Twitter Tips For Writers, Part III: Making Friends on Twitter
Making friends on Twitter? It’s possible. Here are my top tips for forging meaningful connections in the Twitterverse. Geared towards writers, but relevant for anyone.
Once upon a time…
… when I first started on Twitter, I assumed it was an inane place for crazy people.
Okay, not exactly, but pretty close. After a short time on the platform, I decided it was a place for all work and no play. I became very serious about Twitter. It was all about how many likes I could rack up on a post! And those retweets, the most important things for keeping tweets alive!
I took frequent hiatuses. They were probably essential for maintaining my mental health. Because if you approached Twitter the way I used to approach it, your brain would be fried. In minutes. And you would be a frayed, dilapidated version of yourself. Which I was.
Recently, though, I started sharing more of what’s real on Twitter. As a result, I’ve come away with quite the number of meaningful Twitter connections — even people who I’d call friends. (Okay, maybe friendly connections, because we’ve never met in real life.) There are my top tips for making friends on Twitter and cultivating a supportive community around yourself in the process.
Who’s that below? It’s the wise owl… er, bird… of the Twitterverse!
1. Be yourself. Be yourself. BE YOURSELF.
I can’t say this enough. And, believe me, this is good advice everywhere in life, not just on Twitter. If you’re trying to make friends, you owe it to yourself to be yourself. Because depending on who you are, you’ll make different friends. If you’re pretending, you’ll make friends who aren’t likely to relate with the real you. And sorry, but that’s just not worth the investment of time and energy it takes to maintain a relationship with someone.
Making friends on Twitter starts with being yourself. For about a year, I wasn’t myself on Twitter. I was a very stilted version of myself. I never talked about anything other than my writing. I never brought up the things that were important to me. My bio didn’t express many parts of “who I was.” I was thinking about branding, not about the meaningful connections I could make with people. And this led me to become very miserable on Twitter, because I wasn’t able to cultivate a community around myself. I had no true supporters of my work, only people who hopped on my tweets when they got big. Which didn’t happen often.
As soon as I started opening up, both on Twitter and on the blog, people poured out of the woodwork. They were interested in me and in my writing. They supported me. They are supporting me now. I was amazed. I’d never thought Twitter could be a place where you could find friends, like-minded people who thought like you. Now I see that it’s actually a great way to bypass all the stupid small-talk involved in making real life friends and cut straight to the issues at hand. Which include, since these are Twitter tips for writers, writing.
2. Don’t expect to make friends with everyone. But shoot your shot.
Maybe you’ve been having a Twitter exchange with someone really cool. And now it’s time to take it into the DMs. Or is it? You start to second-guess yourself. Maybe they’re not actually interested in talking with you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weird. Maybe they’ll even (gasp!) block you!
Okay. Don’t sweat it. I’m going to tell you a little secret. Unless someone states explicitly “No DMs” in their bio or on their page, you’re probably going to be okay. If you’re really worried, check with them beforehand. Drop “Is it okay if I DM you?” in that awesome Twitter exchange you’re having. And they’ll probably say yes.
Or just go for it. Say something like, “We were having a really awesome conversation and I wondered if you wanted to take it further.” And conversate. They’ll probably respond.
I know this not from sliding into people’s DMs, but from having people slide into mine. I know, this sounds like dating. It’s not, but it shares some similarities. You’re looking for people with similar interests and interesting points-of-view, which is a lot like what you’re looking for when choosing a date. Anyway, most of the time when people slide into my DMs, they do so after we have a Twitter exchange, or after they enjoy one of my articles and find it thought-provoking. And they often bring great conversations to the table.
I’m grateful they’ve taken the front foot, because while I’m a extrovert in person, I’m not always the most forward online, and I usually don’t think to DM someone. (Although I did recently, to thank someone.)
Also, if someone doesn’t respond right away, don’t assume they’re not interested in conversating with you. Maybe they’re just away from their phone or computer. Or maybe you’ve sent them a thank you and they don’t necessarily feel the need to respond. It’s all okay. If your person of interest doesn’t respond to your DM, find someone else who’s interesting. There are plenty of fish out there. Okay, I’ll cut it out with the dating metaphors. But honestly. You will find someone to talk to on Twitter if you keep at it.
3. Once you’ve made a friend (or a friendly connection), maintain your relationship.
Yeah. Now, I will say that I’m notoriously bad in real life at keeping up friendships, and the same goes for online. When someone’s not in my face, by my side, I tend to forget they exist. (Okay, not that bad, but almost.) But I have made a concerted effort on Twitter to keep up with the people I connect with. Oftentimes they have to take the front foot in this, and I’m grateful that many of them do.
But here’s the thing. If your Twitter buddy doesn’t message you for a while, don’t sweat it. You can message them! Take the time to maintain the relationships you care about. Keep having those great conversations. Keep sharing your writing with each other. In the end, you’ll have a meaningful connection with someone, and that’s good for both of you. Maybe, someday, you’ll even be driven to meet your Twitter buddy in real life! Wouldn’t that be cool?
If making friends on Twitter is something you’ve been looking to do, I hope these three tips have helped you out. A writing-specific tip: sharing your writing is a great way to find like-minded writers, beta readers, and critique partners. Toss out a chapter or at least a page! Tag the #WritingCommunity. (More info on the #WritingCommunity in my Twitter tips for writers part II.) These types of writing connections are often most useful to writers, who are looking for people to support them in their work — and people to support in return. It’s a give-give.
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Tell me in the comments what you thought about this piece. Have you made friends on Twitter? Are you in the process? Are you looking for a Twitter friend? (Hit me up!) I’d love to hear your voice.
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