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Should I tweet?

32 comments

I don’t usually ask my readers for advice, but I am today. I’d like for as many of you as possible to tell me if you think I should Twitter or not. If you think I should, why? If not, why not?

A little background. I tried tweeting for the first time about 15 months ago. Just couldn’t get into it. It seemed so ridiculous–”eating scrambled eggs lol”, that kind of trivial nonsense. Also, I didn’t like the idea that one seemingly has to check Twitter out every few minutes in order to see who’s saying what. So I stopped.

A few months went by, and a variety of things encouraged me to try again. Mainly, it was the feeling that I was missing out on something. The Twitter train, everybody was saying, was leaving the station, and if you wanted it to take you where it was going, wherever that was, you had to hop onboard. So I tried again, with no more luck than the first time around. I still have my Twitter account, under my name. I have nearly 1,000 followers. And, through an automated thing that José Diaz set up for me, “my latest blog” goes up on Twitter everyday. But that’s it. I, personally, haven’t tweeted in months.

One reason I feel bad about this is because of all those Twitter followers I have. As Jose pointed out, if people take the time to follow you, it’s insulting to not talk to them. I certainly don’t want to insult anybody who’s interested enough in me to follow me on Twitter.

Twitter is getting so big, so universal and popular, that I’m again starting to wonder if I shouldn’t give it a third try. After all, I’m not a social media moron. I have this blog, which an awful lot of people read and comment upon. I use Facebook extensively, and love it. It’s not like I abhor all things Internet. I don’t. It’s just that, when it comes to Twitter, I’m intimidated.

Yes, intimidated. I realize that may not fit in with your conception of what I’m like. But it’s true. I feel inadequate when it comes to Twitter. It’s roughly the same feeling I used to have as a kid when everybody played basketball. I just couldn’t get the hang of hoops. I was fine at baseball, stickball, touch football, and other sports. But when it came to basketball, my short stature worked against me. It reached the point where I even dreaded the word “basketball” if one of my taller friends mentioned it. Same with Twitter. I don’t even like talking about it. It makes me nervous.

Maybe I should have this conversation with my shrink instead of my blog readers, but I suspect my shrink knows even less about Twitter than I do.

If there’s really a cool conversation happening on Twitter that I can be a part of, as opposed merely to the “scrambled eggs” nonsense, then I want to be part of it. If Twitter can help me get my blog across to more people, I’d like to do that. If Twitter can assist me in becoming a better, more informed and stronger writer, I’d like that. If Twitter can help keep me young and vital, it’s something I want to do. If Twitter can connect me with a new generation, that would be cool.

What do you think? Should I start tweeting again? How often do you tweet? How do you use Twitter to help you with your business? Would you follow me if I tweeted? What kinds of things would you want me to tweet about? How often? What could I say via Twitter I don’t say in my blog, except shorter? Would you expect me to reply to every one of your tweets? How do you stay abreast of the latest tech developments concerning Twitter apps? Isn’t it time consuming? Do you only tweet from your smart phone or from your desktop computer? I hope it’s not just from your smart phone, cuz I don’t have one–yet.

These are questions I think about, and I’d be enormously grateful if you took the time to give me some feedback. Thanks.


My Twitter photo — time for an update!

That’s Dan and Kathy Marks Hardesty at last year’s World of Pinot Noir.

  1. Steve, yes! You don’t have to tell us your eating eggs…:-) Some folks have conversations, some just give updates and sometimes it varies from person to person. Twitter can be as personal as you want it to be. So join in and get a feel, ask question, learn the lingo and make a decision after you’ve tried it for a week or so. If it seems over whelming disconnect for a day or so. We’d love to have!

  2. Hi Steve-
    Yes, you should try Twitter again. It’s ironic, but this is my first read of your blog due to someone else posting it on Twitter whom I follow. The app will only provide as much back as you put into it. You can follow current wine trends by following hashtag #californiawine or anything that you may want to research and then like facebook you can ‘follow’ those folks or not. The direct message option is a way to have private conversations with others and you won’t have ‘egg’ on your face if you feel you asked a stupid question(no basketball awkwardness). I’m still fairly new to the Twitterverse, but it’s never dull. Have fun with it and you have a new follower, @sojencellars !!

  3. The single most important piece of advice that got me into Twitter after numerous attempts was Donna Jackson (@wisequeen) telling me:

    “Twitter is like a big cocktail party. You talk about and contribute what’s interesting to you. You share things you hear from other people that you think is worth sharing. It’s about interesting conversation, and if you just stand on the coffee table and shout at people, everyone’s going to stop listening to you, and eventually ask you to leave.”

    I don’t think we ALWAYS need to be the life of the twitter-party, but I think everyone has something interesting to contribute and engage an audience. So I say say GO FOR IT!

  4. Steve, you’ve got to do what feels comfortable to you, but by the sounds of it you’ve gotten twitter all wrong up until now.

    Wayne hit the nail on the head, it’s what’s interesting to you that’s important. No-one wants to hear about your every waking moment, people who blindly tweet “Good Morning” or feel they must make a re-tweet or reply to every single person who’s out there are no better than spam.
    Either only follow who’s interesting to you (for me it’s mostly wine peeps) or, if you want your account to be more of a representation of your blog, then re-follow the lot but set up dedicated lists for the people who you think have a voice.
    Better still do both, set up a second twitter account, keep one for the blog & “wine words of wisdom” and one more for people you know, respect or find interesting and tweet at a slightly more personal level – several do that.

    As to your tweets;
    What? – links to your blog posts (already done), links or comments about big things interesting you, what you’re drinking that’s nice enough we should know about, and occassional words of wisdom from on high ;).
    How frequent? – that’s up to you, check who’s tweeting you (search for @SteveHeimoff using the integrated tools on the twitter page or on smartphone apps) but don’t feel like you have to reply to everyone, there isn’t enough time in the world. Quality over quantity.

    For me twitter is completely different to FaceBook, it shouldn’t be self-promoting or an overt marketing tool – it’s about bi-directional education, real conversation to (& from) the world in general about what interests you.

    But definately keep it up, twitter needs voices like yours in the mix (and that’s the point, in the mix – two way, not a lecture, not a sermon, not a sopabox – at least not all the time!).

  5. My biggest problem with Twitter is that when I log on to it, within five minutes I’ve opened up ten links that people have tweeted and, next thing, it’s lunch time and I have done absolutely no work. If someone “killed” Twitter, I’m sure my productivity, such as it is, would double.

    Regarding your question, I don’t think there’s any problem with tweeting only very infrequently. Your followers undoubtedly follow many other accounts too and, even if they would like to see you tweet more, they are unlikely to be staying up at night agonising over your dearth of tweets.

    Good luck!

  6. Hell No, you shouldn’t Blog either.

  7. If you have a web site or a blog, you should Twitter in this day and age. It is another window or avenue to connect you with your audience both current and future.

    How you Twitter will depend on your personality and availability. It can be a time sink but you then need to prioritize and set boundaries. Maybe like email you tackle it at a certain time of the day for a certain amount of time.

    Figure out what you want to say and take a few moments when ever you can to enjoy the conversations going on. I try to Tweet once a day and ReTweet whenever I see something beneficial and have the time.

    No stress, no pressure, no regret.

  8. San Diego, Hah! lol

  9. Hi Steve,

    I’m very much like you — I joined Twitter about two years ago, and just didn’t “get” it. Everyone whose blogs I read were also tweeting, so I felt very much on the outside. I dabbled here and there, but didn’t get into it too much.

    I started tweeting “in earnest” about three months ago in support of my new blog. I qualify “in earnest” because I still tweet about once every week or two (even though my blog posts go up everyday-ish). I tweet if I hit a major milestone in the writing of the novel, or if I include something of interest in my blog post, like the recent decimation of an antique Brothers Grimm book.

    I kind of approach tweeting like a Facebook update — I save my tweets for when I have something interesting to say (and have the time to say it).

    Of course, I could be way off base on this — maybe I should tweet my blog posts every day. I’m worried that the effect will wear off though all too soon.

    I like the cocktail party analogy that Wayne mentions above. What’s really good about looking at Twitter that way is, because it’s so casual and drop-in, decide to leave anytime you want…

    To answer your question more directly: if I were following Steve Heimoff, I’d like to hear about little tidbits (with links) that you find interesting but do not want to devote a whole blog post to, a new wine that you found (and its pairing, if applicable), and a special event you are attending (or attended — there’s a lot to be said for not letting on exactly where you are at any particular moment…)

    Name dropping wouldn’t be out of the question either, e.g. “Just polished off a Chateau Latour with Uma Thurman, as we watched the sun ease itself into the Pacific Ocean…” That would be exciting to hear about.

    Hope this helps.

    ~Graham

  10. Hi Steve,

    I don’t think you should tell us that your eating scrambled eggs either, in less their is something special about those eggs. You don’t have to tell us your getting ready to taste wines either, although when your tasting if there is something note worthy about one of the wines them I would love to see a tweet about it. There are a lot of useless tweets out there, but I imagine that you might have something of worthy of posting here and their.

    It is good to know why you never answered any of my tweets…

    Have a great day.

    @danecellars

  11. Bart H., sorry about not answering those tweets! If I start tweeting again, I’m going to have to learn some twiti-quette.

  12. Graham, it wasn’t Uma Thurman, it was Renee Zelwegger, and it wasn’t Latour, it was Romanee-Conti. And it wasn’t the Pacific, it was the Aegean. But you were close enough.

  13. When you start up again, as others have said be selective in who you follow. Whenever I get a new follow I check their profile and assess if their twitterfeed might be interesting or useful. I don’t follow hashtags because there are only so many hours in the day. I like the cocktail party analogy – this party spans the globe and as a consequence I have found myself up to speed faster on news that might otherwise take me days to stumble across. I have not gone so far yet as to set up two accounts, though I have friends who have. With the people I follow I tweet and retweet on topics and information that’s of shared interest. I also post about what I’m up to in the wine business – in addition to friends of the winery that might be interested, some of my investor/partners follow my feed – keeping in touch through Twitter keeps phone conversations and meetings shorter and more to the point than they would be otherwise. For me, Twitter is useful. You will find your own way to make it so for you.

  14. Steve it seems like to love to blog your posts are always interesting well written and thought provoking. From what you said in the past you did not really enjoy tweeting. As far as I am concerned do what you enjoy and do not start tweeting just because people say you should if you feel forced to do something because you “Must” it will show in the work and perceptions will suffer. I think so many of us enjoy your blog because it is honest and who you are and if tweeting is not you then I say let it be. That said if it has piqued your interest again go for it but from what I have seem it much like blogging is sort of a on or off situation it not going to be successful if you just dabble. just my 2 cents.

  15. No, please don’t tweet. The reason is simple: I don’t give a damn what you do in between blog postings, and I don’t want you to take energy away from those.

  16. “Twitter is like a big cocktail party.”

    Yeah, and at most coctail parties there’s always that person at the party who is trying way too hard. Twitter seems to have found a lot of those people.

    Like you, Steve, I visited the Twitter party but it just wasn’t my crowd. There’s way too much noise in my life. I’d rather spend the time watching and listening to my backyard birds. Besides, I figured if I spent time at Twitter, it might give me a false sense of significance.

  17. Should you tweet? Well, that’s for you to decide ultimately. I’d recommend it. It provides an opportunity to connect with a massive concentration of wine lovers. And like Bart said, twitter isn’t a platform to keep people informed of trivial life updates (though many people use it to do so). Instead, it allows you to engage with fellow wine writers / enthusiasts while putting out quality content. I, for one, would follow you!

  18. Morton, nothing like a false sense of significance to precede a fall.

  19. Patrick, I’m still trying to decide, but I promise that if I do, it won’t take anything away from my blog.

  20. Only you can answer that question. It’s really a personal decision. My personal experience with Twitter has been really positive. I love the conversational aspect and I’ve met a lot of great friends, some I’ve met in real life and now it’s easy to forget we first met on Twitter! Think about why you want to use it as well as what you’d like to get out of using Twitter. Keep in mind that you make Twitter what you want.

    Katie

  21. For a journalist, a properly configured twitter feed is an invaluable tool. On twitter, you can find daily updates on the (worldwide) trends and news regarding the wine business (or whatever beat you’re on). It’s important to follow useful tweeters (I agree with John Kelly’s comment). Tweets can drive readers to your blog but also let’s you announce events, ideas and whatever you might find of interest. Since you are an expert in the field, twitter makes it easy to share that knowledge. And if you are ever at a loss for story or blog post ideas, a few minutes on twitter will fill that momentary gap. That said, it does take time. And you have to be prepared for instant feedback both positive and sometimes negative. A smart phone is going to make the process much easier as well. Good luck. Happy to help you configure your account if you need an assist.

  22. OK, Steve. Here’s the deal. I have hundreds of followers. I tweet a few times a week. I can’t possibly stay on line and engage in chatter–and at 140 characters, it is nothing more. I once tried to have a conversation with a NY writer about something he wrote. He wound up offended because his tweet was overly simplistic and my comment on it was as well. It should never have come to that but Twitter made it so because we both took ourselves seriously.

    I just spent about 30 minutes watching the tweets go by while negotiating with the Berkeley Rep about tix to the new Lemony Snicket play–for the grandkids, of course. Not more than two or three items of any substance. I did twit Randall Grahm about a comment he made re a certain Mr. Parker, but he was just cracking wise and so was I.

    The problem with Twitter is that there is no substance to it. It is a far better medium for PR blasts and for little back and forth chat. But, substance. Forget about it.

    That does not make it useless. But it does limit its value when it comes to real conversation.

  23. Come back!!!
    I’m not as consistent with my tweeting as I would like to be (the busier I am in real life, the less I tweet), but I find that OK and I find the platform to be a very valuable communication tool. Below are a few ways in which I have used and/or benefited from being a member of the Twitter community:

    – #HelpHaiti
    On the Thursday following the disaster, I (along w/ several others) started tweeting to wineries and encouraging them to donate tasting fees over the weekend to the relief effort. That Saturday night I came home, turned on the news and watched a feature story on how wineries (at the encouragement of twitter) were doing just that!

    – I’ve scored stuff from Twitter!
    I am following a (now friend in real life) wine-blogger who didn’t need their hotel room in Walla Walla. I saw their tweet offering it up, and I grabbed it. In one single tweet, I made a new friend and upgraded my wbc10 accommodations!

    – Impress your friends!!
    I saw a tweet from someone in NY that they just experienced a tornado (albeit small) in Brooklyn. As a little joke, I called my NY colleague to make sure he was OK. He was actually very close to where the tornado happened, and absolutely amazed that I was on the phone with him minutes later about it.

    So there you have it – from the serious, to the useful, to the funny – my three examples to hopefully persuade you to come back!

    @vinonotes

    :)

  24. Ancient Chinese Proverb: Those who have the least to say seem to be the ones saying the most.

  25. It can be a valuable tool for getting your name out there or building your brand, but I think it’s a waste of time for someone who enjoys his privacy as much as I do.

    well said George Rose! I don’t even go on twitter anymore because most of what people are saying is rubbish. Most people aren’t really that interesting. If I tweeted right now it would say something like “I find myself sitting on the couch again reading random wine blogs…boy I wish I had more spare money to spend on wine so I wouldn’t have to be satisfied just reading about it!”

  26. Steve, it’s an individual thing, some people never click with Twitter and others can’t get enough. The best benefits I’ve seen are 1) development of relationships that continue into the real world and 2) interesting content I might not have found on my own. I have two accounts, one that’s more personal interaction and one for my business, where I try to share trends and articles that I think are helpful or may stimulate conversation around an issue. The lists feature is great for staying in tune with the people you consider to be thought leaders in any given topic; really cuts down on the clutter. Curation is the current buzzword in social media – if you winnow your experience to what is valuable to you, then it’s…well, valuable! Give it another shot?

  27. Mia, if I do it (undecided) I’d only have one account, because I don’t really make any distinction between “myself” as a person and “steve heimoff” as professional wine writer.

  28. George, could you elaborate on that inscrutable remark?

  29. Bill Smart says:

    Steve – Think T-I-M-E.

    Unless you are willing to invest the time necessary to develop a Twitter account that is meaningful to you and your Twitter followers, it’s probably just a waste of your very valuable time.

  30. Hi Steve – I like you better squawking than tweeting. Though a chirp for fun now and then wouldn’t hurt.

  31. Steve,
    I am one of your followers on Twitter and have enjoyed watching the “New Blog Post” thing show up because it’s a bit faster than other methods. I didn’t like the idea of Twitter at first simply because I had so many friends on Facebook that updated their status so frequently it became meaningless and cluttered up the site. I felt Twitter was encouraging the same thing. Once I got into it however, I’ve found it easier to update my followers (all 99 of them!) about things going on around the winery, posting photos, and tweeting about events I’ve attended. The smart phone is great because it tells me when someone has actually responded to a tweet of mine and also it’s SUPER easy to update twitter from where ever you are.

    But I digress…

    I would enjoy seeing a few more up to the minute tweets from you however I don’t recommend tweeting about your scrambled egg breakfast unless you’ve found an awesome wine to pair with it and it will change all of our lives to try it.

  32. I have a Twitter account and I wish I could use it. I like the idea of connecting with a “group” (family, wine people, car people, etc.) and I think twitter is powerful for what is going on right now, in the moment. But following twitter makes me lose the moment. It’s like having 15 kids (of your own) running around you and trying to keep track of everything that is going on for them. I have two kids and that fills all my free time (in a good way!). My brain can’t handle twitter the way that it should be used, as you say above Steve, without being insulting or for just plain finding out what’s goin on right now!

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