PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Seriously, what in my life is so imminent and important that it needs constant sharing? Seems that bugging people via their phones 10 times a day is just a waste of everyone's time. --Trust me, my life is not as glamorous as you think. I take out the trash. Want to know about it? Didn't think so.
What are everybody's thoughts? In what way is twitter a good tool? What am I missing?
Tara, have any good advice for us?
I have the same question.
Will love to know what Tara thinks about it.
I think Twitter can be a valuable tool for finding and sharing information, but just like any tool from a saw, file, pen to paintbrush, some skill is required to use the tool effectively.
Twitter Tool 1) Follow individuals on Twitter selectively.
If the person posts interesting comments or information, then they are worth following. If they post information that is not substantive (like doing their laundry) then I am less likely to follow them. This is not a "like" or "dislike" decision. It is filter for managing information overload.This brings me to the next tip.
Twitter Tip 2) We can all add value to Twitter.
Twitter can function as a resource of information and networking. For example, if an update about an exhibition opportunity or a new juried book arrives in my mailbox, I will share this opportunity on Twitter in an effort to share with a larger community. Sharing information relevant to your community has value. Writing about your laundry list of chores is not developing quality content, and it not an effective use of Twitter.
Twitter Tip 3) The future of the internet is content.
The information you share on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network can build your community. It can be a source of knowledge and information. It is also a mirror of your self-reflection. What you have to say can be insight into your thinking. How you use this tool reflects your skill with information.
Twitter Tip 4) This interview on Charlie Rose with Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey is worth watching for gaining insight into the tool of Twitter. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11404
My TWITTER ADDRESS:
If you follow me on Twitter, I promise to only share professional development information relevant to artists and makers.
Twitter is absolutely a great tool when used correctly. I've met people from around the world, made real-world friends, learned new techniques, and more by using it on a regular basis and connecting with people in a genuine fashion.
However, I think the expectations around what is and what it's used for can be a little confusing at times and that leads people to become disappointed with it in very short order. Twitter is not, in general, a great direct sales tool. Nor is it a broadcast-only medium, something I see far too frequently from new users.
Join the Conversation
I think it's best to think of Twitter as a giant, ongoing casual conversation. Imagine yourself in a room full of people, all talking about random topics. Some are having serious debates about politics, religion, war and the like, but others are just talking about their day, the delicious new restaurant they tried and other real world casual chatter topics.
Is some of what people post inane? Yeah, it's a given that some of what you'll find on Twitter is in no way interesting to you personally. Not everyone is interested in the same things and while 'that new restaurant down the block' might be the epitome of droll conversation to you, someone out there is probably really excited to talk about it. The key is to find and connect with the people who are interested in the things that interest you in turn. You'll be surprised at how many remarkable people you will and the variety of fantastic things and people they'll connect with you in turn.
As an aside, just this morning I read a fantastic little article about the impending extinction of the Guinea Worm, because I happen to follow a bunch of nature nerds like myself and one of those shared a link to the article. I don't know that I would have ever found this little piece of info otherwise. The link, for anyone who is curious: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/24/the-guinea-worm-...
Thou Shalt Not Billboard (or at least not exclusively)
Billboarding is how I tend to refer to broadcasting content without any conversation. It's posting a link to an Etsy item and not asking people what they think, or otherwise creating any sort of bridge between the product/content/etc and the people who might be following you.
Again, think of yourself as being part of a huge conversation. If you just stand around and simply state over and over again 'BUY MY STUFF', while never responding to any actual conversations, no one is going to want to talk to you. You're not participating in a conversation, you're just going to end annoying people who have no other reason to want to continue to listen to what you have to say. They don't know you at that point, they just feel like you're trying to sell them something. As in real life, people don't respond particularly well to that tactic.
Now, if you actually participate in conversation on a regular basis and then point out something you've made or have put up for sale, etc, that's a different story entirely. The people you interact with who like you for you and not just for your product will often be your best advocates, retweeting your message and enthusiastically supporting you.
The First 100 is the Hardest
I'm not going to lie: Starting to use Twitter is really the hardest part of the process. Not signing up for an account, but finding those initial people to follow and engage with, and then kicking off any sort of conversation. It's a little like the first day at a new school, without the benefit of actually being able to see the people you're trying to talk to.
The best way to get past this? Find people you know from other areas of life (be it in person or online) that are on Twitter already and follow them. Then ask them who else you should follow! I am constantly playing digital matchmaker between people I know on Twitter. Not out of any sort of obligation, but because I naturally like introducing people that would enjoy talking to one another. Just like in real life, if you have friends with common interests, it's easy to want to introduce them to one another!
You Don't Need to be Tweeting 24/7
But you do need to be on there regularly! It is perfectly acceptable to set time limits for yourself around using Twitter, as long as you're checking in at fairly regular intervals.
One of my favorite artists on Twitter is Doug TenNapel (@TenNapel). He's an illustrator that worked on a video game in the Sega Genesis era and has since worked on a wide range of really fantastic comics. He's also one of my favorite people on Twitter, despite a relatively low level of interaction. He manages this by being genuine, consistently sharing great content, and by participating with his fans and followers. He checks in on a daily basis, favorites some of the Tweets from his fans, responds to a few people directly, shares his newest work, something he's interested in, etc, and then wanders off again. You're not likely to get into an in-depth conversation with him, but the random 'water-cooler moment' is still fun and interesting!
One of TenNapel's fantastic comics
So remember: If you're worried about time or getting too wrapped up in the conversation, it's perfectly okay for you to schedule out when you're going to use Twitter. Give yourself a goal, such as 'I will be on Twitter 10 minutes every morning after breakfast', and then just make sure you do it regularly.
This isn't a tip, but my late lunch break is over and I need to get back to work! I feel like I've just scratched the surface, so if you have questions, please ask!
I think that Twitter is useful and I can honestly say that it saved my life in a way: during the riots in London two years ago, Twitter meant that we had the information instantly to keep away from the trouble and get to the train back to Brighton safely.
As to people posting the likes of, "OMG, those shoes in H&M"... well, that is never going to be the way that we work, but in terms of updates to pieces of work and updates to Crafthaus or Blogs, it is a quick and concise way of letting people know what is going on. My list of people I follow is basically a list of interesting jewellers and it is always good to know what these people are doing. I also follow people like Craft Scotland, who sometimes put out calls for entry on Twitter.
My own postings are inevitably a share of something I think others might be find interesting (such as this, which I tweeted yesterday), a note about updates to my Blog or updates to work I am doing at the bench. This, I think, helps people to understand what I am about and also helps me to understand if what I am doing is "right".
It seems to me that it is important to tailor your tweets to your intended audience: my audience don't care what I had for breakfast or for pictures of "lolcats" and I don't expect the people I follow to tweet things like that either.
From a linguistic point of view, I find the challenge of creating perfect, expressive sentences in 140 characters very refreshing!
I see I missed something germaine to my questions that was posted yesterday. I best learn to use my computer better.
Okay, now that I'm up to speed here (sorry about that) with Tara and Harriete's thoughtful explanations...
I still have my doubts. Are we joining in this grand discussion so that we can be part of a huge wonderful debate or is there something actually relevant going on? Certainly I understand the point to sharing and involvement but at what point is enough enough? Maybe I'm just a cynic but learning how to "jump on the social wagon" because it's there seems an odd thing to me. Is the point simply to be engaged in contact with others?
Why do you engage in conversations with people in real life? It's much the same when you apply that thinking to Twitter. Sometimes it's to discuss something serious, other times it's just to share something that made you laugh/cry/think, etc. You make connections with people, get to know them better and share information back and forth via conversation, even when you're not actively mining for data.
Excuse my sloppiness here. But I should clarify that when I say joining in the "Grand Discussion" I don't mean on this forum, I mean the grand discussion on twitter that Tara is describing.
When I have a conversation with someone in "real life', though, it tends to be one on one. Posting on twitter or FB goes out to the multitudes and so you have to be careful, guarded to a point, and recognize that what you say will never be erased. That can be intimidating, despite all the people who behave inappropriately on public media.
I can't imagine standing in front of the crowd at a stadium, for example, that is facebook or twit and saying any of the things I could say if you and I met at a cocktail party or the SNAG show.