Posted in Mini-Lessons, Writing Advice

Social Media, Part 1: Twitter and Facebook Basics

Today’s post will introduce readers to the basics of Twitter and Facebook.

We will consider several questions about each service.

  • What is it?
  • How is it useful for writers?
  • What are the common terms associated with the service?
  • What should I avoid?

Twitter

Connect with your friends — and other fascinating people. Get in-the-moment updates on the things that interest you. And watch events unfold, in real time, from every angle.

-Twitter.com

Twitter is a massive social media outlet where writers can network with other writers, communicate easily, share their experiences, and connect with readers.   I follow many writers on Twitter, and they use the service in different ways, but one thing is common with nearly all of the writers that I follow: they use the service to support each other.

One of my favorite things about Twitter is that some agents do #tenqueries, which is where agents will pull ten manuscripts out of the “slush pile” and tell why they reject (usually) or consider the piece.

When you sign up for a Twitter account, it can be a little intimidating at first.  People are using @, #, and words jumbled together.  They use abbreviations frequently such as rt, tl;dr, ftr, and psa.  What do they all mean?

  • @ is the symbol used to tag another person in a tweet
  • tagging means that the person will get a notification that they were mentioned
  • mention is when you @ someone in a tweet
  • RT means retweet – it is symbol that looks like a rectangle made of arrows – that means that someone shared what you had written with their followers
  • followers are people who have subscribed to see the tweets you share
  • favorite is designated by a heart symbol – it means that you liked what they wrote and may want to be able to find it again later
  • # is the symbol for hashtag – a hashtag is a great way to organize your tweets or to find people who are tweeting about the same things
  • Hashtags usually do not have spaces in-between the words – they look like this:  #SocialMediaFun
  • Other abbreviations are often used because you are limited to 140 characters per tweet.  tl;dr, for example, means too long; didn’t read.

Even though Twitter is a great resource for writers, it has its dangers.  There are several things that a writer should avoid doing on Twitter.

  • Bash other writers.  Never, ever do this.  Instead, lift up others whose work you enjoyed.
  • Bully others.  Never do this either, no matter who you are.
  • Post your personal information like mailing address, phone number, or credit card numbers (hopefully that is basic internet safety that you already know, but I feel it should be mentioned!)
  • Follow someone, wait for the person to follow you, then unfollow.  This is just rude.  Only follow people with whom you genuinely want to connect.
  • Spamming people about buying your work.  The occasional “buy my book” tweet from a writer is to be expected, but don’t post every two or three minutes with requests to purchase your books/products/services.

Facebook

Connect with friends and theworld around you on Facebook.

– Facebook.com

Facebook is a little more private in many ways than Twitter.  Most writers that I know have a Twitter account, but they also have a personal Facebook account and a public Facebook page.  Some writers also have fan groups on Facebook.

  • Personal profile: this is the most common way to use Facebook.  You create a personal profile and send/accept requests from others to be “friends.”  You can determine who sees the content that you post.  You can set it to be public so that anyone can see it, you can limit it to only your friends, or you can limit certain people from seeing certain things.
  • Page: this is an extension of your Facebook profile.  A page is “liked” by Facebook users, and they can then see all content that you put there.  The trouble with a Facebook page is that not all of your posts will be seen by others.  Facebook wants you to pay for promotion.  A benefit to a page is that you can assign administrators who have the same access to the page for posting and moderating that you have.  It is quite helpful when you are busy writing and need someone else to update things for you.
  • Group: this is essentially a chatroom where people can go to discuss various topics.  Groups can be secret, closed, or public.  A secret group does not appear to exist unless you are part of that group.  No one else can see what is posted or who is a member.  With a secret group, you have to be invited to join.  Some writers have “street teams” that have a secret Facebook group.  A closed group is still quite private, but not as private as a secret group.  Only members can see what is posted, but anyone can request to join or see the list of members.  An open group is one that anyone can see, anyone can join, and is totally open to the public.

Facebook is useful for writers to connect with fans, share new information about their works, and stay connected with other writers.  There are some terms that may be confusing though.

  • Facebook does use hashtags like Twitter, but not to the same extent.
  • The timeline is your personal page, almost like a personal blog or website, except Facebook controls most of it.
  • A poke…is…well, I am not sure anyone really knows what a poke is.  But, I believe it simply means, “Hey! Just saying hi!”
  • If you click the “like” button, that generally shows support or lets the person know that you read their post.
  • Sharing is an option, but it depends on the security settings of the person.  For example, many people make their pictures private so that they cannot be shared with people they do not know.

Many of the “things to avoid” apply to both Facebook and Twitter, but I want to share a few more.

  • Try to avoid sharing fake or false news.  Social media posts can spread very quickly, so try to only share news that you have confirmed.
  • Some people will send you friend requests that are fake accounts.  Look to see when the person set up his/her account, if you have friends in common, and what kinds of things the person has shared/posted to help you determine if it is a real person or a fake account.

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