Character study: My first 10,000 tweets


As a writer, I have a decidedly unfair advantage in many social media channels. I use that advantage every chance I have.

I’ve spent the past 13 months using a very condensed form of writing via Twitter as @WadeOnTweets. My favorite tweets from the first year can be found in a special video.

I love writing, I love words, and I love conversation. Twitter allows me to become better at using all three every day with an ever-growing audience. As a writer, I want you to read my words. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care if you view these micro-missives with awe or disgust.

(I’ve actually seen professional writers and veteran journalists shy away from Twitter because complete strangers were reading their tweets. As if that were somehow different from the faceless audience reading their published works in print and online.)

TweetStats: my tweets per month

Writing should be challenging, whether putting out 500 pages, 3,000 words or 140 characters. I’ve written since my elementary school days, so it’s a reflex honed over decades. I have not had the privilege of writing a book yet, but I have written thousands of articles, thousands of poems, thousands of headlines, hundreds of columns, plus a hundred restaurant reviews.

Tweets ain’t hard.

But the ones I write are done with care. Links are vetted, words whittled, characters counted. Like any writing, it should look effortless even as I sweat out the syllables.

So these 10,000 tweets … how did I get to this level? What did I get out of them? Who reads this junk anyway?

TwitterCounter: my followers

With close to 1,800 followers (not counting almost another 800 reading a duplicate feed on Facebook), the audience grows every daily. That’s roughly one new follower every 5 hours 18 minutes.

I care deeply about my followers. I work hard to make sure they come away with useful information or modest entertainment. The last thing I want to do is waste their time (although, they can unfollow me with a click).

Many of my tweets are “retweets,” updates I forward from other Twitterers. Do I rewrite them? Yes, and often for maximum value and effectiveness. The original source still receives credit, but the goal is to have as many people read and act on these tweets immediately.

Action is important. It could be to reply to me, or to click on the link, or to retweet it — or preferably, all three.

replies to twitterClose to two-thirds of my tweets are replies to friends, followers and strangers. I’m not here to talk talk talk — I’d rather have a dialogue. Although quiet in many real-life encounters, I can be rather chatty on Twitter.

Often, I respond to thank people for retweeting my stuff, but then to extend the conversation with a question or an additional note. Lots of thank yous, lots of questions. Mostly common courtesy.

The small fraction that truly represent my original tweets usually describe my work and my life: likes and dislikes, kudos and barbs, snark and sass. I unapologetically promote my longer writing: blog posts, exclusive stories, business offers, essays and the like. (Again, no worries: Followers can exit at any time.) clicks

I track those clicks closely. For instance, in the last 30 days, links to my works shared through social media pulled in 2,141 clicks, more than 70 a day. For me, that’s a great start.

I want more.

By working with Twitter every day, I have:

  • more business leads,
  • more people to talk with online and offline,
  • more friends (actual friends, not “I kinda know them online but not really”),
  • tighter writing skills,
  • a better grasp of virtual marketing,
  • and a weird notoriety.

Writers should be using Twitter to press their advantage. I do, one tweet at a time.

• • •



About this entry