I'm Boring On Twitter And Yet My Following Keeps Growing

12/07/2015 07:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Suddenly my Twitter following is growing. Don't ask me why; I really couldn't tell you. We're not talking big numbers here; this is peanuts in the world of social media numbers. I'm boring on Twitter; I don't really understand how it works. In fact, I'm terrible at all the things you're told to do, to be successful on social media, but Twitter has especially stumped me; the learning curve can be dumbfounding -- or, involves things I'm just not wired for.

I'm still figuring out #hashtags -- and I assure you, it is a talent that others have mastered! I'm not good at re-tweeting, and until recently, I rarely followed anyone, even if they followed me first ... unless I "knew them." Let me be clear: my intentions are good. I feel badly when someone I don't know follows me, and I don't return the favor, but up until recently, I dealt with Twitter like so much of my life and my blog: I aim for authenticity and honest intention. Hence, I reasoned: why would I follow someone I don't know? The people I followed were those whose blogs I read, or people I knew face to face. That's a limited list. Is it any wonder that I had well under a hundred followers for ages? I have the same approach with blogging: I follow the people who I will actually read. I just feel too guilty if I follow someone and then don't make the effort to read their work. So I do read. It's hard with folks who post daily, but I make an effort with anyone I've "followed."

There were a few noticeable things that helped me improve my visibility (say from 60 followers to my current humble 578) on Twitter. I wrote a blog post about the Surprise Skype Baby Shower I threw for my daughter, who, lives in Israel. I felt disconnected from her pregnancy and all that was happening, so I put together a full-blown shower and surprised her on Skype. I arranged to Skype with her, on a specific day and time. Then, I had foods she liked, decorations to cheer her up (balloons, flowers, colorful flags), and a room full of people who love her. They each brought a gift, and got a one-on-one moment via Skype and the computer screen, to tell my girl why they picked their gift, and wish her well. It was a huge success, in that it accomplished exactly what I wanted to do: connect with my daughter and that special period in her life.

Social media was the furthest thing from my mind, however, other than the fact that I was grateful to Skype technology. I tweeted my blog post, as I always do, and amazing things happened: Skype liked the Tweet, and Re-Tweeted it. They connected with me; I connected with them. They sent me adorable "swag" for my new grandchild, and made me feel good about that Tweet and blog post. Then, big guys at Skype liked and re-tweeted, and a whole bunch of people started looking at my measly Twitter page. Pow! I literally stumbled into it in my usual clueless way, and a few more people started following me. I didn't follow most of them back, because I was still pretty ignorant about all of this. It's a learning curve.

Being named a BlogHer Voices of the Year 2015 (VOTY'15) garnered some attention for my writing, and the post that the BlogHer and SheKnows' Goddesses chose, On My Father's Birthday, A Letter to The Man Who Killed Him. It brought in readers, and readers take a look at your Facebook page and your Twitter profile. At BlogHer'15, I attended any session on analytics that I could find, and figured a few things out ... like, that there were analytics to follow. Yeah, I didn't know that. Super helpful talks, and I came away understanding a little bit more about how this whole Tweet thing works.

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Then I discovered #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha, hosted by entrepreneur Marsha Wright. I was in Israel for much of August, helping my daughter with her new baby (and new love of my life), and somehow I stumbled on the Twitter site. Each Sunday, Ms. Wright hosts Tweets from all over the world. The Tweets must be positive or inspirational; you can't be selling something or diverting to another site, and she urges folks to connect. That's how I got hooked. I love that it's an entire day of positivity. I read those Tweets and actually feel my own insecurities melt a little. I feel empowered by the encouraging Tweets/words of others, and I love the connections that are made as we read each other's Twitter posts. My understanding of Twitter changed completely. I found myself following back, as others followed me. I wanted to re-Tweet, because we were a positivity movement each Sunday.

Social Media in general, and Twitter in particular, changed for me with that connection. I started thinking of things to post on Sundays. I started getting followers, seemingly out of the blue. Thrill of thrills and mystery of mysteries: LeBron James started following me. Hello? Very strange, but it gave me a boost in my sons' eyes. Wink-wink, nod-nod. I went from mom who blogs to cool... for about ten minutes. Recently, I've found that a lot of very big Twitter folks have followed me. It's interesting to read their profiles and guess how they even noticed me? I follow back now, nearly every time. I can't imagine why they pick me, or how. I'm still pretty clueless, and frankly, I'm still quite boring, but I return the favor.

I started blogging regularly for The Huffington Post one year ago, and I notice a distinct spike in followers whenever I post there. I'm not talking the kind of spike that real social media gurus would notice. As I noted, I'm only at 578 followers right now on Twitter, but I still get a little thrill with each notification. I am rarely re-tweeted, because my content is not thrilling. I tweet my blog posts; I try to be more mindful of re-tweeting things I see that impact me. I continue to write blog posts, whether for HuffPo or my own blog, Tales From the Motherland, that mean something to me. I write about what sincerely interests me or moves me. I try to write without filters; I aim for authenticity in anything I write, and I write to connect. Facebook is personal too, and I suppose that's why Twitter took me so long. It's harder to connect, harder to be filter-free and authentic, in 140 characters. I'm in awe of the folks who master it and find a way to influence people in so few words. I am not a woman of few words; I suppose it's another reason I continue to flounder in the Twitter world.

Ultimately, you can in fact teach "an old dog a new trick!" Woof! I've learned that I have to step outside some of my boxes, and my comfort zones, to participate on Twitter and social media. I have to stretch. But there you go: stretching, stepping outside boxes, challenging ourselves is how we grow. When we reach out, there are others who get it and connect back. I no longer feel defensive saying to my family or friends, that I have on-line friends. I have made connections through blogging, Facebook and surprisingly, Twitter, who are very real and special to me. I may still be boring on Twitter, but I'm thinking outside the box these days, and learning to embrace new adventures.

Do you like social media? Do you "get" it? Share your Twitter handle and I'll follow back. Handle? See, what I mean? Leave a comment and Share/Like on FB; simple things make me happy! And follow me on Twitter! If you'd like to read more of my writing, check out my blog Tales From the Motherland.

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