Thursday, March 30, 2017

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part VI—Is Twitter Worth the Bother?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media basics for writers.
Today I want to jump into one of the most important social media platforms, Twitter. But first, in case you've missed the previous posts, here are a list of them, with links.
3 Reasons to Master Twitter 
I remember the first time I ventured onto twitter. It’s an intimidating site, full of unfamiliar terms and strange rules. Beyond that, the more people I followed, the more confusing the newsfeed became. To my untrained eye, all those 140 character bursts were just disjointed and disconnected chaos.

I really didn’t understand how anyone could get anything good out of this network.
Luckily for me, I didn’t give up. I kept digging for articles to help me understand the value of Twitter. And that’s when I began to unravel the Twitter chaos. As I became more familiar with this alien landscape, I began to appreciate why Twitter and writers are a perfect match.
Twitter is a respecter of time.
  • It respects our time. Interacting in 140 character bursts keeps conversations focused and moving quickly.
  • It helps us write tight. If you’ve spent any time at all studying writing, you’ve heard the advice to write tight. This means eliminating unnecessary words.
  • It’s a networking superconductor. There is no social media platform out there that is better at allowing us to find connections with like-minded people.

Tips to Make Valuable Connections
1. Be sure to follow people back. It’s considered good manners to follow people back who follow you. This doesn’t mean you have to follow people who make you uncomfortable or who are trying to sell you 10,000 followers. Use common sense, but unless there’s a good reason be nice and follow people back.
Don't protect your tweets
2. Don’t PROTECT YOUR TWEETS. On your Twitter profile there’s the option to protect your tweets. This locks your account and doesn’t let people follow you unless you approve them. If you feel the need to protect your tweets, you really shouldn’t be on Twitter. This social media platform is a place to get found, not lurk.
3. Make sure your 160 character ABOUT ME gives a good picture of who you are. You don’t want to over use hashtags here, but you do want to cover all the things you might tweet about and hashtags are a good shortcut for that. Here’s what I have as my description: Writer & Author—passionate for life's stories & God's path. #Militaryfamily blogger #steampunk #vets #scifi #socialmedia4writers
4. Show your face. Always use a picture of YOURSELF as your Twitter icon. The evidence is overwhelming. People respond to a head shot where you can see the person’s smile. The only exception is if you have a business account. Then you can use your company’s logo.
Have a regular presence on Twitter &be consistent.
5. Have a regular presence on Twitter. I Tweet a lot more now than I did when I started out. More first goal was to Tweet four to six times each day, four or five days a week. I use Hootsuite to schedule my Tweets throughout the day. I’ll be covering Hootsuite next week, so don’t worry if you’re not familiar with a scheduling program. Just remember, Do NOT send out all your tweets at once. This is called hogging the stream and is the height of bad manners!
 6. BE CONSISTENT with the subject of your tweets. I tweet about social media, writing, some books, and issues important to military families. Occasionally, I’ll find something that I just want to share outside of those topics, but that’s an exception, not the norm.
7. Make sure you’re sharing valuable content with your Twitter updates. Don’t make your Tweets all about you. Instead, promote others who have something valuable to say to your followers. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it works every time!
8. Look for strategic people to follow. Here’s what I mean. I’m working on a science fiction manuscript and trying to grow my Twitter followers for that specific market. To find new people to follow, I visit some of my favorite science fiction author’s profiles. Then I click on their followers. This does two things.
1. It gives me people to follow who are interested in following a scifi author.
2. It gives me a good chance of them following me back because they’re already good about following back.
9. Reply to others publically. Twitter is a public medium and people like to be mentioned. If someone says something nice about you, or mentions you, be sure to reply publically to thank them. I also keep a list of people who regularly mention me and try to find something they do that I can mention. Here's a post I wrote on the Ways to Utilize Twitter Lists
What NOT to do on Twitter!
Twitter No-Nos
There are several things that may seem tempting for short cuts to Twitter followers. I cannot urge you strongly enough not to try them. This is one of these times when if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Do not use an auto responder. You may think you’re being polite, but what you’re really being is irritating. Auto responders are obvious and no one likes messages from a computer clogging up their timeline.
Do NOT buy Twitter followers. This may look like a good shortcut, but most of the followers you buy are fake or spam accounts. You are not doing yourself or those who follow you, any favors with this short cut. Beyond that, if Twitter catches you, your account can be shut down and you can be banned for life.
Do NOT use ANY automatic programs to increase your followers on Twitter. As with buying Twitter followers, using a program to increase your followers can result in a high percentage of face or spam accounts. And this practice can also get you penalized by Twitter.
Twitter has very strict policiesagainst these practices and I’ve known several people who have had their Twitter accounts suspended because of this. 

These are the basics of why I've found Twitter valuable. What about you? Do you use Twitter, avoid it? Be sure to leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

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