Overwhelmed by Twitter?
Try these Seven Strategies
by Rochelle Melander
At a recent networking event, a colleague exclaimed, “I hate Twitter.” Others quickly agreed, stating that it’s noisy and big and hard to find the good stuff.
Twitter can feel like being at a contentious public meeting with everyone shouting loudly, trying to get heard. But Twitter also offers many gems, mostly to those who are willing to listen to others. If you’re struggling to figure out what to say and do on Twitter, take a deep breath and read on. Here are seven meaningful ways you can connect on Twitter:
Use Twitter to discover the latest trends, listen into conversations about hot topics, and deepen your understanding of issues that interest you as a writer. Search for conversation threads using #hashtags and listen to what other people have to say. Follow one of the focused lists curated by Twitter users or create one of your own. (Check out The Write Life’s post on best Twitter lists for authors to follow.)
Need help with an article you’re writing? Curious to know what the teens of the 80s think about the boat shoe fashion trend? Looking for a good lead for your latest blog post? Ask the Twitter crowd.
Just like the real world, it’s important to practice give and take on Twitter. Offer resources for your followers. Publish quotes, questions, or inspiring ideas. Link to helpful articles, blog posts, and resources you have discovered.
Retweet the posts you find helpful. Twitter provides an automated tool for doing this with a simple click—and now you can add your own comments to every retweet.
Twitter chats offer a great opportunity to talk about books, ideas, and current issues, often in real time. Twitter chats use special hashtags with the title to help users follow them–#pubchat, LitChat, etc. Search for twitter chats on topics you are interested in using your favorite search engine. Once you find a twitter chat you like, listen in for about ten minutes until you see how they work and then jump in! (Check out this list to find Twitter chats for writers and this one for entrepreneurs.)
Don’t forget the “social” in social media. Much of the dialogue on social media is no different from the kinds of conversations we have in person. If you want to talk to another person on Twitter, send tweets to @username. Start by complimenting them or asking a question—just like you were talking in real life.
You can also use Twitter to promote your own workshops, events, and blog postings. But be careful—if you self-promote too much, people will tune you out or simply unfollow you. I don’t remember where I read it, but the rule I’ve heard is this: promote other people 80 percent of the time, and yourself 20 percent of the time.
Your turn: How do you use Twitter? Leave your strategy in a comment below.