Thursday, May 26, 2011

Twitter 101

ROBERTA: As promised, our two good pals Krista Davis and Julie Hennrikus are here today to help us master Twitter. Let's start with basics, ladies. What should we be saying in our tweets?

Krista: Tweeting is a terrific way to brand yourself. For me, it's often about food, which suits my domestic diva brand. I share recipes and tips that I see. Here's the great thing, especially for those of us who are lazy -- you can tweet other people's information, and, even better, they'll love you for it. If Roberta posts a recipe on a blog, I can tweet to share the blog site and her recipe. I'm helping my own domestic diva brand, and Roberta is getting more traffic on the blog. It's a win-win situation.

Julie: I agree that Twitter is a great way to brand yourself with a broad brush. Though I started to tweet to build a "following" in the hopes of publishing a book (or series) some day, I now tweet about much more than mysteries, or writing. Twitter is a great way to build your community around your brand, and around your interests.

You should tweet about all of your interests, and follow people with like interests. Are you a sports fan? Tweet about it. Did you see a play you liked? Send out a tweet and call out the company. Are you passionate about a subject? Use twitter as a platform.

A couple of rules of thumb I use--be positive in your tweets about other people. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say over a loud speaker. Also, pay it forward. Use 80% of your tweets to talk about other people, or their work. Don't just be a one note marketing tweeter--that is a sure way to get unfollowed very quickly.

Krista: Julie, your examples demonstrate so well that Twitter is for everyone. No matter what you write, or what your passions are, you'll find it on Twitter. I often recommend that beginners tweet about their favorite sports teams or their alma maters. It's a great way to get the hang of Twitter.

I agree about being positive, too. Unless you tweet a private direct message to someone, everything you tweet is 100% public. Be careful what you say!

It's okay to spread the word about your blog, or a new book, or a wonderful review, but tweeting about yourself all the time is a guaranteed way to bore people. Forget the hard sale because it's an instant turnoff. Give people something in your tweets like a link to a great blog or article.

ROBERTA: How about your best tips for getting people to follow?

Krista: I guess it's obvious that tweeting useful information is one way. There's good news, though, the more you tweet, the more you'll be followed. There's software that tracks this kind of thing and is used to recommend followers to other people.

Julie: RT (or retweet) often. Try to add a comment when you can. Send "congrats" tweets. Make sure to use people or company's handles in your tweet, because that increases the chances of your tweet getting read and the other person following you. Follow hashtags that interest you (one example from my day job is #2amT, which is a twitter hashtag for people discussing the ideas about theater that wake them up at 2am. Wonderful conversations.) Chime into conversations and use hashtags. Participate. You will get followers, and they do grow incrementally.

Krista: Don't be afraid to follow people. If you follow a few people each day, you'll be surprised how fast they add up.

ROBERTA: how do we keep track of all this?

Krista: Oh, I was so glad when I discovered TweetDeck. Up until then, I just didn't understand how anyone could read all the messages flashing by faster than a speeding bullet. With TweetDeck (and no, they don't pay me), I can choose what I want to see. I can follow discussions and people I like. It's also a dynamite way to find out if a certain word works well as a hashtag (#). If you type in a word and boring posts come up, you know it's a dud.

Julie: Krista is a TweetDeck fan. I love Hootsuite. It is the same thing in many ways, but I find that it works on all of my computers and my smartphone, which makes things very easy.

Once you decide to use either one of these programs you can set up a stream to follow lists (that you have set up in Twitter), #hashtags, key words or specific people. Also make sure you set up a search for yourself. That way you can respond when someone mentions you or retweets.

This is a really helpful way to make sure you have a continuous presence without spending hours on Twitter. Because I (as @JulieHennrikus) am fairly active people assume I spend hours a day. Instead I spend fifteen minutes twice a day.

Another great thing about these programs is that you can schedule tweets.

ROBERTA: What about these lists?

Krista: Lists are a terrific way to meet a lot of other people who are interested in the things that interest you. For instance, I have a list of writers. If you want to be friends with writers, have a look at the people on my list. I bet you know some of them already! (It's super easy to follow people from a list. All you have to do is click on FOLLOW.) You can also get more followers by having a great list. I've had people ask to be included on my food list. And, believe it or not, there are even people who track lists and rate them.

Julie: First of all, anyone new to Twitter should go to Krista's lists and subscribe to them. They are great for writers. I also have lists for my different areas of interest, though I will admit I am behind in keeping up with them. Lists are another great way to clear out some of the Twitter noise and focus. That said, just read your stream once in a while. You will always find something new.

ROBERTA: Any final thoughts on Twitter?

Julie: First, Twitter is an incredibly useful, FREE tool. Use it.
Second, Twitter is more than marketing, it is community building. Some of the conversations I have followed, or blogs I have been linked to, have been inspiring, informational or moving. So don't just use it to sell your book. Use it to engage with people.
Third, chose your Twitter handle carefully. After much thought a recent job change had me change my handle from @cozytwitt to @JulieHennrikus. I thought that the ED of a service organization should have a more serious name in case of retweeting.
Fourth, tweets last, so be careful about how you use those 140 (or 120 so that you can be retweeted) characters.
Fifth: Twitter can be fun. Follow a few pithy people (@SteveMartinToGo and @BadBanana both make me laugh) and see how it is done. Or use TweetChat during an event (#projectrunway was always a good time) and meet like minded folks.

Krista: 1. Twitter is probably the easiest, least time-consuming marketing tool available. All the more reason to use it.

2. Twitter will prevent you from adding more followers if your follower/followee ratio is skewed. (Don't worry, it doesn't start happening until you follow about 1,000 people.) It's good Twitter etiquette to follow people who follow you. If you don't follow other people, they will dump you. It's not an insult. It's how it works. Use Twitter Karma to get rid of people who don't follow you, so you can even out your ratio.

3. If you use Twitter for marketing, or even to interact with agents, your Twitter name should be short (you don't want to waste characters!) and recognizable. You're tweeting to be seen.

4. The shorter your tweets are, the more likely they will be retweeted.

5. Some people consider it poor form to link your tweets to your Facebook page because you're likely to bombard some people by sending the message to them at both locations. Besides, you can say so much more at Facebook. Keep them separate.

ROBERTA: Thanks a million Julie and Krista! Now these mavens of tweetology are standing by for your questions...

J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource, an arts service organization for theater artists and organizations in the Boston area. Her short story "Tag, You're Dead" was published in Level Best Books anthology THIN ICE last fall. She tweets under @JulieHennrikus

Krista Davis is the National Bestselling Author of The Domestic Diva Mysteries published by Berkley Prime Crime. Her first mystery, THE DIVA RUNS OUT OF THYME, was nominated for an Agatha award. The fifth book in the series, THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE, will be in stores on September 6th and is now available for pre-order. Krista is proud to have a short story, DEAD EYE GRAVY, in the Guppy Anthology FISH TALES. Visit Krista at her website and her blog where mystery writers cook up crime . . . and recipes! If you follow Krista (@KristaDavis), she promises to follow you back.

and please follow your Jungle Reds on twitter too: @lucyburdette, @hank_phillippi, @jspencerfleming, @rhysbowen, @deborahcrombie, @janbrogan, @rosemaryharris1, and someday, maybe, Hallie....


edithmax said...

Great post, thanks. I didn't really understand the lists, though. And how do I find them, Krista?

I go over to twitter sometimes a couple of times a day, and sometimes once a week. I do like following disparate posters - political, spiritual, humorous - as well as writers and agents. Seeing those The Onion news headlines pop up gives me a laugh, always welcome during the work day.


Hallie Ephron said...

Thanks so much for the insights, Krista and Julie. I final broke down (after a class from Julie) and started a Facebook fan page. Still chewing and digesting.

But right now, I'm afraid my twitter handle would be @pas_moi

Maybe when I finish this manuscript. It does sound great, I confess.

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for a great post. My daughter works for Twitter and I didn't know all of this! I've been wondering how to find out who I was following that wasn't following back. Thanks.

Julia Spencer-Fleming said...

So THAT'S what those lists are. I had no idea how they were supposed to work. I'll have to start thinking about how to use them.

The thing that's surprised me most about Twitter is how much information I'm getting from my stream. In any given day, more than half the sites I look at on the net come from Twitter referrals. Info about new books, the publishing industry, writing techniques... as well as being the first place I heard about the Tuscaloosa tornado and Osama Bin Laden's takedown. My Twitter stream is well on its way to becoming my personalized news and info service.

Krista said...

edithmax, if you go to my Twitter page --!/KristaDavis -- just above the tweets, you will see the word LISTS. Click on it and a drop down menu of my lists will appear.

If you'd like to see what else is out there, just Google "top twitter lists" and have fun!

~ Krista

Krista said...

Hallie, when you finish that manuscript, take a couple of hours to sign up for Twitter and poke around. It's easier than FB! Really!

~ Krista

Krista said...

Helen Ginger, you're cracking me up. You're daughter works for Twitter? Wow! You have an expert in the family. That's so cool!

~ Krista

Krista said...

Julia, twice recently I heard a snippet about something in the news, but the TV news didn't go there. I stuck a hashtag and a keyword into TweetDeck and knew the whole story in seconds. It's incredible!

I can see the huge role Twitter plays in a country undergoing a revolution. There has never been a source of instantaneous information like this.

~ Krista

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I still can't..figure out how it.

DO you have twitter up on your computer all the time?

(Hi Krista, Hi Julie! Thank y u SO much!!)

edithmax said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edithmax said...

Thanks, Krista. I see the lists now.

Another tip? I have been using TweetDeck, and it automatically makes a tiny URL when you type or paste a full URL into the message. Huge time saver. Anybody know if HootSuite does the same?

TweeterKarma is cool, too. Easy to use.


Krista said...

Hank, that confused me, too. If the tweets come in fast and thick for someone with 100 followers, how can anyone with 40,000 followers read tweets? They don't. They pick and choose what they want to see by using TweetDeck or HootSuite.

I think that's one of the two obstacles that prevent people from using Twitter. The other is hashtags. Once you understand those, it all starts to make sense.

~ Krista said...

Edith, Hootsuite does shrink URLs. A huge help.

Hallie, you crack me up. Someday we'll get you on Twitter. Sadly, @pas_moi is taken.

Hank, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite help a lot. You can set up streams and check on certain lists, hashtags or searches, and then your newsfeed is limited to that. I use lists, but also have searches set up for #guppies, #sincne, #sinc and other searches for my theater life.

Helen, your daughter has a cool job!

Julia, I agree about the newsfeed aspects. When something is happening I go to Twitter now. I learn something new every day.

So happy to be part of this post!drai said...

Edith, Hootsuite does shrink URLs. A huge help.

Hallie, you crack me up. Someday we'll get you on Twitter. Sadly, @pas_moi is taken.

Hank, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite help a lot. You can set up streams and check on certain lists, hashtags or searches, and then your newsfeed is limited to that. I use lists, but also have searches set up for #guppies, #sincne, #sinc and other searches for my theater life.

Helen, your daughter has a cool job!

Julia, I agree about the newsfeed aspects. When something is happening I go to Twitter now. I learn something new every day.

So happy to be part of this post!drai

Roberta Isleib said...

@pasmoi very funny hallie:)

Helen, what does your daughter do at Twitter--maybe she'd like to be a guest at JR!

Julia, just curious, what hashtags etc do you watch? That's one of things I find overwhelming.

And Krista/Julie (thanks again for helping us today)--how do you choose your hashtags? do you do a search for popular ones somehow before you tweet? I can see this growing into an obsession...


Jan Brogan said...

You guys make an excellent case for TWITTER especially for a reluctant tweeter like me. I have the accounts, but I have a really hard time with the whole notion of branding myself. For some reason, I really, really, really hate the idea that I need to be selling myself all the time.

But the idea of community building, that I can live with.

Still trying to figure out the list thing. Like where to do it.

But I'm going to go follow you two and subscribe to your lists!

Thanks for helping us all at Jungle Red.

Krista said...

Roberta, there's a + in a circle on TweetDeck for starting a new column. I put in any word(s) that I'm curious about. Just tried #KeyWest to see what comes up. You can judge from the number (sometimes 0!) and type of tweet whether you'll be hitting the right audience or not.

~ Krista

Krista said...

LOL, Jan. Then go for community building if that's more comfortable for you. There aren't any set rules here. Follow Julie's example and have fun tweeting about all the things you love.

~ Krista

Jan Brogan said...

So apparently I was ALREADY following both of you. But how do I "subscribe" to your lists?


Rhonda Lane said...

Great post, Krista and Julie (and JRWs.) I used to be a TweetDeck girl, but I like HootSuite because I can use it on my smartphone, too. Or even on a computer at a hotel or a library because it's web-based.

I used to have my Tweets and Facebook feeds linked (what went on Twitter went out on Facebook, too), but all my #hashtags and RTs went out on Facebook where that stuff made no sense, even annoyed some FBers.

Also, I've noticed that the demographics of each my Facebook and Twitter followers is different. I have people who follow me through both, but only engage with me on Twitter - and vice versa.

Roberta Isleib said...

Krista, I've been following the key west column. it seems to be mostly people counting down the days until they leave for vacation LOL!

Krista said...

Jan, when you're on a person's Twitter page, click on LIST. Click on the list that interests you, and a new page will come up, showing you who is on the list. In the middle of the page, fairly near the top, you'll see FOLLOW THIS LIST. Click!

~ Krista

Krista said...

Rhonda, some people think it's poor form to link Twitter and FB for exactly the reasons you mention. At first blush, it seems like such a great idea, but they really are very different.

~ Krista

Krista said...

Roberta, that doesn't sound too promising at first.

However, it does tell you some things. Use #KeyWest when you tweet something of interest to people heading there on vacation. A lot of people (me, for one) love to read about a place where they're going.

It also suggests that there might be another hashtag used by locals. You just have to figure out what it might be!

~ Krista

Nancy Adams said...

Thanks so much, Krista and Julie! I'm a complete Twitter-ignoramus, have never used it, but I'm going to experiment with selling an e-short story in a few months, so I'm now thinking seriously about social media.

If you could choose only one, Twitter or Facebook, which would it be? I've heard mixed reviews about Facebook, but everyone who uses Twitter seems to like it.

Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!

Nancy Adams

Rhonda Lane said...

You've probably already done this, Roberta/Lucy, but Follow any Key West businesses and notables you can think of.

When they tweet something you think is interesting, RT it. That way, you're helping promote Key West and that merchant's business.

That also helps establish Lucy as a a go-to authority for what's cool in Key West.

Krista said...

That's a tough one, Nancy. I don't know if e-book readers are more into Twitter or FB. You can reach more people with Twitter, and thanks to retweeting and hashtags, your tweets stand a chance of being distributed more widely -- even beyond your followers.

OTOH, Facebook allows you to say more. It's a tough call.

Whichever one you choose, get started yesterday. It takes time to collect friends and followers.

Does anyone have a feel for whether FB or Twitter is better for reaching e-book readers?

~ Krista

Nancy Adams said...

Thanks, Krista!

It's a Christmas story, if that makes any difference. Not really a mystery, though something mysterious happens at the end ... The main characters are Saint Nick and a Fir Tree and it's told mostly from Tree's POV. I'm considering making Tree the "author" of any FB pages or tweets.

Really appreciate the help!

Thanks again,

Nancy A.

Deb said...

Okay, sorry to be dropping in so late but I've been on Twitter . . .
Thanks, Krista and Julie! It does make a bit more sense now, although I don't think I've got everything figured out.

I'm a bit less intimidated, but it still seems a little overwhelming.

I have discovered that it's a great way to get news, and just to find out about fun things. I discovered, for instance, that Portobello Market tweets!

And you are certainly right in saying that Twitter, like any other form of social networking, has to be social and community building or people will get bored with you really quickly.

Deb said...

Argghh. Tried to change profile pic and now on Home page have an egg and can't get it to take another photo.

Gina Robinson said...

Thanks for a great post on how to use Twitter! I was completely ignorant about lists. Obviously, I need all the help I can get. I've had an account for a while and I have Tweet Deck, but I'm timid about tweeting.

Avery Aames said...

Great thoughts, ladies. Definitely got a few more tips for myself! Have to say I was always afraid of RT'ing too many for fear that would seem like bombardment, too.


Avery aka Daryl

Roberta Isleib said...

uh oh, Deb, gotta get rid of that egg! That's one of the first things my pal Mike (@cooper) taught me:)

Rhonda, good suggestion. I'll do more of that. And Krista, you're right. It takes time to build a community--and demonstrate you're not just a self-absorbed promotional egg:).


Pj Schott said...

WOW!! That was the best, most comprehensive Twitter how-to I've ever seen!

Jacquie Rogers said...

Thanks for a terrific article on Twitter. I was feeling guilty because most of my time on Twitter is captured by baseball, when I know I should be concentrating on books instead. So hey, I have a green light! Makes me happy. I'll be taking advantage of several suggestions here. Good stuff!


Krista said...

Nancy, I can tell you that there are several Santas who tweet. It might be easier to tweet for a Christmas story since you could use appropriate hashtags. On FB, you would have to ask people to friend a tree. Not that they wouldn't . . . .

~ Krista

Krista said...

Great ideas, Rhonda!

LOL, Deb. The really wonderful thing about Twitter is that it just doesn't take long to tweet.

~ Krista

Krista said...

Sorry about the egg, Deb. You might want to wait a bit and then try again. I find Twitter becomes busier in the afternoon and early evening and doesn't always work quite as well then. That might be what's happening to you.

~ Krista

Krista said...

Gina, if you're timid about tweeting, do the next best thing and retweet. Seriously. Find one or two tweets that you like, maybe something your friends tweeted today and simply click retweet. They'll appreciate it and you'll get over your shyness about Twitter.

~ Krista

Krista said...

Avery, you can retweet my tweets anytime. ; )

Retweeting is good. In fact, it's great!

When you retweet my tweet, your followers see my tweet. If one of them retweets it, her followers will see my tweet. That's how word spreads in Twitterdom!

Having a super busy day? No time to tweet? Retweet!

~ Krista

Krista said...

Thanks, PJ! That's very sweet of you.


Krista said...

Jacquie, that's so funny. There you were feeling guilty when you were community building, just like Julie and Roberta advise.

Have fun with it! Glad you picked up some useful ideas.

~ Krista

Lynn in Texas said...

Hey Krista! Nice to see you and Julie here. Today's post was a veritable boatload of information! I'm copying everything for future reference.

Hallie, you're not alone by not being on Twitter yet. @pas_moi cracked me up. I'll be moi aussi! I tell everyone who asks "sorry, this twit don't tweet".

When I finally take the plunge, I'll be armed (& dangerous, I'm sure)with the info, and know where to turn for help. Thanks so much!

RachelintheOC said...

Hey all -- GREAT informative article!

For further resources, peeps can follow us over @IndieBookIBC -- the Indie Book Collective where we have a stream, site, blog, weekly radio show & free workshops ALL to help writers learn social media. I cofounded it last October w @craftycmc @AmberScottBooks & our goal is to teach writers how to use Twitter (lots of insiders tips & tricks) but also FB & Goodreads to build a reader base. We also have great low-cost eBook Amazon promos & blog tours -- one this Memorial Day weekend benefits our troops!

I hope we can all work together to get the word out how great Twitter is & how valuable a tool it is for writers. If we can help you or your readers, let me know ;-)

Nancy Gardner said...

Thanks, Julie and Krista! I'm saving your words of wisdom to be brought out once I finish a novel!!

Best regards,

P.I. Barrington said...

I've always preferred Twitter and also use Tweetdeck! This info is great and easy to use! Also, I just found another app for TweetDeck called Deckly. It allows you to use more than the 140 characters! I only use it when ReTweeting a long list of @(names, etc.,)or when tweeting something important!

Suzanne Adair said...

Late to the party, as usual, but this was a great refresher course. Thanks!

I sure wish that Revolutionary War geeks Tweeted. Alas, most of them haven't discovered Facebook yet. LOL

I've followed all the Reds.

Suzanne Adair

Kim@Hostgator-deals said...

I like the way you've put these tips together. It makes it easier to remember each one since they are in a conversational style. I'll remember that percentage- 80%. It's sometimes tempting to tweet mainly about whatever we blog about but sharing the work of others does make our body of tweets more interesting and add variety.