The Techie: Twitter, Part Two
Written by
The Techie
April 2010
Written by
The Techie
April 2010
Mia Eaton resumes the Twitter topic, and gives you some quick and dirty advice. Picking up where our last Twitter discussion left off, I want to go deeper into the nitty-gritty of using Twitter. With the right combination of personality and good netizenship, not only will you establish yourself, you'll connect with other publishing professionals, specialists, and friendly folks who will (I assure you) enrich your on- and offline worlds. Granted, it's a bit confusing at first. In order to feel confident on Twitter, one must be familiar with the syntax and symbols used to control who sees what, and how topics and people can be organized. Let's begin with this lovely guide to how Twitter works, specifically the @ function, created last week by illustrator and typographer Jessica Hische (be sure to click the link for the large version and zoom in). The "at" as it's called, can be used to "at reply" someone directly, but also to "mention" another user. The @, when typed as a prefix to a name, (e.g. @Shewritesdotcom) is what creates the link to that person's profile, and also makes it appear in their "reply" and "mentions" feed. Depending on who is following whom, as explained in her illustration, what is visible to whom depends on how the @ is used. If you're really new, be sure to have read my initial post on How Not to Be Boorish, Boring, or Bored on Twitter and Mashable's Twitter Guide Book, as it does a great job of explaining the things like the hashtag (#) as well as more general questions. Check out the Twitter blog to learn about the power of lists. Here are some quick and dirty tips for playing nice with others in the Twitterverse:
  • Try to pick as short a name as possible, without it being cryptic. Long names pose a challenge to those wishing to include or credit you in a tweet. 140 characters goes fast with long names. Do what you must, but shorter is better.
  • Completely fill out the brief profile. Don't write things like "outer space" for the location. Take the opportunity to include your url (link to your SheWrites profile if you don't have a website) as it will get clicked when people are deciding if they want to follow you.
  • Use an actual photo of yourself. Your followers want to know and trust you. One day you might meet them in person.
  • Post at least a handful of tweets before expecting anyone who doesn't already know you to follow you back. Those posts are the best way for potential followers to decide if they're interested in what you have to share.
  • Unless your tweet is of the personal observation variety or a question, always include a link, a photo or something to share with your followers.
  • Don't be a lurker. Interact with others, search for things that interest you. Be kind and brave in approaching others.
  • If you're talking about an author, a book, an event, a news item, whatever... link to it for the love of Pete. Don't make people Google! It's not good manners, nor is it effective communication.
  • Think of your audience's POV, and don't play coy. As in good writing, specifics are juicy and delicious. Too vague makes me not care.
  • Credit your twitter sources. Use via @theirname or RT if you like.
  • Try to stagger your updates. For example, don't not post a tweet all day, then post five in one hour. It's super annoying and makes you seem rather clueless and late to the party.
  • With tweets, there is a too much and a too little, and this varies from person to person. I myself post too much for some people, and others post too much for my liking. Many great twitterers post no more than once or a few times per day, not counting @ replies in conversation.
  • Re: @ replies. This is not instant messenger. Don't treat it as such. Go to Direct Messages (DM) or e-mail if you must go back and forth more than two, maximum three times.
  • Learn to say what you have to say in 140 characters or less. If you feel the need to express something so complex that you'd need to post a handful of tweets in a row, better to make it a full-on blog post somewhere else, tweet a brief intro, with link to it. Otherwise, you wind up overwhelming your follower's Twitter page (unless perhaps you're live-tweeting an event). Like tweeting too much, it may actually get you unfollowed, just for being a tad annoying.
Unfortunately that's all the room I have to write today, but next week I'm going to discuss Twitter's usefulness and impact for authors, editors, and others in publishing, along with more advice!

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  • The Techie

    This just in! The Library of Congress has announced it will be archiving all public tweets since 2006, from ReadWriteWeb:

    "The US Library of Congress announced this morning via its official Twitter account that it will be acquiring the entire archive of Twitter messages back through March, 2006. In addition to a massive printed collection, the Library already has an extensive collection of other digital assets. The Library of Congress is the biggest library in the world.

    The Library does extensive work with data format standards, the semantic web and other platforms for outside analysis. The addition of Twitter into the organization's offerings could foster an enormous amount of academic research. From a new kind of historical record to an unprecedented opportunity for discovering patterns of social interaction, this is big."