Twitter: What Is It, And Why Should Authors Use It?

This article originally appeared on The Creative Penn on 1/20/09.

Twitter is a social networking tool based on regular updates of 140 characters only. This means you have to be succinct and creative in what you broadcast. I have been reading about Twitter for some time but have only recently joined up (@thecreativepenn).

So How Does It Work?

You “follow” people and can see what they post. People follow you and can see what you post. You can find people by searching for their names or Twitter handles (prefix @), or you can let Twitter suggest people you might be interested in (Find People -> Suggested Users)

You post on the web, by mobile phone or through an application like Tweetdeck which helps you organise your own and other people’s tweets.

Tweetdeck also has a useful URL shortening tool, so you can paste in a really long link and it shortens it for you. (You can also change the colours if you don’t like them).  

People post some very interesting things – news items, links to great sites, promotional info, personal information. You can respond directly to that person – yes, even if they are “famous” ! This can potentially get you noticed by them. You can “re-tweet” other people’s posts i.e. pass them on if it is something interesting. You can ask questions and respond immediately to other people you have connected with, even if they are across the world.

Why Should Authors Use Twitter?

·         Online knowledge and influence. 6 million people and counting belong to Twitter including some of the most influential people online today. If you want to be an author who makes money online, you need to be where the action is.

·         You can network with some great people you might never have met otherwise.

·         You can learn an awful lot by reading tweets from people who know more than you.

·         You can promote yourself. You shouldn’t promote all the time but you can add links to your blog posts, your website or notices of your appearances. You can gain significant traffic this way so it is worth a try.

Useful Twitter Links For Authors 

Directory of book trade people on Twitter – follow them for industry news

Top bloggers you can follow through Twitter – see how they use it for tips of what to do yourself

Authors on Twitter – some surprise entries include John Cleese and Stephen Fry

Some lessons learned from the first few weeks on Twitter – Don’t always promote yourself, Do engage people, Offer valuable content.

The most followed people on Twitter – no. 1 is Barack Obama

6 tips for using your Twitter profile to get new followers – includes creating a custom profile page and using your bio to the best advantage

Feed your blog to Twitter using Twitter Feed

17 ways you can use Twitter including finding prospects, and getting feedback

For the more experienced – Twitter tips – lots and lots to implement on here!

This is an initial post on Twitter as I am just a beginner – I will do more posts later on with more interesting developments! But so far, it is not a waste of time which is the main comment people seem to have about it.

Follow me on Twitter!  

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