T – Twitter

TOf all the various Social Media options out there, one stands above the rest for writers, from what I have seen. And that option is Twitter. It doesn’t necessarily make sense – after all, Twitter does not allow you to write particularly much. However, it’s not about the writing, or writing there.

With Twitter, it’s the avenue for connecting and marketing.

I say connecting, and use my Twitter account (@dbc_ii) as an example. From the get-go, my description read that I was a writer, and listed it first. That’s some of my self-perception, and though I’m not sure I can call myself an Author, I can go with writer. And from there, it’s been interesting to watch. I have been followed by a whole bunch of writers or authors and publishing groups or companies. Twitter has done an amazing job of connecting writers this way, all on its own. And as I have been followed, and have followed back, writers, the writer quotient is just increasing.

I say marketing, then, because of what I see the authors doing with Twitter. Their description will be a link to their book, through an e-publishing site, or on Amazon. Often mentioning that the first book is reduced price or free – to of course get you hooked on the series! The other thing I see many of them doing is having a follower-reply message, that thanks you for the follow, and either suggests their book or their other Social Media presences. For people who are self-publishing, doing things like this is even more important – they may not have anyone else promoting their works like this!

Obviously writers are not the only folks able to take advantage of Twitter for the reasons I list above. However, of the different types of Social Media, I see Twitter doing this by far the best. Facebook doesn’t do a whole lot of recommending to you – especially of pages – that hasn’t been paid for. And a lot of the others don’t have the public presence and connection.

So if you are a writer, make sure you have a Twitter! And this goes for bloggers too – it’s really easy to connect Twitter with your site, and use things like Publicize to push your posts as well. And I follow back writers 🙂 Include your Twitter in the comments below to connect with folks!

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H – Hook

HFor many of the letters of the A to Z challenge, I had ideas pouring out for what to write about, and I started organizing things to not overlap too much, discuss different topics, to be short, personal and opinionated, and of course writing-related. For a few letters, I was left hunting a bit for words. Just so with H, where I found the essential writing term “Hook.” I had forgotten this term, but it is of course one I know and employ, or even over-employ, in my writing. I know when I first did NaNoWriMo, every chapter started with a hook sentence, In Media Res, and the action caught up with it.

However, that got me thinking of the other sorts of ways the idea of the Hook comes up in our world today. What began its life as a writing technique has become something of a way of life in our information-heavy world.

For instance, in blogging, or other sorts of writing online. They say that for search engines, you really want to have your keywords in the earliest parts of your post. That effectively, the search engines are optimized to consider your hook. Also, in RSS feeds, you generally only see the first bit of the post, and this is the Hook that gets people to click-through and read more of your post. Thus, in blogging, the Hook is an essential tool to get read – without a good Hook, the post is likely dead in the water.

By this standard, I’m pretty sure this post fails!

Thinking about the Hook in terms of blogging got me thinking about it in terms of the rest of the Internet in general. And in particular, some of the ways in which the Internet approaches these things like a Journalist. That is to say, we think about webpages in terms of what is “above the fold” (like with a newspaper) – the content that you can generally see without scrolling down, as this is the most-seen content. And really, the first paragraph being the Hook is a heavily used Journalism approach to writing.

And what about Social Media? Twitter in many ways functions as a giant Hook machine – at least, any tweet with a link or picture or anything else you need to click. It has to be interesting enough that someone clicks! It has to Hook them, and it has to do it in under 140 characters. Less, really, with a link in there too!

So be thinking about what you write and put online. Yes, the first paragraph might be the first that you write. But it also has a pivotal role in whether you get read. So go back and look it over before you publish!

D – Diary

DAfter hitting on a big, obvious topic yesterday like characters, I thought it would be good to go with a bit more narrow of a writing topic, and that is the Diary. My main thought and question on diaries is, do they still exist? Or at least, anything close to the extent that they may have once?

I think it’s the Internet that has changed this experience. All of a sudden, things people might have once done entirely in private – like keep a Diary, or scrapbooking – have become things that are instead done publicly, constantly, online. This is perhaps even moreso true with the advent of Social Media, and all the things we can do now to share our lives, our interests, with others. However, I would say it goes back further than that.

Because before Social Media as we know it now – Facebook and Twitter and the whole nine yards – there was LiveJournal, and there were discussion forums. People were finding other, like-minded people. From around the globe. So all of a sudden, keeping a Diary about how you’re all alone, or no one gets you, is one way you can approach things… or you can go out there (online), find some like-minded people, and get talking there. I know couples who have met successfully online from great distances, and you know what? It works.

And for keeping a journal or Diary, there was LiveJournal, and you could do so there. And now we have blogs, and we can do all sorts of things anonymously, or with our name attached, however we like it. Or, a little of both. I do a little of both, I suppose.

So I guess the related question is: do we even value this sort of privacy anymore? Maybe the need for a Diary is now, more than ever before. Things that we feel a need to write down, but that maybe we shouldn’t tell the whole world about. Maybe that’s a skill we should be teaching to children these days – writing down some of those thoughts privately, getting them out while still keeping them contained.

What do you think? Have Diaries seen their day? Or are they still being written out there – and should they be? Let me know in the comments below!

B – Blog

When I was in college, and answering the question of “what I wanted to do when I grew up,” my answer was inevitably writer or author or something of the type. The follow-up question became “do you have a blog?” Blogs had become the big thing, of a sudden, it seemed. I had written some travel stories, mainly, in a Live Journal… I had joined others in creating fiction on forums… Social Media was just catching its stride with the advent of Facebook… I had competed in NaNoWriMo… but no, I did not have a blog.

After college, there were a number of years where I did little or no writing, and it was during these years it might have been nice to have had a blog. However, even as I started my Master’s and they had us create a blog (the very foundations of this blog here), I did not use this for the writing I could have been doing. You can see a big gap in the archives from the blog’s start, in 2009, and when I later took a course on blogging that had me blogging more in earnest.

B

However, a blog is really more of a delivery method, and also an interface. It’s not a driving force in-and-of itself. Having a blog does not make one write. You can see this in any number of blogs which start up, have some steam, and then just lose it and disappear. Honestly, this blog has looked like that at a number of points in its lifetime.

So the question asking me if I had a blog was like asking if I used Word, or if I shared my fiction on Facebook. It’s about getting known and presence, or about where and how you write. I hope now that people are forming this question more carefully when they ask young students, so they don’t just feel dumb for not having a blog. Because having a blog does not make you a writer. Writing does. Having something to write is what helps you write. And, if you figure out what that something is and it happens to be a blog, make a blog. Look for the right place to blog. I still hold that someday I am going to write fiction and put it on Tumblr. But holding the Tumblr real-estate down has not made me write the stories.

It’s the overall audience-finding, content-creator connection to content-consumer aspect of a blog which is powerful for a writer, and these sorts of benefits can come from good branding and a good social media presence in general. Twitter can be huge, and lots of writers are hanging out there, waiting for you to read their books. Should you have a blog? Maybe. I think the main answer I would give is have a blog if you’re going to write the blog: a blog without content is a webpage. You should maybe have one of those. And blogging, as a public, interactive thing, brings along interactive, social media elements that are important. But be ready for that.

What do you think? Do you need to have a blog as a writer? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Searching Social Media

So an interesting question came up and I learned something. And maybe you can help.

How do you search social media?

Hashtags were added by users – and later adopted by the companies, and have been a growing thing. From their start on Twitter, you can now see and use them on Google+, Tumblr, Facebook, and other places. And of course, there’s the tags on blogs and other things that are user-generated attempts at keywords and searchability. However, even if we assume that what you are looking for are posts where users are self-defining their content – say, with the upcoming Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle this weekend (#eccc) – how do you best search these things?

So with the question came this link, so I can’t say I found it myself: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/socialmedia They don’t necessarily have all the answers, but they did post the important question: Twitter only has the last 10 days searchable! Living in a 140-character world may be bad, but living in a world with a ten-day life-span? That’s really rough. 

 

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#Blog Series Pitch: Social Media Sorcery – The Sunday Re-Blog

Great idea for some posts from a blogger who is trying many things with Social Media right now. Also a lot of conversation in the comments, so definitely check that out as well – and pitch in with your experiences and thoughts!

My Former Blog

I have to create a social media document for my own use, and since I’m seeing interest in that aspect of my blogging, I thought I would pitch it as a series. Here’s a basic outline. Each Roman Numeral represents a post.

I can go one of two ways. I can add it to my list, write it as I need it, and run it as an occasional series for one of our blogs. Or, I can write the whole thing as a single piece, then break it into posts, illustrate them, and shop them as a guest series. I have to write a rough draft-quality version of it sometime soon, anyway, because I need it to analyze what I am doing and improve my game.

I. A short narrative that explains how we started. It will include links to the things we wrote about social media along the way…

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Building a Blogging Community Through Social Media – With Examples

Let’s face it, as much fun as it is to write, and to blog, and to think about the fact that your ideas are public, published, out there… you want readers too. Readers who enjoy what you write, or interact with what you write, or share what you write… or even better, all of the above.

Through the social aspects of blogging, how it works, and realizing we should do for other bloggers what we want done for us… the best followers you will have on a blog are likely going to be other bloggers. With a WordPress blog, for instance, it’s people with WordPress accounts who can “like” your post… who can follow your blog with a click of a button, and then read your posts in their WordPress reader. WordPress – like other blogging communities, like Tumblr – does a great job of letting you connect and share with other bloggers.

So last week I blogged about how I am considering some changes on Comparative Geeks and while informational and data changes like I proposed and discussed can do a bit to network better with other WordPress blogs, there are more channels out there we need to hit as well, and which have different sorts of purposes and users. Though also of course a lot of overlap! But let me look through the Social Media avenues we are using, or considering, to look at some folks I see doing this well, and how we might use it in the future.

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