Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is it possible to be a Human Artist on Twitter?

I just finished "The Human Artist" chapter of Trust Agents. Really good chapter, really strong advice. As has happened, eerily, through my time reading this book, what I read seems to contrast starkly with some thought or experience from my own life. I was just thinking a few hours before reading the chapter that Twitter is an increasing challenge for me. I like being human. I also like networking. Can you do both?

What does being a Human Artist Mean?

A lot of the advice that Brogan and Smith give in this chapter revolves around how to be human on the web. They return to the fact that we can't see facial expressions, we can't hear a tonality, so we have to depend upon online cues. One of the ways we can leave a really good impression is to make sure we have digital "touches" with our contacts on a regular basis. Offer assistance. Wish happy birthday. On time. Answer emails. Follow people back. Comment back.

I am already overwhelmed

I have been actively trying to grow my Twitter network for a couple of months now, and things are finally starting to mesh for me. A little. I joined a blog chat Sunday night (thank you Mack Collier) and, get ready for it...jumped over the "100 followers" mark. As Twitter users go, I am not even a speck on the planet Jupiter.

Even so, there is a giant difference between having over 100 followers (I am following a fair fraction of them as I am happy to say the majority of my followers are super interesting) and what I had a month ago. I enjoy being able to have personal exchanges with people just because I am naturally a people person and it's great to be able to "talk the talk" with people in a similar profession or a similar mindset. To be the kind of human Twitterer I want to be, however, I am having to allot more and more time to scanning everyone's posts. The other day I found myself wanting to just look at replies to see if I was missing any comments or questions, and I thought, "Man...what am I going to do if I get 175 followers?"

Or try 11,750?

So then I look at people like Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Ann Handley, and others. They have thousands of followers . Now, I am not particularly worried about reaching those kinds of numbers, but it does beg the question. If I am struggling to keep my humanity intact with a little over 100 followers, how can you do it when you have 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000?

I guess that's my only qualm with the "Human Artist" chapter. Sure, you can try to make sure, via a spreadsheet, that you leave a comment for everyone once every blue moon, but that is sort of placing a shroud of authentic conversation over what really is a mechanical reminder. What if your follower has been Bland Bonnie for days and then it comes time to leave a comment for that person? Normally, you wouldn't. On the other hand, you might be missing some real gems if it's not Bonnie's turn on your spreadsheet.

It's not just Twitter. I see a lot of people on Twitter talking about trying to respond to Blog comments or Facebook friend requests.

Diametrically opposed objectives

I see that the next chapter is called "Build an Army," and I can already surmise what that chapter is going to say. But I am really having a hard time understanding how these goals can co-exist. Get as many online relationships going as possible, but also remain human for all of those people. I just can't see how to accomplish that successfully. What am I missing?

Image by Stephen Eastop.


Pastor Lisa said...

Working in ministry I have the same questions. A small group allows me to connect with everyone. What in the world are we going to do with 100, 200+ people? I understand your plight!

BTW, thanks for your all your help...still trying to make sense of it all!

Pastor Lisa said...

Thanks Marjorie...considering a blog makeover based on all the new info. Wow.