12:44 PM

Delve into Twitter

Although I discussed Twitter earlier in the post about building your platform, I decided there was so much more to it that it deserved a whole post of its own.

First let's talking about how to Twitter. There's the Twitter page itself, but if you really want to have some control over how you Tweet and what you follow, I'd suggest looking into some of the clients.  There's Tweetdeck, which is a program you download and put on your desktop and then there's Hootsuite which is internet based which means you can access it from any computer with internet access. I tried them both but preferred Hootsuite, especially since it offers  functions that allow you to better track your tweets. If you use their URL shortening options, you can then track the people who click on your links. I love that! Tweetdeck may have added that kind of option, but when I check it out over a year ago, it wasn't available.  With both clients you can set up columns to follow certain hashtag or people you have on a specific list, which is super helpful. I have a column set up for all my people in the writing industry and another for the #amwriting hashtag. It really helps me keep up with what's going on in the industry.

Speaking of hash tags, maybe you're wondering what those are all about. The # is a hash and what comes after it is the tag. People can make their own or follow ones they see others using. They can be used to search for specific topics. Let's say you're a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  You've heard they're making a movie and want to see what people on Twitter are saying about it. You can search for Tweets with a #hungergames hash tag.  I find using and following certain hash tags has helped me make new friends and gain more followers. Definitely look into them and don't be afraid to use them or make your own!

Since we're talking hash tags, there's another good use for them. They involve Twitter chats. I've followed and participated in several that are writing/publishing related. While you can follow by making a column for the hash tag, I've found it MUCH easier to use TweetChat. The super handy thing about TweetChat is it will automatically add the hash tag to the end of your Tweet and it counts it into your character count so you don't have to worry that you've typed out this whole response and then don't have room for the tag.

I understand you want to use Twitter to build your platform and get your name out there, but don't blindly follow people just because they follow you first. It's OK to be a bit picky about who you respond to, especially with the amount of spambots out there. Just because I mention the word honey in a Tweet doesn't mean I want to be followed by/return the follow of a spambot for some honey corporation. Chances are, I meant it as a term of endearment and not the condiment (honey is a condiment, no?) anyway. So take the time and check out their Twitter feed and see if they're the kind of person you would be interested in learning more about/reading their Tweets.

Finally let's talk a little about lists.  There's an option where you can put your followers into lists that you make. I find this function very helpful, especially when I start chatting with someone and I can't remember where I know them from! I have lists for friends from certain websites, a list for authors and publishing resources, a list for fellow #amwriting folks. As my fan base grows, it's very helpful to organize them. I highly recommend it.

Twitter is a really fantastic resource. Take some time to dig in and find out all you can  do with it. 140 characters has brought new life to social networking. Make sure you're in on it!

Here are just a few of the hash tags you, as writers, might be interested in following/using:

  • #amwriting
  • #writegoal
  • #writers_life
  • #writingparty
  • #writers
  • #writing
  • #writetip
  • #wip
  • #writermoms
  • #novelists
  • #author
  • #editing
  • #fictionfriday (Short stories posted to blogs and websites on Fridays)
  • #fridayflash (Flash fiction posted to blogs and websites on Fridays)
  • #writeromance (Romance writing)
  • #scifiwrite (Science fiction writing)
  • #kidlit (Children's literature)
  • #yalit (Young adult literature)
  • #mglit (Middle grade literature)
  • #scbwi (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)
  • #rwa (Romance Writers of America)
  • #sfwa (Science Fiction Writers)
  • #askagent
(thanks to suite 101 for the list!)

Here are some of the chat hash tags:

  • #kidlitchat (Writing and reading for children)
  • #yalitchat (Young adult literature)
  • #scifilitchat (Science fiction writers and readers)
  • #writechat
  • #storychat
  • #scriptcraft (Script writers and readers)
  • #pblitchat (Devoted to writers and readers of picture books.)
  • #thrillerchat (Readers and writers of thrillers)
  • #memoirchat (Learn about memoir writing here)
publetariat.com  has a list of when some of these chats take place. I'm not sure how up to date it is, but if you find yourself online at those times, look for the chats! Some of them, like #askagent just seem to pop up randomly so keep an eye out!