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By Frances Caballo
Twitter tends to confound a lot of writers. I get it.
When I first jumped on social media about nine years ago, I asked a friend, “Did you really join Twitter?” She responded that of course she did and that I had to as well.
So I begrudgingly opened a Twitter account. And like a lot of people I made mistakes. But now listen to what I am about to tell you: Twitter is forgiving. For example, you can change your username on Twitter as many times as you’d like but you can’t on other social media platforms. It’s just one of the many reasons I love Twitter.
What were my mistakes? I used a logo instead of a picture of myself for my avatar. Instead of using my name, Frances Caballo, I used the official name of my business, ACT Communication. (I try to hide the fact that ACT Communications is really my DBA these days so please don’t spread this secret around. Please!)
Then I created the crime of all crimes. I joined TrueTwit, which makes prospective followers go to its website, watch some ads, then type in a CAPTCHA code. Of course, my Twitter account stagnated.
But I continued to read blog posts about social media as well as books and over time I realized all of my errors. I remade my account changing everything about it. And I dumped TrueTwit.
My intent in telling you my sad story is so that you won’t worry if you make a mistake. And if you have made some of my mistakes, it’s not too late to change things.
How to Set Up Your Twitter Account
So let’s start at the beginning.
- Use your real name when you open your Twitter account.
- Make sure your username is no more than 12 characters.
- Use a picture of yourself as an avatar and not a picture of your dog, bird, favorite coffee drink, or cat.
Your username should be your name. In my case I reversed the order of my first and last name because a famous Spanish soccer player had taken @FrancesCaballo so my user name is @CaballoFrances. But my point here is that my username is comprised of my real name and yours should be, too.
Now some people can get away with not using their real names in their username. They are in the minority. Please just use your name and don’t include any numbers or dashes or other symbols.
If you want to grow a following, guess what you need to do? Follow people, of course. So follow about 50 people a day.
Here’s my secret: For my clients I go to Amazon, research the top writers in their genres, then I follow Twitter users who these top authors follow and readers who follow them. Easy, right?
Now, if you’re going to follow people not all of them will follow you back. So you need to sign up for an application such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter so that you can unfollow the people who don’t follow you back. You’ll also want to use this apps to get rid of bots and fake accounts.
Both Tweepi and ManageFlitter are great apps. However, I prefer to use ManageFlitter.
You’ve Got to Create Some Lists
Listen, if you don’t create some lists, you’re going to get mired down in your news feed, also called the Home tab on Twitter. You don’t want that because you’ll waste precious time you could be spending writing your next book.
So create lists of your favorite readers, colleagues, and experts in the field of publishing and writing. This way when you try to think of information to tweet, you’ll have your lists of your best contacts on Twitter.
How to create a list
- Click your image in the taskbar and click Lists.
- On the left column, you’ll see a box that says Create a list. Click Create New List.
- Give your list a name and a description, and then decide whether to make it public or private. Then click save.
Here is an example of a few of my lists:
I rely on my lists every time I go to Twitter. Yes, I will take a brief look at my news feed, but when it comes to finding information to retweet, I rely on my lists of contacts.
The Big Change – 280 Characters Are Now Okay
Twitter now allows tweets to be 280 characters. Here’s my advice: Use the 280 characters sparingly.
As I review my list of writing and publishing experts, the majority of Twitter users still keep to 140 characters. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use more characters and now that you can, go for it.
But remember this: what stops the eye isn’t long blocks of texts but images, memes, GIFs, and videos. So even if you are inclined to write an occasional tweet of 280 words, always include a visual as well.
Moments for Everyone
When Moments were initially rolled out, only a few select accounts were able to use them.
If you look at your upper taskbar, you’ll see a Moments tab (the one with the lightning rod icon), and you can see a variety of Moments examples.
But if you look at the taskbar at the bottom of your header image – the same one that lists your followers and likes – you’ll see Moments again. If you click this Moments tab, you’ll have the option to create your own Moments.
I created a Moment comprised of tweets about books and publishing. I included a meme about books being better than movies, a picture of the cover of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, a tweet about Spain’s Hay Festival in Segovia, and a few similar tweets with images.
My one Moment was an experiment.
How to create a Twitter Moment
You can create your own Moments for your followers to see because once you create a Moment, you can tweet it. This is how you do it:
- Go to the Moments tab on your taskbar beneath your header image.
- Click Create New Moment.
- Add your title, description, and cover image.
- Pull in your content, such as tweets and images.
- Twitter recommends that you keep your Moments to no more than ten tweets.
- Once you finish your Moment, share it on Twitter for your followers to enjoy.
If you want to learn even more about Twitter, check out the post I wrote for this blog titled The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Authors.
Do you have a question or want to learn something else? Be sure to use the comment boxes below to reach me.