Is Twitter an Empty Canyon of Self-Promotion?

Alright, I know there are a number of Twitter diehards out there, maybe you can help me see the light. While I get that Twitter is useful for connecting to strangers, it feels a little like Linked-In on crack to me. One week in and I’m still not sold.

For those of you who love it, how do you quiet all the irrelevant noise? Are you actually “listening” to everyone you follow or do you follow to get followers?

I feel a little like Twitter is a gigantic mob of people screaming into an empty canyon. People with tens of thousands of followers add me because they follow tens of thousands of people to get those tens of thousands of followers. How can they possibly listen to anyone if they’re following that many people? Do they care at all about what others have to say or is it entirely out of self-promotion that they hope to pick up a few more follows under their belt?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind if it’s entirely about self-promotion– that’s why Linked-In exists and Twitter seems like a much easier way to connect and glean insight. I also get that some people use it like a Facebook status update to connect with friends, and I’m glad that exists as a way for people not to make Facebook status updates every 2 minutes. I am just not sure I completely get it yet.

I’m picking up followers, I’m following people, but I’m not convinced anyone is actually listening to each other, (except maybe people who have a lot more time to spend on the computer during the day than someone like me who only uses the internet for an hour or two each night). I like that I have found a sea of literary agents to follow and research, so that, to me, has been the coolest part. Otherwise, I just feel like I’m yelling into a canyon.

Reminds me a little of this scene from Garden State, one of my all-time favorite movies, btw.

Reminds me a little of this scene from Garden State, one of my all-time favorite movies, in case you were wondering.

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18 thoughts on “Is Twitter an Empty Canyon of Self-Promotion?

  1. jeffo says:

    I am still not on Twitter, so I can’t say for sure, but I note that there are a couple of posts by bloggers I read today noting this same problem. It just might be the natural direction twitter has taken.

  2. I agree with you. I have been on Twitter for a couple of years and it’s not doing much for me any more. It’s definitely a good place to rub shoulders with people or to get noticed by brands but like you said, you have to be on it a lot to get heard. But I still use it because I feel the need to so I usually just have my FB automatically feed to it. But besides that not sold on it anymore.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes, I definitely see how it can be used to expand an audience, it just feels funny to me for some reason. Maybe I’ll get over it with time… I’m determined to keep at it for a bit to give it a full chance.

  3. kingmidget says:

    So far I’m only using twitter to have more real time conversations with people I’ve met through blogging. Other than that, it’s hard to make much of an impact with three followers. 🙂

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Yes, real-time conversations are nice– it’s a lot less structured feeling than commenting on blogs, too. And, I’ve discovered a bajillion literary agents in the process, much easier than a lot of other avenues for tracking down agents…

  4. Kozo says:

    Don’t focus on the negatives, Olivia. Twitter is a great way to have micro-conversations with good friends. Yes, there are those who are just trying to exploit, but there are a lot of positives. Keep at it.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I know, I know, it’s not all negative, there’s just something about it that feels uncomfortable to me. I don’t think I’ve had enough time to make the most of it, though. I’m going to work on weeding out the voices I don’t want to hear– to be fair, I’m following mostly literary agents, which might explain why everything is about self-promotion 😉

  5. You know I’ve struggled with Twitter, but I really think I’m starting to like it. Mostly, I just follow news, music, teaching and writerly stuff, so I think that helps. There’s a degree of anonymity to it that I really like; I can follow people or people can follow me without us being “friends.” In that sense, my Twitter is pretty impersonal. And I kind of like it that way. I scroll through, read what grabs my attention, and move on. I feel like I’ve been exposed to more interesting articles on Twitter than I ever would be on FB.

    But, there are always people who misuse social media (and I thought it was just teenagers! Ha!).

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Good, you give me hope! I just don’t get how anyone can follow 49k people and listen to anyone… But, maybe I’m just looking at it all wrong. Maybe it’s about creating a stream of voices I want to listen to instead of just seeing it as a way to listen to a bunch of literary agents. 🙂

  6. Seb says:

    Twitter is the lowest common denominator for the self-obsessed.

  7. Judy Smith says:

    I finally relented and set up a Twitter account simply to get more exposure for my blog, but I can’t say I’ve nailed down how it’s supposed to work yet. I can’t stand constant “dings” letting me know I have a new Tweet, so unless I go looking for them I’ll never read them. I confess I’m not even sure where to find them!

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