My dear friend Catherine Denton at Winged Writer invited me to guest post at her blog next week, where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Twitter, and finding ways to be comfortable in that chatty world of 140 characters.
As a tie-in, I thought I’d write up a Bare-Bones Basic guide to Twitter. If you or someone you know still hasn’t jumped into the Twitter pool, this post guide might be one place to start.
Who sees your tweets?
- Anyone who follows you will see the tweets you send, as long as the tweets have no @mention at the beginning of the tweet.
- Anyone who clicks on your Twitter profile will see everything you tweet, retweet, whether it has an @mention or not.
Another two hundred words and I’ll have met my word count goal for the day! But first… cookies. :D <--All of your followers see this.
@SuzieQWriter Hi Suzie, how’s the WIP coming along? <--Suzie sees this whether she follows you or not, and anyone following BOTH you and Suzie also see this. NONE of your followers who aren’t ALSO following Suzie will see this.
Congratulations @SuzieQWriter on placing third in the Romantically Romantic Steamy Stud of the Year Contest! <--Everyone who follows you sees this, whether they follow Suzie or not. Also, Suzie sees it, whether she follows you or not.
NOTE: In all three examples, anyone who checks your profile will see these tweets.
If you like something, or think it’s clever/funny/amusing/heartwarming/whatever, you can share it with your followers by clicking retweet, also known as RT. The official Twitter site doesn’t let you add anything to Retweets, but most other programs do, and oftentimes people throw in a little comment to the Retweet if they have the character space and inclination. If, for some reason, you take out something from the original tweet, or change it in any way, you can label the retweet as a modified tweet instead, with the letters MT.
Example time, the sequel!
Normal retweets would show up like a regular tweet on all of your followers’ timelines, but instead of your name and avatar, it would show theirs:
My pet hedgehog has a ballerina skirt on! Now my four year old is calling him princess. <--Tah dah! If you retweet normally, the tweet would just show exactly the way it was originally tweeted, except with their name rather than yours.
CUTE. Pictures please! RT @SuzieQWriter: My pet hedgehog has a ballerina skirt on! Now my four year old is calling him princess. <--Note that I added my comment to the front of the tweet.
CUTE. Pictures please! MT @SuzieQWriter: My pet hedgehog has a ballerina skirt on! Now my 4yo is calling him princess. <--Usually done if the person commenting runs out of character space. I try to avoid altering someone's tweets if I can help it.
These are words without spaces that begin with the hash mark. #likethis <--See?
What are they used for? OFFICIALLY, they’re to keep track of a specific theme or idea or conversation. You can click on the hashtag and see all of the other tweets that share the same hashtag.
#askagent is a good one that agents may use to answer questions. Usually an agent or two will announce that they’ll be taking questions for a certain amount of time.**
#amwriting is one people use to let others know they’re writing, and is a good way to find other writers to follow.
#editortips is one editors may use with advice, suggestions, do’s and don’ts. This is more of an observational event, although some people ask questions in response to the tips.**
#1K1H is one used for writing sprints, the goal being to complete a thousand words in one hour, and to find others to share in that goal.
There are so many more, but those are a few I see a lot. However, UNOFFICIALLY, hashtags can be asides, or stage whispers; they might be silly, sarcastic, ironic, emotive, or whatever you like them to be. This is by far the more common way I’ve seen them used. ^_^
Examples, once again!
Seven hundred words so far and I’m battling the sleepies. Must… finish… #amwriting
I’m off to have lunch! Then I’ll be back into #amwriting time. Later, Twitter!
How far into a submission do you generally read before knowing it is or isn’t working? #askagent
My son just dumped soggy cereal on his head. #woe
Someday I will learn to spell rhythm correctly on the first try. #yeahright #loftygoals
People! I’ve finished my novel at last! #HOORAY #letsPRETENDitdoesnotneedrevisions
**A note on #askagent, #editortips, or any other agent/editor interactions: Don’t bug agents or editors to read your work. And don’t use Twitter as a mini-query letter. It’s just not the thing! Are there exceptions to this? Rarely, and I mean RARELY, I’ve seen agents hold twitter pitch contests. But that’s it, people. If an agent didn’t announce his or her desire to hear about your story, you must not share it on Twitter.
To #FF or NOT to #FF. That is the question…
This is a doozey. Follow Friday and Writer Wednesday (#FF and #WW, respectively), are ways to announce special twitter folk you’ve met. You shout them out for all of your followers to see. Some people never do it. Some always do, and everything in between.
The nicest #FF and #WW mentions to me are the personalized ones, “#FF @SuzieQWriter, who can crochet and yodel and has the cutest pet hedgehog ever.” Someone might see that and think, “I yodel! I bet we’d hit it off” or, “Aww, I’ve always wanted a pet hedgehog… I will follow her and live vicariously through her tweets!”
But there are those who have opinions about #FF, especially when people create #FF lists and send out mass tweets that look like this:
#FF @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx @xxxx
Whether you want to give out Follow Friday mentions is up to you! I certainly feel special when someone includes me in their list, or even better, when someone creates a Follow Friday mention especially for me. I don’t actually participate, though, because I feel like all the people I follow are worth mentioning, and trying to tweet them all every week would be a staggering task! In the spirit of kindness, I always thank people when they think of me for a #FF or #WW tweet.
And that’s about it! Next week I’m at Catherine’s blog for part two: Being a Writer on Twitter: Tips, Tricks, and Finding What Works for You.