5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Twitter

I forget sometimes that some people don’t use Twitter. It’s so embedded into the way I interact with the world, I am usually a little shocked when someone says, “I don’t have a clue about Twitter and don’t want to learn.”

Twitter is not for everyone, and has changed over the years. It’s a meaner, more commercialized, more divisive place than it used to be.

So many of my acquaintances feel the same as Sandi from Midlife Roadtrip:

Make the most out of Twitter

With 100,000+ tweets behind me, here are my thoughts on Twitter 2018:

Learning the Basics Matters

The most frequent thing people say to me is “I don’t get it” or “I don’t understand Twitter.” It is like learning a foreign language. I swore I would never speak in hashtags but here I am. #NeverSayNever

It’s difficult to find a Twitter 101-type resource that is updated enough to reflect current changes. This one from Wired is decent. Just replace “140 characters” with “280 characters” and note that timelines now are not necessarily chronological (unless you change your settings, as I did, because non-chronological Twitter frustrated me intensely).

Sometimes it is best to read, not tweet

If you read nothing else written in this post, take note of this piece of advice: you don’t always have to respond on Twitter. In fact, you can mute terms that make you anxious. You can block people who creep you out. You can construct lists of people that share interest in common with you, or people who simply make you happy. Twitter will be much more pleasant this way.

One thing Twitter does for me is provide insight on some people who I find interesting, but for various reasons have chosen not to follow. It may be professional (it helps to know that a reporter you plan to pitch is a vegetarian before you pitch your awesome article about novel recipes for meat eaters, for example). It may be personal (you just want to know more about Jane Doe but it’s not a close enough relationship to follow her — kind of the 2018 equivalent of the people-watching we used to do IRL (in real life) at the mall).

Follow People with Whom You Disagree

Although this is not how some people choose to use Twitter, I appreciate the way it gives me perspective into what people think that believe differently than I do. It’s a relatively safe way to get a sense of what the other side is saying and thinking, in 280-character bites. Somehow it feels less “attack-y” than Facebook. Just remember #2 above – you don’t have to always engage on Twitter.

Don’t Hesitate to Tweet with Well-known People

Celebrities (many of them, anyway) love Twitter. Katy Perry is #1 on Twitter with a following approaching 1.9 million (more than Barack Obama). At a ranking of 865,089, I’m definitely far down the Twitter pecking order. BUT, thanks to Twitter, I can support celebrities I care about and interact with the ones who choose to respond (or have a staff person do it — I guess you never really know).

A few fave celebrities on Twitter:

Rubem Robierb – I love his art and his consistently positive, thought-provoking take on things. Follow him at @rubemrobierbart.

Cate Elephante – Okay, she’s 6 years old, and her parent(s) have acknowledged managing her account. But it wouldn’t be logical for a 6-year-old to be managing their own Twitter and social media, right? I saw her as Lulu in Waitress in December 2016, and have followed her since then. I foresee big things out of her, onstage or off, whatever she chooses (because …. she’s 6!). Follow her at @cateelefante.

On the flip side, keep your expectations in check. I’ve gotten better about this over the  years, but sometimes you feel you’ve developed a rapport with someone you’ve met over social media, but the two of you share different outlooks. I wrote about this here, when I said, “Balancing the sentiment of “we could be friends!” with “we are strangers to one another who have not established a trust or intimacy level” is a delicate thing.”

Participate in Twitter Chats and Parties

I have participated in Twitter chats for years. In a Twitter chat, participants have an allotted amount of time to interact with each other, brought together by a shared interest and common hashtag. (I was a #RunChat featured blogger for years and kept participating in the Sunday evening weekly chats for a long time.) Twitter chats are a great way to grow your network, meet people with whom you share an interest, and have some social media fun. Some Twitter parties feature prizes for selected participants.

Pro-tip: If it’s a goal of yours, you may work up to having the opportunity to be a paid Twitter party panelist. I have done this a few times and enjoyed it (as well as the cash).

Bonus: Get off of Twitter

Seem diametrically opposed to the title of this post? It is. But it needs to be said.

Twitter is one slice of life. It’s one fragment of social media life, and it’s one 280-character-at-a-time way of looking at the world.

I’ve said it once and will say it again — never have I pursued an IRL meeting with someone I met over Twitter and found myself thinking “gosh they aren’t at all what I thought they would be like” when I did meet them. Maybe I’m lucky. But I do believe people show you who they are on Twitter, for the most part. There are about 10 friendships I can attribute directly to Twitter. Maybe some people l would say 10 close friendships out of around 13,000 follower/following arrangements and 132,000 tweets isn’t a great return on investment.

But I found when I sat down with those ten people face-to-face, that the Tweeting that brought me into their orbits was worth it, as was putting down the phone and lifting a glass with them.

My 100,000th Tweet

This post was inspired by the Sway Group March writing prompt “name 5 ways to get the most out of Twitter.” (I cheated and added a 6th!).

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

What I Would Say to Sam Champion

I was surprised last Monday when Sam Champion announced he was leaving Good Morning America to be the managing editor and host of his own show at The Weather Channel. There are very few people in the public eye for whom I am a “fangirl,” and Sam is one of the few. A blog post is the only thing I can think to give to someone who probably has pretty much everything he needs; a goodbye post was the only thing I could think to give my friend (and Sam’s fellow weather person) Sean Parker when he left little ol’ Tallahassee to move on to the bigger market of Memphis. Now it’s Sam’s turn.

One of my recurring “dream moments” has not to do with being in a throng of people in Times Square and getting a zillionth of a second with Sam; I would love to walk a mile with Sam and his husband, Rubem, with each of us dedicating our mile to a Charity Miles cause (just putting that out there, universe, okay?!). Not a big publicity thing, but a chance to get to know two people who are passionate about what they do and passionate about one another. If I got that fifteen minutes, here is what I would say by way of “goodbye to your GMA presence.”

You have been a “weather person” in my life for longer than your time at GMA. When I lived in New York City from 1989-1992, you were on WABC and I had a second job typing transcripts of tv news, so I saw a lot of you then. I also think it’s cool that your career trajectory took you through my hometown of Jacksonville, FL; my parents were so proud to announce that you had moved on to New York City. I have been a GMA viewer for as long as I can remember. Watching GMA is as much a habit for me as making the coffee and brushing my teeth in the mornings (and yes, I recognize this presents a conflict once you’re at The Weather Channel … I’ll figure something out!). Over the last few years, you have made every morning just a little bit better, between providing weather information (for obvious reasons I loved any time you mentioned Tallahassee!), feeding off the audience’s energy and making everyone feel welcome, and letting us into your non-weather-related life a little bit at a time.

Once you established a Twitter presence, though, things really got fun! As a viewer, I appreciate how much you interacted with us (and specifically with me!). A retweet from you was always a day maker, especially when you retweeted something that referred to a favorite cause (like you did with the picture I shared on Autism Awareness Day). I watched an interview (I think on the Queen Latifah show (?)) in which you said your “real” career dream was to be an international correspondent, that weather wasn’t necessarily your first choice or dream. Given that you felt that way, I’d say you’ve done pretty well with something that wasn’t Plan A — it’s nice to know that someone who seems so confident, polished, and accomplished struggles with the same questions as all of us. Speaking of questions, I saved a screen print of a tweet that I thought summed up a lot of what you have meant to us viewers. I think the original tweeter had asked why it mattered that Jason Collins made a public announcement about being gay. You could have ignored, evaded, or in some other way taken it personally. But your answer, “you just get to live without questions,” was explanatory, self-disclosing, and compassionate to the original asker: Sam Without Questions Tweet By the time I got through all of this, I am sure our fifteen minutes would be up. I just hope you know you mattered, to me and undoubtedly to many millions of viewers who needed a friendly face, an idea of which way the winds would be blowing, and a hearty unique laugh with which to start the day.

Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” You won’t be on GMA anymore, but this viewer will be looking for your sunshine on The Weather Channel. You’ve spent years proving that the sunshine will always be there and that #itsamazingoutthere.

edited sams sunrise

#itsamazingoutthere

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.