This is not a ‘how to’ post, but more the sharing of experiences. AKA: Twitter for the Terrified.
I am not of the social media generation and, in common with many writers, a confirmed introvert. But these days aspiring writers are advised to develop a social media platform before they are even published. The idea of putting myself out there on Twitter or Facebook terrified me.
Fortunately, I belong to a fabulous online writing community called Scribophile. A few weeks ago fellow member, the lovely Elise Edmonds, started a group for people to share their Twitter knowledge, and for the uninitiated to venture into the unknown with their hands firmly held. It was so much easier taking that first step knowing others were sharing the same experience, and being able to draw on the knowledge of the more experienced.
We all followed each other, brushed upon Twitter etiquette and learned basics, such as the all-important how to change the colour of your profile page. Then came the problem of the first tweet.
The pressure was on.
For inspiration, I had a look at some famous first tweets.
From Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder:
just setting up my twttr
Enjoying my day at home 🙂
i am still alive
And my own personal favourite:
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.
6:49 PM – 6 Jun 2014
I was still unable to think of anything interesting or witty to say. But here Twitter can offer inspiration. It was a Friday and the helpful ‘trending on Twitter’ list at the left of the page told me it was #Fictionfriday, where people tweet about books they are reading.
This I could do and subsequently penned a few words about romance book I had recently enjoyed. Nothing earth shattering, but for this social media shy, introvert, it was a giant step. The next day the author liked the tweet and followed me. Totally unexpected and surprisingly satisfying. I was eager to post my next Tweet.
But what next? Via the excellent group on Scribophile, I learned there were Twitter games for writers, such as #1linewed where authors, published or otherwise, post lines from their WIPs. It was very easy to join in and connect with other writers. And you don’t have to post to enjoy the Twitter experience. I discovered that clever people post all sorts of interesting and humourous content. Apparently #dogsatpollingstations is a ‘thing’. Who knew? On election day in the UK, I spent a very happy half-hour browsing cute photos of dogs outside polling stations.
Twitter lures you in and encourages interaction. In the current era of less free time and short attention spans, it taps into the modern psyche. 140 characters doesn’t take long to read or write. It’s curiously exciting to gain another follower, to have someone ‘like’ or retweet your content. Within a few days, I was hooked.
Dr. Marion Underwood, clinical psychologist and University of Texas at Dallas psychology professor, explains the appeal of Twitter in the following way.
“So, you have a rat pushing a lever and he gets rewarded, but not in a predictable way. Many times, that animal pushes that lever and nothing comes, but every once in a while, it gets a great treat. So the rat keeps pressing and pressing and pressing even though there’s not much reinforcement coming because every once in a while, it’s just great.”
In the same way, people tweet with the prospect of a reward in the form of a new follower, notification, or interaction with a favourite celebrity.
With very little effort I have acquired nearly 500 followers over a few weeks; peanuts in Twitter terms (see below for the most followed Twitter account), but I have very modest Twitter aspirations. For now, the achievement is putting myself out there and it was not the terrifying experience I had anticipated. Am I producing sparkling and original Twitter content? No. Have I learned how to use Twitter effectively as a marketing tool? No. But it’s early days. I’m simply finding my way around and enjoying myself in the process.
For anyone, like me, who is confused by the growing list of available social media platforms, marketing expert, Eli Langer, explains all with this great donut analogy:
Social Media Explained (updated version)
9:10 AM – 6 Mar 2014
To end with, here are some fun Twitter facts:
- The official name of Twitter’s bird is Larry, after Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.
- Twitter was almost called Twitch
- Ending a tweet with an empty hashtag is called a hangtag,
- The service sees more than 500 million tweets a day
- The hashtag was created by a Twitter user. In August 2007, @ChrisMessina tweeted, “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp[msg]?”
- The cost of a Promoted Trend in the United States for one day is $200,000.
- Seven of the 10 most followed accounts belong to singers.
- Twitter technology can handle 18 quintillion followers
- Singer Katy Perry’s account @katyperry has the most followers – 89.55 million.
For anyone else scared of taking the plunge, I hope this offers some encouragement.
See you there.
Elise Edmonds can be found at http://magicwriter.co.uk and has a great post on how to interact on Twitter.
Lizzie Hermanson is a wife, mother and talented procrastinator. She writes contemporary romance when her cat isn’t hogging the keyboard. She loves Happy Ever Afters. Find her @lizziehermanson