Archive for May, 2010

The Twitter Follower Rat Race – How I keep sane on Twitter!

Long piece. Patience needed! Only twitter can make me say things in 140 characters! LOL. Enjoy :-

When I started tweeting I was first bored. There seemed no one interested in my presence! My screen remained blank all day. I followed no one and no one followed me. I just couldn’t understand what people were raving about tweeting! Slow learner that I am, I stumbled upon the search gadget on the Twitter home page and saw the huge number of tweets passing every minute. Then I saw Twitter’s client apps in a Google search… and so the journey began!

In life, if one wants friends, then one has to reach out. On Twitter, one “follows” people of interest or tweets them, hoping they’ll reply to your tweets. So I started following one person and then looking over their followers and following lists, choosing others to follow after I read through their page. Now I was atleast getting tweets on my page! Something to read. But no chats yet!

Then I saw a tweet that triggered a response in me and so I gulped and replied. Bingo! I got my first tweet reply!  Soon it became apparent that unless I did one or more of replying, sharing or writing about a subject that interests people, I might as well delete my twitter account as no worthwhile conversation would emerge.

This does not apply to Celebs. And to their “Friends” who are promptly “welcomed” by the Celeb so their followers can add the newcomer, probably an also-ran who is desperately trying to re-emerge in the public eye. They (Celebs) must be less than 1% of the number of people on Twitter. So what do ordinary people do?

Now came the Tweet Adders. Automatons which follow people based on search criteria (or randomly) and hope they follow you back. If not, no problem, these automatons un-follow based again on criteria – like eliminate people who don’t follow you back in 3 days. So the automaton goes on, mindlessly while you can take a vacation from Twitter forever. The list will grow. Like one of my followers says “I Just found how to add TONs of followers” – automatically – since that tweet is also automated and is sent w/o the person having a choice in the matter.

So, you end up with, say, 5,000 followers in 100 days. Then what?

Do you read any of the mountains of tweets that appear on your timeline? CAN you read them all? And if you send a tweet, wouldn’t “they” the followers also be in the exact same situation? Then why be on Twitter? Bragging rights? Brag what? That you have 5,000 followers to your friend at the club or office? Does your club or office friend not know your true nature? That you don’t say a word in a 3 hour session except “Thank you”, “See you tomorrow” etc?! Okay, maybe a few more sentences, but you get the drift – you fool no one except yourself!

Now what? Is there any point to being on Twitter? YES, there is.

But only if you don’t fall prey to the Rat Race. If you do, you’ll feel like a rat alright! I’ve always felt (maybe wrongly) that people who use automatons (or otherwise) to push their followers number up have low self esteem. It’s something like: For some men having a big car is a “measure” – just like having new dresses and jewelry is to women. Now we know that is absurd. But try explaining it to people caught up in that race. That competition is for Celebes of all hues – Film, TV Personalities, Cricketers, etc. Yet it remains mindless. I’ll explain why I say that later in this blog.

So how do you and me use and get maximum satisfaction on twitter? Here’s what I follow afap:

Follow only those with whom you want to strike up a regular friendly relationship. Read their page/s and see if they have anything to say that interests you. Never follow-back simply because they followed you. It may have been an automaton that added you in the first place! The person may be oblivious of you (like celebs are of their zillion followers).

• Interact regularly with your followers tweets.

• Retweet their tweets liberally when you think it is good (funny, true, agrees with your views, etc) but be authentic. A falsehood will be detected – wont you, if that was done to you?

• Nothing wrong with being a silent follower – but there are better options now than follow, thanks to Twitter Lists – so that your timeline doesn’t look like a fish market.

• Fake IDs are used widely by Celebs to follow – but that’s beside the point of this piece and is in fact less efficient than well thought out lists and a good Twitter client, like Tweetdeck.

• Now you have a ‘circle’ of friends – don’t hesitate to enter the conversation. Everyone in the circle knows you are around and (even) hope you’ll break your deathly silence.

• Tweeting jokes, quotes, etc is fine – within limits. Too much and everyone ignores you, maybe even when your actually sharing yourself!

• One cardinal rule: NO public orgasms or maniacal drug-induced-like noises. Imagine, you are doing some serious tweeting and your “friend” who you follow starts with OhOhOhOhOhOhOhOh AhAhAhAhAhAhAh …… and keeps going on and on …. need I say more? Just un-follow that person and if you must, add them to a List like “Mad”.

• Keep your lists LOCKED when you use lists like I do, as TV channels – to unclutter your timeline and switch one to the other to “scan” the channels/lists.

• Be sure to reply most if not all tweets mentioning you, especially from your ‘following’ list. That’s what you call a relationship on twitter. THAT’s what starts a conversation and perhaps an addition later to your following or lists.

• Search regularly for people who have interesting things to say that you would like to monitor (List) or would like to talk to.

• Reply to their tweets. But don’t wear your ego on your tweet, being hurt if they don’t reply. But don’t give up. IF (that’s a big IF) you have something worthwhile to say, they’ll reply and it starts another conversation – for the both of you.

• Rule 2# : DON’T pester. Or nag. Or take everything to heart and launch a tirade.

• The best attraction is if you share something YOU are or have seen ~ not something to be found by Google or a book. Quotes are boring when they are touted and People think you don’t follow or believe them yourself. That’s the “plastic” artificial way most Twitter gurus from the west will have you believe. Not suitable for us Indians! We’ve been bombarded with quotes (mostly religious, pias, goody-goody) from childhood!

• If you have an artistic talent, show it; or if you are a stock trader, share your views. Or your blogs, or even what happened in the neighbourhood, store or cinema you went to. But make it “personal” w/o being gross.

• Lastly, avoid working on twitter and doing your job as a hobby!

I personally enjoy conversations. Especially when I don’t have 100% agreement. That’s so so boring. A good chat needs to bring in different points of view. But don’t make it about being right or wrong. Let it be about the topic, not the personality!

This brings me to ask you, dear reader, a question!

Do you think Britney Spears with her 5,034,430 followers or her 418,521 following list have a semblance of a “chat” or relationship? No. Not humanly possible.

Her page at this time is reproduced below:

1. This is one for the record books!  See who’s reporting BS on this week’s BS Report -Adam Leber, Manager 11:17 PM May 25th via web

2. Thanks everyone this was fun! You guys asked some great questions and lets do this again soon. Bye!  xoxox – Brit2:10 AM May 25th via web

3. icecream, uptempo, PHOTOSHOOTS!, TV2:09 AM May 25th via web

4. Coffee or Icecream? Ballads or Uptempo? taking a picture yourself or doing a photoshoot? Internet or TV? (from @pieceofxmoment)2:09 AM May 25th via web

5. my management told me it would be great way to connect with my fans and they were right  it is!2:07 AM May 25th via web

6. What made you decide to get a twitter account? (from @ christa_d_cruz)2:07 AM May 25th via web

7. Whats your favorite Song from all your Albums? (from @JMAXEN) My favorite song is Toxic2:05 AM May 25th via web

8. do you ever read tweets from your fans? (from @musiqgirl203) well i’m reading yours!  xoxo 2:00 AM May 25th via web

9. I love to take my boys on car drives, and sing songs to them about Mary Poppins that I make up.1:54 AM May 25th via web

10. you are awesome! #1 on twitter! What is your favorite thing to do with your sons?! (from @leighbrad) Ahh…Thank you!1:54 AM May 25th via web

11. If you could duet with any artist who would it be? (from @brianjspears) Would love to do a duet with Robbie Williams… where are you? lol1:50 AM May 25th via web

12. I like New York, but I also LOVE London!  Thats a tough one because there are so many cities I love.  1:47 AM May 25th via web

13. What is your favorite city? (from @TheMrsPudge)1:47 AM May 25th via web

14. I can’t wait for a new album – when will we get it? 🙂 (from @JodieEJ) It’s a surprise!1:42 AM May 25th via web

15. I would love to go, I just didn’t have time during the last tour.  Ill try to come next time!1:38 AM May 25th via web

16. When will you come to latin america? (from @ItsmePaulaGG)1:38 AM May 25th via web

17. You’re stranded on an island – what 3 items would you take? (from @mccoykeith) I couldn’t live without my boots, water and my cd collection.1:33 AM May 25th via web

18. Which sex in the city ladies is your favorite ? (from @Ringleader_RFK) I like Carrie – I love her clothes and shoes!1:30 AM May 25th via web

19. What was your favorite part about the Circus Tour? (from @InTheZone0) The pre shows are my favorite, they always hype me up.1:24 AM May 25th via web

20. Do you like glee? (from @rjwoodyatt17) I love Glee, the cast is so talented.1:20 AM May 25th via web

NOW, would you like your timeline crowded with these say-nothing tweets? I certainly do not. If you MUST hear what she has to say, use a list!

It seems from her timeline that she has some professionals run the page for her. Like many of our own Celebs do.

The games for Celebs is different from that mere mortals like me and maybe you need to play!

Amitabh Bachchan follows 5 people and has 131,242 followers (at this time). SRK follows 43 and has 422,905 following. SRK is King of Bollywood (by common consensus) – but how does his following add to his popularity of that of his films? TV will; Twitter? I don’t know. Wrong medium I’d say.

In fact, the Celebs will know that familiarity breeds contempt. Twitter is a threat to them. Wonder who convinced them. Can’t be their real friend. Only one Actor – Saif Ali Khan – said that Actors must keep ‘some’ distance from their fans. And Aamir isn’t on twitter either.

UNLESS Celebs also mix and talk with their followers. And dont Block who ask inconvenient questions. If they are truly people with some interesting things to say in a conversation with their fans and not just drop useless pearls of wisdom from time to time, then Twitter can help. Otherwise, someone please enlighten me how Twitter can Celebs help, in the long run!

No, the numbers game on Twitter, is for me, a total give away of a person’s lack of self esteem (celebs excluded).

I take as good as I give, so don’t hesitate to share your views with me @jsvasan

PS: I’ve taken some examples to illustrate some points. I mean no personal affront to any of them. In fact, I like @srbachchan ’s acting. Though his tweets seem to me as coming from one who is paranoid after persistent attacks on him from authorities and media alike, since he gives each day on twitter a code “T14” as we go to press.

See? Twitter can be a threat to a Celeb – it will reveal more than it hides And it may be totally untrue; that’s human perception!