How to Make Friends and Influence People

Why do we blog?

Or tweet? Or use Facebook?

The answer is pretty self-explanatory, you probably think. But is it?

In the beginning it was pretty simple. People started using social network sites to hook up with friends, stay in touch with people far away, or maybe make new friends. Then, people started to see the marketing potential of social networking sites.

It started with music. Bands took to MySpace to publicise their music, bypassing the traditional route of the record company. Then, other artists – writers especially – started to utilise blogs and Twitter to get their message out.

So, I ask again: why do we blog? Or tweet? Or use Facebook?

Is it simply to hook up with people? Is it to get our music or our writing or our art out to a wider audience? Is it to boost our profile in the hope that this will boost the sales of our books or our music or our art? Or is it all of the above?

I’ve only been blogging for a few weeks, and have been on Twitter probably a month before that. But the first thing I noticed when I started interacting with people was that – in the main – people on Twitter are warm, funny, welcoming and hugely supportive. From my perspective as a writer, that is a wonderful thing. Writing is a lonely profession at the best of times and to have the support of like-minded people out there is indispensible.

However, of late, I’ve noticed a few complaints on Twitter about the amount of retweets going around. (For those who don’t know, retweets are when someone tweets a mention of a new blog post, or a link, or something like that, and another person resends that on to their followers in an effort to give them more exposure) The people complaining seem to see all this retweeting as simply shameless self-promotion, and feel that it is ruining the fun of Twitter. I would suggest the opposite. I would suggest that – as opposed to being shameless self-promotion – it is, in fact, the height of altruism.

Writing, playing music, making any kind of art is a tough game. For a long time, it was extremely hard to get your music heard by record companies or your book read by publishers. Now, people are taking matters into their own hands and doing it directly through the internet. But it is impossible to do alone. You have to have support. You have to have a posse. You have to have someone who has your back. If our friends – real or virtual – can help us out in any way, I say that’s a good thing, and long may it continue.

But what does everyone else think? Why do you blog, or tweet, or use Facebook? And is the practice of retweeting shameless self-promotion or the height of altruism? I don’t expect you all to agree with me, but I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.


60 thoughts on “How to Make Friends and Influence People

    1. Oh, absolutely. But there’s so many great writers on Twitter, that’s never a problem. The problem is more trying to keep up with all the great stuff out there!

  1. When I was just a reader, I used to share blog posts and interesting articles all the time on facebook and twitter. I wasn’t doing it as a favour to a friend – I rarely even knew the people who’d written them! And I was constantly grateful to those friends of mine who passed interesting articles and blog posts onto me.

    Retweeting good writing is not just promoting your friends – it’s sharing good writing, and it’s as simple as that, IMO.

  2. I think there are 2 kinds of RT. There’s RT-ing yourself to bash people over the head with your blogpost and that also encompasses RT-ing someone just in the hope they return the favour. Twits.

    The real RT is as you say – twitter supporting each other and it’s a real, appreciated sign of support & solidarity. O can’t go out & buy every book my twitter friends write much as I’d love to, but I can RT their blogs and reviews and promotions. And maybe they WILL return the favour but that’s not why I do it.

    Oh and there’s a 3rd RT. Just sharing something you think people will find useful, interesting, funny or touching. As I’m going to do with this.

    1. Thank you very much Rebecca. Yeah, I didn’t include the first type of retweeting you’re talking about in the post, but that would annoy anyone. That’s a kind junk mail approach to retweeting. That we can do without.

  3. I agree with you, Derek. I think retweet in Twitter is a great feature and a wonderful tool, to spread the news, support fellow writers/musicians and share with our followers what we think is worth sharing. Come to think of it, I probably RT more than I actually tweet :), so that’s probably why I am for it :).

    Talking about why we blog. Like you, I’m fairly new in all this Social Media scene, but I’m really enjoying a combination of FB, Twitter, G+ and blogging. The original premise of keeping in touch with friends in the virtual world still hold true, but as you pointed out, it has acquired a new dimension of being used as a promotional platform. For me, blogging is to build a foundation/centre for my writer platform – writing is what we do and what drives us.

    Having said the above, I do think that some writers are a tad too excessive in self-promotion and bombarding the SM with non-stop “buy my book”. That does not work and only put people off. While if we do it once in a while, and instead of promoting our own, we spend time helping others. That is far more effective, and in your words, ‘the height of altruism’.

    Thanks a lot for addressing this important issue and may we continue our RTs and happy writing! I promise to RT yours as long as you continue to write interesting posts and music :).

  4. I started blogging, using Facebook and Twitter because writers are supposed to. These days, I love it and I’ve made many friends through social networking.

    If someone sends nothing but ‘buy my book’ tweets, I get bored/irritated and stop following them. If people add something to the conversation, make friends and support others, then I’m more likely to check out a rare ‘buy my book’ tweet. I retweet a lot *if* I think it’s something of interest to my followers. I hope those people will reciprocate when I send a ‘buy my book’ type tweet.

    1. Junying, Shirley, I’m with both of you on the excessive tweeting and retweeting of nothing but ‘buy my book’ tweets. But I think those people are just shooting themselves in the foot, because – as you say, Shirley – people will just unfollow them.

  5. Hi, you raised a lot of interesting questions there. I must admit, I had never thought of retweets as a promotional tool before. I am thinking of starting a blog myself, so I am very interested in other people’s blogs at the minute. I have only ever retweeted tweets that I find funny/informative/interesting that I think others might find the same. Good luck with your writing, you obviously have talent.

    1. I’m glad you found the issues raised interesting, Margaret. That’s what I was hoping to do with this blog, get people talking and thinking about the process of writing.

  6. I would agree with you on the list of reasons for blogging and using twitter etc, and I am sure there are as many reasons out there, as there are people, because the bottom line is, people like to connect, we are social beings, and perhaps for many, a sense of community is built up, that isn’t always easy to find in this fast paced world of today.

    When I started to blog, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it, but I was surprised like yourself how many great and wonderful people I connected with, how much fun it was and what a wonderful means of reaching others and them you. Yes, there is the bad side, planning on doing a post shortly on’ the good, the bad and the ugly’ of Twitter, but in the main, in my opinion, if you enjoy it, then keep on doing it!

    1. Louise, as I say in the post, writing can be a very lonely profession. I think Twitter is brilliant, not just for promoting your stuff, but as a way of connecting with like-minded people who – under normal circumstances – you’d never connect with. And I can’t wait for the post on ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of Twitter 🙂

  7. I think it’s fine to retweet if we think it might interest others. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with self-promotion on twitter as long as it isn’t overdone. I do feel annoyed if nearly all a person’s tweets are self-promotion but I can’t see anything wrong with every now and then. It’s so difficult for an author to get their book heard of by people who might be interested. I’m the kind of person who finds self-promotion far from easy, but after spending ages writing a book and at last managing to get a publisher, then of course I want people to know my book is there. I did hope that would be one of the advantages for me of joining Twitter, but it’s not the only thing. I enjoy connecting with people of similar interests and tweeting about all kind of things.

    1. Jean, that’s so brilliant that you got a publisher for your book!. And I would say absolutely spread the word on Twitter. The fact of the matter is, there are probably many people out there who would be interested in your book but might never hear of it otherwise. Best of luck with it and if I can help in any way, let me know.

  8. What a lovely and thought-provoking post. I use all three – blog, facebook and twitter – but in the main, it’s twitter that’s won my heart. For me, it’s a place where I connect with like-minded people, have a laugh and learn about things.

    I was reluctant at first, only joining because I was told that as a writer, I needed to be part of the social network scene, so in the beginning, I sought out other writers and enjoyed hearing their stories and what they were up to. But it’s become so much more than that for me. I’ve made great friends – and before you shout at me and tell me that they’re not REAL friends, I have to beg to differ. Some of my twitter friends, I’ve now met in real life and they’ve become some of the best friends I have. Tweet-ups have become a regular thing (for those not part of the Twitterverse *gasp* it’s where fellow tweeters meet up in real life) and my tweeting life has now become part of my ‘real’ life.

    Sometimes I do tweet a link of something I’ve written and my friends will retweet but as you say, these times are tough for any artist and the social network gives us opportunities we’ve never had before. Retweets are a very important part of twitter as it helps to have our work seen by a wider audience but I also agree that we shouldn’t flood streams with promotional rts. I often rt something funny that somebody has said or a link to an interesting article – it’s not always ‘come and look at what I’ve written!’

    Besides all the promotional stuff, the social network is a mind of information. Through twitter, I’ve been able to find somebody to repair my boiler on a Sunday, found nice restaurants, had advice on family matters and so much more. There’s always somebody or somebody who knows somebody who can help with whatever problem or question you have!

    Okay, I could go on and on and on… but I’ll zip it now!

    Maria x

    1. Maria, I’m with you 100% on the notion of ‘real’ friends vs ‘twitter’ friends. I think there is no distinction. The fact of the matter is you’ll often find yourself talking to your twitter friends more than you will your ‘real’ friends because it’s so easy to interact with them on twitter, whereas often your ‘real’ friends just won’t have the time.

      And I can’t wait for the next tweet up!

  9. Great post, Derek. Support comes in many forms. I believe the best endorsements on Twitter/Facebook come from one’s peers who actually take part in the day to day dealings in one another’s worlds. These are the messages that have true meaning and bring others to us.

  10. I agree completely. And I also want to build on this idea. When I find something awesome, I retweet because I believe that my followers are following me because they are interested in similar things. Which means I genuinely think they will think “Thank you so much for retweeting that”. It’s something they wouldn’t have seen otherwise and are glad that they now have! On top of that, a lot of people have written me saying that they met other twitter users through me. I think that is from seeing me chat with someone or RT their links.

    If I may, I think people who have issues with RTs might just be jealous that it wasn’t their own posts being retweeted. For the most part, people on twitter are as you say — warm, supportive, friendly–but there are those rare few who are grumps for whatever reason or maybe bitter about something.

    I guess I figure they can just unfolllow someone if they don’t like the retweets. Additionally, they might want to ask themselves why they are so bothered by retweets?

    Finally, twitter might want to see if there is a way they can leave the option for users to “turn off retweets” if they aren’t interested in seeing them.

    For me, I’ve found a lot of great finds through people’s RTs. It’s all part of the fun!

    1. Hi Rebecca. I suppose, for me, the thing is there are so many tweets being sent anyway at any given time, I wonder why people would get so upset about a few retweets. And that’s a great idea about having a ‘turn off retweets’ option.

  11. I follow people who interest me and when they RT something, 9 times out of 10 it will be something I’m interested in. I dislike shameless self-promotion and when I have written a new blogpost, I’ll mention it a maximum of 4 times in a day and then leave it alone. As previous commenters have said, my friends – and yes, like Maria I count them as REAL friends – will comment and RT the post in a show of support. That’s what friends do for each other. I always check out the twitter page of a new follower before I follow back and if they only tweet about themselves and don’t converse, I never follow back. Apart from the Dallai Llama and Nathan Fillian, that is…
    We recommend books/magazines/films in real life, why not in the virtual? And I love that creative types have a platform where they can share and support each other. Long Live The RT!

    1. I’m with you on the ‘real’ friends. And you put it perfectly: why treat your Twitter friends any different than your ‘real’ friends? If you’re in conversation with your ‘real’ friends, you probably retweet a dozen things that you’ve seen and liked, but you talk about them rather than RTing them.

  12. Like Maria, and for similar reasons, I was reluctant to start social networking but suffice to say, I wish I’d started twittering and blogging years ago; Twitter especially. Since joining in May 2011, it has revolutionised both my writing and personal life.

    Is ‘revolutionised’ too strong a word? No. No, I don’t think so. And here’s why.

    By definition, and as we all know, writing is a solitary pursuit and therefore inherently lonely. But more than this, the potential for rejection and failure is ever present. Combine all this with my single parent ‘status’, then one can easily see why I love it!

    The other thing about writing is that to non-writers, the writing process is an incredibly yawning-snoring-boring topic of conversation. Talk of word counts and deadlines do not propel them into sitting upright, mouth open, gagging for more. Instead, their eyes glaze over and you feel like a twat so you shut up talking about it even though that is all you want to talk about.

    The daily interaction on Twitter with fellow writers and the pooling of information has reversed all this for me. Moreover, it acts as a stimulant to my writing. In other words, it boosts my self-confidence and I don’t have days when I feel like throwing in the towel anymore. Quite the opposite. Twitter is the perfect antidote to all of the above and has, in the short time I’ve been on it, given me a whole new lease of writing life .

    Are the people I tweet with real friends? Yes and no. Some are and some aren’t. And not all of them are writers. Far from it. But is this any different to the real world where we all know people that we variously categorise as close friends, casual friends, and / or colleagues? I don’t think so. I believe that no matter how many ‘friends’ you have, if you can count up the true ones – the ones you can rely on no matter what – on five fingers, then you’re extremely lucky. One only finds out a friend’s true worth when one is in trouble.

    I’ve made friends on Twitter – good friends. And barring a few tweepers, I’ve never met any of the others in real life and in all likelihood probably won’t ever meet them. But does this matter? No. They’ve proved their worth by supporting me in my writing endeavours and making me feel good about myself. Not massaging false ego good – but good in a way that one can draw continual strength from. What more can one ask of a friend? Two things. Honesty and a bit of a laugh. I get these also.

    The other thing that amazes me about Twitter is how polite people are and how many genuinely interesting people I’ve ‘met’ to date from all over the world. People I would never ordinarily have a chance to talk to. As a voyeur, being invited into other people’s lives no matter how briefly is just, well, fascinating.

    I could go on and on here! But I’ll finish on this. People seem to think that the lack of emotional involvement on Twitter is a bad thing i.e. no face-to-face human contact. I don’t. I think it forces people to consider what they say carefully before committing it to a tweet and to make an extra effort to be engaging and open up more in a way. But more than this, it encourages shy people to be brave and say things they normally wouldn’t and / or couldn’t say. Me for example!! And unlike in real life where if you say something you shouldn’t have or suspect you may have inadvertently offended someone, then there’s plenty of opportunity to withdraw the comment with clarity.

    But much like diarrhoea, I’m running on far too long, so I’ll shut-up now.


    1. You didn’t run far too long, Caren, what you wrote should have been a blog post in itself. I have nothing to add except that I echo every one of your sentiments.

  13. To me a retweet is the same as if I post a link to something I like on a friends wall on Facebook. Maybe it’s self promotion, but it’s also altruistic because you’re exposing your friends to something you find entertaining or useful. I’d call it a win-win.

  14. Hi Derek. Without reading any other posts so excuse any duplication, the bit in your post about war, funny…writing as essentially lonely resonated with me. Without RTs I wouldn’t have bumped into half the interesting people I follow on Twitter. I look upon it as a, at times fairly gridlocked, motorway of social traffic. The vehicles are people, you and me, and occasionally a big lorry with a corporate logo on the side- business accounts. The lanes are tweetstreams or hashtag conversations. If you flash another driver you @reply them etc I’m sure you get the metaphor…

    But without RTs you’d always be stuck in the same lanes. RTs let you pull out, go faster, or leave at the next junction and go back in the opposite direction. So if you RT yourself or your product yes it’s a bit Billy no mates, but RTs of others, though not necessarily endorserments, are acts of digital social altruism IMHO.

  15. Great post.
    I never had a hard time retweeting others’ posts, but if someone said something nice about me or my writing, I sometimes felt a little weird retweeting that.
    Twitter is all about give and take, though. Really, where would it get us (marketing-wise) if we weren’t self-promoting some of the time? 😉

  16. When I see a tsunami of tweets/retweets for the same item, I tend to ignore that item completely. So I’d say excessive self promotion can rebound. Like Clare though, I share the items I like and love to read what others suggest. Social media is the answer to those times when you read something and have to tell the whole world, “Hey! This is SO cool!!”

  17. What I actually meant Derek is that it’s probably irony more than altruism. (Altruism in the true sense is opposition to egoism or selfishness) You continuously repost or re-tweet a blog about retweeting. The topic is relevant and interesting, but the action of re-tweeting it all day is closer to narcissism, but in the end I’m sure you’re getting the desired result.

    1. Hi Patrick. Yeah, the irony wasn’t lost on me or many of the people who retweeted the link 🙂 The desired result I was hoping for (and the reason I set up this blog) was to get an interesting conversation going about writing. And that was the reason for my many tweets. So that people who wanted to take part in the discussion might see it. So, in that sense, yes, I’m getting the desired result. And thank you very much for taking part.

  18. I have found some wonderful bloggers through re tweets on Twitter. I think it’s great and welcome all re tweets from the wise people I follow on Twitter.
    However I will admit to un following some tweeters who re tweet their own posts of their own blogs over and over for days at a time. That’s just plain annoying.

  19. I think re-tweeting is great for putting out blogs, it’s nice to be nice and if it helps someone get good reviews on their blogs sure that can only be a good thing surely. Also some great tweets deserve
    re-tweeting. I don’t see what the problem is at all. Good Blog Derek keep up the good work.


  20. It’s both. I agree that RT’ing your own stuff over and over is annoying but it also depends on the hashtags and if you’re trying to reach a new group( #writers #historical #fiction #kindle #indie)
    Twitter has introduced me to a new community of writers that have been extremely supportive. I keep my FB page more for people I know in real life. Will see how G+ works out.

  21. Can’t it be both? Maybe not, but I think you can have both elements as a motivation. At least if you buy into the “greed is good” mentality, whereby we produce positive results and are unintentionally altruistic when we are being selfish. (I happen to…up to a point, LOL) I re-tweet for both reasons, hoping the ppl who posted originally will appreciate, and because I like to be nice. Also for the practical reason that I want to read things later, and if I retweet it then it’s on my personal tweetdeck (right word??) and I don’t have to search through quite so many tweets to get at it.

    Retweets are, IMHO, a great way to spread content and one of the ways I get the most interesting tweets. So I hope they stick around.

  22. I agree Derek. I have found the people on twitter to be supportive and interesting. It has helped me become a better teacher. I use #EdChatie to talk to teachers from all levels in Ireland. I have gotten to know some extra-cool writers, people I would never have gotten the opportunity to know in real life. And you know what’s really funny; I can say things in Twitter about my great family that I would be too shy to say to them in real life. I am reserved in real life, aloof even a tad austere but Twitter has made me realise I am a little helpful and can be warm.

    I do RT, I RT a lot. I especially RT nice tweets about ME! I am the youngest of 7, I have been average my whole life… when I see great people tweeting to say how nice/helpful I am or how much they enjoyed my bog – well I RT.

    Another thing people would not know about me is that I have spent my whole life clearing my throat, saying “ehh mehm.” It was Holistic people who all sat me down and said: “you don’t say what on your mind; you say what you think is the polite thing to say, you need to find your voice.” Well I can now say in a clear voice: “I tweet, I blog, I RT – get use to it!!!”

  23. I retweet writers whose work I enjoy, as well as links I think are interesting. If I can help people out (not just my fellow authors), I’ll do it.

    However, I do tweet links to my books occasionally – I seldom ‘bombard’ though, unless I’ve warned everyone beforehand that I’ve got a new release and will be tweeting it regularly for a few days.

    I’m apparently ‘doing it right’, because just a few days ago, @Bookaliciouspam sent a tweet out that said if indies wanted to learn how to promote without spamming people, they should take a lesson from me. 🙂

  24. Altruistic, with the same caveat other commenters made: RT only that which you can support in good conscience. Tweeting or RT’ing your own stuff to excess is, of course, rude. Thanks, Derek, for starting the discussion.

  25. I think people re-tweet because if you have several followers, obviously you are not hitting all of them the first time you tweet something. (I’m just seeing this blog of yours today.) So re-tweeting it means hitting those that missed it the first time.

  26. As a professional writer that left the game for a while I saw an opportunity (with blogging and tweeting) to safely approach the public without being thrust into the many uncomfortable conditions that usually follow print publication by publishing houses. Of course the reasons for most professional writers staying away from blogs and Twitter are all good ones, because once people see what a nerdy, geeky, dorky, smart-ass you can be they tend to lose respect for the writer you are, ten novels or not. It’s always the mystery that draws us, the things we don’t know that attract us. So, forget that you ever read my previous nerdy, geeky, dorky posts, eh? But feel free to retweet away, hah!

  27. I started my blog in February and had to be convinced by a friend that a Twitter account was a good idea…it took two months for me to be convinced by this but I’ve found it useful as a networking tool. It’s introduced me to new writers, books and opportunities that hadn’t been available to me before. I don’t use Facebook, although when I did, it was friends and family only.

    I am a bit of a re-tweet fiend, but if I see something interesting, I want to share it with others. I do also, tweet my own blog posts. Now this may be self-indulgent of me, but blogging about books can be just as lonely as writing about them…unless you can find people to join in a conversation with you about them. If I post a review, I want to hear what others think of the book. Do they agree or disagree with my views? Call it my own personal book group 🙂

    I also see re-tweeting as a way to help other bloggers & writers promote their work to a wider audience. There’s a wealth of talent out there and if a re-tweet will help them move forward, then I don’t see what harm it does.

    I can understand why some people may find it annoying, but if there are people you follow that re-tweet to excess, then maybe rethink that follow!?! 🙂

  28. Like most other authors, I do social networking to build my platform, but it’s so much more than that. When I first started writing there wasn’t anything like Facebook or Twitter for writers to connect on. It was a very lonely calling then, now it isn’t. The support of the online writing community is amazing and is worth so much more to me than just a platform. You people are my friends, I celebrate with you, cry with you, we encourage each other, we understand each other in a way no one else can.

  29. When I was younger I wrote in secret and sent to the publishers, hopeing to become a jack-in-the-box of the writing world. Noone saw me coming.
    Then I met a classmate in one of my classes (because that’s where you generally meet classmates lol) and found out she was a published author and does FridayFlash and TuesdaySerial, two things I never heard.
    I understood how bands used the internet to show their musical abilties to impress fans and other members of the business. Hell I was a metal critic for a website so I serached for bands who had the marketing potential.
    Then after talking to my classmate I made my blog and started posting some WIPs and eventually started web serials. Yes I RT for exposure and post in random blogs to get my face out there, but hell I’m an unknown. If I was Scott Westfield, Dan Brown or even John Stroud I wouldn’t need to, though I would to give others exposure.
    I hope my lifestory gave you the repsonce you were looking for. But then again I’m a Narcssist, but least I admit it. 🙂

  30. Never actually heard anyone saying that RTing is a problem. Maybe they spend a little too much time on Twitter. I have a day time job and a busy social life so I don’t have that much time for Twitter. I saw an earlier commenter saying that 9/10 RTs she finds interesting. I’d make a bold statement saying that I dont think she even sees 9/10 RTs if she is like me and follow around 500. There will always be people doings for for one reason or another, sometimes we will disagree with their reason. Just move on 🙂

    Now people who wear their backpacks on a busy tube train, that’s another matter!

  31. Hi Everybody. People are wired to want to connect with each other, and social networks allow us to connect with people like us in some way, in remote locaions. tweeting with some of my friends is no different than speaking to them from my front porch as they walk by. So I joined twitter for the social aspect. Then I found all these incredibly interesting and talented folks and started following them too. I RT tweets I find interesting or that say something I was thinking and said it better, or that maybe are just so funny or amazing they have to be shared.
    I don’t like the pushiness of some authors… all they tweet is their books. I do RT a fair amount. If people don’t like RT’s they can unfollow. So I would say RT’s can be both shameless self promotion and altruism. : )

  32. I use Twitter In a blended manner. I have a layer of self-promotion (shocker), but I also use Twitter and FB to socialize and engage with likeminded writers and other champions of the arts. It keeps my experience fresh and less mundane while also getting the word about me out. It also appears to work well.

  33. RTs are the Twitter equivalent of liking what someone has to say on Facebook. Twitter supposedly is a great tool for building one’s publishing platform, but I find Twitter inconveniently designed to truly accomplish the goal of true networking. The first issue is that something like TweetDeck should be the standard Twitter feed. Secondly, followers should be automatically alphabetized. Thirdly, people following me whom I not following should appear as a distinct list so I can block them because I’m not interested or follow them. Fourthly, deleting followers you don’t want is stunningly inconvenient.

    Therefore, a person almost has to live on Twitter to keep up with those you value. I don’t have a lot of friends on Twitter because Facebook is so much better for that purpose.

    A major rethink of Twitter is necessary.

    Twitter, Facebook, and blogging is how authors are taking back the control over their products and if done effectively can actually promote a new release quite effectively, but one has to be a good neighbor to be a part of the neighborhood.

  34. I think the real question is, when is the album coming out with your tour to support it? Because at that juncture you will need an opening act. Say, a guitar-beating neanderthal from the States who needs a real Guiness.

  35. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know why I retweet. When I first joined twitter as a writer, I was amazed at how many people supported me and helped me along the path I had chosen. When I became excited about my books, they became excited. When I tweeted about them, they retweeted me. Helping others is what I learned at it’s EXACTLY why I do it. You don’t gain a thing by helping others except the feeling that comes ONLY from helping others. There is another side to this coin as well. I honestly don’t tweet about my own stuff anymore that often. Maybe once a week just to get the word out to my NEW followers. People who tweet about their own stuff constantly don’t realize that once you’ve done it, people start to get annoyed with you on twitter. That all you’re in it for is self promotion. Now I just use twitter to express the goofball in my dying to get out. I do my best to make people laugh and just have fun. It’s way more rewarding.

  36. Okay – guilty as charged :0) I have tweeted my blog and whenever I write something new I tweet it but in my defence my blog is a book review one and it’s just as much promoting authors as it is about me, in fact, I would say more about authors. I would one day like to be published (in paperback on a shelf in Waterstones – we can all dream) and I have a page on my blog diarising my experience but really that’s more of an aside.

    I like to RT other book review blogs as that’s what I’m mostly interested in.

    I think the more you Twitter the more you come to spot the ones which are mainly in it purely for themselves. I tend to shy away from them a bit and try support those who are perhaps not so self absorbed and those who are just starting out.

    Great post – really thought provoking. Thanks :0)

  37. Hello, i am writing this response as some who is not a writer, i do not have my own business and i have no self means to expose to the world. i use both twitter and facebook, not blogging yet.

    Facebook for me is where i know everyone i chat too and have probably know them for years and twittter are people i have never met form all walk’s of life, any interest is of interest for me, if i enjoy it i chat about it, if i dont understand it i ask about it.

    I have to be honest when it comes to re-tweeting i am up there with the best of them. i re-tweet if some one has said something funny, shocking or if they have a link to something I have read and liked. Why do i feel the need to do this, well on twitter my network of friends are people who have at least one thing in common with me and i think if i liked it they might do too! yes to some it is of a gain if i have promoted them but i have not done this because i am getting a percentage of a book sale (although i must suggest that), i am doing it because i think you know what someone else here will appreciate that to. As did i when i read RT , read the link and met a really nice tweeter to add into my network.

    People complain – let them it is the way of the world, it could be perfect place and someone would find something to compalin about its human nature!

  38. I’ve read some fantastic books and stories this year. The trouble is, the authors aren’t widely known. Well, these artists have stuff better than you can find on store shelves. Therefore, I make shameless plugs for them and trumpet their names and books to help them. While they promote down one alley, I and others provide several other alleyways in support. Retweets, blogs, FB posts and more helps them and encourages them to write more. For example, Sean Hayden wrote a book that should be blazing the charts, in my opinion. How best to get that word out? By sharing his opinion and giving mine in concert.

  39. Sev yrs ago I had a FB page & it was the most insipid thing I’ve ever seen; between the damn Farmville apps and poorly written updates about who had tuna for lunch or who killed a spider in the john (not that those could have been improved with even clever writing), I decided I’d had enough & deactivated the accnt. I was dragged back kicking & screaming after I pub’d my book but vowed to control who I invited as friends and accepted and, at the point, the intention was low-key, laid back self promotion… but something happened. It became MUCH more: when I returned to FB we were facing the Nov elections and I’m very political (and opinionated) and I found people gravitated to my political & historical commentary (I have some bona fides in the area b/c I’m an ex-college level history prof) and soon I had hundreds of followers and now hundreds and hundreds more and receive about 10 requests a day. The exp on FB led me to blog at a site dedicated to politics & history.What then of my fiction? Well, that’s the weird thing: I’m finding that the non-fiction writing is also driving the fiction sales but I very seldom self promote on FB (and just recently made a pg for my book). I created a special blog just for the fiction writing and have segregated the history/political snark from the fictive writing (keeping the fiction at my own blog). There is some overlap & it’s evolving but at this writing 95% of my FB friends are there for the history & commentary. I’ve made some remarkable contacts and even dear friends. Today I can say I truly love FB. And though it doesn’t serve to really market January Moon it has created an eager audience for a history book I’ve decided to write.

    I was then dragged over to Twitter which I thought I’d hate b/c I can’t believe there’s anything worth saying in <140 characters but I think I've figured it out: for me FB is the NYT Op Ed page (I've been known to write quick posts and even long notes that get hundreds of replies & that are active for days) and Twitter is the Times Square ticker tape/feed. To be honest, I still don't know what I'm supposed to be doing on Twitter but at Twitter I do merge promotion for the fiction writing w/the historical writing. I try to promote my Windy City Author blog and book but I also promote my history articles but I never say "buy my book! buy my book! special today only at Amazon!" b/c I HATE that. So I do think there is a line that should not be crossed (like clobbering people over the head about your book, being a dork about odes to word counts, and gushing over inspiration). I also tweet news feeds and respond to clever tweets that catch my eye and like to comment on life in general. And now here's the rub: I RT almost everything. I don't know why; I just assumed it was expected. I thought it was a courtesy. Now I feel like the Village Idiot and think I need to rethink everything I've been doing. Bottom line: I get FB but Twitter not so.

  40. I am fully convinced of the both the value of Twitter in self promotion and in helping others. The way I see it if I keep harping on about my own stuff i am one voice. If I say stuff about my own things but mix it with RTing other’s good stuff then that same post can get spread over a much larger audience. And I have found that there is a LOT of good stuff out there that one can learn from so why not spread it. So, I am well in the pro RT camp BUT I am not sure of the value of RT lists of names . I see this a lot – nice to say hello and mention others but I wonder if it is better to link it to a REASON. IE – I follow these authors: @blogs @smith etc

  41. I understand that if you freelance you need to promote your work, it’s perfectly acceptable. I guess the thing to bear in mind is, would you expect someone to watch a tv channel just full of advertising? Of course they wouldn’t. But if it’s say, 10% of your tweets, then that’s fine. 100% self-promotion is just a bit bad-mannered no? When I joined twitter first I mostly followed celebs but I find myself unfollowing most of them for that reason. John Cleese, oh boy, i nearly tackled him for his complete disrespect for his followers in this regard. It’s turned out ordinary people are far more interesting, funny, entertaining.

  42. What a wonderful community that helps others promote their craft. As artists, we have to be marketers, too, and doing it alone is difficult. I have just been on twitter for a month and have started following some very interesting people whose work I was introduced to via retweet from someone else. In fact, that’s how I came to follow you, Derek, so long live the retweet!

  43. I still consider myself to be a social media newbie. I joined FB first a few years back and use that solely for friends. Started blogging a year ago after hearing at a conference that writers need a web presence. A website seemed a bit much at the time, but a blog I could do. Just joined Twitter a month ago and I use that for great writer connects.

    I’m still getting the hang of Twitter and at first I found myself only comfortable re-tweeting others’ posts. I like to RT posts I liked and posts by friends. I only do a few a day to avoid overkill. I’ve just gotten to posting links to my own blog. I guess I felt I’d be hitting people over the head with self-promotion, but now see it can be done in balance and not annoy. I do get annoyed by people who RT everything they see. And people who only tweet links to their own work. RT in moderation is great though to see posts I may have missed.

  44. This is a good subject. Writers/Authors are generous of their time as a rule, very few exceptions – it is all promotion. Because of something that happened to me this week, I would like to point out that reciprocating is a courtesy and not to be demanded or expected.

    I do loads of retweets, but dislike messages that expect or demand, especially if I’ve never heard of the person before and they haven’t the courtesy to follow. It isn’t fair to those that do follow and a part of your thread. It is easy to spot those who ride roughshod over everyone to “promote” whatever. It all boils down to courtesy. If you want it, give it. A good hashtag #asknicely

    The comments here are very good.

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