After my post on Sept 11th, I hope you've all got lots of followers now. Or at least a small but perfectly-formed crowd.
Today's lesson is hashtags, and the most well-known one, #ff or #FollowFriday. (And it's Friday tomorrow, so you have one day to prepare!)
First, if you haven't already, please read my earlier posts re Twitter - here, here and here - and make sure that you are using Tweetdeck, which is explained in the first of those. As I've said before, you don't have to use Tweetdeck, but if you don't my instructions won't make sense.
Let me give you an example. Before my Edinburgh Book Festival Twitter/blogging workshop, I decided to create a hashtag for it, partly so that I could show my workshoppees and partly because I wanted to ask a question that would go round the twitterverse and allow me to see all the answers collected in one place. I needed to choose a hashtag word/phrase that no one had ever used, otherwise some of the results would be irrelevant. (I checked this by searching on a couple of possibilities until I found one with no results.) The one I chose was #NicolaTwitterWorkshop. I then told people this, in a tweet. For example, I probably tweeted something like:
What do u all love / hate reTwitter? Need to know for my edbookfest workshop - please use #NicolaTwitterWorkshop to join inWithin seconds, people were tweeting their replies and I could see all the tweets (when people remembered to include #NicolaTwitterWorkshop) appearing in one column on my Tweetdeck screen. (Instructions follow.)
- In Tweetdeck, click on the circle with a + in the middle. ("Add New Column") In the search box, type #NicolaTwitterWorkshop and click Search.
- A few seconds later, a new column appears, which may or may not have anything in it, depending on whether anyone recently said anything using that hashtag. (In some versions of Tweetdeck the columns clear themselves after a certain amount of time. During the workshop itself there was HUGE and amusing activity!)
- If YOU now write a tweet, including the #NicolaTwitterWorkshop, you will see your tweet first go into the All Friends column, and a few seconds later into the new column.
Directed conversations on a topic, at set times in the week. (Though they also continue outside those times.) For example #litchat (about books) and #writechat (about writing). To be honest, I've forgotten what times these take place. They are like the "old" chat-rooms and I don't much enjoy them - I gave up a while ago after a few experiences of being bored or infuriated by lack of knowledge shown of the industry. There are a lot of unpublished writers saying things that just aren't true, though of course there's sense spoken as well. I just get a bit frustrated by the silly bits, and don't see why I should use my leisure time to put people right. I may have just been unlucky - I admit I didn't often try. I suggest you try and see for yourself. Just do a search on each one, following the instructions above, to set up a new column. (You can delete columns whenever you want.)
Arcane Twitter "humour" - I'm not sure if I can explain this one, as it is an example of arcane Twitter language. Just take my word for it. It involves the creation of a tongue-in-cheek hashtag which you have no intention that anyone should repeat, though they might. For example, suppose you were to tweet, "Just saw a pigeon moonwalking" you might add a hashtag such as #drinkhasnotbeentaken or #itsamadworld or #whereisdavidattenboroughwhenuneedhim? So, the hashtag becomes a way of commenting on your own tweet, as a sort of aside.
- The wrong way involves simply saying #ff, followed by a long list of Twitter names of people you recommend following. Most Twitter experts - ie people with lots of followers and lots of people to follow - will take not a blind bit of notice, so this is a very ineffective way of doing it. I NEVER bother to look at anyone in any of those lists. Ever.
- The right way involves saying WHY you are recommending this person (or few people). For example, "#ff people who review and blog about books @name @name @name" etc. People will take more notice of this because it gives them a reason to know whether or not they should bother following. So, I might use categories such as "#ff these new writers on Twitter......." or "#ff people who have made my week happy ......". It just makes it more personal and gives others a reason for bothering to check the person out and follow them.
It's polite to say thank you when someone includes you in an #ff but it's not always possible / practical / easy if several people have #ffd you, or if you were away or couldn't get access to Twitter. So, don't fret if you can't.
Which reminds me that it's also polite to thank someone for RTing (retweeting - are you keeping up? I talked about that in the second post, I think.)
Edited to add: as Mary Hoffman points out, when you follow someone or are followed by them, go and see who THEY follow. That way, you can find like-minded people to follow - and be followed by.
Here ends this lesson on Twitter. Is there anything else you'd like me to cover? I know someone asked about lists, and maybe I should cover that, but it doesn't quite seem fascinating enough. :(
One thing I do want to cover though is what makes me decide to follow or not follow someone on Twitter. I'm reminded of this every day when I see the biogs of new followers and I thought it might be interesting to think about things that attract people and things that don't. There are certain things that hugely put me off, though everyone will be different, I know.