A lot of authors know that Twitter is somehow useful to their platform building, but they’re not sure how to use it. The class I taught at last summer’s Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association summer conference helped writers answer the question, “What’s Twitter used for, and how do I use it?”
Twitter is sort of like a “table of contents” or index for the Internet. Each tweet must consist of 140 characters or less, so it’s crucial, when you tweet, that you make every word count. Therefore, the Internet is simplified by Twitter. The Internet is so vast, so all-encompassing, that it can be overwhelming at times. So how do you find what you want on the Internet? Look at what’s “trending.” These “trends” are the most popular topics found on Twitter at any given time.
So let’s say an Internet user wants to find websites about pottery. There are so many of them, it’s hard to find the best. If you type “Pottery” into Google, you’ll get advertising sites for Pottery Barn, Wikipedia’s definition of pottery, and an infinite number of people blogging about pottery who may or may not know what the heck they’re talking about. So how do you weed through all the Internet junk to find the good stuff? If you have a Twitter account, you can browse what’s trending in pottery by using a hashtag search.
This brings up the question, “What is a hashtag, and how do you use it?” As with the Internet on the whole, Twitter has plenty of Internet junk. People use it to chit-chat with their friends, the same way they use Facebook. To weed through all that chatter, you use a hashtag. The hashtag is the number symbol (#) followed by a key word.
So if I want to find the best pottery websites, I type into the little “search twitter” search bar: #pottery, and the best websites for pottery will appear at the top of the list. How do we know they’re the best pottery websites? Because those are the sites that everyone’s talking about; those are the sites that are trending.
But how does a writer become a trend-setter? In other words, how do you make people want to talk about your website on Twitter? I’ll discuss the answer to that question in next week’s blog post!
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