Potential Power of Twitter–Part 2

Good day, friends!

Last time I shared a story about the time some friends and I wound up lost while driving to a women’s retreat. (You can read that post here.) Today I’ll tie that into:

The Incredible, Potential Power of Twitter

Yes, I wrote that title—and mean it. Would never have happened a year ago, I promise. I couldn’t be bothered being a part of this monster of a social media tool, nor did I have any desire to learn about it so that I could be. Then I happened on Kristen Lamb’s blog. Then I cracked and bought her bestseller, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media—WANA, from here on and the best $4.99 I’ve spent in some time. Read my thoughts on it here. Those thoughts got me a request to write a short article for Author-Me’s monthly newsletter

Knock-knock: Are you starting to get an idea of how this works?

These days you’ll find me hanging out here, on Facebook and yes, Twitter. Do I absolutely love any of Kristen’s recommended three? Not necessarily, but I love people and enjoy making online friends and connections and learning more than I ever imagined I could via all the blogs I find via the three venues. (Kristen’s weekly mash-up of awesomeness—a.k.a. blogs—could keep me reading all day, and since January of this year, I swear I’ve gained an education in social media and self-publishing from blogs alone. And all for the cost of what? Internet access and whatever time I’m willing to put into it.)

Sorry. Sidetracked. Back to business!

So what sets Twitter apart? Doesn’t take that much time as a tweeter to figure out how powerful a tool this is. I will, however, state it’s much easier to see the potential once you’re using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or similar personal browser created to organize and manage the hundreds and probably thousands of tweets headed your way alone on a daily basis. (Depends on your following as well as your ability to create/maintain online relationships. Oh, and don’t expect to be able to read and/or respond to every message once you’re ‘established.’ Twitter interactions happen pretty much in a ‘real time’ manner: about ninety minutes (assuming you’re using a personal browser and based on how busy a particular column is—more about this later) before you ‘missed’ a tweet, or more realistically, a slew of them.

Okay, writing about this is getting bigger than I can handle, so I’ll stick to what, IMHO, are the keys to what makes Twitter so amazing: simplicity and inherent exponential potential.

Simplicity: One-hundred-forty characters to get a thought across AND get it onto the screens of x-number of fellow tweeps. At first I thought, what’s the point of just that tiny window? Now I realize a side benefit: teaching me to edit and keep what I say succinct and direct. (Only the most important words here.)

Inherent exponential potential: Concept=simple. Potential power: beyond believable and in need of a few sentences to do it justice. When you tweet, write your message but spare some characters. You’ll use those spaces to create a hashtag: the pound sign/symbol (#) followed by pretty much any word you want. Think in terms of tags or keywords.

Example: If I’m tweeting about US Open tennis, I’ll add #usopen, #tennis, #rafaelnadal or something along those lines. The Twitter monster makes sure that anyone who has a Tweetdeck column dedicated to any or all of those (or similar) hashtags will see my tweet. Now do you get an idea of how many potential people you can reach with only one-hundred-forty characters? (And that doesn’t include retweets, folks—messages you ‘repeat’ to all your followers with a single click.) Honestly, I am boggled—better yet: flum-gubbered—every time I think about this.

I’ll stop here—think I overwhelmed myself—before I give you too much to take in. (Something tells me I’ll be exploring this topic again.) Please feel free to shoot out questions: here, or at my Facebook and/or Twitter pages.

Don’t forget: A critique of up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress or completed manuscript is still up for grabs at the end of this week. Leave a comment for your chance to win!

Until next time,

Joanna

Potential Power of Twitter–Part 1

“Joanna, you have a story for everything!”

Those of you who know me or have been around my blog-block before have already heard/read that quote: what a former co-worker told me years ago, way before I had any clue I’d be a writer. She was right. No matter the topic, I had some related account of a cousin, television show or life experience of my own. (I was new to the work-force then. Imagine how many more stories I have now! :D)

These days my kids and their friends roll their eyes and look at each other when they make some random comment then realize they just triggered my retelling of: “Another story.”

Oh, God. She’s about to do it again…Hang in there: I’m going somewhere with this. (Pinky swear…)

And yes, I changed the names in the interest of privacy!

Years ago I attended a women’s retreat. The drive should have taken about three hours from start to finish. I drove, accompanied by two women. Sally was at least twenty years older than I; Melanie might have been ten years younger (and a bit of a nervous type).

With written directions and my cell phone in hand (okay it was a dino-phone), we took off on the interstate, excited to be away from everyone for a couple of days. We took exit #13—just like the paper said—and wound up spending the next three hours seriously lost. (All we knew was we were in God’s country—somewhere—with not much more to go on but trees and two-lane roads. We later learned the directions didn’t specify we were supposed to take exit #13 AFTER we crossed over into the next state—kind of an important detail…).

Cell-phone reception wasn’t what it is today, so my dino-phone was pretty useless. We happened on at least one hotel and asked for directions. Those turned out as helpful as the phone. Sally and I found much humor in the situation; figured we’d get there eventually. Melanie later told us she was flipping out in the back seat while Sally and I just laughed. (We had no idea how upset with us she was until the next day, when she finally told us.)

We had plenty of gas and a sturdy vehicle; no need to panic. We weren’t however, any closer to where we needed to be, nor did we have a clue how to get there. We stopped for directions again. And again. And probably a time after that. Every time we realized we were lost—again!—Sally and I laughed. Melanie got more anxious.

We finally made it to some town and stopped a man who happened to be walking by. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but when he opened his sentence exactly the same way as had so many of those we asked for directions before him, Sally and I looked at each other and fell apart laughing. We couldn’t stop.

Once Sally and I could talk, we apologized and explained why we cracked up the way we did; in no way did we intend any offense. He assured us none was taken. “I have a son with schizophrenia. Nothing you can say can upset me. I’ll get you where you need to go.”

We promised to pray for him and his son.

Don’t you know? That man’s directions got us to our destination, six hours after we started out.

The following Sunday, the women who’d gone on the retreat were called to share some of their experiences relative to the previous weekend. Sally, Melanie and I shared out ‘lost’ story, enjoying very much the collective chuckles of the congregation as we did so.

Then we mentioned the man who finally put us on the correct road to our destination, his son and our promise to pray for them and their family.

As a church we prayed together. Then I thought about how individuals might go home and pray for them too, and how they might ask someone else to pray, and those folks might ask someone else to pray, and so on and so on—until more people than any of us could imagine are praying for this gentleman and his schizophrenic son. For all any of us knows, people could still remember him or the story and be praying for him today. My retelling of this story serves as a reminder to do so for me and may incline others to do so as well.

And somehow, all of brings to mind the incredible, potential power of Twitter.

Just a reminder: A critique of up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress or completed manuscript is still up for grabs at the end of this week. Leave a comment for your chance to win!

More next time, as in Wednesday. 😉

See you then!

Joanna