Thursday, March 20, 2014

Twitter for Writers: Strategies for 2014

Twitter can be a good tool for finding new readers and connecting with influential people you don't already know. It can also be a colossal waste of time -- even more so because the site recently changed some policies that can affect writers promoting their work. This article discusses recent changes -- both bad and good -- and includes work-arounds and tips. As with any type of promotion, be sure to measure your results. For example, is the time you're spending on Twitter driving people to your Web site or Amazon page? You're checking your Web traffic stats regularly, right?


Recent Changes

1) Twitter is now encouraging you to include photos and images with your posts. This could be a good thing if you're handy with graphics software. If not, your posts may get lost in a tsunami of dopey pet photos other people post.

Note: Encouraging users to post photos is a social media trend: Facebook recently implemented policies encouraging its users to do this. Read about Facebook's tweaks and how to make the most of them.

2) It is now easier to add a stream of Twitter posts to your blog or Web page.

3) Twitter clamped down on tools, such as Manageflitter, that automate the time-consuming processes of following and unfollowing people. (Next week's blog will include a work-around for this.)

1) Adding Photos and Images


Research suggests that people are more likely to click on a post featuring a "picture" than one feature just a link or straight text. In October, Twitter added a feature called Image Preview that displays pictures in followers Twitter feeds. Previously, followers had to click on a link to see the image, now it just appears -- if it is properly formatted.

Two images I uploaded to Twitter and how they appear in a Twitter feed.Notice that the text post in between the two images gets lost.

- What counts as a picture? Anything that is saved as a graphics file such as a .jpg. So you could take a quote from your book, add a border to it, save it as a .jpg and that would qualify as a picture. A good article discussing pictures and images.

- How to format pictures so Twitter will accept them for Image Preview
* Images can be no larger than 3 MBs. (the images in my example are 50KB and look fine)
*As with Facebook, pick images that are rectangular. Some experts recommend formatting images that are twice as wide as they are high. That isn't always necessary: In my example above, the top image, a screen capture of my Twitter profile, is 440 pixels wide by 220 pixels high. The second image of me with the sheet measures 600 by 400)

- How to upload pictures: When you click on the "Compose a New Tweet" box, a camera icon appears. Click the camera and you'll be prompted to upload a file from your computer.

- Twitter also lets you add youtube videos to your Tweets. However, these will not show up as large images the way photos do. (To include a video, enter the youtube link into the "Compose a new Tweet" box. Include a snappy headline or other text to entice followers to click.)

- Images, as well as videos, inserted into Tweets are collected in the "Photos and Videos" box on your profile page. To remove items from the box, click on the arrow, click on the item, and then click delete, which removes the Tweet from your Twitter feed. Note: If you create a Tweet using a tool, such as Hootsuite, the image or video will not be added to the "Photos and Videos" box

The Photo and Videos box displays six recent items. To remove an arrow indicated by my red arrow.

- Simple tools for creating pictures and images: Items created in Powerpoint can be saved as .jpg files. Irfanview is easy to use and let's you crop, annotate, and resize images.

- For more detail than you want on adding images to Twitter

2) Embed Your Tweets onto a Web Page or Blog

My Twitter stream (recent posts) added to my Web site.

This capability isn't new, though Twitter has beefed up the features. To add your Twitter to a Web page.

On your Twitter page:
- click on Settings (the little gear in the upper right corner of the pages)
- click Widgets
- click create New
- Once you've finished, Twitter will generate somme code that you need to copy and paste onto you Blog or Web page.
- More on embedding your Twitter Timelines (your Tweets).

More Social Media and Twitter Tips for Writers

- Confusing Twitter Terms in Plain English
Note: the two posts above are older: some of the Twitter interface has changed, but the strategies still work. 

Art attribution: Twitter image by Dennis70 (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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