your series articles in order to learn more about the craft and business.

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    2. I followed your suggestion and signed up with Hootsuite. It looks like a great tool to help build my platform. Thanks again!

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  6. Thanks Nat for a very informative set of documents. I was beginning to suspect that twitter was like a fire hose. I corrected my profile immediately and I am now going to look further into lists and twitter tools.

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  7. Migrating from Facebook to Twitter and this was one of the first tweets that caught my eye the same day I made that decision. Perfect timing because I was more than a little apprehensive about the switch thanks to the differences between platforms. I’ve clung to Facebook for years despite its flaws simply because Twitter was so overwhelming. Now I’ve made a list of who I want to follow, gotten clear in my mind what I want my contribution and content/ curation to be and I’m ready to become an active user on Twitter. In no small part thanks to your thorough and timely series on the subject. Thanks Nat! ^.^ ❤

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      Thanks so much, Knicky! I remember how overwhelming Twitter was to me at first. Practically incomprehensible. I have no doubt you’ll definitely pick it up in no time!

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