I have kind of a love-hate thing with Twitter. On the one hand, I've gotten to know some awesome people because of it. Because of my random comments to people, I've found crit partners and even read a soon-to-be published trilogy.
On the other hand, it's too much. Too many people to follow. Too many links to click. Too many tips to "maximize" Twitter. With that, I give you FIVE TWITTER TIPS I DON'T LIKE:
1) When someone follows you, follow them back. An effective way to boost your numbers, but I don't know if it's the best way to use Twitter. When I see someone is following 1,000+ people, I wonder what their "follow" means (aside from, "Please follow me back so I can look more popular").
At some point, all those people you follow become just white noise. I realize there are lists to manage the tweets you keep up with, but eventually your "All Friends" list becomes meaningless because you're only listening to the lists you've made yourself.
2) Stop following inactive accounts. Apparently there are tools for this, but I don't care if someone I follow isn't active. I'm almost grateful! The folks I unfollow are the ones who clog my Twitter stream with tweet after tweet that I don't want to read.
3) Join Twitter chats. I was on IRC back when the internet was just a baby, and while I met some interesting people and learned interesting things, I also wasted a lot of time. Chat rooms--even useful, focused ones like #yalitchat--are attention suckers (and that's without the complex processing required to figure out who is responding to what). I say: "Use, but use with caution."
4) Personalize your Twitter background. Honestly, I don't even notice what people's backgrounds are. When I decide to follow someone, I look at what they're saying and what they add to my Twitter stream.
5) You have to interact with people. It's called "social media" for a reason, right? Well, yes and no. I love having conversations with people, but I'd hate to think people were unfollowing me just because I didn't talk to them (I'm trying to manage life too, you know?). Some people don't use Twitter for conversation at all, it turns out. They use it for (gasp!) news and information. Who knew?
I think I'm just rebelling against the idea that you "have to" do anything on Twitter. None of these are bad things, and they'll definitely get you followers. But followers are not readers. Though to be fair, here are 2 TIPS I'M A FAN OF:
1) Be interesting and/or funny. It's cool with me if you just listen on Twitter, but if you're going to speak, try to write something people want to read (even if it's just a couple people--that's cool, too). Helpful tip: A list of random people with an #FF or #WW tag is not interesting.
2) Learn to do the previous tip in 140 characters. This is more of a writing tip than anything. When I started trying to write things for Thaumatrope, I discovered all kinds of words and characters I didn't need. You don't have to abbreviate, or use 'u' instead of 'you' (in fact, I wish you wouldn't). You just have to use the same economy of language you're supposed to have in a novel.
Also, Twitter is a great place to craft that one-sentence pitch of your story. If you can tweet it, you can promote it!
Enough out of me. How do you use Twitter? What tips have you found useful (or not)?