Top Five Things I’ve Learned About Twitter

Twitter is a microblogging site where you post 140 characters at a time. I’ve written 100-word stories, 100,000-word novels, blog posts of various word counts, but anything that can be said in 140 characters or less almost doesn’t seem to be worth saying, so I’m having a hard time finding a home in the Twitosphere (or do I mean the Twitterverse?). Still, I am learning a few things about this twitterish world. Here are the top five things I’ve learned:

1. Tagging your tweets. You add tags to your tweets by using hash marks. For example, when I tweet this post, if I add #twitter to my tweet, people who are interested in finding out who is tweeting Twitter can search for #twitter, and discover all recent posts with that hash mark. (Okay, so you already knew that. But this is a post about things I’ve learned, and for some reason, that basic bit of twitia passed me by.)

2. Twit chats. #writechat is a group of writers who meet every Sunday on Twitter from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm PT. You don’t need an invitation to join the discussion. (Well, maybe you do, but I crashed the party and no one complained.) All you have to do is go to your Twitter account and search for #writechat. Or you can start your own discussion group. Pick a name, add a hash mark, tell a few friends, and there you are, master of your own twit chat.

3. Trending topics. On the right sidebar of your Twitter home page, there is a list of trends. These trends are topics that are currently popular (as in right-this-very-minute popular) and are compiled from the most retweeted tweets, mostly news items. Twitterers think that they are retweeting non-mainstream news, that they are in the vanguard of a rebellion against traditional news sources, but as it turns out, the most retweeted twits and tweets come from the major media via their followers.

4. Retweeting. If you see something interesting, retweet it. (If you don’t see the double arrows at the bottom of a tweet, hover your cursor over the the tweet and they should appear.) This helps interesting posts get more exposure, and introduces you to a wider audience so that you will eventually get retweets.

5. Respond to people who respond to you. Respond to interesting comments. Twitter is like a crowd of people all talking at once, so there are many different conversations going on at any one time.

Thank you. @patbertram

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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