Saturday, July 30, 2011

Impressions from a Twit

I've been on Twitter now for, what? A week or so? It's been a learning curve.

Unlike a blog, which is static, Twitter goes by fast as a one stoplight town. Blink and you've missed it.

Here's what I think I've learned so far.

1.It helps to know someone on Twitter. I have some real life people who Tweet and connecting with them made all the difference. I had someone to talk to, who already had followers.

Don't know anyone? Connect by searching for people who share the same hobby or interests, i.e. something other than writing.

You can follow me @MichelleMcCleod. I follow back and I will actually talk to you.  

2.There are precious few readers on Twitter. Yet I think every author on the planet is there tweeting away (because their publisher told them to). This makes Twitter great for professional networking, but good luck finding an actual, live reader. The odds are pretty good that any readers you do find are spam bots (I'm only half joking).

3.Some people are phoning it in. It's obvious they've scheduled  their Tweets through a service like TweetDeck and aren't actually online. How do I know? One, they don't talk to anyone and two, no one talks to them, but the stream of personal tweets never stops.

Don't do this. It's alienating. I mean, what is the point of 24/7 Tweets if you're never around to actually engage with people? I tried to talk to one of these people and they never responded, but continued to blitz me with random tweets. I unfollowed them.

Twitter really doesn't work as a one-way conversation. However, because of a tweet's short shelf-life (maybe 30 seconds if you're lucky) it can be easy to end up just shouting about yourself by yourself.

If you can, come up with Tweets that address people directly to try and get a conversation going. An example:

@CoolTweep  Can you eat ice cream and read at the same time?

4.Use hashtags to your advantage. Hashtags are Twitter's index. Use # with a word to create a tag that will link to everyone else who has used it. Click the hashtag to find those people. So #asthma would become hyperlinked in my Tweet and I could find every asthmatic on Twitter with it.

5.Participate in group memes. There are some regular events on Twitter that can be used to gain traction. Below are the basics of the big three memes I've encountered thus far.

Monday is Mention Monday and uses the hashtag #MentionMonday. Try to promote someone else. For example:

@AuthorName just revealed a gorgeous cover for their latest book. Link.

(Note the @ before someone's Twitter handle creates a link to their profile.)

Examples of Mention Monday tweets.

Tip: Have something worth mentioning ready to Tweet on Mondays. If you have close friends on Twitter, ask them to #MentionMonday your Tweet.

Wednesday is Writer Wednesday and uses the hashtag #WW. I'm still a little foggy on how this works but you can either promote other authors like so:

 #WW  Want a good scare? Try @AuthorName. Paranormal? Try @AuthorName Fantasy? Try @AuthorName

You can post excerpts, however, that doesn't seem to be commonly done (although it's not like you'll be shot if you do). Here's a search result on Twitter for #WW.

Friday is Follow Friday with the hashtag #FF and is exactly the same as Writer Wednesday only for anyone and everyone on Twitter.Examples of Follow Friday on Twitter.

6.Use Bitly. Bitly is awesome (and free!). It shortens links and then provides data on how often they are clicked . This can help you identify the best and worst time to Tweet as well as which Tweets are most effective.

You can either post to Twitter directly from Bitly or copy/paste into Tweetdeck (discussed next) to create a post-dated Tweet.

7.Get Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck has lots of great features (plus it's free), but I like it because it allows you to post Tweets on a schedule. Per my point in #3, don't do this 100% of the time, but there are times when pre-loading your Twitter stream is useful. I like to use Tweetdeck in the following instances:
  • I have a lot to say and want to space it out instead of posting 10 tweets in a row.
  •  Scheduling announcements. Remember, the shelf-life of a Tweet is very short it is not enough to tweet something once. You need to run an announcement at different times and on different days to maximize exposure. (Try to make it interesting, don't post the exact same verbiage 20 times in a week.)
  • I'm worried I'll forget to post something or duty calls in the real world and I can't be online.
8.Reply to as may Tweets as possible. Interaction is often at a minimum from what I've observed and people can really respond if you have something relevant and pithy to say.

9.Retweet all happy news and charity events. Retweeting is good karma and people notice when you support them. (By the way, Retweeting is like forwarding an email, it takes someone's Tweet and broadcasts it to all your followers.)

10. Avoid the hard sell, be different, be you. There is so much marketing on Twitter that you can stand out simply by being a normal human being. Don't mention your book every 5 seconds. Maybe not every week. Try to promote other authors instead. Share interesting links. Talk about your life (within reason). Be funny. Be you and oh, by the way, I have a book out.

So that's everything I think I know. Did I miss anything important?

By the way, any spacing issues with this post are due to a Blogger glitch I can't seem to fix.

1 comment:

  1. You learned all of this in one week? I bow down to you! I'm still trying to figure out how to unfollow someone.