Like a Bird on a Wire (or a wooden bench)

Bird on Wooden Bench - Stanford Campus, CA

My unquenchable desire to spread my social media platform beyond the confines of the known universe had me turning to Twitter this week. I have always thought that Twitter was the exclusive purview of people with fancy little cell phones who had mastered the art of typing on tiny keyboards. I put this comment up somewhere on a discussion and a few people told me that they Tweet from a laptop or home computer. I decided to give it a try. Like most things out in the social media world – getting signed up was no problem.

Things happen fast, fast, fast in the Twitter world. I managed to follow a few news sites almost immediately. Found a great Indie authors site that offered this bloggers connect up thing. That meant I had to add a Twitter follow to my blog. I managed that. I started connecting with people in the World Literary Café. I’m not sure what I did there, but people started following me back to my blog. Good, so far!

For the most part I was just watching the Tweets mount up on the screen without having much of a clue what they meant. They looked like strings of gibbeley-goop. But then it all started to make sense. Like when you watch the loading bay at a large factory – everything seems like random activity. Trucks are coming and going, forklifts all over the place and people buzzing around. Then all of a sudden, a pattern emerges. It all falls into place – fascinating!

I started following George Stroumboulopoulos around – I’ve been a fan for a while. Bruce and I had a chance to see a live taping of his previous show – The Hour – at George’s studio in the CBC building in Toronto. That was back in 2008. George was amazing – full of energy, humour and generosity. He stayed for at least an hour after the show was wrapped up – just interacting with the audience and answering questions. There is something a bit incredible about seeing George tweet that he is in the Ottawa airport and being able to reply within a few seconds – I feel sorry for all the time you spend in airports, George. Pseudo-intimacy for sure – George and I are not buddies. But he is fun to follow around.

Last night I actually figured out what a hashtag is and from there I tapped into a trend. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages – tears were streaming down my face as I read through tweets that were arriving in groups of 40 or 50 at a time – #ImSoSickOf – I had no idea that Twitter could be so much fun. This was my favorite – I’m so sick of how ten years ago we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash – now we have no jobs, no hope, and no cash. I jumped on that one right away and was the 76th person to re-tweet it.

I think I’m starting to get a handle on the social media world. What I’ve learned so far leads me to think the following:

  • Facebook – for interaction with friends (real friends – the kind of friends you would want to show pictures of your grandkids to or share your home renovation projects with – OK, let’s just leave aside for a moment the issue of whether friends are ever interested in your home renos.)
  • Facebook Fan Page – people can like me or follow what I’m up to without me having to accept them as a friend who can see pictures of my grandkids and home renovation projects – sounds good – fans, not friends.
  • My Blog – the place I get to share who I am with whoever wants to read (and hopefully someday be able to say – here’s my book, guys!)
  • Pinterest – a place to see and share beautiful images, mostly with strangers (also a place to link up blog posts – especially if they contain great pictures.)
  • LinkedIn – the place for professional networking, establishing credibility in terms of education and past work experience (also a great place to link up blog posts and connect with people from times in my life gone by.)
  • Twitter – fast connections with total strangers about anything and everything (a lot of people are using Twitter for crass and in-your-face promotion – I figured that out quickly. Glad to say, that’s not my style and most of it is easily ignored.)

I guess in closing, I would say – don’t be afraid of social media platforms. Don’t write off opportunities to connect with others before you even give them a whirl or a tweet for that matter. I am not a techie or a computer whiz woman. I’m just a regular computer user and I am able to maneuver my way around. Maybe I’m like the person who buys a pricey microwave oven with all the bells and whistles and only ever uses it to heat up coffee – but still, I am using it! You can, too. Give it a try. Then we can tweet together, like a couple of birds on a wire (or even a wooden bench, but you can be the drunk in the midnight choir. I’ve never been a great singer.) Sounds like fun – right?


27 comments on “Like a Bird on a Wire (or a wooden bench)

  1. This is an excellent post. It shows the scale and usefulness of social media — thanks for sharing.

    • I feel like the semi-blind leading the less than semi-blind – but I think that’s the way learning works best. We share what we know and those people one ot two steps behind benefit from learning from someone who is just a tad ahead rather than from someone who is so far beyond them that is hard to understand a word that is said. Thanks for the compliment and for stopping by my blog.

  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

  3. gustavop says:

    I will start with the twitter any moment, from my laptop. I hope not to get lost in the jungle of symbols, haahaha.
    I agree this is an excellent post, I like it.
    Regards from Spain.

  4. Gemma Hawdon says:

    Hi Francis – it’s like a ‘whole nother world out there’ the social media sphere. Someone once told me treat Twitter like your local cafe – meet, chat, share. I thought that was a great way to see it 😉

    • I love your analogy of the local cafe – a crowded cafe with lots of people talking very loud and lots going on. But there are also all sorts of little gems of stuff there. I just need to carve out my own quiet little corner from which to observe and invite one or two people at a time to my table to chat.

  5. Gwen says:

    This is a really informative post. I’m clueless about social media, and you give a concise summary of the big ones above. I appreciate your thoughts on Twitter – I’ve been reluctant to establish an account (even though writers are encouraged to do so) because I couldn’t understand the point of it. Do you think it will be useful to you, or will it wind up being one more time consuming thing to manage?

    • Time will tell on the time-consuming question. The trick seems to be to pick the right things and people to follow (I’ve already gone down the wrong road on that and had to backtrack a bit) and then to try and have one or two interesting things to tweet in a day and leave it at that. There is a lot of stuff coming at you on Twitter and it has to be sifted – hopefully it will be something that takes longer in the beginning then falls into its proper slot. OK everyone – stop laughing.

  6. Thanks for your take on Twitter, Francis. I, too, have been reluctant to get started with Twitter because I think it will be too time-consuming. I find it hard to get the time to check up and post on Facebook and Ian’s author page there, and then keep our blog going, not to mention checking up on other blogs with whom we have a connection of sorts. My primary concern is on-going editing of the many things Ian has written. With his health concerns over the past five years, I do the bulk of any computer work connected with his writing. I’d be interested in learning whether you think Twitter is a worthwhile way of promoting your writing or if it is just another thing to add to the seemingly never-ending task of keeping up on social networks. Please keep us posted as you become more Twitter-wise. Gayle Moore-Morrans

    • I will keep you posted, Gayle. We do have to make a priority list related to all the social media stuff if we are to have any time to continue writing and editing. You got me thinking with the question about whether it would turn out to be a worthwhile way of promoting my writing. I have gotten into most of the social media thinking that was what it was about – then wham – I start to realize that it has morphed into something else. I start to get ideas for writing, tap into new ideas about marketing, learn from everyone else out there. It is quite the process!

  7. SJ Main says:

    I am fairly new to Twitter, but I love it. What a lot I have learned from the people I follow. P.S. I put my reno pictures on Facebook! Yikes – it was only a few!

  8. […] down my reader, I came to a fantastic summary of social media outlets, provided by Francis at Disappearing in Plain Sight. In this enlightening post, she recounts her foray into Twitter: how she clicked around, trying […]

  9. Lori D says:

    Thanks for sharing your twitter experience. I signed up some months ago and never used it. As an author who is trying to keep up my blog, and my writing, I don’t know how people keep up with all the social media too! I’m sure you’re also aware of I was just thinking about getting more active on my account there. It seems the best place to network with other writers anyway. I will probably get myself intertwined with twitter eventually too. Again, thanks for sharing.

    • I hear you on the time commitment to all these social media platforms. Of them all, I think keeping the blog going is the most important. I’m waiting until I actually have something to link to on Amazon before I get set-up with GoodReads so I can go right onto an author’s page. I like the way you write about Twitter as being intertwined – lyrical and true 🙂

  10. Ok, this was great to read! I have bene on Twitter for a yearish now and have yet to fully appreciate/develop the potential there…you have inspired me! I sitll “follow you” and let you lead the way! 🙂

    • Hey – thanks so much for the kind words. It is certainly a learning process. I’ve caught on pretty quickly to the the people and groups I don’t want to follow on Twitter and the type of Tweets I don’t want to be posting – a bunch of hashtags and screaming out, buy this or that! But what to Tweet is harder to figure out. This is going to probably mean another post – soon. Thanks for stopping by and staying.

  11. mpskydog says:

    We may have no Jobs, no Cash and no Hope… but we still have Kevin Bacon. Thank God for that.

  12. Ha ha …I just tweeted this post. It seemed appropriate.

  13. […] 101. This depends on perspective of course. Lots of people found both Twitter posts helpful – Like a Bird on a Wire (or wooden bench) and Twitter the Ongoing […]

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