Friday, April 10, 2009

The Road to "Getting" Twitter

Ever feel like you're on the outside looking in while trying to use Twitter? Carolyn Howard-Johnson shared with me the following article about Twitter. She makes some really great comments, and I'm pleased to share this article with you:

Even the CEO of Twitter says most people don't get Twitter when they first start using it (I read the quotation in Time magazine--excuse me if I don't have the issue!). I certainly didn't get it at first. I just liked it because it was fast. Well, it isn't nearly as fast as I thought it was. Not if you're going to do it right. Any by "right" I mean use it in a way that advances your writing career and exposes the title of your book.

It occurred to me that the reason most people who aren't using it (and lots who are) don't get it is because of that saying in the posting window that says, "What are you doing now?" I'm pretty sure no one expects you to tell us you're having maple syrup on your pancakes unless you wrote a cookbook and can link back to a section that tells people how to make substitute maple syrup in your own kitchen.

So, I'm giving you some ideas for what you could tweet about if you signed up with Twitter (that part IS really easy and fast!). Maybe it will help you get an inkling of how you might use it for your book. In general, no matter how you tweet, try to be helpful to others. Even your writing is about how you can entertain or help others, right? So is Twitter!

Yes, you can talk about your book! And about what's happening to you in terms of marketing your book. That includes your speaking, your reviews, your signings, etc.

Tell people what you think of a product or another book. Preferably your choices should relate to your promotion campaign. Example. I tweet movie reviews. I mention aspects of the movies for authors to look at that might improve their writing skills--characterization, pacing, etc. That relates to my editing but it also relates to the fact that I once wrote complete reviews for the Glendale News-Press and sort of miss doing it.

As you get more followers, it becomes impossible to read all your followers' tweets. Use tweetdeck and manage your tweet account. Follow the ones closely who provide information you need consistently and mostly ignore the rest. Sorry, but that's the reality, folks. It's one reason you want to talk about more than that you are tired and going to bed.

As you get more followers, it's OK to repeat your tweets. I try to reword and reslant them, though.

Feed your blog to Twitter. Juts be sure the first 140 characters of each blog it meaningful so people on Twitter get what you're tweeting about! Use tweetlater to do this.

Post your media releases and other longer stuff on twitwall. It's so easy you won't need any tutorial. It's easy to use a picture with these posts, too.

Advanced users can share music and videos. Twitter users will appreciate them more if they are short. don't worry about this for a while, though. Just enjoy.

Help writer friends by tweeting about what they are doing, especially when what they are doing will help your followers.

Offer advice in your area of expertise. You know how I like tips. I offer lots of tips on Twitter, too.

When you learn new things about Twitter, tweet about it. There will be followers who will help you advance with your tweeting skills, but there will also be newbies who can benefit from your experiences.

Follow people who follow you. When it becomes too hectic, use tweetdeck to organize your tweets.

Network. I tweeet regularly about agents, bookstores, and reviews I find on Twitter so my followers can learn more about them.

Use tweetchat for chats of your own design. I've presented chats with a new tweeting friend @zimblermiller (that's her Twitter address) on book proposals and query letters with more to come. BTW, you'll see certain tweets with the number sign in them like #bkpro. Those are the chat entries that also come up on the Twitter board. Occasionally, they don't make sense because you haven't been following the whole thread, but occasionally they have little jewels in them--stuff you'll really be glad to know.

It is obvious that you can learn a lot from people who tweet like this. So tweeting is not only about...well, tweeting. It's also about listening.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. This article is from her Sharing with Writers newsletter where writers share with writers. You may subscribe by sending an email to Carolyn with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. See it to hojonews @ And come follow Carolyn on Twitter.


Bethanne said...

Okay. I'm one of the 'don't get it' people, but your advice seems so practical and useful. I may have to retry it. :D Thanks for sharing!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Bethanne, I hope you do. Find me at when you do. And work at gathering the kind of followers who share your passions, whatever they may be!

Vivian Zabel said...

I don't follow Twitter constantly, but I check every so often. I tweet when I think I have something I want others to know.

Donna McDine said...

Terrific post...was just twittering when the announcement of your article post came through. Thanks for the valuable tips.

Best wishes,
Donna McDine

Linda Austin said...

Great post for newbie tweeters, Katie and Carolyn. My only comment is not to overdo tweeting about your books and business, but as Carolyn said, tweet about things RELATING to your books and business. Twitter is fun, and can be a great way to learn all sorts of things while you're sharing what you do.

Jan Verhoeff said...

I've found twitter works best when I have some relationships going on, people who are already posting that I can re-tweet [RT] and add to their comments or redirect to their comments, or them to mine.

Promoting works well, but sometimes, just simply tell them what you're doing - like READING, or watching a movie, or reading to the kids. Mention the name of the book or movie. Sometimes let them know you're sipping creme soda and eating toast for breakfast. They'll know you're REAL.

Jan Verhoeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maryannwrites said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing this helpful information with us, Carolyn. Your advice is much appreciated and spot on.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thanks to you all for coming by. BTW, Linda, one of the great ways to network is to select tweets that relate to your tweeting audience (or followers, if you will) and retweet. That gives them more exposure and you help others with information that they can use.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Jan, I agree that a tweet now and then to let people know you are real is not a bad thing. That can definitely be overdone, though, and we're writers so I think we can work to make even those interesting and maybe in some way related to our focus. Maybe with anecdote or colloquial language? I guess I've read way too many "I'm tired. Going to bed" tweets. LOL.