Ten Things I’ve Learned About Twitter

Twitter BirdTwitter.com 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’ve learned a few things about this twitterish world.

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 about Twitter can search for #twitter, and discover all recent posts with that hash mark. One of the most popular hashtags for writers is #amwriting.

2. The difference between # and @. # is how you index your posts so other people can find them via the search function. Don’t use the hashtag for your name because no one will be looking for you that way. Use @ with your Twitter user name. (For example, @patbertram.) People can then click on your name and be taken to your profile. If @ is at the beginning of the tweet, then only the person you mentioned will see it, so if I put @patbertram at the beginning of a tweet, no one would see it but me. If you want to just mention the person rather than leaving them a message, put the @ in the middle or at the end of the tweet. That way anyone can see the tweet.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Favorite-ing. Under each tweet is a star. If you click on the star, you “favorite” it. It’s a way of acknowledging that you read and liked something. It’s also a way of bookmarking items so that you can find them again. (You just go to your profile and click on “favorites.” It should be just off to the right of your profile picture, It’s a lot easier to find a tweet in that list rather than on your Twitter home page.)

6. 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. Browse the trends or jump right in and contribute to the cause. It’s a great way of joining the crowd.

7. Lists. You can create lists of people you’d like to keep up with so they don’t get lost in the ever moving Twitter stream. To make a list, click on your photo in the upper right hand corner, click on “lists.” Look to the right hand side of the screen and click on “create a list.” There is also a link to click to learn more about lists.

8. Graphics. A friend who is an expert at online promo suggested that I use photos to illustrate posts on twitter. When I started with Twitter, photos weren’t shown in the feed, but now they are, which makes them very important. She also suggested doing graphics for my books for twitter and FB. A graphic is just a background image with a brief hook and a photo of the book cover, something compelling to catch the eye. Once you have made a couple such graphics, you can use them over and over again, posting them on alternate days, or however you’d like to use them. It’s fun to make the graphics. If you have a photo editing program like photoshop elements, you can make them using that program. Or you can do them online using a site like canva.com. You can find a couple of examples of such posters here: Pat Bertram – Timeline Photos | Facebook. Don’t forget to use # before keywords so others can find your graphic when they look for similar posts.

9. Pin. You can pin your graphics or any tweet to the top of your twitter profile. After you have posted your tweet, look for the three dots at the bottom and click on them, then click on “pin to your profile page.” That way, anyone who goes to your profile page will see it. 

10. Interact with people! If someone responds to your tweet, respond back. If you see something of interest, reply or retweet. Twitter is a like a world-wide cocktail party. Stroll around and listen in.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to offer them!

Thank you. @patbertram

***

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.

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 tweeting 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. Friend or follow. Some twits like to follow everyone to get a huge following, and after you have followed them because you really don’t know what you’re doing and so you follow everyone who follows you, these twits unfollow you. Don’t you feel used? Well, no. Because you didn’t know they unfollowed you. Twitter sends you a message when someone follows you, but they don’t care if anyone unfollows you. So, here’s where you even the score: go to Friend or Follow, fill in your Twitter user name, and wait for the results. They might surprise you. You can easily unfollow your unfollowers from the site.

5. Clean your twits. Sometimes you end up with spammers or people you thought were your friends but who tweet a hundred times a day. Or you end up with a whole stream of multi-level marketers. Here’s an easy way of telling who is who. Go to: Twit Cleaner, fill in the information requested, and you get a whole list of unsweet tweeters with dodgy behavior such as those who tweet only links, those who only retweet other’s tweets, those who tweet the same links over and over again.

The main problem with cleaning your twits is that you end up with a huge discrepancy between the number of those who follow you and those you follow, and Twitter frowns on that. But whose Twitter is this? The way I figure, it’s better to follow fewer followers and get to know them, than to follow all who follow you and be inundated with the same twiddly stuff over and over again.

I’d planned to end this blog with a refutation of my bad report — Twit Cleaner told me I was guilty of dodgy behavior, that my tweets were mostly links. I was going to say that if people wanted to unfollow me because I tweeted too many links, then that is fine with me since if they’re not interested in what I tweet, they are of no use to me. Unfortunately, I just got a new report from The Twit Cleaner. They said “You’re awesome! Not very much to improve here. You’re basically already pretty great. Keep being your wonderful self.”

Thank you. I will.

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