Social media can be an enigma for writers. We have to be on it, but often have no idea what we’re doing there. The social world can be forgiving of a newbie – thank goodness! But Tweeting on Twitter doesn’t have to be confusing Continue reading
Social Media has been considered the best friend of every aspiring author. I have to admit, I jumped in with both feet. And, in all honesty, I really enjoy keeping my blog. I like posting and I love interacting with the folks that respond.
I’m told, though my blog isn’t old enough to show it, that after a while, steady blogs
Twitter is a great tool for writers and a great place to connect with people who share like interests. I’ve chatted about how it needs to be more social than billboard-ish. I’ve even mentioned how hashtags can be used to promote your tweets.
But I’m going to share about them again. Mostly because I keep seeing them misused. I did plenty of misusing myself when I first started, so the message remains needed. Lately, I’ve seen some very clever twitter buds who would use the hashtags as the punchline of what they were saying.
Clever yes; useful no. Unless you think #mycatthrewuponme has a good following. I read a blog the other day about marketing and one of the quotes has a direct correlation to the use of hashtags on Twitter. (I SO wish I could remember where I got this note. Please leave me a comment if you know who said it so I can properly quote and credit the saying.) Find out where your audience is, then go stand in front of them.
1. First Suggestion: Find Your Audience.
That’s what hashtags are all about. #mycattrewuponme is a lousy use of space because no one will be watching that grouping of words. No one uses the hashtag, so why would anyone watch for the words to come across? Spelling it out: no audience. On the other hand, #Catjokes works! Hot hashtags include #avengers, #castle, #psych; all have quite a following of people who watch for the posts with those words and comment/share what they see.
Let’s say you aren’t a writer. How about you’re a camera nut and you want to see what other photographers are saying or thinking, or you want to find some informative blogs about becoming a professional. #photo #photographer #photography. You can do a search on Twitter and find all the recent tweets that people have made using the hashtags. Watching them and interacting with the tweeters places you within a loosely defined group of people who like photography. (BTW, #cameranut is a strikeout.)
The same can be said of any number of hobbies: #scrapbook #NASCAR #Olympics #Labradors #homeschool are a few of mine. Those are the places where I find folks to connect with who are interested in things that I’m interested in. In fact, I love being on Twitter during a NASCAR race because everyone comments on what they’re seeing. Even some of the things the drivers are saying to their crews get tweeted by their teams. What a fun idea!
Find some groups who will respond to the book you’re writing. Is it historical? Try a hashtag for the era like #Civalwar, #Regency, or #Medeival. Does it interest a special group of people like #Trekkies or #military? Try to find some hook, some common category that people who will like your book might congregate near. I have a problem with this because mine’s contemporary romance/suspense. The hashtags of romance and suspense are used a LOT, along with Christian and fiction. I’m still working on it though and hope to come up with some ideas.
#faithdrivenfiction is a great tagline, but on twitter, it’s where the crickets convene. And it goes back to my point about not using a hashtag as a punchline. #slickerthansnot might be the perfect ending for your tweet, but it won’t get you any extra views. If you want to be seen, usually the point of twitter, then use hashtags that people look at.
And if you’re wanting to connect with other writers, (I use these hashtags when I’m posting about anything to do with the life of a writer) you could use #amwriting #writetip #pubtip #writer. You could also use special group hashtags, like #mywana or #ACFW, but only if you’re a member of the groups.
2. Second Suggestion: Visit the Hashtag BEFORE Using!
You will get fussed at for using #hashtags incorrectly. Yes, I’ve been there!
Having seen the label #wordmongering, I assumed it was another general writing group and used the hashtag on a blog article that I wrote about writing. Sure, they want to read it, right? … Um … notsomuch. See, #wordmongering is a challenge group of writers who use the hashtag to encourage each other to keep writing through half-hour sprints. I received a very nice note from the gal who created the hashtag and an invitation to do some word mongering, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. But I don’t post my blog ads there!
Oh and I must share a great article – short and sweet – about gaining followers on Twitter. http://aheartforgod.blogspot.com/2012/01/10-ways-to-get-more-followers-on.html I swear the image looks like a magazine cover and I was totally inspired! So cool!
Your turn! What are some hashtags you’ve used or some that you watch?
Like I mentioned last week. Twitter is supposed to be set up like a virtual party. Only without the high heels and heavy makeup. Folks make a short comment and others respond to it. If it’s a good point or a poingnant idea, they might share it with their friends.
It’s social. It’s networking. And last week, I explained how it’s not a billboard. It can also be a reminder to people that you’re still around.
Last week, I attended a bridal shower. One of the bride’s best friends, on mission out of the country, called in to say hi, delighting the bride and her other friends.
Some folks use a scheduler (I prefer Hootsuite) to send out periodic quotes and bits of cleverness. These generally say, “Don’t forget me. I’m still around.”
Other people’s quotes don’t give a lot of information about the tweeter. At the most, they show the tweeters taste or values. However, if that’s all the tweeter posts, they are establishing themselves as a prom queen who can’t abide mingling with the little people. Either that or they are just twitterfied and aren’t sure what to say.
The bits of cleverness show more of a tweeter’s personality. That’s the clown in the room who’s major goal is always to make people laugh. That tweeter thrives on being the center of attention. But again, if jokes and practiced lines are all that person tweets, they might as well be a Bill Cosby recording. (I know I’m dating myself, but he’s still my favorite.)
Schedulers can also be used to promote books, blogs, or other links of benefit. Working best with the use of hashtags, these posts can be extremely beneficial. They offer little about the tweeter, unless that’s all the tweeter sends. Then they shout that the tweeter could be a Type-A personality who doesn’t have time for the minions around him and only uses Twitter as free advertisement.
Ouch. Yeah, I’ve been in that pod, though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. Hopefully my mistakes will help you out.
- Space your tweets out well. Whether they are quotes or cleverness or advertisements, don’t hog the feed. Put an hour or two between your posts. This lets people see that you’re there without making them want to strangle you.
- Use specificity when selecting hashtags. One of the tags I follow, when I follow, is #mywana. A writer’s group based on the book, We Are Not Alone, by Kristen Lamb. I’ll use this hashtag periodically when I’m scheduling something that would be beneficial or interesting to other writers. But I don’t use it when I’m responding to a NASCAR event or tweeting something about my faith. The folks at #mywana will be more apt to listen to me, if I care enough about them to share things they can use. Likewise, I don’t use the #NASCAR hashtag when I’m tweeting about a writing blog. They don’t care. (No I didn’t say they don’t read!) It would be like advertising a car wash in an Amish village. Just a waste of time.
- Vary your message. Don’t post the same tweet over and over. Especially if you’re a writer, this is your opportunity to be creative! I schedule for my blog posts. I create three different posts and use six different hashtags. (Only two per tweet.) I space them out, focusing on the busiest Twitter times of the day (according to other posts I’ve read). Then I stir it all up so that each different tweet goes to the 6 hashtags throughout the day without going to any of them twice. I know that seems ridiculously complicated, but I don’t want to be known as a billboard queen.
And above all, whether you schedule your quotes, cleverness, or promotions or post them all yourself, make sure you interact. Comment on other people’s tweets. Retweet them to your followers. Tweet about blogs you like.
“My daughter’s friend wasn’t in town at the time and she had locked herself …” Samsung 400 on November 12 at Texas Motor Speedway “… so she trotted over to the next door neighbor’s house. He’s the one that has been so creepy, lately, but she …” Your favorite hospital has a heart: Baylor Medical Heart Center … “so he wasn’t any help at all. She called me and I suggested she contact her brother. He’s only an hour away, but …” Bicardi Rum. Only the best.
This is just the way a person who is easily distracted lives. Truth is, most of the time I don’t even realize I’ve read every billboard that I’ve passed until I come across one and go, “huh?”
I find the same type of situation with Twitter. I notice that my feed fills with constant pleas to “visit my blog” or “buy my book.” I would say that the ads are sprinkled among regular posts, but finding those regular posts is often hard.
Maybe I’m not online at the right times?
I think the magic of Twitter is the engagement. Social media is SOCIAL first. I’ve heard Twitter likened to a virtual cocktail party, only without the liquor. I find it more like a variety show on TV. Different folks making jokes and a WHOLE LOT OF COMMERCIALS!
I like it when I find a question that someone actually wants answered. And I really like it when someone shares something goofy. Things that happened to them. Not just a clever one-liner.
I’m not trying to be critical. It takes effort to make friends – even online ones. I’ve met folks that I feel totally comfortable with and look forward to meeting in person. I’ve also met a few that I just don’t get a vibe from. Same as anywhere.
But I don’t get the chance to really meet a person if all they tweet is ads for their book or blog or the clever things other people say.
I’m not talking about retweets. (They’re not only fun, they give me insight to what other people like.) I’m talking about having a cache of famous or poignant quotes and posting them through the day via some scheduling program. And I’m not bashing scheduling programs either. I’ll post about scheduling at another time.
But I have come up with a few don’ts for Twitter. Most of these I’ve learned the hard way, though, so I’m not judging.
1. Don’t hog the feed. Every tweet you make goes out to all of your followers. I saw a person just today who posted a new quote every minute for twenty-five minutes. At least there was a variety. Oh and this wasn’t a situation with Twitter chats. Another topic for another time.
2. Don’t waste words. If a quote or scripture or song phrase is incredibly meaningful to you, by all means share it. But would you walk around at a party saying nothing but Shakespearean quotes or sharing Emerson poetry? I can picture that. But I wouldn’t want to be that gal!
3. Don’t constantly post nothing but ads. I don’t unfollow much, but I did unfollow two people fairly early on. One was an author who did nothing but post – every hour at least – about her book. Same post. And when I looked on her profile, I found it was all she ever tweeted. Easy fix there. I unfollowed one other. An extremely busy and popular blog guru that posted every minute about her blog or her group or her group’s blog or her friend or her friend’s blog … I got tired of seeing nothing but her picture on my feed.
So there are my negatives, but I don’t like to live in the lower half of the glass so here are some suggestions for beefing up your Twitterness. (And no I’m not there yet. This is just what I like to see and what I notice others respond to.)
- Do tweet fun and funny moments. Pictures are great for this, too. A number of people will be able to empathize with the silliness of life.
- Do reply to other folk’s stories. That’s how you find commonalities and strike up friendships – even online ones.
- Do retweet. It doesn’t take much effort and it brings so much joy to the tweeter. Also, make sure you say thank you to anyone who retweets your post!
- Do tweet your blogs or books, and even schedule them with a few quotes thrown in. Just make sure it isn’t the only thing people ever see of you.
Your turn: What Tweeting practice have you found that your REALLY like?
Social media has been an enigma for me, even though I’ve been doing it for almost a year now. I’ve made every mistake possible. Had no idea the faux pas I was committing, but I’ve learned that the social world can be forgiving of a newbie – thank goodness!
I’ve learned some important lessons, mostly from my own mistakes.
- Tweeting is not about self-promoting. While it’s a valuable avenue to tweet your current books and blog posts, it’s not created for constant self-promotion. I actually learned this lesson from someone else, but I’m guilty of the mistake, still, when I get busy. There is one person whom I have followed and I know the name simply because every hour, when I first joined Twitter and watched it constantly, a tweet begging for more followers and people to buy the newest book would cross my screen. Never anything else. No replies or engagement. No, I didn’t purchase the books or visit the blog. And unfortunately, I still remember the name which is surprising!
- Twitter doesn’t require constant attention. No really. See, I thought it did. When I first started, I kept it open at the top of my screen as I attempted to write and every time a new tweet flashed, I stopped what I was doing and went and read it. Yeah, well that lasted about a day before I knew there was NO WAY I could maintain a writing career if I stayed attached to my Twitter like that. Hated Tweetdeck until I learned how to turn off the notifications. If you don’t know what I’m talking about with Tweetdeck – don’t worry about it. It isn’t worth it – really.
- Social is the key word. I’ve learned a few tricks – first Hootsuite. I schedule my tweets about my blog through that program to space them out during the day, but I don’t stop there – refer to #1. I also schedule my time, setting aside about a half hour every day for social media interaction. And I’ve created a couple of lists that I watch and respond to folks that I’m familiar with on them. Most of the lists are other writers, NASCAR fans, or homeschoolers, but I’m working on branching out. I’m better at responding than coming up with my own clever Tweets, but I try to do a little of that as well.
- A fourth trick I’ve learned is the use of #hashtags. Now I totally messed this up on my own. I made a post and just hashtagged the tar out of it. It looked like someone cussed all over my tweet. I got a very kind direct message from one gal explaining how the hashtag she originated worked and a blanket email from another group asking that the hashtag only be used in special cases. Oops. Learned my lesson: WATCH the HASHTAGS before you use them and then only use a couple on any one tweet so it doesn’t look like you’re becoming a #sailor-mouth. After all, the hashtags are gathering places – not billboards.
To watch a list or a hashtag, it’s really simple. Just type in #whateverhashtag in the search box at the top right of your screen. Twitter will open a box showing you all of the posts that are using that tag.
A list is a little different to find. You’ll visit a particularly person like … hey, Marji Laine? 😀 And you’ll see a menu of their tweets and followers underneath their picture. Lists will be in that menu. Click on it and see all the ones created. For me, I have CW who are Christian Writers and another list of folks who inspire me, along with NASCAR racers and media members, and people from the ACFW Course I’m taking. Once you open a list you like, you’ll see a subscribe button in the top left corner. That puts the list under your name as well. It will open in the originator’s window, but hey, it’s handy for you!
If you found this mini-lesson helpful, would you consider Tweeting it? It’s easy – just click the Twitter button at the bottom of the post!
And if you have any questions about what I’ve learned on Twitter, please feel free to ask! I’m happy to give what information I can!
I remember when I was about 9, I got a chain letter from my cousin who lived in Germany. It asked for a recipe to be sent to a stranger and promised at least 50 recipes coming to me by the end of the week. I carefully copied the letter 10 times and mailed it off to friends. That was grueling for a 4th grader – like Handwriting practice! – but it was before the days of personal copiers. I WAS the personal copier. Then I waited running to the mailbox daily. I sent off my recipe to the stranger at the bottom of the list, but for some reason all of my chains broke and no one ever sent a recipe to me. Bummer.
So I don’t much like chain mail – especially not spiritual chain mail like the “You better forward this to 10 people or you’ll be cursed” type of emails. Hate those. I don’t even look at them, I don’t care how cute the lures are with sweet little bunnies and puppy dogs.
But a chain like this, and yes I liken it to chain mail, is just dangerous – spiritually. That first phrase: Confession “I receive my right 2 be healed” is what gets me. Whoever said we had a right to be healed? As sinners we have a right to absolutely nothing. As redeemed believers we have a right to be called children of God and secure the eternal blessings from that right. But nowhere in scripture does it say we are entitled to be healed while we live on this earth.
In fact, we have a vivid example of the exact opposite in the apostle Paul. He had something painful, “a thorn in the flesh” that bothered him all the time and he prayed for the removal of it. But God saw fit to leave it there and help Paul work through the pain.
I still pray for healing, for myself and others. And I believe in the power of God through faith and prayer. I believe that He always can heal, but sometimes chooses not to for His purposes and I’m okay with that. Because ultimately, I don’t deserve to be given anything. Every good thing comes from Him because He adores me, not because of any rights I think I have.
Your turn: Since we can’t expect to be healed of physical ailments here on earth, what promises does the Lord make to us! I’m all about encouragement! Remind yourself of the promises He’s made because He adores you, too!