When I first started using Twitter, I didn’t get it. I thought it was just Facebook status updates without the pictures and video (except that you can add those too). I didn’t understand why anyone would follow me. How would I meet anyone in this big empty room?
Okay, so I’m not an expert by any means, but what I get from Twitter—and hopefully give too—is a community. On Twitter, it’s easy to find a community built around whatever interests you, once you know the secret.
For writers who spend their “free” time holed up in front of a keyboard making up stories, Twitter is their water cooler. In fact, I’ve met quite a few people that I refer to as friends.
Yes. Because they’re the ones who cheer my successes and give me cyber hugs when things aren’t going well. They understand the challenges and joys of the writing life. We form connections online that may eventually turn into face-to-face friendships when we meet at conferences or workshops.
We help each other brainstorm and find resources. We recommend workshops and books.
And some of these people I never would have met through my RWA affiliations because they’re not romance writers.
So, wait a minute. What’s the secret? (Well, one of them anyway.)
Hash tags. That little # symbol on the three key. Twitter is nothing without them.
Whatever you’re into, there’s likely a group of people on Twitter talking about it, and the way they mark those tweets for others who want to find like-minded people is with a hash tag.
Interested in meeting writers? Try the #amwriting or #writing hash tag.
Organic gardening? #organicgardening
Scrivener? #scrivener (You knew I had to throw that in there, right?)
Want to find out what agents have to say? Sometimes they can be found answering questions at #askagent. Or sometimes they will mark a tweet with #pubtip.
Some of the hash tags like #FF or #FollowFriday are how others recommend people to follow. It’s also a way of acknowledging that someone is an important Twitter connection to you. #WW (Writer Wednesday) is like #FF for writers.
Some are just for fun, like #lesserbooks where people re-imagine famous book titles to something less than (e.g. The Mediocre Gatsby).
And sometimes people make up hash tags just to be funny. #lostmymind
Once you start following people and commenting on their tweets, some of them will follow you, respond to you. And then they’ll retweet something interesting and you’ll find a new person or hash tag to follow.
If you’re not on Twitter, why not give it a try? Yes, it takes time, but once you get the hang of it, and maybe pick up a helpful piece of software (like TweetDeck) to help you manage your lists, you can just check in periodically. It doesn’t have to be a huge time suck.
Go ahead. Follow me or tweet me and I’ll follow you back. I hope to see you there!