The Potential Power of Twitter–Part 4–What to Tweet

Good day, blogger friends! Hope all is well with all of you today! I had such a nice time at online friend and fellow author’s blog Steph Burkhart. Love when someone puts a fun spin on blogging. (We did the Sunday football theme. If you missed it, feel free to check it out here!)

Last week I followed up my Potential Power of Twitter posts (Part 1 and Part 2) by exploring concerns that came up in the comments. Since I got longer-winded than I’d anticipated (moi???) about the subject of getting followers, I decided to talk about the other issue separately. (Interestingly enough, the same topic came up at Authors Promoting Authors, where I blogged about things I’d do differently with the knowledge I’ve gained as a published author. I made mention of Twitter, and getting into it long before I did.)

For purposes of this discussion, I’ll assume you’re already following at least a few people. (At this point, it doesn’t matter if you’re being followed by them or anyone else—unless you want to send a direct message, which you can only do when you’re following each other.)

So here is Concern Two: “Now I just have to think of something fun to share and tweet my heart out!” and “For me it’s not joining the site, that was easy; it’s much harder to actually tweet or post some thing interesting.”

This may be the biggest issue holding folks back when it comes to any form of social media. (That includes Facebook, blogging and most likely, Linked In, Google+, etc.) What do I say and how do I say it in 140 characters or less—including hashtags when applicable? (Yes, people—those little #s can serve quite the big function.)

This article is one example of what I have to share via my blog. (You all inspired it with your comments, thank you very much!) Believe me, it helps solidify what I know simply by putting into words what I’ve learned. As per writing, posting or tweeting ‘something interesting’ try to remember this is about you and allowing fellow tweeps (or FB friends) an opportunity to know you. The more you’re out there, the more you’ll get to know others and the comments will start to feel as though they have a flow.

Think in terms of hanging out at a party w/a crowd of people. Some you know well. Some are acquaintances. Others you’ve yet to meet. Chances are—especially if you’re a social butterfly to begin with—you’re listening to the conversations around you and maybe saying something on topic.  (That would be me.)

Translation: Scroll through the different columns you’ve created. Read comments and respond to those that automatically generate an answer or a comment, pretty much the same way you’d listen to those around you and say something on topic. Or start one of your own! Keep in mind too: when you respond to a tweet that shows up on any one of your hashtag columns (i.e., #myWANA, #booklovers, etc), you’ve sort of introduced yourself!

Retweeting (RT) someone else’s tweet is also a way of sparking interaction. Twitter-folk love RTs and often respond with a tweet of thanks. Of course, a ‘You’re welcome’ tweet can include a comment about what you liked or some other start to a conversation. See how it’s not so hard to know what to say? (Don’t miss any responses by keeping your ‘Mentions’ column open at all times.)

Okay, two more things and we’re done. (Somehow it always comes back to Kristen Lamb, lol.)

Kristen teaches three important concepts in her talks on Twitter, but again, these apply to pretty globally to any social media venue.)

(1) Use your tweets to edify and promote others.

(2) Reciprocate kindnesses (i.e., RT or promote a friend’s blog or a great article you’ve read, as in click on one or more of those lovely little share buttons at the bottom of many blogs!).

(3) Tweet about anything that impacts your world that you believe is relatable to someone else (i.e., a great recipe you’ve come across, an amazing book you read; something someone did that’s awesome or touched you in a special way). When my favorite cat died recently, I tweeted about how devastated I was. The support from my online friends—and even folks I’d never had contact with before—was amazing. I shared this one on Facebook, but I’ll never forget the early Sunday morning I went down to the basement to exercise and saw our smaller fish’s tail sticking out of the bigger goldfish’s mouth. (Bleh!) My family was asleep so I vented to my FB friends, lol.  (I do suggest limiting or even skipping the small talk-tweets—i.e., Going to have a cup of coffee now.  Just MHO, but I’m not sure what to really say to those. Now, if you’ve just accomplished a goal and are feeling proud—i.e., Just finished first draft of chapter 3; ice cream break…yea!—tweet away! Chances are, someone will give you a virtual pat on the back!)

So, have I equipped you with what you need to go forth and tweet? Please let me know. Keep the questions and comments coming; you inspire me and help me think of things to say myself! (Now you understand why Kristen Lamb included the phrase We Are Not Alone in the title of her and her awesome book on writers and social media! Go get a copy!)

Until next time,

Joanna

The Potential Power of Twitter–Part 3–Gaining Followers

Happy Wednesday, friends. Hope all is well this midweek! Only two days until Friday (woot!) the weekend and a nice listing of blogposts I found very interesting over the past two weeks.

Wow. My recent Twitter-related posts (Part 1 and Part 2) started out as a one-shot deal. My chattiness made it two and now comments from you folks inspired at least two follow-up articles. (Thanks for saving me the trouble of thinking up something else, lol. ;))

At this point, two issues stood out. Today I’ll explore the first:

How do I get others to follow me?

Queen of awesome and social media Kristen Lamb suggests beginning as a follower and approaching this topic with a heart of service, thinking more about how to give to others and paying forward vs. the standpoint of ‘what’s in it for me?’ One way she does this is so simple: she retweets (RT) others’ blog posts as part of her time on Twitter. (She has a huge following so every message she tweets or RTs has the potential to be seen by thousands.) She also encourages, congratulates and supports others. She firmly believes social media is a way to build relationships and, in doing so, your brand evolves almost as a secondary result of your interactions online. (Check out her posts every Tuesday. They’re excellent.)

So how do you do this? Your best bet is to simply start following others whose tweets interest you (many will reciprocate; others often follow later, after you’ve begun responding to others’ tweets). Twitter will suggest people for you to follow. By using Tweetdeck and creating columns for ‘Tweetdeck suggests’ and ‘new followers you can keep that info sorted. And back to Kristen Lamb: she does Twitter-related articles every Tuesday and dedicates a big part of WANA to Twitter. (It’s her favorite social media platform. She made sense of it to me.) I’ve also come across helpful YouTube tutorials on how to use Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.

Oh yes: every Friday, you’ll find #FF (Follow Friday) in full swing. In this column, people make suggestions on who to follow. It’s a great way to promote your newest or best tweeps and gets your name out there, too! (There is a LOT of activity every Friday. That screen usually moves so fast, I can’t read it, lol.)

I realize this is confusing and/or overwhelming to some, but please understand, folks: it took me a long time to get this. Think what made Twitter initially so hard to grasp–especially using Tweetdeck–was that I expected it to be so much more complicated! (What’s really crazy is how ridiculously simple this all is—but you have to download Tweetdeck and use it to make sense of all this information.)

Concern Two: “Now I just have to think of something fun to share and tweet my heart out!” and “For me it’s not joining the site, that was easy; it’s much harder to actually tweet or post some thing interesting.”

We’ll dive into this one next Wednesday!

Don’t forget: Look for the a round-up of the some great blog posts by others this upcoming Friday. And on Sunday, please take a minute to stop by Steph Burkhart’s blog and show your team spirit. We’re having fun with football themes!

Thanks for your time and have a great day,

Joanna

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

Talking Social Media at Emma Lai’s!

Hi all,

Got my dates mixed up! I was at Emma Lai’s last week; today she’s hanging out with me. If you haven’t had a chance to get over there, though, some very valuable information regarding use of social media is on post there. (Link is just below this paragraph.) Take a minute and check it out! Also, take time to browse through the links to some awesome blogs that taught and/or continue to teach me! Have a wonderful day!

Hope all is well with everyone! I’m at Emma Lai’s blog today, talking again about social media and how it benefits the aspiring and/or published author in today’s digitally-driven world. Stop in and leave your thoughts on the matter.

And as the great Kristen Lamb suggests and models, here are a few blogs that caught my attention:

Procrastinating Writers’ Blog: 3 Ways Social Media Can Help You Avoid Procrastination

Kristen Lamb’s Blog: The Devil Is in the Details: Making Your Writing Shine

Selling Books: Market Me Please! Best Selling Tips for the Self-Published Author

Bob Mayer’s Blog: Pick a post; same goes for anything above!

Pet Loss Support Page: lots of links here

Take care and ttys!

Joanna

Social Media Made Easy (?)

Well, that depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

Hi! Hope all is well! I’ve been a bit MIA but working at getting my act back together–just in time for school to re-open, right?

So I just finished reading Kristen Lamb’s, We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media (WANA, from here on)

(Go ahead: Click the image! Finally learned how to make a picture into a link, lol.)

As much as I try to keep up with the variety of posts at Kristen’s awesome blog (yes, I’m a subscriber), something kept holding me back when it came to picking up an e-copy of this fabulous resource, maybe the fact that I’m not big on non-fiction books. (I love stories! If you handed me a romance in which the hero and heroine tweeted themselves through their emotional journeys, chances are, I’d be all over it.) Good thing I finally managed to crack my own nut! 🙂

WANA  is probably the first non-fiction book I couldn’t put down. Kristen’s quirky sense of humor made her walk-through the Big Three (okay, four, but MySpace has sort of gone by the wayside since WANA hit the virtual shelves) fun. Her prose is conversational, easy to follow and steps are laid out so that all you have to do is bookmark your page and/or lay your social media foundation as you go. I promise you, no matter what your level, you will learn something from WANA.

Are you a newbie social media wanna be, fearful of how you’ll fare with Facebook, terrified of taking on the Twitterverse and warring with the thought of baring yourself at WordPress blog of your very own? Take heart! Kristen lays out in simple, straightforward terms everything you need to know about getting started in all the above, photos, bios and other necessities included!

Are you a multi-published, big-name author who’s been around the writer’s block in traditional and/or indie market(s); you have a clue but no time to keep up? Especially because you’ve got to crank out that next best-seller? Kristin shows you how to manage all those sites via realistic chunks of time. Still too much to handle? She discusses the value of outsourcing, too.

Are you semi-savvy in any or all the above? Confirm what you know, get excited about how ahead of the game you are and take your learning to the next level. I’ve got Twitter backgrounds to set, Tweetdeck to check and a Facebook fan page to create. I promise, WANA will be up on my Nook’s screen the whole time–now if I could just figure out how to highlight the pertinent pages by choice and not by fluke! Oh, I also re-created my WordPress profile, added a bio and photo to connect folks to brand Joanna Aislinn.  And I will be linking/syncing The Big Three together very soon. After that? Start Kristen’s most recent release: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

(Stay tuned for thoughts on that.)

And while we’re talking about linking and syncing, anyone who knows the value of keeping up with all the trends in publishing today will NEED to subscribe to best-selling author Bob Mayer’s blog. The future of publishing really is learned here.

Wow. I thought I was going to write a few sentences! Off to a little R & R: Fran Fine calls and my alarm will be telling me it’s time to exercise (again) terribly soon!

Until next time,

Joanna