How To Use Twitter in 5 Minutes for Small and Independent Publishers

by | Aug 13, 2009

At the BAIPA meeting many people wanted to talk about social media and their use for self publishers who would like to use these powerful networking tools. Most people seemed hesitant to try Twitter. I certainly understand the reluctance but Twitter is actually a fairly simple site that can be used in a variety of ways. At the meeting I ended up giving a “5 Minute Introduction to Twitter” several times simply to demystify what goes on there and to encourage people to give it a go.

I thought more people could benefit, and so here is my own version of how to break the ice on Twitter without breaking a sweat.

Let’s dive right in. Look at this “Tweet” or posting from Joanna Penn, whose Twitter name is thecreativepenn:
Tweet 1 She is directing us to an article that may be of interest, just follow the link. Joanna also credits @moonrat. The “@” means Joanna is addressing a Twitter name.

Here’s another Tweet: Tweet 2 This tweet from @AdviceToWriters (see how I used that “@” form?) sends a quote from Sci-fi great Frank Herbert but shows how special threads or categories are embedded in the tweet: with the “#” which we usually call a “pound sign” but on Twitter it’s a “hashtag.”

You can search on these terms and quickly assemble a thread of tweets on that subject. How about:
Tweet 3

Here we have @Bookgal (Penny Sansevieri) using “RT,” Twitter shorthand for “re-Tweet” or repeat something first tweeted by someone else. This re-broacasts something you find that’s amusing, useful or informative to your own network of followers. In this case Penny is retweeting @susangilbert and includes a link to the article. Last one: Tweet 4

Here we have @WritingSpirit tweeting directly to @EasyWorldJulia. This tweet is directed at, and looks like a continuing conversation with, @EasyWorldJulia. Of course, it’s Twitter, so anyone can read it, but a link on your Twitter home page performs an instant search for tweets that mention you, making them easier to find.

And the last key idea: If you’re new to Twitter, you don’t have to tweet! There’s no reason you can’t just follow the conversation and in a short time you’ll feel right at home. And to get you started, these four people are a good place to start exploring what Twitter has to offer small and independent publishers in support and information.

I hope this “Twitter in 5 Minutes” has eased your hesitation about jumping into the onrushing stream of the big neural network that is Twitter. Have fun! Addendum: For an interesting article on the use of Twitter for aspiring writers, see Jane Friedman’s article on her blog.

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