I try to avoid adding to my to-do list, so it wasn’t until last fall that I started using Twitter. What follows are my observations on using this particular social media platform (ymmv). Like tweets, these will be somewhat random.
Ruminations about Twitter that bubbled up within the first three months of my starting to tweet were the most vivid and useful to me. The newness and strangeness focused my attention on things that have now grown dull. Perhaps this is an aspect of what’s called beginner’s mind?
I determined from the get-go that my Twitter account would be for work—not work-work (serious stuff), but rather for my “work persona”—so clients and potential clients could meet the person behind the sole proprietorship. There’s an obvious danger: the splitting of one’s public image from one’s real self—and the related notion that one’s real self is not acceptable.
The Persona Valley
A less-obvious hazard popped up when an old friend I’d not seen in a while was tweeting, persistently, as not a snarky person. I backspaced out of a “where’s the snarky person I used to know?” reply to one of her Pollyannaish comments. What if she’s now an optimist? I thought. My comment will seem uncouth*. When I finally did catch up with her in person, I discovered that she is in fact still snarky (happy ending), but she too is using a client-facing persona. So we still have things in common, but our personas? Not so much.
The “work persona” angle led to two Twitter headspaces: the “should” tweet vs. the “easy” tweet; what feels like work vs. what feels like flow; what content I think I should retweet because doing so would ostensibly show my professional interest or expertise vs. what topics I read avidly, comment on, and immediately share. It struck me that if I decided to redirect my career path, the easy tweets would prove a true compass.
Using Twitter changed how I read online. I scan-read, looking for tweet-worthy bits to use as my lede. I trip through the article with half my mind on the future tweet. It’s unpleasant, and I’ve begun training myself back to normal reading. But, it does have its lessons: I’m not using the article’s headline in my tweet—why? Not descriptive, not enticing, too long. Occasionally, it’s because the part that interests me (and my [hypothetical?] audience) is more sidebar than thesis in the article. Alan’s post on headlines defines the “true but useless headline”—these are never tweet-worthy, and not good for SEO either. More often than not, what’s good for SEO is good for tweets.
*No, I don’t actually think in words like uncouth. But, I have a weakness for oddities, so I’m keeping it. On the other hand, I did resist titling this post Five Easy Pieces.
Comments are open. Or, try to catch me in the act of posting an obvious “should” tweet.