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I Don’t Understand Twitter

Apparently one of the key aspects of freelancing is having an in-depth understanding of social media. One must be able to not only share their work, but engage, converse, and interact with followers.

Don’t just throw up a link and call it a day! Show your personality! Chat with people! Toss out a poll or a question or a meme! Be funny! Snarky, even! But not too snarky — don’t be mean! And be chatty! But terse! Share pictures! But make sure they’re perfect! And be personal! But not too personal — you don’t want to take away from your work! Remember, you’re here to build an audience!

Ugh. It’s all so complicated.

And then there are the various channels through which you can do all this sharing, engaging, conversing, and interacting. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and a whole slew of others I know are popular but don’t remember what they’re called.

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See, I’m what the kids refer to as “old.” When I had my son six years ago the doctor repeatedly told me I was of “advanced maternal age.” I was a fan of MTV back when the M stood for music, or Martha (Quinn), rather than mediocrity.

When I was in my prime, the Internet was all AOL instant messaging, chat rooms, and clunky GeoCities websites. Logging on to dial-up Internet meant sitting through a high-pitched whirring noise followed by head-splitting static, and you were always afraid someone would pick up the phone and interrupt your connection.

Fast forward to today, twenty-something years later, and we’re carrying computers in the palm of our hands. Connecting to the Internet isn’t really a thing because we’re connected all the time. And unlike days of yore, when email, chat rooms, and instant messages were the only ways to interact, we now have entire platforms dedicated to keeping us in touch.

But there are rules to these sites. Instagram is for photos. Twitter is for brevity. Facebook is, at least these days, for sharing articles and unfollowing people who don’t share your political views. Pinterest is for saving something you swear you’ll go back and look at later but never do. Each one requires an understanding of the ins and outs, and a commitment to building an audience.

When I joined the freelancing game, I didn’t realize just how much work went into marketing. I thought I could write something, publish it on Medium, and call it a day. Sadly, that’s not the case. If I don’t actively promote my writing, it doesn’t get read. In looking at my stats, more than half my reads come from external sources (my website or social media).

I have to spend hours each day just to get people to read what I’ve written, while also intentionally showing them I’m a real human who can be funny and witty and relatable (all while thinking please like me and read what I’ve written and support my work so I can someday get wealthy enough to hire someone to do all this posting for me)!

After a few months at this, I’ve narrowed the bulk of my social media promotion down to Facebook and Instagram. Jonathan Greene will tell you to quit Facebook and never, ever use Instagram to promote your writing.

I get where he’s coming from. But I’ll continue to use both, primarily because they’re the two I can figure out. I can wrap my head around them. I understand how to post, and I get enough of a response that I feel encouraged to continue.

But the big guy? That little blue bird everyone loves? It confuses the hell out of me.

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A lot of people love Twitter. It’s a constant flow of silliness, hard-hitting news, political rants, and opinions. But it’s overwhelming. I’ve played the Twitter game for a while now and I still can’t make headway.

Logging on to Twitter is like entering a giant room where millions of people are screaming at the same time. And unless you are one of the few with so many followers that you have a virtual mic in hand, your screams will never be heard.

Not sure how or why, but I get new followers all the time. Every few days I get the pop-up that so-and-so is now following me. Which would be great if it led to any meaningful interaction, but no.

My Tweets are mostly ignored. I share a link to my work! Ignored. I post a silly thought! Ignored. I share a photo! Ignored. I promote another friend’s work! Ignored (except by the friend who immediately hearts it).

It’s demoralizing.

I don’t have any issues with Twitter, per se. It’s fine for what it is. But I can’t seem to get a foothold on it and to be honest, I don’t care enough to try harder. I don’t like the feeling of having my thoughts pushed virtually aside. It’s like being in junior high all over again.

So, rather than trying to force it, I’ll stick with my Insta and Facebook accounts. I’ll continue to post a little on Twitter but I won’t focus much time and attention there. It’s too noisy. Too crowded. Too exhausting.

As they say, you can’t teach an old lady new tricks.