If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know our heroine refers to Twitter often, dear Reader. Names are linked to their Twitter pages and #hashtags are mentioned often. Chances are excellent you found your way to this article via Twitter, in fact.
This article is for those new to Twitter, but it holds information worthwhile for veterans as well. Are you getting all you can out of it?
Perhaps you’re a Twitter newbie. Have you heard that Twitter’s made up of people announcing what they had for lunch? Perhaps when you sign in, you feel like you’re at a party full of people you don’t know? Fair enough. If you’re following the wrong people or don’t know how to find the right ones, Twitter’s going to seem like an epic fail.
There are a number of shared interest groups on Twitter. One of the most popular ones for writers is the hashtag #amwriting. Give and get support from fellow writers of all formats, all genres. Begun by @johannaharness, it’s been a constant source of information and inspiration for me. I suggest you find a hashtag such as #amwriting, put it in your Search and read what’s being posted. Like what someone’s got to say? Follow that person and maybe you’ll get to learn more than just what he or she had for lunch. (You might want to start with @johannaharness, in fact.) To join in, just put #amwriting (including the #) anywhere in your tweet.
Looking for inspiration or need a little kick in the pants for your muse? #storystarters offers prompts written by many different writers. Add your own if you like. This hashtag was begun by @Selorian, another worthy follow. There are so many more. Here are a few off the top of my head: #FridayFlash, #ss500, #vss, #amwritingparty, #WIPfire, #writechat, #litchat, #yalitchat, #thrillerchat. This list really never ends. My advice: choose a few and concentrate on them, dabbling in others as needed.
With social media sites as part of your platform, you’ll want to be sure you’re playing nicely. There is such a thing as Twitter etiquette. You’ll get more out of Twitter by using it. One of the best guides I found for this is by Chris Brogan. Titled A Brief and Informal Twitter Etiquette Guide, it covers the field pretty well. You’ll see Chris mentioned in a number of “Must Follow” articles.
Here’s another article titled Twitter Tips for Writers + 25 Good Follows. It’s on Editor Unleashed, Maria Schneider‘s terrific blog. Take a look at this article for help diving into Twitter. The follows suggested are top-notch.
Want some more people to follow? How about you choose among the ones on Literary Tweets: 100+ of the Best Authors on Twitter. (No, I’m not listed. [sniffle] Yet.) It’s on Mashable’s site, Mashable: The Social Media Guide. Mashable itself is a fantastic resource, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it, too.
Problogger has an article titled 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers that is eye opening. It makes a strong case for why writers should be using Twitter and blogs in a coordinated manner. Moreover, it shows how to do it. You can follow Problogger as well.
Quips and Tips for Successful Writers has a spiffy article, too. Don’t dismiss it if you’re not a freelancer. There’s great info here for all writers. Titled How Twitter Helps Freelance Writers – Tips for Successful Writing, it lists 13 of the best things about Twitter for writers. Look closely and you may find some people to follow within the article.
Twitter can be nothing but GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) if you’re not using it well. For those who use it properly, it can be a gold mine of information, support and networking. Don’t be shy, reach out and send a message to someone. Don’t stalk, though. That’s just bad form. (I refer you again to Chris Brogan’s etiquette guide above.)
One word of warning for the newbies: Twitter can become a tremendous time-sink. I’ve heard that it entertains our lizard brain because there’s never an end. Whatever the reason, pay attention to the time you start and give yourself a time to pull your head back out. It’s supposed to be a helpful tool, not a hindrance.
What are your favorite Twitter tips, follows or moments? I’d love to hear your experiences.