Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TUES TIP: Twitter Skills, Intermediate (an ongoing series, apparently)

Because last week's post on Twitter Basics was so well-received, I'm doing another one. Plus I had huge amounts of resource material left over that I couldn't squeeze into last week's post (despite it being quite long).

Today's topics aren't really basic skills anyway. Today we'll discuss tweet enhancements  (twancements) that you may or may not need or want to try out. If you haven't already read over last week's post and tried out the 3 basic skills I went over, please do.

Review of the Basics

It's not hard, just take a few minutes and @mention someone. You can @mention me (@webbiegrrl) and I promise I'll @reply to you so you won't be talking to yourself in public *grin*

If you want to test out using a hashtag (#), I suggest that a really good and popular one right now will be #SharkWeek. Discovery Channel is beginning their week-long sharkfest on Sunday, July 31st. Just say something about sharks and include the #SharkWeek somewhere in your post and you'll have joined the conversation (with a lot of other tweeps!) You could try something like "I've never seen #SharkWeek - is it any good? Why? What's so gr8 about it?" and I can guaran-frakkin-tee you will be getting some replies! *hee hee* Salting the waters with chum, I am!

Intermediate Skill 1: Memes

Okay, let's assume you can figure out how to DM someone and move on. The first "intermediate" skill I'd like to discuss this week is memes. Obviously stemming from the use of #hashtags, memes might appear to be just another name for Trending Topics (which I went over last week) but actually, memes are slightly larger in scope. Memes often extend beyond twitter--or flood in from outside twitter.

But what are they? Memes are simply themed activities or topics that everyone participates in because it's fun to do so. There's no other point to it which is why a lot of people think it's a waste of time, but it's a form of socialization that, as an author, can help you break the ice with your readership. Given that writing is an isolating and solitary activity, we authors sometimes find it hard to jump in and talk to total strangers about anything other than our books. Memes are ways to guarantee a shared topic of interest. Just "fake it till you make it" as they say. You'll actually find it fun once you start doing it.

Meme, Oh Meme, Wherefore Art Thou?

How do you find memes? The answer to that's a little more vague. Kids in school definitely start them--in school or wherever. Sometimes a meme starts in an online gaming forum and bleeds over to twitter. Sometimes a meme starts among the fans of a particular musician and bleeds over to twitter. Sometimes a meme starts on twitter and bleeds over to the blogosphere. One that has done that is called "Follow Friday." Mashable has a nice explanation of it here.

Follow Friday is not just on twitter. In fact, it's been around a while, since the blogosphere really kicked up activity level in the mid-2000s. As followers of this blog's Freebie Friday posts will have noticed, Tracy at BookedUp and I cross-link and participate in the "Blog Hop" which is also a Friday meme where one hops from one blog to the next, following (or subscribing) as you go. The blog hop, or Follow Friday in the blogosphere, is a means of doing two good things:

1. hoppers find new and interesting blogs they might never have seen otherwise.
2. bloggers get new followers with little or no effort.

It's a win/win. It's taken on good faith that you will hop out of your own blog and follow someone else, though, so be trustworthy about it. It's also common as part of this Friday Follow Meme to just follow someone on twitter once you've hopped onto their blog. If they have a twitter badge, widget or "follow me" link on their blog's sidebar, this is easy. If they don't, you don't have to go searching for it. The idea is for it to be fun, not work.

If you don't find their blog interesting, you probably won't like their tweets either so only follow the blogs and twitter accounts you actually want to read. The point of all this following is to meet new and interesting people you actually want to talk to from time to time. That's why they call it social networking.

Intermediate Skill 2: Sharing Like a 2-Year-Old

Most of learned we need to share things with others back when we were two years old and claimed the entire world belonged to us. As toddlers, we were (hopefully) informed by adults around us that no, not everything is ours and ours alone. We must share so that everyone gets a fair chance to enjoy the better things in life. Then when we were three, we were told not to share things with strangers. Then by the time we're thirty, we're not willing to share everything with anyone. Maybe a spouse. Maybe. Then we get online and *wham* we're sharing everything with everyone, just like we're two years old again.

Well, as a grownup, we all know we don't want to share everything online but the funny thing about twitter is it's so easy to share the entire world with...well, the entire world, we forget that we don't want to share everything in public. I'm not even talking about the level of intimacy of your tweets. I discussed Authenticity + Twitter back in the first entry of this series in a Marketing Monday post. I'm talking about those pictures and jokes and really amazing videos we just saw featured on some talk show.

It's good to share some of them, in moderation, but don't turn yourself into a sharing maniac or you'll be as bad as a spammer. Share things that indicate your taste in art, your sense of humor, you interest in world hunger (or mine to #stophumantrafficking) Share as a means of letting your followers know something about you, as a person. Don't share things that let them know you, personally. Or not too personally. Just enough that you feel comfortable with the fact that the entire world might know this tomorrow. Because on twitter, things can and do go viral overnight. If you're embarrassed to be associated with something--a photo, a joke, a news article, whatever--don't tweet it. That's like loading the gun and handing it to your executioner. You're a grownup. Don't share like a 2-year-old.

There are several ways to share things, the simplest being to include a link to the web location where the "thing" is located. What if it's located on your computer inside your house? Don't give the address *grin*

Photos & Videos

Upload your photo to a sharing service like TwitPic or BrightKite. The number of photo-sharing services linked into twitter is about as prolific as the number of photos being shared. I personally like TwitPic best because of its simplicity. You can just login using your twitter credentials (not have to register for a new site) and the photo will be embedded in your tweet for you. TwitPic does videos, too.  If you use a different service (like Google's Flickr) you can always just copy/paste the link into your tweet and, dependent upon what client or app your tweeps use to view your tweets, they will either get the photo or the link to it. Mashable (my go-to for tutorials lately) has a great roundup of photo-sharing methods for tweeting pics.

YouTube is the #1 most widely-known videosharing service, but there are others (Vimeo and Flurl, forex) that don't have the same restrictions on the content. Then again, if you're posting a video with content that YouTube might restrict, do you really want to share it with your public twitterstream? Can you say Fahhhhv-reeeeeh. Yes, you can.

I'm going to stop with just those two intermediate skills for this week, as I don't want to pour too much into any one blog post here. I'll be sure to review some more twitter skills next week. Subscribe to the blog now to get notified of when the next Tuesday Tips blog is posted.

I'm off to work my day job now until Friday. Will you be following me or someone new this week for Follow Friday (#FF) or just coming by here for the Freebie Friday reads? Do both!

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