Twitter Basics and How I Use Them
Hello friends, I’ve been thinking about writing a Twitter 101 post for awhile. Not only because I think Twitter is ah-maz-ing, but because I know Twitter can be confusing as all heck! It’s like when you see your grandma posting random questions on your Facebook feed and you realize she thinks Facebook is Google. And you laugh and think “Oh, Grandma.” Well, that’s us when we don’t know how to use Twitter.
So, here we go!
(Please note that a lot of these points are my own opinions and based on how I personally use Twitter, but I offer this as a general guide to be adjusted for your personal use)
Okay, now for real, here we go!
Hashtags are a fun way to reach a broader audience. Many people will search a known hashtag to see what people’s opinions are on it. So be aware of which ones you’re using and why. Big ones for writing/reading are:
#amwriting, #amreading, #amrevising — just what they sound like, any random thought or advice for people who are writing, reading, or revising. Also, just to update on your personal writing/reading/revising status.
#amquerying — I made this one separate because I believe it’s to be used a bit differently. You can definitely share advice and random thoughts about querying with it. But I wouldn’t recommend posting too many tweets about your querying status as it is a very subjective and personal journey in many ways. I do think it’s a great hashtag to give words of encouragement and advice to others who are querying or about to query.
#TBR — To Be Read. I think that says enough.
#ownvoices — this is for use about books written about marginalized characters written by authors with those same marginalizations. It’s important to note that it’s not just writing about a character that shares experiences with you (e.g. if your character is at space camp and you went to space camp, that is not ownvoices). It’s specifically to address sensitive experiences with marginalization and how that affects a person and telling those personal stories (e.g. if the character is a black teenager dealing with #BLM and the author is a black woman dealing with #BLM)
#MSWL — Manuscript Wishlist was created by an agent to help writers see what kinds of stories agents and editors would love to see in their submission piles. (Note: It is not for pitching, that should only be done during designated Twitter pitch dates on the proper pitch hashtags, see below)
And sometimes online pitch conferences use a specific hashtag (NOTE: These are to be used on the scheduled day of the event and not before or after if you are pitching)
I even use a hashtag for my sister’s puppy and I’m not sorry! #luckythedog
2. @-ing people and replying to people
If you reply to someone’s tweet, it’ll automatically start your tweet with @personstwittername
If you reply to a tweet that has other people tagged in it, your reply will automatically tag ALL of them. So be aware if you only want to reply to the original poster, you have to delete those extra twitter handles.
If you start your Tweet with an @ handle in order to tag another person, it won’t show up in your main feed. It’ll only be in the tab that says “Tweets & Replies” in your profile. I hear this might change soon, but for now, if you want to @ someone and want it to show up in your main feed, then add a convenient period “.” before the tag. That way Twitter will think it’s a normal Tweet.
Sometimes you’ll see a tweet that sounds like half an idea and that’s because it is! It’s part of what we call a “thread,” tweets that are linked as “replies” to each other that form a fuller thought than can be expressed in 140 characters. People will often number them to show they’re part of a bigger thread:
A lot of people just number 1. 2. 3. 4. and so on, because it’s simpler
This is my favorite way because the / after the number implies the thought continues. And once you get to the end you just add that closing number (in this thread it’s 7) to show that’s the end of your thought.
Sometimes people don’t number them, which does make it harder to follow the full thought, but if you click on any tweet it shows all the replies made to that tweet:
4. Quote Tweeting
It can be used to boost a previous tweet:
It can be used to show support for a thought or post (it makes it easier to provide the link to a thread of tweets so the reader can click on the original tweet and read the whole thread):
Some people quote tweet as a more public way of replying to a thought, or to add their own thoughts on top of the original Tweet.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: When you quote tweet someone to add your personal opinion, think of it like you’re highlighting your reply to them. It shows up more prominently in feeds. It includes your reply and the original tweet to show why you’re reacting the way you are. This is important to be aware of if you’re replying with your opinion on someone else’s opinion, especially if it’s to disagree with them. This is exponentially important to be aware of if you’re commenting on a marginalized person’s comment on something they find personally harmful. If you do this, it is the Twitter equivalent of going “Well, actually…”
Be aware that if you replying as if you’re trying to “correct” someone’s opinion when you are NOT part of the community affected, it comes off as condescending. It is hard to convey tone in text or Twitter. So, if this is a sensitive subject then take a beat and think through whether this opinion needs to be blasted to all of Twitter.
5. Some often used abbreviations and hashtags:
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
FF: Follow Friday
IMHO: In My Honest Opinion
IMO: In My Opinion
TBH: To Be Honest
LRT: Last Retweet (this is to refer to the last thing the person retweeted)
IRL: In Real Life
(some are just abbreviations to save character space, they’re pretty self-explanatory if you just think it through. e.g. b4 = before, bc = because, some1 = someone, ppl = people)
6. Parting Thoughts on Twitter “etiquette”
Twitter is a great equalizer. We can tweet at celebs we love and people we’ve never met before in real life. However, it’s also public. This means your conversations are blasted for all to see and it makes your “opinions” more magnified since it is in front of an audience. Before you tweet something, think to yourself, “Would I say this in front of a panel of people at a book conference?” Or “Would I announce this at a crowded party where I don’t know everyone?”
If the answer is no, then think about why that is. Is it because you’re not sure of your stance on the subject? Is it because you don’t really know a lot about that particular topic you’re just saying your opinion based on your limited experience? Is it because your comment is reactionary instead of thoughtful?
If so, don’t tweet it.
So often, people reply to tweets and threads as if they’re having a personal debate in their friend’s living room, but they’re not. They’re having an internet fight for all to see. And since Twitter gives limited space for more complex thoughts, it can be misconstrued VERY quickly.
If you’re a writer/author/creative and you are using Twitter as a platform to gain readers and network with industry people, then be willing to back up anything you say on Twitter.
There are authors that say political and sensitive things on Twitter and they’re amazing. Why? Because they truly believe in what they’re saying and will defend it even if it’s an in-person conversation, a panel at a conference, or on Twitter. That conviction is important when you’re taking a stand on Twitter. These aren’t opinions they made in a day or a week. They’re opinions that have been carefully thought out (taking into account others who might be affected by them) and are meant to better the conversation and community. I assume most people reading this are in kidlit/YA/MG, so I think it’s important to point out that our intended audiences are kids and teens. That adds a layer of responsibility about what we stand for both in our books and in our public personas.