I used to hate Twitter. Hate hate hate hate hate it. This was years ago, before it was really popular. I thought it was a total waste of time and a huge distraction. Now I only half-agree with my old self. It isn’t a waste of time, but it can be a gigantic timesuck. Once you’ve finished following nearly everyone you can think of who exists -- or doesn’t -- what you’ll wind up with is a nonstop barrage of non-information. Even if you follow places like the Guardian, the BBC and NBC, it’ll get buried in that avalanche. Right?
Well, yes. If everyone you follow is as reckless with their mouse and trigger finger as you are. But some people -- like me -- are a bit more selective about who they choose to be inundated with updates from.
On the flip side, if you’re a business tweeting things out, it can be distressing to fold these periodic 140-character updates into your day-to-day when you have a gazillion dillion other things to do. You might be tempted to take advantage of the tweet-scheduling ability some programs offer users. Fast Company says you shouldn’t do it because “you can automate content, but you can’t automate connection.”
I agree with Fast Company, but I think it also has a lot to do with your goals on Twitter. Are you looking to get a ton of followers? Merely be retweeted? What? That’s up to you. Just like how everyone’s in a casino for the same general reason, everyone’s specifics will differ. The same is true of social media. All that said, read this if you’re still clinging to automated tweets.
I think it’s important to strike a balance, that’s all. Just as it’s unrealistic to expect a store to be open 24 hours a day -- unless they indeed are -- it’s unrealistic to expect someone to be minding the Twitter store every single time someone tweets something to them.
But what’s less debatable is whether to make connections at all or whether to try. Consider this article on why Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos occasionally posts letters to customers on his company’s front page.
If Jeff Bezos has time to connect -- or at least sign off on letters and is onboard with the idea of issuing these letters -- you can squeeze in 140 characters every now and then. Don’t just hate it because it seems like a waste of time. It isn’t. And your competition has realized that.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.