January 13th, 2011

How I Became a Twitter Freak in Less than a Week

By Jenny Hansen / @jhansenwrites
(This is Part 1 in a series…click here for Part 2)

If you’ve been reading my blogs lately you know that, like everyone else, I have too much to do in too little time. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Oh, cry me a river,” right now but it is true.

However, last week the part-time job (that is really a full-time job) asked me to research Twitter so I got paid for doing something that has benefitted my writing career. Talk about a jolt of adrenaline!

In the six days I’ve been on Twitter, the traffic level here at Writers In The Storm has risen 300%, my exposure to great writing links has risen at least that much and I’ve met some amazing people who have been more than generous with their knowledge. I follow Elizabeth S. Craig and Ken at FSB Associates. Both of them were particularly helpful in my first few days and Elizabeth’s writing links are amazing (go follow her!).

Most important: my creativity is soaring. I’m thinking about writing and connecting to my fellow artists ALL THE TIME. And I’m blogging and outlining and working on the pregnancy memoir that I set aside a few months back. Evidently I wasn’t “too busy with the baby” at all, just blocked.

Writers need to interact with other people who write and are creative – to learn, to commiserate, to brainstorm, to vent. I can already see from my week on Twitter that all of the new information available to me on Craft and writing tools is equivalent to attending a conference each month. And I get to hear the angst of hundreds of other writers so I don’t feel alone.

For those of you that get jazzed after this blog and want to get started, here are some links and tips that I sent my boss as well as some observations of my own.

Note: Expert Chris Brogan is thought well of in social media circles and has great things to say – you might read him when you have time: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/category/socialmedia/

 Some highlights of the 10 Basic Rules:

As you start Twittering, remember to focus on engaging in conversations with your followers rather than pushing or selling your own products and content. If followers feel they’re being sold to, they’ll unfollow and block you faster than they’ll hang up on your annoying IVR (and then Tweet about it). A few guidelines:

  • Use @ replies to comment back to your followers’ Tweets
    Note: You cannot send direct messages (DM’s) to people who don’t Follow you so the @ replies are often the only way to get info to someone you want to speak with.
  • ReTweet liberally. To reTweet a user’s Tweet, simply write “RT @username” and cut and paste the content of the original Tweet. Or just use the RT button if your desktop or smartphone app has one.
  • Post links to articles and content you think your users would find interesting. A good guide is Chris Brogan’s rule of promoting other people’s content eight times more often than you promote your own.
  • Post links to your own content, but see above.
  • Last but not least, you might enjoy “Tweetie,” the iPhone app for Twitter: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twitter/id333903271?mt=8 (there is also Twitter for the Android).

What the experts say:

I was lucky enough to hear marketing guru Penny Sansevieri, the author of Red Hot Internet Publicity, speak several months back and I subscribed to her newsletter. Below are her Six Quick Tips for Twitter Success:

1. A bio is a must. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that 82% of unsuccessful Twitter accounts have little or no bio information.

2. You should provide more than 3 links per 20 tweets and you should update more than once a day.

3. If you don’t provide links in your tweets, you should plan to post more often (studies suggest as much as six times a day). You should have no more than 15 updates a day.

4. Twitter names are becoming like URL’s were in the early years of the Internet. Make sure and grab all your branding and your name.

5. Don’t use underscores_ when you’re creating a user name. Not only does it look amateurish but a number of spammers have hacked into Twitter that way. You don’t want to look like a spammer.

6. Always engage and reply to the @reply responses on Twitter. Why? Well first off it’s important to engage your followers, but second, those @replies help with your Twitter ranking.

I’ll be sure to post some Twitter updates as I learn the ropes. In the meantime, Happy Tweeting! Let us know about the successes and pitfalls you stumble across in your own social media journey.

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