Monday, July 16, 2012

Tips for Managing the Twitter Mess

Has your Twitter feed turned into an unmanageable mess? Organize it with a free, simple tool and a handful of tabs. Also: Twitter etiquette tips many writers don't follow.

This article assumes three things:

- You are not sure if Twitter is worth the effort.
- You are making the effort, anyway.
- You have chosen to save time by using a free Twitter management tool, such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. The tools are similar, and since I'm using Hootsuite, we'll will use it for examples.

Last week we discussed finding potential readers by following influential people -- other writers in your genre, industry experts, and magazines/Web sites.

My novel involves travel and relationships/sex for people over 35, so I'm looking for people interested in those topics. But if there are a lot people and conversations scattered all over Twitter, how do you keep track of them? Create Topic Tabs.

Topic Tabs

I created and labeled tabs for my audiences: "travel" for people interested in travel, and erotica and single-boomers for people over 35 interested in relationships. (My book also has some naughty content for those interested in erotica.)

The "Add Stream" button, shown in Figure 2, allows you to search for and create sub-tabs, or Streams, for people, hashtags, and even your own lists from Twitter. In the example below, #TTOT, #travel, and #Travelling are hashtags that exist in Twitter. @rsquaredd/travel is a list of travel experts I created in Twitter. (single click to enlarge the screenshot.)

For managing the Twitter mess, consider Hootsuite's Tab feature.
Figure 1: Use Hootsuite's tabs to organize Twitter posts by topic.

With a little luck, you can even combine search terms to save space on the page. For example, in the screenshot below I combined #rtwnow and #rtwsoon into a single stream.  (Note: For some reason: the OR command and other ways of combining search worked some times and not at others.)

Figure 2: Click on "Add Stream," and then "Search" to add or combine hashtags or other topics into a single stream.

Etiquette Tips:

- Work on one audience  -- travel, relationships, etc --  at a time, build a following, weed out streams that are worthless, and then move on. For example, I'm currently on working on streams under my Travel tab. The #Travel stream seems to have a lot of advertising spam and few comments from or interactions involving real people. I'm going to kill it.
- Your goal should be to have ongoing conversations with people. If they like what you have to say, they may be interested in your work -- at a later time.
- Don't bombard people with pitches for your book.
- Do present yourself as an expert by offering tips and useful links related to other peoples conversations. (If tips happen to be links to your Web page, even better.)
- Did I mention, Don't Spam People You Don't Know with Pitches for Your Book?

For More of Twitter tips, See:

- The First Frustrating Days with Twitter
- Basics on Following on Twitter
- Bad Advice for Writers

Begging and Pleading

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