Bout of Books always makes me THINK. And when 700+ people are tweeting about their reading progress, well, it seems like a good time to talk about how to use Twitter to your advantage.
1. Fill out your profile
Give us an identifiable picture of you — whether it’s a blog avatar or real you. Add your blog URL. Add your location. (This can be as broad as “US” or “Midwest” or more specific — I use Minneapolis even though I’m in a suburb.) People get excited when they meet someone close to them!
And your bio! People’s bios are the first thing I look at when I go to follow someone, and if it’s empty or it’s a quote or it doesn’t tell me anything about the person, I’m probably not going to hit “Follow.”
For the record, people can find you in Twitter searches based on what you have in your bio, so including terms like “book blogger” or “book lover” can help people find you.
2. Learn the difference between @ and #
It’s super simple: @ is a person and # is a search.
For example, @boutofbooks is the account Kelly and I use to tweet about the read-a-thon, so if you use @boutofbooks, Kelly and I see the tweet. Likewise, @BookBender is my personal handle, and when you use @BookBender in your tweet, it shows up in my mentions timeline (And yes, that link will go to YOUR mentions timeline).
#boutofbooks, on the other hand, is a search — meaning you can see anyone’s tweet with #boutofbooks (even if you don’t follow them). Or! Other participants can see YOUR tweet with the hashtag. Events use hashtags to foster community spirit or host chats.
If you use @boutofbooks, it’s like sending me and Kelly a personal message. If you use #boutofbooks, it’s like publishing a regular tweet — but one that will show up if someone searches for #boutofbooks on Twitter.
@boutofbooks and #boutofbooks serve different functions. Same goes with @Bloggiesta and #Bloggiesta. When I want to talk to Suey, I use @Bloggiesta. When I want to share my #Bloggiesta progress or share information about the blogging party, I use the hashtag.
3. Know the difference between an @-reply and mention
I know, I know. @ and # are much easier to figure out. An @-reply and a mention both involve using someone’s Twitter handle. The difference here is WHERE they happen in a tweet.
An @-reply goes directly to a person because the tweet starts with the handle. If someone doesn’t follow you or the person you’re @-replying to, they won’t see the tweet. Ex. “@soulswallo I stole all your #NakedWerewolves! Mwahahaha!”
A mention goes to all your followers because the Twitter handle is in the middle of the tweet. It’s more of a general statement. Ex. “I stole all @soulswallo’s #NakedWerewolves! Mwahahaha!”
Why does this all matter? I’ve seen people limit their tweet’s reach by using the wrong form. If you want to tweet about someone’s giveaway, for example, and tweet, “@BookBender is giving away a book!” that tweet will only be seen by people who already follow me — which means people are potentially missing out.
On the other hand, I’ve also seen people reply to someone (remember, a like a personal message), but include a . before the handle or the handle at the end — which is fine if you want all your followers to see your response, but if your tweet doesn’t have enough context, it’ll be confusing and irrelevant to your followers.
For example, “.@soulswallo You are so right.” Unless my followers know what @soulswallo is right about, no one is going to care about the tweet. Instead, I might tweet “.@soulswallo You’re so right: #NakedWerewolves ARE the best.” That way, people who agree (or disagree) can chime in.
4. Ask, “Do I need to mention that person?”
Mentioning someone on Twitter can be incredibly powerful to build relationships and gain followers — but it can become annoying, too. Whatever you do, be strategic about it and remember there’s another person at the other end of the handle — and that they could potentially get looped into any conversation that is born out of your tweet.
I like to mention someone when I share her blog post, praise her in some way, or have a little fun. So while I want all my followers to see my tweet, I also want the person who is, essentially, responsible for my posting it to see, too. I don’t mention someone just because I can.
This has always been a big issue for me because I’ve found that it’s extra work to find (and answer) Bout of Books questions when people use @boutofbooks in their general update tweets — especially when people respond and we have entire conversations filling our mentions column that we’re not involved in.
Some people like to include a person’s handle to share information (e.g., @boutofbooks so people can find more info), but I assure you — if there’s a link you can share, it would be much more effective. The more clicks to get to information, the less likely people are to get there.
I don’t include favoriting tweets as interacting, by the way. For many people, the goal of Twitter is to connect with people, and you’ve got to go beyond a favorite (or even a retweet) to solidify your relationships.
So when I tweeted to ask if anyone was confused about the difference between @ and # on Twitter and that I’d be happy to explain, a few people favorited my tweet, but no one responded. Does that mean I should share? Are they just “liking” my willingness to answer a question? I don’t know.
I promise, most people won’t bite if you hit “Reply” and say something. It’s a little scary at first — and some won’t ever respond — but it’s worth it. (And the people who don’t respond might just not check their mentions… or they’re not worth your time. Either way, don’t worry about it.)
Talking to people on Twitter is one of the best ways to make new friends, discover new blogs, or find a great book recommendation. Don’t wait for someone to talk to you!
6. Avoid drama and negativity
YOU — not anyone else — are responsible for how you deal with the drama and negativity that frequently pops up on Twitter. When something bad happens, you have two choices: jump into the fray to offer your opinion or walk away.
Trust me, the latter will make you much happier. The people who complain about the drama are usually the same ones who jump into the fray. Keep that in mind. Even when I have an opinion about a current event (and I usually do), I don’t share. For me, that’s not what Twitter’s about. It might be what Twitter is for you, though, so YMMV — your mileage may vary.
How do you rock Twitter?