Category Archives: Twitter Tuesdays

Twitter Tuesdays: Lists

One of the questions I get most often about Twitter, especially from people who are trying to interact with Twitter for specific purposes, or who have gotten to the point where they’re following quite a large number of people, isย how do you keep up with it all?

It’s a good question. Twitter is a very fast-paced environment, and once you’re deep enough in, it’s hard to catch up after being away for even an hour. (And you HAVE to step away from Twitter for much longer than that if you’re still going to have a normal, healthy life.)

Also, if you’re a writer, or any other person building a platform, chances are you’ve followed LOTS of other writers (or people in your business), and this means that a lot of the time your stream can get pretty full of … um … marketing. It’s hard to wade through this to find the stuff you really want to see.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed using an app like TweetDeck, and how to use hashtags to make columns of searches for relevant things. If you missed these, and you want to see them, click on the nifty little “Techie Tuesdays” button at the top for a list. (Thanks Morgan Dragonwillow for pushing me to do that — you really can find AWESOME people on Twitter).

Now, let’s say you’ve figured out the hashtag thing, you’ve started keeping up with some group discussions, and you’ve actually found some great people on Twitter you enjoy talking to, and you want to keep up with THEM, and not lose them in your stream.

If it’s just one person — your favorite celebrity, or your old or new BFF, you can create a column in TweetDeck just for that person. You’re going to go to the top, and click the little gray + to add a column. Then the ‘search’ box pops up. Enter your friend’s user name, and voila — all of their tweets will pop up.

Usually, though, you have ย larger groups of awesome people. The group you like to write with in the evenings around six, the people you like to exchange raunchy jokes with at lunchtime, the people who always post interesting blogs about gardening, or technology in the classroom, or getting better at Twitter. Yes, for these people, there are LISTS! ๐Ÿ™‚

In Twitter, you can create as many lists as you like. You can create them on the Twitter website, or right inside TweetDeck.

In TweetDeck, you can create a list by, again, clicking the gray +. When the search box opens, you will see some options on the side. One of these says “Groups/Lists.” If you click on that, you can go to the top and click new list. Here, you can name the list, and write a description of it. “Lunchtime Buddies” “Word Warriors” “Awesome People” whatever. You can also decide whether you’d like the list to be public or private.

Once you’ve made the list, you can start adding people to it. In TweetDeck, adding people is easy. You hover over their profile picture, and you’ll see little buttons appear in place of the picture. Click on the little gear that says “other actions.” You’ll get a menu that will either let you do a number of things with the tweet, or with the person. One of the options under the “person” menu is “add to list.” Click it, and add them to a list.

Once you have a list set up, you can now make a column JUST FOR THAT LIST. It’s kind of like a hashtag column, only people don’t have to be using the hashtag to show up on it.

Your assignment this week? Create at least one list. Populate it with people you love to follow, and who don’t make you wade through sales pitches. Make a column in TweetDeck for your list, and sigh a happy sigh as you keep up with people you were starting to lose track of. ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, if I was confusing or if there’s something else you’d like to know, comment below! ๐Ÿ™‚

Special Request!

This Friday marks T-9 weeks until the release of Thorns of Decision! ๐Ÿ™‚ To celebrate, starting this week, each Friday I will host an “interview” here on the blog of one of the Dusk Gate characters. Always chomping at the bit to go first is Thomas. He will be answering your questions on Friday, in his own Thomas way. If you have a special question you’d like to ask him, please comment below, and then check back for the answer on Friday. ๐Ÿ™‚

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#wordmongering for the win! :) And Seeds of Discovery is free!

I know I’m supposed to be putting up a Twitter Tuesday blog. It hasn’t been the week for blogging for me, though. ย I have been busy writing — the rough draft of Thorns of Decision is complete, and I am in the process of finding beta readers to help me begin the hard work of shaping it into something actually readable. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the meantime, for today and tomorrow (March 13 & 14), Seeds of Discovery is free on Amazon! Grab a copy for your Kindle, or Kindle App on your computer or smartphone.

If you happen to have a different kind of e-reader, please know that Seeds of Discovery is DRM-free, and can be quickly adapted to a different format for free, using a program like Calibreย (which is also free). Once you convert it, you can download it onto your Nook, Kobo, Sony Reader, or whatever you have. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you need help figuring it out, please let me know.

Roots of Insight will be available for sale in all formats sometime in mid-April, and Thorns of Decision will also be on all formats from the first day it’s released, on June 1, 2012.

If you are interested in being a beta reader/early reviewer for Thorns of Decision, please leave a comment or e-mail me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter Tuesdays #5 More About Hashtags and Columns

So, the last time I did a Twitter Tuesdays post, I got several comments and messages from people, both on the blog and off, who, until then had NO IDEA you could do columns and searches with hashtags. And really, if you’re struggling to learn how to use Twitter, or you’re trying to build a platform and still feel like you’re fumbling in the dark, it is kind of life-changing news.

Keep the comments and questions coming, guys — I really would like to be as helpful as I can in my limited scope here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Again, my posts now for the most part presume that you are using TweetDeck (if you’re not using TweetDeck or another app that you like, such as HootSuite, check out my post on why I recommend using something like TweetDeck.

Another question writers (and others who build platforms on Twitter) have is — “How in the heck do you keep up with your stream?”

I follow over 1100 people. I don’t keep up with everything in the stream every day. I do try to browse through the full stream a couple of times a day to look for interesting new things, but it’s definitely the part of Twitter I neglect the most. Once I find the interesting stuff, I use columns, hashtags, and lists to help me keep up with the rest.

Hashtags

I’ve already discussed these a little bit. ย A hashtag is a little way of categorizing things on Twitter so that others can find it. One really important thing to know about hashtags, is that if you include one in your tweet, ANYONE who searches that hashtag can see your tweet, even if they’re not (already!) following you. Using hashtags, therefore, can make your tweets that much more visible and powerful (if done correctly!)

For example. I’ve already told you that #wordmongering is one of my very favorite hashtags. I LOOOVE these people, and am thankful everyday for the two awesome people who created it, and got it going. So I have #wordmongering saved as a column in my TweetDeck. I created the column by clicking the little + sign in the upper-left corner. When the search bar popped up, I typed #wordmongering, and then, like magic, I had a whole column filled with #wordmongering tweets!

Now, whenever someone tweets anything with the #wordmongering hashtag, I see it, whether I follow them or not. (And usually, if they like #wordmongering, I follow them!)

This same technique works with any hashtag you see someone tweet. If you see someone in your stream type a hashtag you’re unfamiliar with, but it looks interesting, ASK! Include the hashtag when you ask, too, so you might form a quick connection with someone new. It might look like this:

You: So @personIfollow, what is #wordmongering?

Someone new: Oooh! #wordmongering is a great group of folks who write for 30 minutes at the top of each hour, then post word counts and cheer each other on!

Person you follow: Want to join?

And the next thing you know, you’ve made some new friends and become a bigger part of the Twitter community.

Did you KNOW people CHAT using hashtags?

It’s true. Because of the nature of being able to search using hashtags, oftentimes, people use particular hashtags to create chats. These can be REALLY awesome, because they’re like a huge world-wide conference call in which anyone who adds the hashtag to their tweets can participate! The chats can be a bit harder to find, because they usually run on a schedule, but again, if you’re lost ASK!

So again … take a week (or two, I know it was two weeks — I was writing, which is better than blogging! I logged over 10k new words on Thorns of Decision last week. ย Besides — have you SEEN the new covers?) and practice searching for new hashtags, making columns, and interacting with folks. ๐Ÿ™‚

For Writers Especially:

Here are a few more hashtags you might like to try. And PLEASE, if you have others that you love, leave them in the comments.

  • #amwriting
  • #writingsprint
  • #myWANA
  • #writechat (On Sunday afternoons, particularly)
  • #FNTWP (Only on Friday evenings, but check it out!)
  • #row80
  • #wip500

A Final Plea …

Once you’ve learned how to harness the power of hashtags, it can be a little tempting to use them gratuitously as a way to get your message across. PLEASE be respectful of hashtag communities and what the “rules” are inside them. DON’T use hashtags to spam. It won’t work, and it will likely get you blocked by people (who might otherwise have liked you and eventually bought your book/product/whatever). ย For example — #wordmongering is for people who want to WRITE together. Don’t hit them up with BUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOKBUYMYBOOK #wordmongering. They won’t.

Besides, if you look around long enough, you’ll find plenty of #hashtags that are fine places toย spam er, market … ๐Ÿ˜‰

Twitter Tuesdays #4 and Happy Valentine’s Day!

So — (shocker alert!) I’m a little late in getting my Twitter Tuesday post up this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s also Valentines Day, and I’ve been having lots of fun with the kiddos — we made valentines with lots and lots of stickers and sparkles and poofs! My dining room looks like a litter box for fairies.

Also, I’ve been writing, a lot. Thorns of Decision has grown by over 8,000 words since Saturday. The middle is usually the hardest and slowest part of writing for me, so this has been good news! ๐Ÿ™‚

But I did promise a post about a VERY IMPORTANT, and very misunderstood/underused topic on Twitter. The Almighty Hashtag! ๐Ÿ™‚

I know you’ve seen them. Hashtags are everywhere these days. Movies, books, businesses, they all end their posts with a little hashmark # and the name of whatever. (If you HAVEN’T seen it, they look like this #DuskGate or this #TwitterTuesday).

A hashtag is a way of categorizing things on Twitter, so you can find people who are talking about the same things you are. If you enjoy, for example, reading about the Twilight books, or news or whatever, you can go to Twitter and type #twilight in the search box. You’ll get a whole column of things related to Twilight. Some hashtags are far more prosperous and useful than others.

Hashtags are a constantly changing and fluid thing on Twitter. There is nothing actually formal about them, they are simply a way to search. People often use hashtags on Twitter that they’ve just made up #becauseIlikeinventinghashtags.

But, if you master the art of the hashtag, you will open up a whole new world for yourself on Twitter. Especially if you use a program that gives you columns (see last week’s post about the magical columns!)

If you are new to Twitter, you probably haven’t found all that many people to interact with (or you’ve found them, but they don’t seem to have heard you). Hashtags can change all of that. There are entire communities built up around certain hashtags.

For example, one of my favorite communities on Twitter is #wordmongering. I keep a whole column of TweetDeck dedicated to #wordmongering ALL THE TIME.

(If you’re a writer who needs motivation to be productive, by the way, the #wordmongering community is fan-freaking-tastic. They’re people who start writing at the top of each hour, write like mad for thirty minutes, and when they’re done, tweet their word counts back to #wordmongering and cheer each other on.)

Here’s the TweetDeck Tip! At the very top of your screen, right next to the yellow “post an update” button, is a “plus” sign. Click it, and it will create a new column, and a little search box will pop up. You can type a hashtag in that box, and then all of a sudden, you will have a whole column in TweetDeck dedicated to just following that hashtag. You can have as many columns as you’d like.

Now, whenever I include the #wordmongering hashtag in my tweets, everyone who follows #wordmongering will see it — whether they personally follow me (yet!) or not. Now you’re having the conversations that lead to meeting people on Twitter you’ll wish you’d known your whole life.

Try using some hashtags this week. Find a community that looks fun and start chatting in it. I promise you’ll love Twitter even more.

If you’ve read this far, I have some Valentine’s Day love for you. The first three people to comment and ask for it, can have their choice of a free e-copy of either Seeds of Discovery or Roots of Insight, your choice, in whatever digital format you prefer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter Tuesdays #3 – TweetDeck

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to another installment of Twitter Tuesdays.

I was going to cover re-tweeting and direct messages today, but I decided to change my approach. I’m going to work around answering questions I got in the comments (since that’s who’s reading my blog, anyway!) ๐Ÿ™‚

The two questions I got were “How much time do you spend on Twitter to build a platform?” ย and “How do you keep track of everything/everyone?”

These questions can both be partially answered by the fact that I use an app to help me manage my twitter. (The answer to the second question, btw, is I don’t. It’s too much to keep up with ALL of it. I try to keep up with the things that I really care about, and then I focus on not stressing about it!).

The application I use is called TweetDeck, and it has definitely simplified Twitter for me. I do not yet use this app to its full potential, and I am always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and skill with it, but I will write the rest of my Twitter Tuesdays from the viewpoint of one who uses TweetDeck, because, well … I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tweet Deck is a free app, and you can download it from TweetDeck.com.

Once you’ve downloaded TweetDeck, log into the app with your Twitter name and password. Once it’s running, you’ll see the same thing you always did at the regular Twitter site, but now, you have columns!

The columns are one of the best parts about TweetDeck. Now, instead of trying to manage everything, and remember to click on the various parts of your stream, you can have everything right in front of you.

Once you’re logged into TweetDeck, you should have three columns by default. One column will be titled “All Friends,” and will show tweets from EVERYONE you follow. You will also have a column called “Mentions.” This one is important because it’s where tweets people are sending to you using the @ feature. Finally, you’ll have a column called “Direct Messages.” Direct messages are private messages that people can send to you. They are different than tweets sent with the @ feature, which are visible to everyone who follows either the person who sent it, OR the person who received it.

For the record – TWITTER IS NOT A PRIVATE PLACE. Be friendly, chat, have conversations. But DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT, tweet anything that you would be upset for anyone in the whole wide world to see. Don’t do it.

Sending Tweets:

You can send tweets from inside TweetDeck, just like you did before on the Twitter website. I use TweetDeck ALL THE TIME. I almost never actually log on to the website.

At the top of your TweetDeck screen, you will see a big, black box. Type tweets in it! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you don’t see the box, click the yellow flag at the top left of your screen. The box will appear.

Using the Columns:

Next week I will get into some more of the cool things you can do now that you have columns. ๐Ÿ™‚ But for today, I’ll stick with basics.

The columns alone help make it easier to manage and keep up with, especially if you’re still following less than about 500 people.

You can interact with folks directly by hovering over their profile pictures with your mouse. You have several choices once you do this.

  • Reply to – this will let you compose a tweet “in reply to” your friend. Basically, clicking this little arrow writes their @name for you in the top black box. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Direct Message – This will, again, bump you to the top black box, this time to compose a message that will be visible only to you and the person you’re sending it to.
  • Retweet. If one of your friends has just sent out a great tweet — it’s funny, or has a useful link, or it made you think, or WHATEVER, you can click this button and send the same message out to all of your followers. It’s like sharing the love! Use this button liberally, people like to be retweeted!
  • Other options. There are a LOT of other options under this button! ๐Ÿ™‚ The options you’ll use most, especially at first, are under the “User” category. Here you can “follow” or “unfollow” people, or click to view their profiles. In the case of spam, you can block the person and their tweets.

So, again, take this next week and play around with TweetDeck. See what you can discover for yourself, just by playing with it. Send me a tweet to @bputtroff if you have a question, and I’ll see if I can help you out.

Next week, I’m going to cover some of the other awesome things you can do now that you have columns, including the crazy Twitter phenomenon known as a #hashtag. They’re really awesome, I promise! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have something special you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Twitter Tuesdays? Post a comment below!

Twitter Tuesdays #2

Okay, you’ve now had a week to play around with Twitter, check it out, and get to know it a little bit. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my previous Twitter Tuesday post.)

Today I’m going to talk about setting up your profile, privacy settings, and sending out tweets.

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile is exceptionally important, and something you should work on immediately, if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’re logged into Twitter, you can click on your username, and it will take you to your profile page. The first thing you need to do is upload a picture. If you are an author, or anybody else trying to build any kind of a platform, I cannot stress enough the importance of putting a real picture there. AT THE VERY LEAST, use some kind of recognizable logo.

Even if you’re just casually using Twitter and messing around to see how it works, upload a photo of some sort, so you don’t get stuck with the weird-looking egg.

Here, also, you can choose to put your real name, your location, and your web address, if you have one.

Then it’s time to write your bio. This may be your first encounter with writing things “Twitter-style.” You have 160 characters to tell the world about yourself. That’s counting spaces and periods. If you went to college back when I did, it’s time right now to learn to quit double spacing after periods (it turns out you’re not supposed to do that anywhere anymore, anyway!)

Write whatever you want here. If you’re coming to Twitter to meet people for a specific purpose — like because you’re an author, MENTION THAT. If you’re a teacher, and you want to meet other digitally-minded educators, SAY SO. People read these when they’re looking for new people to follow.

Privacy Setting:

The vast majority of folks on Twitter do not use any privacy settings whatsoever, aside from not putting sensitive information in your profile, and blocking particular users.

It is possible to hide ALL OF YOUR TWEETS from anyone you haven’t approved (followed). It’s a little box you check on the settings page that says “Protect My Tweets.”

I don’t think there’s any point to this option. I really don’t. If you only want to communicate with certain people, it’s a lot easier to set privacy controls on your Facebook page, or stick to e-mail. You will never, ever, be able to use Twitter to its full potential if your Tweets are protected, and most of my upcoming Twitter Tuesdays posts will be useless to you.

Tweeting

Whenever you post a message, or a status update, or really communicate on Twitter at all, it is called “tweeting,” and the messages are “tweets.”

When you’re ready to send out your first tweet, click in the little box that says “compose tweet” and write whatever you want to tweet about. You have a limit of 140 characters.

I was on Facebook the other day, and one of my friends posted asking “What is the difference between sending a Tweet and posting a status on Facebook?”

The answer? When you’re a Twitter newbie, posting your first tweet — maybe there isn’t a whole lot of difference. ๐Ÿ™‚ Except, there is a difference. You don’t HAVE to post a status update. Twitter is a living, vital stream, filled with millions of people who all have the potential to be awesome in your life, even if you’ve never met them before. Post a status message if you’d like, but you can also ask a question! You can say “I’m new here, what do I do now?” ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, the first issue you’re going to run into is that nobody is following you yet, so nobody will see your question. ๐Ÿ™‚

So … send a message instead. You can send a message to ANYONE ON TWITTER at anytime, by simply typing @theirusername anywhere in your tweet.

Try it! You can tweet to me if you’d like. It might look like this Hey, @bputtroff! I’m new here. Help!

Or read a few tweets that are in the stream from people you’ve already followed, and reply to one. Have fun, be silly if that’s your personality. Tweet @personI’venevermet That peanut butter sandwich sounds good. Did you save me one?

Jump right in. You’ll be surprised at what a welcoming place it can be, and how quickly you’ll find some kindred spirits. (And if they block you because you asked for a peanut butter sandwich, well — they’re not your kind of tweep, anyway.)

Your assignment this week is — get your feet wet. Unblock your privacy settings if you had them blocked, and start sending out tweets into the Twittersphere. Be silly, be serious, ask questions. And keep following new people. Celebrities, sure, but also make an effort this week to use the search feature to find some real people who are interested in the same things you are, and send tweets to a couple of them — even if they’re not following you (yet!)

I’ll be back next Tuesday to cover another important Twitter issue — Re-tweeting! (And I might cover Direct Messages, too!)

If you have any special questions about Twitter, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Until then … Happy Tweeting! And … if you send me a tweet this week, I’ll make sure you have at least one follower! ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter Tuesdays #1

I have decided to try something new here … a Tuesday series designed to introduce people to Twitter. I’ve come across a number of people in my online life lately who have no idea how to really use Twitter. Either they’ve never checked it out, or they’ve signed up, and now a huge stream of tweets is passing them by, and they have no idea how to interact with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are, of course, lots of good Twitter resources on the web, and I will try to point you to some more of those, as well, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in, anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why Twitter?

First of all Twitter isn’t for everyone. If you only get on the internet occasionally to look up things, or to check in with your friends and family on Facebook, and you maybe click on a few links from there (like to this blog post, for example), Twitter is likely not for you, and you can skip the rest of this post. My dad has an e-mail address and a Facebook account. I remind him how to log into both on a regular basis. I will not be encouraging him to use Twitter.

If, however, you are a lover of online life, you like to meet new people, you’ve been on chat boards since they were dial-up BBSes, and you have some idea of your way around … Twitter is worth checking out.

If you are a writer, or an artist of any kind, or the owner of a business (large or micro), or anyone needing to build any kind of a platform, Twitter is pretty much a MUST.

Also, if you are a teacher, trying to learn how to increase your knowledge and use of technology in the digital age, and you don’t use Twitter, you’re missing out, trust me.

Facebook is fantastic for lots of things, but it does not allow you to meet and connect with people you don’t already know. (Well it CAN, but Facebook actually actively discourages this). If you want the opportunity to reach out beyond your third-grade buddies, or your neighbors, and actually interact with NEW people who have the same interests you do, and who like to share their resources … Twitter may not be the only place, but it is an AWESOME one.

Getting Started : The VERY, VERY Basics …

If what I’ve written above has intrigued you (or you’ve been meaning to try out Twitter anyway, and you just haven’t gotten around to it), keep reading.

Step One: Go toย twitter.com

You will get a screen that says “New to Twitter? Join today!”

Enter your information. Remember to choose a secure password. ๐Ÿ™‚

On page two, you will have a chance to change your information and to choose a username. Your username can be your real name, or any other name you choose. I recommend NOT choosing something terribly obscure, NOT going with a Twitter-generated one that has lots of extra numbers or letters, and KEEPING IT SHORT. If you are an author, go as close to whatever name you write under as you can. You can also choose a name that is related to your business.

Click the big, yellow “Create My Account” button! ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter will then automatically take you through a little tutorial.

Step Two: Following

This is the first place that Twitter is DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT than Facebook (and different than real life, too). On Facebook, friending people you don’t know is discouraged. In real life, “following” strangers is also bad news. On Twitter, though, following people is the whole point.

Here, you can choose to follow people you know, people you don’t know, corporations, rock stars, authors, WHOEVER. Following is good. Start following people. Just click the “follow” on the little list that Twitter has given you on this page.

At the top of their list of suggestions, there’s also a little box. You can type whatever you want into that box. If you type @bputtroff, you can follow me. If you type Lady Gaga, you can follow her. ย Besides people, you can type things you’re interested in. If you type “writing,” then a bunch of ideas in that category will pop up. Follow some of them. You can also click, “teaching,” or “football” or “crafts” or “dogs” or WHATEVER YOU WANT.

Once you have followed at least five people/things, you can click NEXT.

One word of caution. There are spammers on Twitter, lots of them. I have a general rule. I don’t follow people with lots of numbers in their names, and I don’t follow people who feature body parts other than their faces in their profile picture. Unless you’re following a business showing their logo, it’s a good idea to stick to following people who show real pictures in their profiles that feature faces. “No face, No follow.” You can adjust this rule as you get to know Twitter and how it works for you.

More Following:

Once you’ve chosen your first five, Twitter will show you a list of categories, so you can pick even MORE people to follow, based on their categories. I suggest either scrolling down to the category Twitter, or typing it in the search box, and following a few accounts that tweet tips. I learned a lot from those when I was a newbie. Actually following @twitter, @safety, and @support are good ideas.

After THAT, Twitter will help you look through your contacts. You can choose to give Twitter access to your e-mail and Facebook accounts to follow people you know, or you can skip that part by typing something else in the search box.

Once you’ve followed 15 people, Twitter will let you loose on a page showing the tweets of the people/accounts you’ve already followed, and it will ask you to confirm your e-mail address.

Take the next week to just play around with it and check it out. Next Tuesday, I’ll be back with some tips on going further with Twitter. ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Three update:

I have been hard at work writing Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, and this book even has a working title! Right now, it’s Thorns of Decision. The writing has been going very well this month, and the book is currently over 30k words long — about 120 pages.