Thinking about how I use one of my Twitter accounts recently, I realised that anyone coming across it probably mistakes it for a ‘bot. It has updates at very regular intervals (every five minutes) on a narrow range of topics, with nary a @ reply to be seen unless you squint really hard at certain times of day. In fact, the account has been mistaken for an aggregator in the past, and I think the person who I ended up chatting to was surprised that somebody would go to the trouble of tweeting so many links yet having so little interaction with the people who might click on them.
Then again, there are other Twitter accounts that I follow where the person is very personable, sometimes annoyingly so. It seems that their every other tweet is the answer to somebody’s question, or asking a question from somebody else. I find following such accounts frustrating, as I constantly feel as though I am only hearing one side of what I’m sure is a scintillating conversation.
A good balance, in my opinion, is a mixture of interesting links, with interaction with followers. Now, whether this works for you or not depends on what you want to use Twitter for. If you’re a business hoping for more publicity and better customer engagement, it’s a good way of informing the public about your products and being able to respond quickly to any customer queries. If you’re a private individual hoping to connect with like-minded folk, lists are a fantastic way of marshalling your various interests while still allowing you to chat as you please. Where it becomes trickier is when your Twitter feed is personal, but still has a purpose other than basic chat and link-sharing.
So what is one to do in such a situation? One approach I favour is to keep things mostly business the majority of the time, but I do make an effort to thank people for their RTs and mentions, and to answer any questions I’m asked. Now that the account is fairly established with a stable core of followers, there are also certain times (early evenings and Fridays especially) when people know I am more likely to slack off and shoot the breeze. While my link-sharing tweets are automated, I try to make my personal interactions as responsive as possible. I like to think I strike a happy medium between ruthless efficiency and an approachable persona, though it has taken some work and an almost obsessive checking of my @ replies and DMs.
Twitter really has come into its own since going mainstream, and if all you want to do is share links, there will be people who find that a useful service. Just make sure it’s not the same link that you share repeatedly; then you really will be mistaken as a ‘bot.
[Image by San Diego Shooter]