Marcy Kennedy — blogger, storyteller and writing instructor (and one of my fave online pals) — is here to talk about how to make Twitter a happier place for you.
She’s got tricks to help you connect with the people you want to find online. People who share your interests and hobbies (aka tweeps who will be most interested in your book if you’re a writer).
I hope you show her some love, and ask her some really great questions down in the comments section!
I’m very excited that Jenny invited me here because she and I share the same social media happy place—Twitter!
I hear a lot of people hating on Twitter and saying how it’s a waste of time. They claim they’re only able to connect to other writers not future readers, or that Twitter isn’t sending enough traffic to their blog to make it worth their time.
Both of those things might be true for them, but they’re true because they’re doing it wrong. There. I said it.
If Twitter isn’t yielding results, it’s probably user error and not a flaw with Twitter itself. Remember, Twitter is just a tool. You can’t complain that the screwdriver doesn’t work if you’re trying to use it like a hammer.
Today I wanted to show you how hashtags can help turn Twitter from a rickety old handsaw into a honking big chainsaw. (Okay, I promise no more tool metaphors.)
When you put a hashtag at the end of your tweet, that tweet is now seen by everyone who’s watching that hashtag, not just the people who follow you. Using hashtags and creating a column in TweetDeck (or a stream in Hootsuite) to follow them can introduce you to a whole new group of people you’d never have met otherwise.
But here’s the catch. You can’t just slap a # sign in front of any old word and expect results. Not every hashtag is actively used and watched. You have to find ones that are. If you use abandoned hashtags, you might as well have not included a hashtag at all. (See what I mean about how people do it wrong and then complain when it doesn’t work?)
I don’t have room in one post to tell you all the tricks, so I’ll just share one of my secret weapons.
Hashtags.org gives you data that can help you find the places where people who might like your books hangout, when they’re most likely to be there, and a bunch of other great tidbits.
I used the hashtag #startrek for our example. (Yes, I’m a nerd like that.) This trend graph shows you when that hashtag is most frequently used. In just a quick glance, I can see that if I want to share a tweet about Star Trek and use that hashtag, the best time is going to be between 10 am and 11 am or after 8 pm at night.
Hashtag.org also does some of the leg work for you in actually listing the people who are using this hashtag most often. This gives you people you can immediately check out on Twitter and see if you might want to follow them and interact because you already share a common interest.
But here’s one of the best things. Hashtags.org provides suggestions for other similar hashtags that might work instead. You’re never going to be able to follow every possible hashtag, so by knowing the related hashtag, you can take a peek at them and then focus your attention on the one with the most people actively participating.
And if you’re pinching your pennies like me and don’t want to pay for an upgraded account to see those top-rated related hashtag, I found a free alternative.
Tagdef.com gives you related hashtags for free. They won’t rank them for you, but that’s okay because you’re going to look at them and pick the one that fits you best anyway. Or you could choose a few and alternate them.
As you can see in the image below, Tagdef also has a drop down menu, so if you start typing a hashtag, it gives you suggestions for how you might finish it. This is priceless if you’re blanking on ideas.
I hope this helps you use hashtags more effectively, and now I’m going to be a polite guest and hand Jenny’s blog back to her so as not to overstay my welcome.
Listen up, my More Cowbell Posse! If that wasn’t exciting enough, we have just a wee bit more for you today:
If you sign up for the Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels of Marcy’s A Growing Tweeter’s Guide to Twitter class and enter the code Marcy20, you’ll receive 20% off! If you can’t take the class in December, registration is already open for the January session as well.
Also, Marcy forgot to mention she’s also teaching a 2-week class called Story in a Sentence: Creating Your Logline that starts December 1st.
I would take any class from Marcy. Cause she rocks!
Do you use Twitter? Do you like it? What do you like or dislike about it the most? Any questions you’d like to ask Marcy? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!
About Marcy (@MarcyKennedy on Twitter)
Marcy is a fantasy writer who believes there’s always hope—sometimes you just have to dig a little harder to find it. In a world that can be dark and brutal and unfair, hope is one of our most powerful weapons. She writes novels that encourage people to keep fighting, to let them know that no one is beyond redemption, and that, in the end, good always wins.
In addition to writing fiction, Marcy is a freelance writer and editor published across Canada and the U.S. She specializes in writing short non-fiction articles for magazines and newspapers and in editing for non-profits, small businesses, novelists, and non-fiction authors.
Marcy has won two Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Competitions, has won awards at the Canadian Church Press and Canadian Christian Writing Awards, and her co-written blog (with Lisa Hall-Wilson) was nominated three times at the 2011 Canadian Weblog Awards. Check out Marcy’s editing services here. You can also find her blogging about writing on Wednesdays/Thursdays and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth on Mondays and Fridays Because Fantasy Is More Real Than You Think…