These are series of notes I wrote for my writing buddy Jen (writer of fast and funny YA fiction – still unpublished, but it’s only a matter of time!). She was not totally sure how to go about this social media mullarkey, so I wrote her a set of ‘how to’ notes, based on my own experience of setting up an online presence. I’ve posted the notes here in case they’re of use to people. Last week I posted a step by step on how to set up a website using WordPress.
Next thing to do is set up on Twitter. Warning – Twitter is a massive time sink. You open it for ‘just a minute’ and end up wasting a whole evening when you should be writing.
First, go to http://www.twitter.com and get a Twitter account. Pick a name that relates to your books (You can change your twitter handle, if you need to). I used my pen name (@rhodabaxter) and email account. Twitter emails you whenever someone follows you, so it’s best not to clutter up your personal email.
If you follow someone, you can see all their tweets. If someone follows you, they can see your tweets. However, your tweets (and theirs) can get lost at the bottom of a long list of other tweets, so don’t assume that anyone has seen your tweet. On the other hand, Twitter is a very public forum, so you can’t assume that anyone has NOT seen your tweet. So, don’t say anything you’ll want to retract later!
If you respond to someone’s tweet with their @handle at the start, only people who follow you both can see it (Unless someone retweets it…).
Hashtags – things beginning with # which people use to make searching for a particular topic easier. You can search for a particular hashtag and see what people all over the world are saying about it. It’s hard to know the right hashtag to use, but, as with all of these things, you’ll soon pick it up.
Confused yet? There’s a nice intro on how to use Twitter here: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter .
Twitter is a constant stream of stuff and there is no way you’ll keep up with everything. But, to make the job easier, there are a range of Twitter Clients out there. I use Tweetdeck – it sits on my desktop and sorts tweets into columns: Tweets from people I follow, Tweets mentioning me, direct messages and tweets about hashtags I’m following. As far as I’m concerned, the best part is that I can leave Tweetdeck open in the background and tweets mentioning me appear on the side of my screen as they happen, so I can glance at them and reply. It also lets me schedule tweets so that I can tweet something at silly hours in the morning if I wanted to.
Twitter is a massive conversation and (and this is the scary bit), you have to butt into other people’s conversations. It takes time to get to grips with the idea that this is acceptable. People don’t mind. That’s just the way Twitter works. Honestly.
Conversely, you also have to learn not to take things personally. Other people will butt into your conversations. And some people will just ignore you. Nothing personal. It’s just the way Twitter works. Uhuh.
How does Twitter help you promote a book? I’m not sure it does. What it helps with is ‘meeting’ people and, if you don’t get chance to watch/read the news, keeping up with what’s going on in the world. If you sign up, tweet me.