I recently set up a Twitter list for a group of traditionally published authors (myself included) who are selling new and backlist copy in digital format. (You can find us at https://twitter.com/juliekenner/kindleklatch-authors – come on, follow along! You may find an author you love!)
In the process, I learned that Twitter is a confusing little birdie for a lot of folks. And I figured if there were a few people who were still finding their way around Twitter in my very small sampling, then there are probably a lot more people out there in cyberspace who want to figure out this whole Twitter thing, but are still a bit baffled by it.
So this series of posts is for you! I’m starting with the basics and I’ll move on to cover more complicated stuff (like using apps like Hootsuite to organize hashtag searches and lists — don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense yet. It will!)
Right here is a video I did on how to set up a Twitter account. I, however, hate blogs that put all the information in a video, so I’ve also set it out with text and pictures below. So if you’re a video person, fab. Enjoy! But if, like me, you want to strangle instructional videos posted without transcripts, then read on. It’s not a transcript, but the information is the same!
Getting Set Up On Twitter
First of all, you need a Twitter account. Go to http://www.twitter.com and set one up. Right now, the page looks like this (see where it tells you to set-up a new account? Just follow those instructions.
Once you have a Twitter “handle” (mine is JulieKenner) then you’re ready to rock-and-roll.
Put in all the info and it will take you to another page that lets you pick your userID. I just created a silly one (Me_And_My_Id) but you want to use the Name You Publish Under so that readers can find you. (An exception to this is if you have multiple pen names. I do, and for a while I tried to manage multiple twitter accounts. It’s a pain in the butt. I finally decided that I tweet as me (Julie Kenner) about all the names I write as (Julie Kenner, J.K. Beck, J. Kenner). MUCH easier. And, hey, I call it cross promotion!
Once you have your username set up, you will go to a screen that will walk you through the next few steps. First of all, it’s going to suggest some people for you to follow. (You have to add a few people before it will show a grayed out box at the bottom of their suggested list. Then you can — finally — skip to your profile).
The Profile Section
When you get to the “Add a Character” page, let’s pause. There, you want to upload an image. If you’re a writer, upload a nice, clean image of yourself (not your book). Twitter’s about hanging out. Selling your books is a nice side-benefit, but mostly you want to think of it as hanging out at a cocktail party.
Your bio is important. You only have 160 characters. Make it entertaining, but also make it be about who you are and what you do. I did a silly one for My Id, but my real bio on Twitter is Author. Mom. Homeschooler. Love film, coffee, wine, chocolate, books. I also write as J.K. Beck & J. Kenner. My erotic romance, Release Me, is coming soon!
But you want them to get to your website, right? And learn more about you! So you need to add the website link. Go to the little gear-looking thing in the top right of the screen. Click the arrow and pull down to “Settings”. Once there, you can add a link to your site (see the image above for what the page looks like).
Here’s a tip, though, that I took from Michael Hyatt. Instead of leading to my site’s main page, I created a specific landing page for Twitter traffic. That allows me to expand the 160 character bio to something longer and more engaging. You can see my About J.K. Twitter landing page here. (And there, you can also see that I’ve blinged up the background for my Twitter page.)
Now, this post isn’t going to delve into doing special wallpaper for Twitter (it’s easier than it sounds, but I’ll save it for later), but you do want to pick a design. Again, use that pulldown menu to modify the various elements of the look of your twitter site.
There you go! You have a basic Twitter site! Congrats!
Yeah, well, so what? What now?
Well, that is the question of the day, isn’t it? There are a lot of topics to cover ranging from how to follow people, how to Tweet, how to reply, how to insert links and pictures, how to follow a list of people, how to create a list, how to use an application such as Hootsuite to make all that easier, how to organize and find things using hashtags (#), how to interpret all the acronyms such as RT and DM.
Never fear, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. We’re going to take the easiest ones today and save the others for later. On board right now:
- how to Tweet
- how to follow somebody
- how to “talk” to somebody specific
- how to reply
- how to share Cool Stuff with your Twitter world using “retweet”
First off, Twitter makes a lot more sense if you think of it as a giant cocktail party that is so big that even though you know a decent number of people there, you probably aren’t standing right next to them. You want to move through the party and get your buds within earshot distance. Keep that analogy in mind as we go through this.
How to Tweet
You arrive at the party. You’re so thrilled, you just want to shout out “Hello, everyone!”
You do that by “tweeting”. Folks who are “following you” (near you at the cocktail party) will hear you.
At the party, you holler. On Twitter, you click on the little box in the upper right that looks like a piece of paper. A box opens. You say your hello in 140 characters or less. You click the button that says Tweet. (On some pages on the Twitter screen, there is also a “Tweet here” box. You can use that, too. But the blue paper is always in the top right of your screen.
How to get involved in the conversation: Follow somebody!
Folks are friendly on Twitter. Many will follow you back if you follow them. You can use the search box at the top of the page to find friends (or celebrities or anybody) and follow them. Once you’re following people, all the tweets from all the people you’re following show up in your “twitterfeed”. (I follow a lot of people; it’s too much. I can’t keep track of the folks I want to know about at any particular time without using lists. We’ll talk about those in the next post in this series.)
To follow somebody, just click on the button on their profile that says “Follow”. Try it for me. Put Julie Kenner or @juliekenner in the little search bar at the top of the page. See my profile come up? Now click the box that says “Follow” (after you do, Twitter will helpfully recommend other folks for you to follow!) (I do not autofollow people, so I won’t see that you’ve followed me unless you Tweet to me, which I’ll show you how to do below. Tweet me with something like: Hey, @juliekenner. Liked the blog post. Follow me?
Once you are following folks, your stream can get crowded. The image is what my twitter stream page looks like:
How to Talk to Someone or Reply to someone:
So, once you have followers, chances are you want to engage them in conversation. (This is even more detailed in the video, so if any of this doesn’t make sense, try that route before you pull your hair out.)
All you need to do is hover over a tweet by someone in your timeline. Options pop up beneath. You want “reply”
Click that. See how Twitter fills in @Person for you? Don’t delete that! That’s they’re address on Twitter (mine is @juliekenner. yours is @YourUsername)
Leave that at the beginning and type your short message. Click to send. Voila! Technically you are replying to their tweet, but you can also use that opportunity to start an entirely new conversation.
If someone you want to talk with isn’t in your stream, use the Blue Box Up Top to simply start a conversation: Hey, @juliekenner. What’s up? (The @juliekenner means the message will come to me).
So where do you find the messages that come to you?
See the list on the top of your page? There is Home, @ Connect, # Discover, and Me
Home: Your twitter stream (everything from everyone you follow). In otherwords, all the folks at the cocktail party that you’ve bumped into.
@Connect: Stuff folks are saying to you.
# Discover: specific conversations at the party that you can eavesdrop on. Maybe #amwriting or #ameating or #ebooks or #vampirediaries — the list is huge (and we’ll talk more about hastags later)
Me: essentially everything that you’ve posted.
How to share cool stuff using Retweet
Sometimes, neat stuff will come into your stream and you want to share it with your followers (remember, they don’t see your stream). You want to “retweet”.
Just click on “retweet” instead of “reply” and it goes out from you, so your followers see it!
(There are actually two ways to RT, but we’ll talk about that next time).
So there you have it! You’re no longer a Total Newbie! We’ll move on next time and you’ll be up to Journeyman user…woot!
Feeling full up with the knowledge? Has it helped? Got specific questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll try to address them in the next day or so!
And don’t forget to enter my holiday contest!