Twitter Tuesday #2

 

Welcome to the second installment of Twitter Tuesday. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brand. This blog will help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

Today we have to do things differently. Why? My tips involve the hashtag conversations, but if you don’t know what a hashtag is or what it does, the tips will make no sense. Feel free to scroll down if you happen to be hashtag savvy.

For the rest of you, you might find yourself asking, What the heck is that # thingy I see all the time?

Here’s the deal. If you listened to me last week then you ran out and downloaded TweetDeck at the first available opportunity. Wait, what? You didn’t?

Okay…we’ll wait. *whistles, checks watch*

Kidding! But, seriously. Download TweetDeck (or a similar application). Trust me. It will make life simpler.

What is a #? That little # symbol is going to help you build a worldwide following. I know. That’s partly how I did it.

So what is it? Well, when you first join Twitter, you are all alone…save for the celebrities that Twitter gives you, but it isn’t like you and Ashton Kutcher are going to chit chat. So, you are going to have to make some friends. Hashtags will help you meet people who love to talk about the same things you do. When you place a # with a keyword at the end of your tweet, Twitter slots your tweet into a conversation shared by people all over the world bound by topic.

Some popular writer hashtags are:

#writegoal (place daily writing goals and keep each other accountable), #amwriting, #pubtip, #indie, #bookmarket, #amediting, #nanowrimo, #agent

Thus, when I tweet about my blog, often it looks like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

My Tweet now will not just go out to my specific followers, it will be seen by the THOUSANDS of people all over the world who might be participating in those three popular hashtag conversations.

Why I recommend you download TweetDeck is that you can slot each hastag into its own column and then follow the people and conversations. When it comes to social media, we must interact and be vested in others, or we risk being perceived as fake and selfish. The hashtag is to help us meet and converse with others. It is not a new way to spam our fellow tweeps.

This Week’s Fail Whale

Using an auto-tweet system with hashtags.

BAD idea. This can get you banned to Twitter Limbo.

I am totally against authors using auto-tweets anyway. If our face and name are our Twitter identity, then our tweets need to be US. Writers are not @Starbucks. We can’t get away with auto-tweets. No one expects to have a conversation with @BestBuy. They will, however, expect conversation from us. And don’t think you can cheat. People are smart and will smell an automatically generated message a mile away…and then promptly ignore you, report you or unfollow you.

At the very least, they will think you are a big fat phony, and, in an age of people looking for authenticity, that is bad. It won’t win any friends, so I recommend just avoiding anything automatically generated. We really don’t need a Thank you for following me. Check out my awesome blog (link) sent to our direct messages. It’s not personal. It’s spam.

It really is better for you to tweet less, but it be genuinely you, than it is to assign a machine to pump out your message. Millions are gravitating to social media to escape spam. Bring these tactics into their sacred space and the penalty can be steep.

But, okay, you feel you must auto-tweet. Don’t say I didn’t try to talk you out of it. Do NOT include a hashtag. It is very likely you could clog up a whole column with your spam…um, tweets. Maybe you didn’t mean to, but since you weren’t present, you didn’t get to see the mess your auto-tweets were creating (think Mickey Mouse and the brooms). Then people get angry and they report you and Twitter bans you from using the most powerful tool you have to connect with people worldwide.

You could accidentally gum up all three hastag conversations like this:

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@Kristen LambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

Now, I might have meant well, but folks on Twitter use these hashtag conversations to interact with a broader pool of people. If they see my tweet over and over and over and it is taking up the whole column, do you think it inspires them to like me? Or hunt me down with torches and pitchforks?

Also, the reason that I recommend TweetDeck is that you can see if your tweets are gumming up a column. I scan the #writegoal column to make sure I don’t already have a tweet talking about my blog in that column. If I do, I use another hashtag #amwriting or just wait to tweet about my blog. I try to only tweet 3 times a day to self-promote my blog. Morning, afternoon, evening to catch different Twitter crowds.

Make it a rule to promote others more than yourself, and you will rule the Twitterverse and even make some really awesome friends. Forget traditional marketing. Social media is a team effort.

This Week’s Twitter Tip

Now that you know what hashtags are, add them or change them when you RT for others.

I might see a writer who has an outstanding blog…but she didn’t add any hashtags. So, when I RT, I stick in a couple. Try not to do more than 3. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, it just (to me) feels less “spammy.”

But, what if one of your peeps has a GREAT blog and they did use hashtags? If you RT and leave the same hashtags, then you risk gumming up a column with the same link. So change them.

@KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help build your platform? (link goes here) #writegoal #nanowrimo #pubtip

RT @KristenLambTX Want to know how to use Twitter to help you build your platform? (link goes here) #amwriting #fiction #writer

Now my message will go into three totally different columns. This helps more writers SEE my blog and I don’t risk clogging up the conversation. People who follow the # conversations will really appreciate that. Also, it makes it where I don’t have to add 8 hashtags to the end. I know my tweeps will help me out.

I hope you enjoyed this installation of Twitter Tuesday.

Tweet ya later!

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  1. #1 by Bob Mayer on January 25, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    Maybe it’s me, but I’m seeing more and more auto response DMs whenever I agree to follow someone and it’s getting more and more irritating:
    Buy my book here
    Check out my blog
    even the ones that offer free stuff are irritating. They’re impersonal and they smell a bit of desperation. If it keeps up, I’m going to start unfollowing everyone who auto-dms me.

    • #2 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2011 - 4:09 pm

      And you should. I like to think people don’t know any better, and that is why I started Twitter Tuesday. Regular social media people who do not understand our world teach the same tactics that work for business…and it doesn’t translate. Starbucks sending an auto-DM with a coupon for a free Frappuccino works. When we DM? We are spam. Thanks, Bob for the comment.

      • #3 by Julia Broadbooks on January 25, 2011 - 5:53 pm

        Automated messages are so prevalent, that if you didn’t do blogs like this I might think it was an acceptable, if annoying, thing.

    • #4 by Marilag Lubag on January 25, 2011 - 8:10 pm

      That’s why I don’t look at my DM’s often. My friend who always DMs me lets me know if I have one.

  2. #5 by Susan Bischoff on January 25, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    The RTing hashtags thing is a big peeve for me. I follow the #amwriting hashtag. People can’t seem to help dropping in “motivational” quotes, and those often have the feel of auto-tweets. It’s like we’re having a get-together and someone says: “Hey, hang on everyone, we just got this message from Loves2Write489!” :opens envelope: “Oh, she’s sent us her grocery list. How thoughtful. Okay, carry on, talk amongst yourselves.” Usually they just go away. Until you get one that really clicks with people, then you get the first one, and suddenly it comes four more times in a row. And then twice more in the next five minutes. And I’m there making stabbity motions.

    I like to follow the hashtag because I like to see writers shouting out good news I can congratulate or saying things I identify with, and I’m found some cool people. But gumming up the column with dorky quotes over and over has been a real turn-off. You’re writers. Make up your own stuff.

    I’m sure I’ve RT’d hashtags without thinking too, but especially when it’s a legitimate tag and not #irunwithscissors #becauseimcoollikethat or something, if I really want to leave the tag there for my twitter stream to see, I put in a space to at least break the link.

    Sorry, Kristen, that was a really annoyed comment. Hit a sore spot with this post! Another good one.

    • #6 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2011 - 4:25 pm

      LOL…a big AMEN. I am supposed to be keeping these short so that was for another day. Today was long enough since I had to take time to explain hashtags. I feel ya!

  3. #7 by Piper Bayard on January 25, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    Bob and Susan hit the big ones. Spammy DM’s and the constant stream of quotes. I’m new to Twitter so I’m still sorting out ways of identifying bots and annoying people. Bots like to hide so perhaps you could do a Twitter Tuesday on quick ways to recognize them? I would add to the list of annoyances the people who only pop into Twitter to plug themselves, and all of their tweets have the words “me” or “my” in them somewhere. Thanks so much for your post and this series. All the best.

  4. #8 by Gigi Salem on January 25, 2011 - 4:52 pm

    I’m just learning the Twitter, and am so glad for this new series of yours. Learning the hashtags and twittiquette is so helpful to me that I am excited to send people your way by re-tweeting. Just the other day, someone tweeted about starting a blog and I was bouncing in my chair to send them to you!

  5. #9 by K.B. Owen on January 25, 2011 - 5:08 pm

    Kristen, I’m really liking Twitter Tuesday. I’m such a newbie, and it took me forever just to realize that I had to download TweetDeck in order to use it! (Yeah, I know). Thanks to today’s post, I’ve added a hashtag column (I’m sure I’ll add more later, but baby steps:)).

    I’ve always liked (both in your book and your blog) how you give us the basics – e.g., click this, push that, write down yada yada – without making us feel dumb!

    Thanks,
    Kathy

  6. #10 by Anne R. Allen on January 25, 2011 - 5:08 pm

    I’m learning so much from your blog. Until now I’ve just been messing around with trial and error. Thanks!

  7. #11 by Sarah Forgrave on January 25, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Thanks for the tips, Kristen! I’m a new Twitterer and am still figuring it all out. Thankful for the guidebook you have here. Now I’m off to find this TweetDeck you speak so highly of…

  8. #12 by Rhonda Hopkins on January 25, 2011 - 5:43 pm

    Okay…I’m really going to sound dumb. But, I’m among friends, right? Is there a place where you can find a list of hashtags? I’m set up on twitter but rarely use it because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m very grateful to you Kristen for this blog and all you do to help out other writers. So, here’s a big thank you!

    • #13 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 25, 2011 - 5:46 pm

      No, you aren’t dumb. There is a list, and I will have to go hunt for it. Just start with the ones I listed and you will catch on well enough. These are the big ones.

    • #14 by Lisa Ullrich on January 28, 2011 - 3:28 pm

      Rhonda…I had the same question. I just learned what #FF meant last week when someone added it to one of my posts. I asked what it meant and she told me it was FollowFriday where people suggest others to follow.

      • #15 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 28, 2011 - 3:34 pm

        I will see if I can find you guys a list. :D

  9. #16 by writerwellness on January 25, 2011 - 6:05 pm

    How can I be so completely overwhelmed by something called twitter? Reading your book, K, and it’s helping. When I’m up to speed maybe I can comprehend more of your TT blogs (tt blog sounds dirty, by ok.) I’m determined to figure this out.
    Joy

  10. #17 by Marilag Lubag on January 25, 2011 - 8:16 pm

    The only hashtags I do is #ff. Otherwise, I don’t use hashtags much. Thanks for warning me. I was contemplating whether or not I should do the auto-tweets. It seems fun enough. It’s like a lazy person’s work. ;-) So I’ll stay away from it.

  11. #18 by educlaytion on January 25, 2011 - 9:41 pm

    Me likey. I’ve used Tweetdeck sporadically since downloading it almost instantly when I jumped on Twitter just last fall. I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of it yet, but you made sense today so yeah for you! Yeah for sense! Um…awkward comment excitement. Hate when that happens.

    I really like the idea of switching up hashtags on a retweet. I also love that my mom will never understand what that previous sentence means, so your mom is way ahead.

  12. #19 by andrewmocete on January 25, 2011 - 10:39 pm

    I’ve recently started using tweetdeck and I never thought to make a column for hashtags. That’s probably because I just figured out how to make columns and was too busy woo and hooing for anything else to pop up.

    Tangent.

    I’m supposed to be commenting on your post greatness. Blog post that is. Thanks for the tips.

  13. #20 by K.B. Owen on January 25, 2011 - 11:27 pm

    Forgive me for seeming stupid, but what’s DM mean?

    Thx!

  14. #21 by K.B. Owen on January 25, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    Ooh, wait – is it “direct message”? Yes? Sorry. :)

  15. #22 by foxpudding on January 26, 2011 - 1:41 am

    Thanks for a very helpful list of tips. I’m not sure why all the “Twitter beginner sites” out there can’t deliver something this sensible and useful, but apparently they can’t. I’ve learned more in this one essay than I did from all the rest of my research put together. Nice job.

  16. #23 by suizyq on January 26, 2011 - 3:11 am

    Thank you for the helpful hints. I love #amwriting. As far as the auto tweets…as soon as I get one, or see one..that person is no longer being followed by me…after all I am not important enough to them, they do not deserve my follow!!!

  17. #24 by joannaaslinn on January 26, 2011 - 3:15 am

    Hi Kristen,

    I may not comment regularly (esp. when I’m reading your column on my Nook–too annoying to touch type my thoughts–) but I want to share that your blog is a tremendous resource. I read every post whether I comment or not. (Working backwards on this one. I’ve yet to read and keep hoping I’ll actually like Twitter at some point. Chances are, you’ll have inspired me.)

    Keep at it and thanks for all your time and efforts,

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    NO MATTER WHY
    The Wild Rose Press
    http://www.joannaaislinn.com
    http://www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com

  18. #25 by mysoulforsale on January 26, 2011 - 3:23 am

    How do I know what hashtag is appropriate for what I’m talking about? “amwriting” is pretty obvious, but what the heck is a pubtip?

    I’d like to do this as “right” as I possibly can from the start.

    Thanks so much for another informative post! I read them all!

    • #26 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 28, 2011 - 5:06 pm

      “Publishing tips.” Sorry for the delayed response. I will see if I can get you guys a list of hashtags. Thanks for commenting. It is really appreciated :D

  19. #27 by M.E. Anders on January 26, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Thank you for starting Twitter Tuesday! I am still relatively new to Twitter, so I am finding some of these “no-no’s” through trial and error. I also HATE those spambots…I do not want to become one, either.

    Cheers!

  20. #28 by Donna Newton on January 26, 2011 - 1:27 pm

    I love your Twitter Tuesday. I very rarely check my DM’s and on the couple of times I have, I only smile at the ones who use my name, Donna, in their messages. I don’t follow anyone who has nothing to say other than self promote. I hate people who ramble on and on about a load of rubbish. My biggest annoyance are people who feel the need to tweet every second….put on left shoe…put on right shoe, damn, forgot socks, take of left shoe, take of right shoe, put on left sock, put on right sock, going out, got there, leaving now…..BORING!!!!!! I, on the other hand, am extraordinarily funny, insightful and fun to follow :D

  21. #29 by Tamara LeBlanc on January 26, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    Love Twitter Tuesday!
    I’m a nervous social media person. I have a Facebook and Myspace page, I blog, and visit blogs, but I’m still very unsure of myself when it comes to Tweeting. I’m afraid I’ll screw up and spam the hell out of someone by accident.
    but reading this post, and your book helps immensely!
    I’ll download the App right away!
    Thanks so much.
    Have a great morning! :)

  22. #30 by Lisa Ullrich on January 28, 2011 - 3:36 pm

    I’ve been on Twitter and have had Tweetdeck for over 2 years, but still am unsure of what I’m doing. I use #CED mostly (this is the creative every day challenge). I get discouraged because I feel like I am not able to tweet during the peak times since I work a full-time job. I can sneak in one or two from my phone, but otherwise, I can’t tweet until after dinner. The people I follow seem to tweet all day long. I feel like it’s a huge disadvantage for me to get myself out there.

    • #31 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 28, 2011 - 4:36 pm

      That’s true (Thanks K.B). Also, you can still connect but with people in different parts of the world. I ended up with a very healthy following in the UK after a bout of insomnia had me tweeting at odd hours of the night. Use those writer hashtags and you can chat with writers/people all over the globe. #writegoal #amwriting #pubtip #nanowrimo #nano #writer are some good ones to start with.

  23. #32 by K.B. Owen on January 28, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    @Lisa U – Don’t feel discouraged, Lisa! I get what you’re saying about the bulk of the tweets being during the work day (for me, it’s because I’m writing at home while my kids are in school, so TweetDeck alerts me while I’m writing), but you can still connect.

    See if you can do a little in the a.m. before your work day, check in with your phone during your lunch break, and then still do the bulk of your tweets in the evening. If you’re an East Coaster, there are still a lot of people out there who are in the middle of their workday. Also, I always respond to @mentions, no matter how long ago, and thank people and ask them questions. People still appreciate what you have to say, even if it’s a little delayed. I’m so thankful for the terrific people I’ve been meeting!

    Best,
    Kathy

  24. #33 by Lisa Ullrich on January 28, 2011 - 10:22 pm

    Thank you, Kristen & Kathy!

  25. #34 by Beth Barany on February 1, 2011 - 10:20 pm

    Hi Kristen, I’m officially stalking you… Kidding. Just singing your praises everywhere, like in today’s post over at the Writer’s Fun Zone: http://www.writersfunzone.com/blog/2011/02/01/how-to-use-twitter-to-connect-with-your-readers/

    I found a list of hashtags for writers: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/40-twitter-hashtags-for-writers/ while working on today’s post. I was about to do a mashup but what I had to say took over the post. Mashup will sit for another day!

    Thanks for all your do’s and don’t’s. So helpful.

    Though i do have to differ on the Auto DMs. I don’t mind them. And I’ve made mine a simple human welcome message, no advertising. Anyway, just another POV.

    Rock on! Write on! And I look forward to more gems!

    PS. I’m starting a new hashtag: #kristenlambrocks! Okay. Only maybe I’ll use it!

  26. #35 by K.B. Owen on February 8, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    I know this is a very late comment, but I just found a site that provides a short list of # pertinent to writers, if anyone wants to check it out: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/40-twitter-hashtags-for-writers/

    Thanks,
    Kathy

  27. #36 by Selena Blake on February 24, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    Coming to this party late. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by auto-tweets.

    But you gave an example of the same tweet appearing over and over again. I use Hootsuite and have a few hashtag columns as you suggested. In addition to “you” posting the same message over and over again, it sometimes bugs me when I see 50 people RT the same message on the same day.

    Do you think it would be good for those folks who are RTing to remove the hashtag? Obviously the message is in your column once already. A few times is more than enough. I RT to let my readers know about something I find interesting, agree with or want to pass along. I don’t know if it does me any good to leave the hashtags, if there are any.

    Also, concerning hashtags… I sometimes see tweeple change the subject of the tweet, leaving the link and hashtags the same. That generally doesn’t bother me. In fact, I recently came across one of your posts (about likability) that didn’t grab me the first few times in made the rounds, but then someone changed the subject to something like “are you likable?” at which point I clicked over to read the article.

  28. #37 by Cassandra Frear on March 8, 2011 - 3:29 pm

    One of the best written, most succinct and practical articles I have ever read on the topic. I like your rule of three hashtags in a tweet. Personally, I grow weary of reading tweets full of harshtags. I rarely use more than one or two at the time. Sometimes I (and my friends) do googy hashtags just for the heck of it like #willworkforcake or #cantmultitask — it’s a light-hearted way to poke fun at ourselves and at a Twitter convention. But for someone new to Twitter, it could be confusing!

    One Twitter friend suggested that when we tweet about our posts, we limit our tweets to 3 or 4 times in a 24-hour period and that we make each tweet unique, trying to add some tidbit to it which adds value for people who might happen to see more than one of our tweets about the post. Everyone recognizes that you are reaching people in different pockets of activity and thus putting out your posting announcement more than once in a day — just make it interesting for everyone while you do it.

    It all boils down to me thinking about how my stream will feel to someone else. What will the effect of my tweets be for them? If I remember to do that, it guides me in the right direction.

  29. #38 by CTKevinK on March 8, 2011 - 4:42 pm

    Thank you very much for this post! I looked for the meaning of the hash mark thingy in twitter the other day and was not successful. But this, plus the information about tweet deck, is jsut what I needed!

    cheers

  30. #39 by Patti Mallett on March 8, 2011 - 6:06 pm

    Somebody’s tweet sent me back here, thankfully, because I missed this post. (It feels like I skipped class the day before a surprise quiz, but a friend stopped by with the notes. Whew!)

  31. #40 by David J. Kirk on April 13, 2011 - 4:35 pm

    Thanks for helping me see the forest, Kristen.

  32. #41 by successbmine on August 12, 2011 - 1:31 am

    Thank you for enlightening me about the hash tags. I taught a workshop on Saturday to our writer’s group about basic SEO, but I did not know about this before. I have e-mailed the leader of our writer’s group and she has passed the link on to the whole group. Thanks again. Diane

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