Winter Author Blog Challenge #3: I’ve come a long way from my status as a Twitter virgin
Woo-hoo! The Winter Author Blog Challenge is underway. This time around, the Challenge is just 15 days, and our focus is social media. The goal is for participants to post all 15 days, following the daily prompts provided, if they so choose. As with the inaugural Author Blog Challenge that took place last summer, I’ll be playing along with all of the posts, even though Marcie and I are the hosts!
That said, here’s the THIRD prompt:
Are you on Twitter? Perhaps more than any of the other social media platforms, Twitter has developed its own language. Tweets. Twitterverse. Rewteet. Are you invested in the lingo? So how do you make a statement in 140 characters? Are you following more people or are more people following you? How do you decide whom to follow? Do you reciprocate and automatically follow back everyone who follows you? What kinds of things do you post? How often do you post? What advice do you have for those who are just getting started? IF YOU’RE NOT USING Twitter, go look at it (twitter.com) and either find your favorite author or put “author” in the search field and look around. What’s your take? Which tweets interest you? What would you post if you did decide to create an account? What’s the likelihood you’ll be following @AuthorBlogChal anytime soon? Be sure to give us the link.
Much as with Facebook, I was also a Twitter early adopter. Although I certainly had my “I couldn’t care less what people are feeding their pet gerbils for lunch!” moments, I soon realized there was a great deal of value to be gleaned from learning to Tweet. I was more irritated with the cutesy Twitter lingo that seemed to spring up like weeds after a rainstorm (two of two of the words I most revile are “blogosphere” and “twittersphere”). And, like most people, I had no idea how to begin.
I think even today, seven years after Twitter’s inception, you can tell the feeds belonging to Twitter virgins from those who have multiple Twitter handles by their very first tweets. Those who start right off posting content have obviously been Tweeting awhile. Those who write “This is my first Tweet” are brand new.
What I eventually found was that Twitter is just a giant chatroom, with 500 million other people in it. The great news is that you get to decide whom to follow, with whom to interact, and how you interact with them. If you want to read tweets about what people are watching on TV every hour of the day, you can find them. If you’re more interested in connecting with literary types (agents, publicists, editors, publishing execs, book designers, other authors), they are there, too.
It was suggested to me when I first got started on Twitter that I stick to my professional subject: publishing. And that worked for about a month ― until I started to see all kinds of other topics that interested me: politics, personal development, spirituality, marketing, alternative health. So I started following people tweeting on those subjects, as well. Most people I follow can still be slotted into one or more of those six categories.
I spent an enormous amount of time in the beginning building my Twitter presence ― no less than an hour a day for three straight months. It paid off, though, in that even when I don’t post a tweet for weeks at a time now, I’m still adding a dozen new people a week, at minimum. Yet I’m nowhere near the stratospheric record of my friend Stephanie Quilao (@skinnyjeans) who organically grew her following to 57,300 people just by writing good content and being INTERACTIVE (aka social) on the site almost from Day 1. Her feed is so popular, she was named one of the top health influencers, right alongside @DrWeil and @DrOz, even though she’s a “civilian” just like you and I.
It took me a while to embrace HootSuite as a mechanism for managing multiple Twitter feeds, but now I wouldn’t do without it. At present, I “manage” five Twitter feeds. I use the term loosely, in that some get a tweet once a month, while others are fed much more regularly. Without a doubt ― and understandably, I like to think ― the one that gets the most attention is @phxazlaura, the one I spent all that time building. The others are @authorblogchal (of course!), @1001rlqfw (MY book), @WomenLeaders4Peace, and @ABWA_VoSEN.
People often want to draw comparisons between Twitter and Facebook. In my opinion, that’s like comparing a big-box department store to the general store in a small town. They serve a similar function, but in wildly different ways. Although Twitter has expanded to make video and photo posting easy, it still remains a microblogging site ― quick hits of 140 characters. Facebook, on the other hand, allows you to post entire photo albums, you can see the video without having to open an additional window, and your text posts can be seemingly limitless (actually, the limit is 8,000 characters).
The platforms are different, as are the users. I had a ball when I started using Twitter, but the variety of capabilities makes Facebook my preferred platform. I think I learn more from Twitter, but I find more inspiration and connection on Facebook. VisualScope.com has a great way of making the distinction: “Twitter is better as a fresh news portal and directing traffic. Facebook contrasts in that it still reigns as the king of relationship-building.”
As far as discerning which one an author should begin with, the only way to answer it is by discerning where his or her readers are spending their time. If you’re writing nonfiction about a timely, topical subject, Twitter is your better bet for creating conversation. For timeless fiction, Facebook is a better place to create a community of fans and followers.
If you’re not yet using Twitter because you don’t see the value, I encourage you to explore a few popular author feeds, do a search for a term that interests you and read the feeds, or take a spin around Time magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012. You may just experience a change of heart.
In the meantime, come Tweet with us!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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