Update: CBC Ottawa Morning just called – they’ve bumped back my interview from tomorrow a.m. to Wednesday morning at 7:30 so they can make a bit more space for it. Fifteen minutes instead of eight. That’s good, right?
Now back to regular blogging.
The following is the first part of four guest blogs this week by author Anne Devereux — or @pirateannie, as she’s known on Twitter. Despite her opening disclaimer, she’ll explain to those of us who are, in fact, Twitter dummies, how to use this technology as if we were old pros.
First, please don’t be offended by the title of this piece: I know you’re not a dummy.
But Twitter does involve a bit of a learning curve, and in order to use it effectively as a social media tool, you need to understand a few things about how it works.
Twitter is a micro-blogging site, in which millions of perfect strangers say ‘what’s happening’ in 140 characters or less. It sounds incredibly simple, and it is, at least as a concept. Of course, any activity which involves millions of human beings is bound to turn really, really complicated in no time at all.
The first step when making a brand new Twitter is to set up your account. You can set it to protected or public. If you ‘protect’ your tweets, this means that only the people who choose to follow you can see what you say. As well, your tweets won’t appear in the public timeline, which means that random people who might have thought you interesting are not going to see what you’re saying.
I’m not really sure why people choose to protect their tweets, but possibly they’re rather shy and don’t want the whole world to be able to see their random thoughts. Or, they’re secret agents. But at least it’s nice to have the option.
Next, you’re going to want to think of a Twitter name. Now, you could simply use your real name, but let’s face it, that would be boring.
Why be plain old @janesmith when you could be @steampunkdiva? Your Twitter name should reflect some aspect of yourself, the funkier and cooler the better. An alter ego, even. Mine is @pirateannie, and although in real life I’m not actually a pirate, the name speaks to a facet of my personality that frankly, doesn’t get enough of an airing.
Then, you need to choose a picture that will appear next to every tweet. Bear in mind that your tweets, unless you go protected, will be seen by millions of people around the world. A lot of people simply use a headshot of themselves, but let’s face it, we’re not real estate agents. [Note from Peggy: present company excepted. I am a realtor.]
Fish around for something representative of your new Twitter persona. Use something eye-catching and interesting, even amusing. Let go of your hangups, and use your imagination. Don’t worry that people will think the picture is actually you; do you really think anyone believes that I look like a red-headed Pirate Barbie? Come on now.
While you’re still in set-up mode, you can also put in a link to a web page: this is especially useful for authors, as every person who investigates your Twitter will find a link to your author blog or website. You should also fill out the Bio, which gives you 160 characters to make a statement about yourself and what you’re all about. That in itself can be quite a challenge!
Twitter has all kinds of backgrounds to choose from. Simply search from among the ones on offer, and set it as your background. Mine is a portrait of pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. You can change it at any time.
Now, you’re all set up and ready to tweet!
Tomorrow, Anne will be back to tell us about Twitter content. Stay tuned!
You can find Anne Devereux’s blog at http://anne-devereux.tumblr.com/. Her short story, “What If You Slept,” appears in the Legend Press collection, 10 Journeys. It is available from Amazon.com.