Do you Twitter?
I do - my user account is @bmillerfiction. You can see the last few entries on my Twitter feed on my sidebar, about halfway down on the right. I started using Twitter last year, under a different account I use primarily for personal updates and info I'm not entirely comfortable sharing with the whole free world. I didn't have much to do with the personal account for a long time. It sat dormant for weeks at a time, because I'd forget about it. When I remembered, I just didn't see the point. Isn't this what Facebook is for? I'd think, shaking my head.
Then in January, I started working on building up my writer's platform. I beefed up my Facebook fan page, started this blog and created the B. Miller Fiction twitter account. What really decided me was finding other writers on Twitter and reading the things they had to say - namely Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z. Brite, and Joe Hill. Each of them just posted about their regular everyday lives along with whatever writing tidbits they wanted to talk about. I thought this was pretty interesting and I wanted to do it for my own writing - I like to daydream that one day I'll have lots of fans like the writers I just mentioned, and they'll be interested in what I have to say.
Since I started using Twitter I've met lots of new people and fans and found some really great sites through different tweets. It's definitely something I'm going to keep doing; it's a low time investment activity that I can do every day while getting the word out to the internet about my writing. But I hear a lot of people in the blog-o-sphere talk about how they don't like Twitter or they haven't taken the time to "figure it out" yet. I wanted to post a few basics about Twitter that you guys may not know, so you can start working on building your own Twitter feed.
Here's some tidbits to help make your Twitter dealings easier, in no particular order:
Hashtags - Have you noticed the highlighted words with a # before them? Those are known as hashtags, and they're a way of grouping tweets from different users together as a topic. I use the #writing hashtag a lot - especially when I post new blog entries!
Replying to tweets - make sure you put the @ symbol before the person's name. If you don't, they may not realize you're talking to them. Twitter uses special characters like # and @ to designate names and topics that should be linked to. If you don't use the special characters, they're just words!
Search function - you can use Twitter's search function to find people who may be talking about the same things you are. Here's an example: after my post about Murder By Death's concert I attended last month, I searched for "@murderbydeath" - to see who else was talking about the band. I found three new followers this way, just by messaging them about the blog I'd written and sharing how much I liked the band's music. You can do this with just about anything!
Organizing Tweets - I use a nifty program called TweetDeck to keep an eye on my tweets, who's mentioned me in their tweets, and other trending topics I'm interested in. It puts everything together in one layout on the screen so I don't forget to check anything. It also saves all my preferences and keeps everything in order without me having to maintain it. I use Twitter a lot more now that I have a program to help me organize it all. Without TweetDeck, I felt overwhelmed by Twitter, too.
Hope this info helps some of my blogfriends get a little more comfortable with Twitter. It's an important social media tool that I think can help us all get our names out there a little more effectively. Plus it's another way for us writers to communicate with each other! I know I need that every day now, because nobody else understands my crazy ways.
Do you use Twitter? If so, let me know your user name! I'd love to be your follower.