by Joanne McAlpine
I have been a social media consultant for the past few years, and the most common reaction I get to Twitter is the statement I don’t get Twitter.
Yeah, I didn’t get it either at first. I thought it was populated with groupies who put celebrities on pedestals by following them. “What will you have me do, master? Tell us what it is like to be you so we may bask in your glory.”
I have since learned that Twitter is a great tool for back-and-forth conversations, without anyone dominating. I’ve connected with people whom I first met on Twitter. I cheer the Doctor with Whovians (“Doctor Who” fans) as he defeats aliens across the universe. I get a sense of what the world is thinking with Twitter trends, and I do follow my own celebrities (the National Parks and Smithsonian).
How is Twitter different from Facebook? Because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, no one can give a monologue of information. “Is that important?” you ask. Sometimes — for instance, when you want to avoid an opinionated rant in your comments — yes, it’s important.
Also, unlike Facebook “friends,” Twitter followers are open to multiple tweets. If you post the same link more than once on the same day, that’s OK in the Twittersphere (but not on Facebook). Plus, you will probably reach a different audience by tweeting similar information at different times.
Here are some pointers to help you make the most of Twitter.
General Rules of Social Media:
- Step away when you are angry. In the beginning, I did not do that and I suffered the consequences, which is mostly me feeling like a dope. It’s not a good feeling. Occasionally, my sister unfriends me. (Yes, she reconnected, then she unfriended me, then reconnected — it’s a turbulent relationship.)
- Don’t feel the need to respond to everything immediately. Treat a tweet like email — you’ll get to it when you have scheduled time for it. With that said, I do check my Twitter feed most weekday mornings.
- Pictures always do well. (And yet drive me nuts.)
General Tips for Twitter:
- Tweets can only be 140 characters long. Twitter will shorten links for you — not to nothing but to something shorter than what you copied and pasted.
- Consider keeping tweets to 120 characters to allow for retweeting.
- A Twitter handle is your username with the @ symbol in front of it.
- Tweets are primarily a link and a short description of the link, in reverse order. For example: The Art of Revision http://www.possibilitiespublishingcompany.com/the-art-of-revision.
- Don’t just tweet your stuff, engage with other tweeters.
- The best way to start getting followers is to follow. However, keep in mind that if you follow celebrities, they will most likely not follow you back.
- I suggest using a third-party application with Twitter, such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck. I always feel like I’m looking at the matrix when I’m using those applications.
Tweet Ideas for Writers:
- Post a quote from your book with a link to the first chapter of the book.
- Announce a new blog post and include the link.
- Say “happy birthday” to a character from your book and then link to the book.
- Share a quote from your favorite author. Although this would probably not have a link with it, many tweeters like to retweet quotes. Your Twitter handle will be attached to it, and you can get new followers that way.
- Engage with another author in the same genre because readers who love historical fiction, for instance, are always looking for other writers of historical fiction.
Remember: Don’t sweat it, and have fun!
For more Twitter info, check out my Twitter tutorials on YouTube.
Joanne McAlpine is director of social media marketing at Possibilities Publishing Company. She has a master’s degree in instructional systems design from the University of Central Florida and has been a social media consultant for more than four years.