Category Archives: Social Media

Jonathan Franzen Hates Twitter

Unable to contain his hatred for all things of the twenty-first century, Jonathan Franzen hates Twitter now. He has dismissed it as “the ultimate irresponsible medium” and, in doing so, dismissed the millions of users who enjoy tweeting. But I think he’s missed the point of tweeting. I think tweeting can actually encourage better writing.

Franzen’s problem is the 140 character limit. He claims that “it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters”. It is hard, because you have a small space in which to convey your meaning. But this encourages Twitter users to be concise. And writers who can be concise are one step ahead.

Our first efforts at expression are often disorganised. We write more than we have to. We add extraneous elements. We track back because we forgot something. Cutting out these extraneous words and ideas makes our prose lean. It removes the deviations and repetitions that can irritate a reader and it makes our prose easier to read.

Being concise also encourages creativity. When you write a tweet and it comes to 150 characters, it requires a creative thought process to lose ten characters without losing the meaning.

In short, Twitter can help train the mind to write well.

Franzen doesn’t have to be a fan of Twitter. He’s free to dislike it if he so wishes. But dismissing it as merely “irritating” demonstrates a short-sighted unwillingness to engage new tools and technology. Using Twitter won’t make a writer better. But it will encourage their thoughts in a more concise direction. Surely that can only be a good thing?

5 Ways to Get More Twitter Followers

Twitter has over 100 million active users. That’s a lot of people and they all want more followers. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Do you need to go wild, wacky and winsome? No, but I think the following will stand you in good stead. It works on me!

Be Interesting

You need to provide great, useful content. Whether you create your own or aggregate others’ (properly credited, of course), providing me with content I want to consume is a sure-fire way of earning a follow.

Be Funny

If you’re not interesting you can always be funny. People like to laugh and they like (and follow) the people who bring the chuckles.

Have a good bio

Speaking for myself, no bio equals no follow. If you can’t be bothered with a bio, it’s not unfair to assume that you can’t be bothered with Twiiter in general. A good bio draws people in and gets them looking at your tweets.

Be Social

It is, after all, a social network. Reach out to people and engage them in conversation. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m on Twitter to meet new people and I think others are too. So engage with their tweets and they’ll probably engage back.

• Be Reasonable

If you haven’t tweeted in weeks, tweeple could be forgiven for thinking you’d abandoned the account. Of course if you tweet too much that’s just as off-putting. I unfollowed Stephen Fry (I know, blasphemy!) because he was drowning out everyone else in my feed and I got sick of seeing him. Don’t be that guy.

Now, if I can just practice what I preach I’ll be set! What do you think? Anything else a Twitter user should be doing to gain followers? Or did you stop reading as soon as I admitted to I following Stephen Fry?