Friday, July 8, 2011

On Necessary Evils

The devil made me do it.

I must admit, I never thought I'd say this—kind of like I never thought I'd trade in my paper books for my Nook—but I'm kind of addicted to Twitter. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? I know, you're all aghast at this revelation. Or maybe you're not, if you're one of those people who have already embraced Twitter. But if you are still resistant to Twitter, yet think it might be something worth learning more about, this post is for YOU.

The reason I started (eventually) messing around with Twitter was because I figured I needed to make connections with my peers, i.e., the other writers out there who are slogging through social media trying to figure it all out. Obviously, some of us figured it out faster than others. But there is a tool that helped me get into the swing of things much easier than simply staring at a seemingly endless stream of tweets and wondering who the eff all these people are. That tool is Tweetdeck. It's a free download for both Mac and PC platforms that helps me organize using columns.

Slow down now, you're probably saying. Why in the name of pretty pink poodles would I need to organize my Twitter stream into columns?

Because there's more out there to discover than just the tweets of all the people you follow. That can be a column of its own—All Friends. Add a second column for direct mentions if you want to be sure you didn't miss any tweets where someone replied to you or mentioned you.

I like to stick with only three or four columns, total, so let's pretend there's a particular topic of conversation, that for the sake of accuracy, we'll call a trending topic, that you'd like to follow. Simply search for the hashtag (#YAsaves has been a pretty stable column for me, as was #ALA11 last month), and you'll get any post that contains that hashtag. All in one pretty little column next to your others.

Searching for trending topics helps you to put this whole Twitter thing in perspective, anyway. For example, say you're writing. You want to tweet about a specific trial or victory you've encountered. Instead of sending out a tweet to just the people who are already following you, you send that tweet with the hashtag #amwriting. In this manner, more people will see your tweet, that is, all the people who currently subscribe, so to speak, to that trending topic.

Which is pretty amazing, if you stop to think about it. It can help you discover new people to follow, or lead others to your twitter stream.

For the sake of sensory overload, we'll call it quits today. But I think that by using Tweetdeck, you'll be able to tell very quickly whether this type of social media is for you. Or isn't. But don't judge before you've tried it, or at least taken advantage of the tools out there to make it easier to manage.

Now fly, my fledgling Twitterers! And tweet me @TereKirkland if you've gotten over your Twitter fear. I'd love to hear about it!

And don't forget to enter to win a signed copy of City of Fallen Angels!


Sara McClung ♥ said...

In typical #sarafail style, I could never figure out tweetdeck... I just use regular twitter, but maybe someday I'll switch over.

PS Hi, and I miss you :)

Abby Annis said...

I'm still struggling to embrace Twitter. Usually I just feel like the girl in the corner watching everyone else enjoy the party. ;) Having said that, I do think it's a great tool not only for the social aspect, but for learning too.

One hashtag I follow is #askagent. Though I've never participated in one of the question and answer sessions (Abby means huge chicken in some language, I'm sure), I've gotten a lot of great info from agents this way.

And, yeah, Tweetdeck is awesome! :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Yup, I use regular ol' Twitter, but some day soon I might attempt my hand at the fancy versions. :)

Krispy said...

I use regular twitter and I manage not to get pwned by it, usually. That's also possibly because I've been using it since before it was popular (I know, how hipster of me). BUT tweetdeck has been very helpful! I only have it on my iPod, but I very much liked its organizational tools.

So how long have you been on Twitter anyway?

Elana Johnson said...

I think Twitter takes some getting used to. Then, after that initial confusion -- and the fact that there are cliques -- it is an exciting place to be! Glad you enjoy.

The Golden Eagle said...

I've never used Twitter. Tweetdeck (I've heard of it a couple times before) sounds handy--I shall have to keep it in mind. :)

(Also: I awarded you on my blog!)

Danyelle said...

Yay! I love Twitter, but it can definitely be overwhelming at times. :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I tried using Tweetdeck on my phone and failed miserably. But I think I'll give it a try on my laptop. it does seem awfully convenient--if I can figure out how to manage it.