Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Joys of Twitter

I have to admit, I was slow to join the tweet-train, but now I probably spend more time reading links from twitter and/or re-tweeting my favorite posts than I do on facebook and in emailing combined.

Not as one-track as it seems:

I had been under the impression, when first invited by my dad about a year ago, that twitter was yet another place to post a status update, like myspace and facebook--except without the rockin' sense of community. I thought, "Why do I need another place to talk about myself? This is getting out of hand!"

It was the popular media that finally brought me around to take a deeper look. I'm a Twilight Saga fan (well, more of a Stephenie Meyer fan, really), so I frequent, which has all the most up-to-date info on everything Stephenie Meyer, with a special emphasis on the films, of course. After seeing a few headlines about "David Slade Tweets Filming Complete," etc., I realized that twitter was being used effectively in shameless self-promotion. Isn't that what every author needs? A platform for frequent and shameless plugging! It was brilliant. So I re-signed-up for twitter, deleting my old account so I could target my profile to other writers, agents, publishers, and readers. (And just for fun, I added a second twitter account so I could post wilderness survival tips, my secret hobby.)

In order to be effective as a self-promotion tool, it had to be just a tad more connected than a simple status-updating tool. And I discovered that it was!

My discovery of mentions and hashtags:

This is where it gets really cool! While reading a Writer's Digest blog called Poetic Asides, I discovered Poem A Day, which happened to coincide with nanowrimo. In my super ambition, I decided to do both (until my computer crashed and I lost all my work #sadbuttrue). This blog gave me my introduction to hashtags, the method twitter uses to categorize posts by topic, using the # symbol. On twitter, clicking on a hashtag takes you to everything posted recently with that same hashtag. Mentions are simple, too. @person takes you directly to their profile page where you can see a small bio, find links to their webpage, and see what types of tweets they post. If you enjoy posts by a certain person, you can mention them by putting their name (@person) into your own tweets.

This isn't meant to be a comprehensive how-to for twitter. Most of it, I believe, is pretty intuitive anyway--just a matter of playing around with it.

My point is to exclaim over the ease of slipping into a public conversation on #globalwarming or #writing, or to find @peoplewhosharemyinterests. It's a fabulous, though imperfect, system. Through it, I've been able to connect with agents and publishers who constantly post advice, industry trends, and funny stories in 140 characters or less. I've met up with other writers, people who share my religion and political beliefs, and been able to legitimately stalk celebrities. Seriously fantastic.

If you haven't jumped on the tweet-train yet, here are a few reasons you should:

1) Publicity
2) Community
3) Education
4) Entertainment

I said a few, not an exhaustive list! So there they are. Happy tweeting!

Tweet with me - that's katrinalantznov
Tweet with my alter ego - that's wildsurvivegirl

See you around the web.

-Katrina Lantz (


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