Monday, June 6, 2011

Writerly Tools: Twitter


Next to Facebook it's one of the largest social networks out there. And, unfortunately, it kind of has a bad rap.

Why? Because too many people talk about what they cook for dinner every night. Like all social networks, Twitter should be more about other people than about yourself. That's what makes things interesting--not what dinner. Of course, if you're a foodie, then things are a bit different, but whatever.

Let's just cut to the chase: Twitter is more than it appears to be, and if you let yourself experiment with it, you'll end up having a lot of fun. Twitter is a marketing, researching, sharing, friendshiping tool. News breaks on Twitter. People become friends on Twitter. Contests are held and charities are born on Twitter. And yes, sometimes we just want to talk about what we had for dinner. But only when it's interesting. And not all the time. (ETA: And if you need an example of Twitter's power, Laini Taylor explains #YAsaves quite nicely)

So let's get down to business. Here are five reasons why Twitter isn't a complete waste of effort for writers:
  1. Twitter is a social butterfly
    A lot of writers and industry professionals are on Twitter and you're free to communicate with them. Really. Not only that, but there are few strings attached, so it can be anything from a minor interaction to a newfound friendship. Communication is key!
  2. Twitter is all about sharing
    It's easy to find something interesting on Twitter because people post interesting info all the time. It's a marketing dream and fantastic for promos and contests. At the same time, you don't want to alienate your audience by spamming them with links all of the time, so don't be posting links every five seconds.
  3. Twitter is super accessible
    Yeah. Twitter is like Facebook. It's available on pretty much every electronic device in existence. However, you can customize your experience with one of the dozens of available Twitter clients. A lot of people swear by TweetDeck, but I prefer Echofon.
  4. Twitter has hashtags
    Hashtags are basically the love child of search terms and blog post labels, but at their most frivolous they're like ironic asides. Anyway, some of the best ones for writers are #amwriting, #wordmongering, and #askagent.
  5. Twitter is 140 characters
    Don't give me that look--this is important. As writers, we need to be concise and to the point. No unnecessary purple prose for us. Twitter forces you to choose your words carefully, and that's something we all need practice with.