Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is Twitter worth the trouble for book promotion campaigns?

Is Twitter worth the time, energy, and aggravation if what you're using it for is to expand your book promotion capabilities? This book publicist's vote: I'm not sure, but I'm growing increasingly frustrated with Twitter.

When I logged onto Twitter this morning, I found about six new followers for my account. Among them were two purveyors of porn, one person who sells a teeth-whitening product, and another individual who sells wallpaper downloads. I suppose I didn't have to "block" them, but I did (and blocking these critters wasn't quick and easy, either -- when Twitter gets cranking, and thousands of users are logged onto its server at the same time, what should take a nanosecond to do can take minutes longer while you're waiting for pages to load).

About the pornography, the tooth person, and the wallpaper guy -- I imagine they found me through some third-party service that lets customers buy (or borrow) followers so that, essentially, they can acquire bulk mailing lists (where Twitter users are the recipients of the bulk mailings). Had I followed the miscreants (believing they were legitimate Twitter followers, then they would have been able to directly send me ads for their products or services, and I'll admit it: I would have found that annoying. I receive plenty of irritating and offensive junk email as it is, but my email filters have been smart enough to block the worst of it. I don't need to start receiving more unwanted and inappropriate solicitations via Twitter (or any other social networking tool, for that matter).

At the same time, I've connected with hundreds of enthusiastic, wise, and upbeat publishing and media professionals via Twitter. Many of these authors, publishers, book reviewers, hosts, producers, editors, other book publicists and book marketers, and so forth have steered me toward worthwhile articles and, in effect, have become a wonderful source of wisdom and grapevine chatter. To the extent that I can now send direct messages to media professionals via Twitter, I believe Twitter has already helped expand my book promotion capabilities and may continue to do so ... if I don't become so frustrated with the dark side of Twitter (which, to be fair, isn't Twitter's fault -- Twitter can't help the fact that a pack of dorks have latched onto Twitter as yet another way of annoying those of us who aren't prospects for whatever it is that they're selling).

So, for authors and publishers who haven't yet committed to expanding their social networks via Twitter, is it worth taking the plunge? I'm not sure -- but, as with so many offerings that can potential expand my book promotion capabilities, Twitter has already snagged me as a guinea pig and tester of the waters.

I'll give you an update after I can point to some specific benefits that I've enjoyed from Twitter ... or once I've become so overwhelmed by disgusting or untargeted advertising that I've decided to bail out on Twitter completely. To be continued ...