Friday, April 23, 2010

T is for Twitter

A local writer friend is starting a blog, but he told me no amount of persuasion would make him get involved with Twitter.

Another writer spoke up and said an editor he'd talked to at a recent conference advised all his authors to establish a web presence. Yes, including Twitter.

"Twitter is a convenient and powerful way to increase traffic to your blog," I added.

The writer who's about to plunge into blogger world looked doubtful and a little apprehensive. He seemed to be thinking, "Oh, no."

When I first signed up on the Twitter site nearly a year ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I quickly adapted to the process and the jargon, and was soon addicted enough to spend two or three hours at a time reading "tweets" (the 140-character burst of info sent by members). Obviously, that had to stop.

What I guard against:

1. Spam and scams, especially suspicious links. I have a "do not click" policy in general, although I follow links to blog posts if I trust the sender.

2. Addiction. Use a timer if you have to, but set limits and stick to them.

3. Alienating your followers with too many tweets, useless babble, and insulting language. Avoid sarcasm or insults that may be misinterpreted in 140-character comments.

How I benefit from Twitter:

1. Since I engage with follows/followers who tweet about topics of interest, visit their blogs and leave comments, and thank those who mention my ID or blog in their tweets, I've made a lot of new friends. Those friends also visit my blog and leave comments. I'm @PStoltey or you can search for me under Patricia Stoltey.

2. The literary agent list I'm developing is open to all who visit my profile. Others have recommended additions to my list, which means even more contacts.

3. I have found new Facebook friends via Twitter.

4. By following local news and weather sites, I get fast reports and warnings. I had my laptop and a chair in the hall closet last spring when severe thunderstorms spawned a tornado a few miles from our house. That was lots better than being in the dark (so to speak).

Most writers will want to know if Twitter has increased my book sales. My answer -- indirectly. Blogging has increased my book sales, and Twitter helps increase traffic to my blog.

I know some of you won't touch Twitter with a ten-foot pole. It can be a time suck, and goodness knows we have enough of those already.

But for those who wonder if it's worth the trouble, I can only say, that's up to you and how you use it. I like it, but it's not for everyone. Just because you give it a try doesn't mean you have to keep your account forever. Try it, and if you don't like it, jump ship. I won't tell...

This post is part of the A to Z Blog Challenge for the month of April. For those who have been interested in this challenge and would like to know how it worked out for everyone, there will be a big day of reporting on May 3rd. Individual bloggers will write about their experiences, and Arlee Bird, the challenge architect, will wrap it all up on his blog, tossing it out.

18 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm a fan of Twitter, but it's easy to get too sucked into it. The timer is a good idea. I've also gotten print and online reviews via my tweeting. :)

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Linda L. Henk said...

I haven't start to tweet and I'm fairly decided it's not for me. What do you think of the news that the Federal government will be saving all Tweets? I assume the plan is part of Homeland Security. Since I don't do a very thorough job of listening to sound bites on the evening news, I don't know much more than the possibility of continued surveilance. Did anyone else hear this or was it a vivid dream?

KarenG said...

Nice balanced review of twitter! I don't and probably won't but I also won't say never!

Karen Walker said...

I tried Twitter. Didn't like it. I guess it's a time and energy thing. But I'm glad it's working for you.
karen

Shannon said...

I like it to promote my blog, to be encouragement to others, to pass on great info or tips...love it but don't spend a lot of time on it!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, Twitter lovers, Twitter haters, and those somewhere in between. So far this morning, I tweeted my contributing post on The Blood-Red Pencil blog and the book giveaway at Lesa Holstine's blog. During the day I'll tweet a couple of times about this blog post and we'll see if anyone drops by as a result.

Linda -- the Twitter archives are being saved, but they're going into the Library of Congress. Here's the CNN Tech story: http://tinyurl.com/y3ygbye We all need to remember that most everything we put on the web on public sites (comments on blogs, blog posts) is accessible to the world, and the language we use in private (e-mails and phone calls) may be accessible as well.

Ann Best said...

Patricia, thanks for this excellent information. And I also appreciate the comments. Addictive is the red flag for me. I can't afford to spend hours on Twitter.(This way lies the end of writing!!)Elizabeth mentions getting print and online reviews, and you say Twitter has helped your book sales indirectly. Based on these comments, I'll probably give it a try, and will try to follow Shannon: love it but not spend a lot of time on it! Do it the way an ant builds its ant hill: a few tweets a day.

Cricket McRae said...

I've been on Twitter for a while now, but I've not been very good about engaging with it. You've inspired me to change that.

Hearth Cricket

Raquel Byrnes said...

I guess I should dust off my twitter account and start visiting sites.

Kerrie said...

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I swore it off a few months back, but then came back to hoping to prove once and for all that it is a big waste of time. That didn't happen. It turns out it works--it actually drives people to my blog and website and I do meet other writers.

Wanda said...

Twitter is one thing I haven't gotten into.

Patricia Stoltey said...

See -- Kerrie has come over to the dark side. Now let's see if I can lure more of you to Twitter world...

Grammy said...

Hi, Patricia,
So far I am neither a tweeter or a twitterer. I reckon I don't really have the time for it. Maybe someday, but for now, nope, don't reckon so.
Ruby

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post - I like Twitter - but I don't use it a ton. Haven't been on it since my laptop died. I do miss the chats and keeping in touch with my friends.

janetlane said...

Hugs to you, Patricia, my Twitter-buddy. It's been fun tweeting from the upper branches with you. I enjoy your tweets--you have such a solid grasp of fiction and mystery and marketing!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I did not pay Janet to say that. :)

franceshunter said...

Patricia, thanks for the nice comments you left on my blog and for the link! I enjoy following your Tweets and agree that Twitter can be an interesting and useful tool, as long as you set some time limits!

It's funny reading the paranoid comments about the decision to archive Twitter at the LoC. I work at an archives, and I can testify that so much has been lost over the years, and that historians really treasure what has been preserved. Twitter is a major means of communication these days, and I'm glad someone had the foresight to realize that it needs to be archived for posterity. Wonder what they will think of us?

Ann said...

I have a Twitter account. I use it to tweet about blog posts, but that is about all. I am still not an at ease Tweeter.