I’m a former educator who has found a second/third career as a technical writer. I’ve written 7 books: four helped teachers teach writing, three delved into web design and development. Way back in 1994 I won an honorable mention award from SWW for a YA novel. I blogs regularly on my own blogs at webteacher.ws and first50.wordpress.com. I’m a contributing editor on technology topics for blogher.com. I’m the Internet expert at ehow.com. I’’m the TGB Elder Geek for timegoesby.net. I’ve researched and written about Twitter for all those web publications. Tonight, I hope to help you understand of the value of social media and social networking for writers and get you started in Twitterverse.
Twitter is all those things and many more that I didn’t think of.
You can share news with your followers on Twitter to alert them to progress on your work, you can direct followers to new articles on your blog, you can engage fans in conversation, answer question, talk about writing, mention events you’ll be participating in and much more.
There are chats and topics meant especially for writers taking place on Twitter every day. #fridayflash is meant to bring traffic to a blog post of less than 1000 words from other writers who participate. #tweetchat is a weekly chat about a different topic each week.
From inkyelbows.com, here’s a list of a chat for writers for every day of the week. You can form a supportive group of friends and followers using social media. This can help you in many ways: by spreading the word about your publications, by offering help, by expanding your sphere of influence, by connecting you with new readers and new fans, and by connecting you with publishers, editors, and other industry professionals.
Twitter done right is a great marketing tool. And it’s free. A few minutes of effort a day, a few tweets a day, and you can market yourself in this new medium very effectively. All it requires is a little time to figure out the basics of Twitter culture.
Although you don’t normally follow the public timeline, you may want to search it for specific terms or hashtags on a regular basis. Comcastscott watches for any mention of Comcast, and responds to unhappy users offering to help. You might search for your book title, your publisher’s name, a character’s name or other keywords that might indicate chatter about something you’ve written.
Mark talks about his work, posts inspiring quotes, answers questions, participates in tweetchat, mentions his book signings and events, mentors writers, and takes full advantage of all that Twitter has to offer.
Twitter is like email or instant messaging in the sense that it can be used to communicate with people by name, but it is unlike email or instant messaging because it’s all public except for the direct message. Most people ignore the public aspect of Twitter unless they want to see what people have to say about a topic.
We’ll look at these items one by one in the next few slides.
At twitter.com you have your own URL. It’s twitter.com/yourname. Your profile page shows only your tweets. This is the page people examine when they are deciding whether or not to follow your tweets. You see your home page, which shows the Twitter users you are following as well as your own tweets. There’s a page where you can search for people to follow. Use the Settings page to set up your profile and public information.
You sign up at twitter.com, but you can use Twitter in many ways and places once you have an account. I use a desktop app called twhirl. Many people like one called Tweetdeck. There are others, as well as applications for various flavors of smart phones.
Your first important decision is your name. I suggest using your real name or some well known name you already have like your domain name or your blog name. The trick is to do this in as few characters as possible, because tweets are limited to 140 characters and your name in a tweet uses up characters.
This is my profile. On Twitter I’m vdebolt. Give your real name and your real location. Give a link to your home page or blog that is human readable, not one of those shortened URLs. Post a photo of yourself. Write a brief bio (you get 160 characters) that describes your interests, your genre.
You can use Twitter in your browser at twitter.com. People tweet about everything. What they are doing, where they are going, what they think, what they cook and eat, what they read, what they see, news they hear. Literally everything humans do.
The @ sign before a Twitter user’s name sends your message to that person. Other people can see your @ messages. If you mention another person in any context, you use their name with the @ sign and they will see your mention. A d in front of a person’s name is a direct message. This is private. No one sees it but the person you are tweeting. A hash sign is used to indicate a topic or idea. #writers #writing are examples. A retweet is when you like another person’s message and send it along to your followers, too. This is where the power of Twitter becomes apparent.
A user’s profile is at twitter.com/whatever. I’m at twitter.com/vdebolt. This Mark Twain fan is at twitter.com/IrreverenceCafe. To follow him, simply click the follow button. You can unfollow someone if you decide you aren’t interested in what they have to say. You can also block people, which is a good thing to do with the porn and spam tweeters, because that way they can’t mention your name in their tweets.
There are Twitter applications for your desktop or phone that work outside your browser. That’s where these examples came from. A @creativepenn reply that will come to the attention of thecreativepenn, but anyone else can see it on the public timeline as well. A d reply to Anna DeStafano that only she can see. You also see a hashtag in use here for the recurring topic #writegoal.
At the top, you see a tweet from Blog Diva on the Twitter web page. She was talking to IrreverenceCafe. In the lower right corner you see the letters RT. Click there to retweet. Then blogdivas message appears in your Twitter stream as a RT. Now all of blogdivas followers have seen this message, and all of my followers have seen it. If a message gets retweeted by enough people, almost everyone will see it, sometimes within minutes. That big number 14 is how many characters I have remaining in my tweet. If I go over 140, it shows a negative number.
Looks like Tom spent Saturday night at the Isotopes game. You may think it’s silly to see photos from a baseball game, but I remind you that the first image we saw of the plane in the Hudson River was tweeted from a ferry on the way to help rescue the plane’s passengers. The first news and photos of the election demonstrations in Iran came first from Twitter. People tweet everything from the mundane to the profound. You learn how to filter it so you only get what you want.
If all you do is self-promote, people won’t follow you. It’s an exchange, like any form of human communication, and people have to get something out of it to be interested in seeing what you have to say.
If you click the Shorten Link tab before you type any other words, you can paste in the shortened URL, then type your message and have more characters to work with for the message.
When someone follows you, you receive an email letting you know that you have a new follower. The email provides a link to the new follower’s profile on Twitter. You can decide at that time whether to follow them back, not follow them but let them follow you, or block them.
Twitter is like AM radio or cable TV. There’s always something on. That doesn’t mean you have to pay attention all the time. Use it as much or as little as you want, but to effectively market your writing and yourself you need to devote some time to it every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.
Twitter For Writers
Twitter for Writers Virginia DeBolt webteacher.ws This presentation: www.slideshare.net/vdebolt/twitter-for-writers
What is Twitter? <ul><li>A communication tool </li></ul><ul><li>A microblogging tool </li></ul><ul><li>A social media tool </li></ul><ul><li>A marketing tool </li></ul><ul><li>A self-promotion tool </li></ul><ul><li>A news resource </li></ul><ul><li>A conversation tool </li></ul><ul><li>A networking tool </li></ul><ul><li>A business tool </li></ul><ul><li>A messaging tool </li></ul><ul><li>An organizational tool </li></ul><ul><li>A workgroup tool </li></ul><ul><li>A fund raising tool </li></ul>
How can it help me? <ul><li>Twitter opens up communication lines between you and your readers. </li></ul>
Find a community <ul><li>Find and follow other writers </li></ul><ul><li>Participate in events for writers </li></ul>
Twitter chats Build your social capital using social media to interact positively with your peers and your readers. This is the currency of the digital world. Online communities have power.
Monitor your brand <ul><li>Businesses typically search the public timeline for any mention of their company name. </li></ul>
A Great Example <ul><li>Mark David Gerson ( twitter.com/markdavidgerson ) from SWW is an ideal role model. He works with Twitter every day. </li></ul>
Twitter 101 <ul><li>A message is called a tweet. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a public timeline showing the millions of tweets each minute. </li></ul><ul><li>You can ignore the public timeline and only read the tweets of people you “follow.” </li></ul><ul><li>You can search the public timeline for any topic of interest, e.g., #startrek or #maytag to see anyone’s tweets on that topic. </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone can read your tweets on the public timeline unless they are private messages called “direct messages.” </li></ul>
How to <ul><li>Sign up at http://twitter.com </li></ul><ul><li>Create an informative profile that will hook followers </li></ul><ul><li>Post some tweets to help potential followers see what you talk about most of the time </li></ul><ul><li>Find people to follow </li></ul><ul><li>Learn the conventions of using Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Start building a network </li></ul>
Tweet photos <ul><li>You can send photos to Twitter from your phone. Generally you must click a link to see the photo, but with the Power Twitter add-on in Firefox it appears. </li></ul>
Tweet Generously <ul><li>Be helpful </li></ul><ul><li>Be funny </li></ul><ul><li>Be sincere </li></ul><ul><li>Retweet </li></ul><ul><li>People follow generosity. Your reputation grows from that. Your INFLUENCE grows from that. </li></ul>
Shortened URLs <ul><li>To save characters, all URLs are shortened. When you paste in a URL on the Twitter.com page, it counts all the characters but shortens it when it actually appears. </li></ul>
Help people find you <ul><li>Add a Twitter button or badge to your site and invite people to follow you </li></ul><ul><li>Add your Twitter name to your business card </li></ul><ul><li>Tell people how to find you on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>When you comment on blogs, leave your Twitter URL </li></ul>
Find people to follow <ul><li>Use Twitter advanced search for location or for hashtags like #writer. Use the Twitter people finder. </li></ul><ul><li>See who your friends are following </li></ul>
Tune in – Tune out <ul><li>Twitter is a constantly moving river of words </li></ul><ul><li>Tune in when you want </li></ul><ul><li>Tune out when you want </li></ul><ul><li>A few minutes a day can make Twitter work for you. </li></ul>
Resources <ul><li>How to Use Twitter to Find Thought Leaders in Your Industry </li></ul><ul><li>5 Questions for those who don’t have time to market/promote from Writer’s Digest </li></ul><ul><li>What the F**k is social media? (one year later) </li></ul><ul><li>Nonfiction: 70+ authors to follow on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Dana Lynn Smith Gives You 21 Things to Tweet About </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia DeBolt: many articles at Web Teacher , plus eHow , and BlogHer </li></ul><ul><li>http://search.twitter.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter badges and widgets </li></ul>