You are not a twit. You just don’t get it yet. I didn’t either, and it took a lot of friends’ explanations and watching to really become involved in Twitter. It’s a very powerful tool for your business, so listen up!
One difference between Facebook and Twitter is that on Facebook, you need to be included – that is, invited, or in Facebook parlance, “friended,” – to be part of the conversation, whereas with Twitter, anyone can “listen” in. You can “talk” to Ellen DeGeneris if you want. You can even follow the President of the United States!
On Facebook, I will friend anyone. However, on Twitter, I only follow those whose tweets interest or amuse me, or that I find useful.
When you sign up for an account, your user name will be how people find you, with the @ symbol before it. I am @KatieDavisBurps, so chosen because it incorporates the name of my podcast, Brain Burps About Books, and my own name.
Upload an image to identify yourself (aka your avatar). I believe in using the same avatar for every account you have, from your website to your Facebook, to your Twitter. See that picture of me hanging on the wall in my header? That’s my bio picture and I use it everywhere. You are building a brand that way. Do not let that default icon be your avatar; at the very least upload the cover of your book! I like to see a person’s face as his or her avatar, because that makes it more personal. I really dislike it when a person uses someone else’s image – like a movie star – for his or her avatar. This is my personal opinion, and there are those who just love it, but my reasons are that it feels like a bait and switch, and worse, blocks potential friends, like a wall, stopping people from connecting with who they really are.
You do not have to read tweets on Twitter.com. There are applications such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite that will bring the tweets of those you follow into a “stream” which is simply the tweets generated by your “tweeps,” or Twitter friends.
I use Tweetdeck to read my streams. Through Tweetdeck you can post to Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, or other social media sites where you have an account, thereby saving time
The hashtag, or what we always used to call “the number sign,” placed before a word is like an address to a party. If I tweet about a revision I’m struggling with, for example, and then include #iamwriting, everyone who has a stream ( aka a column in Tweetdeck) called #iamwriting will see that tweet.
Hashtags also enable “tweetchats,” which are twitter discussions about a single subject. Every Monday night there is a #kinderchat, peopled by kindergarten teachers, with a bunch of authors, librarians, reading specialists and others thrown into the mix. There are different chat enablers, but I like to use tweetchat.com. All I have to do is enter the name of the hashtag at the top and every single tweet that comes through with that hashtag will be visible to me. It’s a live, fast-paced discussion on whatever that topic is, usually for an hour. This is a good article about “How to Participate in Twitter chats” and you might want to also read this “Ode to Twitter,” by Little Brown editor Alvina Ling: .
You can find a comprehensive schedule of chats here, but here’s a list of some of the chats that might be of interest. (All times EST.)
#agencychat: Fridays, 2:00pm – 3:00pm
#bookmarket: Thursdays, 4:00pm to 5:00pm
#followreader: Fridays, 4:00pm to 5:00pm (Thursdays in the summer.)
#kidlitchat: Tuesdays, 9:00 pm-10:00 pm
#litchat: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 4:00 pm-5:00 pm
#pblitchat Sunday 9:30pm
#poetry: Thursdays, 9:00 pm-10:00 pm
#queryday: No set schedule
#scifichat: Fridays, 2:00pm to 4:00pm
#writechat: Sundays, 3:00pm to 6:00pm
#writersmovement: Saturdays, 6:00pm to 7:00pm
#yalitchat: Wednesdays, 9:00pm
I still don’t get it
It does take a little while to totally understand it, but that’s why I’m here!
Remember, you’re trying to learn a whole new language. Say you wanted to learn French, would you walk into the first class and expect to converse the same day? No – you would listen, you would study the language, and then you might try to have a conversation. Just because lots of other people are speaking a language you don’t understand doesn’t mean you can’t speak it. It only means you don’t speak it yet.
Go into Twitter and follow the steps to set up your account. Then explore, read people’s tweets, follow people who are saying interesting things. And remember to have fun with it. If you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it!
You will need to know the mechanics of how a tweet is read. I made this visual after reading an explanation in Greg Pincus’s blog The Happy Accident:
Whether you know anyone else on Twitter or not, you’ll start connecting with people. They’ll follow you if they think you’re informative, funny, or just like your style. It’s an incredibly powerful tool.
What if I Make a Mistake?
I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is, you will make mistakes. You will tweet something you didn’t mean to, or you will make a social media faux pas. The good news is, at least with Twitter, there is so much going on, it will get buried very quickly. But to try to avoid the mistakes in the first place, here are a few Dos and Don’ts.
DO be generous. Retweet other people’s good news and be there for other people. Reciprocity and support is always appreciated.
DON’T ask someone to follow you. It’s tacky and puts the other person in an awkward position.
DO tweet about your successes but…
DON’T do it too often, especially in relation to how many informational tweets you put out. Some people quote formulas for this, like for every 15 tweets, only talk about yourself 3 times. There is no actual formula, but if you think of Twitter as a cocktail party, imagine being cornered by some guy who is just bragging about himself or talking about all the great stuff he’s doing.
DO be informative
DON’T be boring! Just ask yourself whether anyone really needs to know that you’re at the supermarket trying to choose between low fat and fat free mayonnaise.
DO remember that everything you write and send to the uh, interwebernets is forever (despite my “tweets get buried” comment – they get buried, but they are still there)! So think before you hit that send button, just like with any other electronic communication.