Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Tips for Tweeps

It’s time for some more Twitter goodness! In previous posts, I tackled hashtags and offered you 30 Hashtags for Writers and 40 more Hashtags for Writers.

In this article, I want to give you three tips on using Twitter:

1)    Identifying Hashtags
2)    Tracking Hashtags
3)    Hooting Hashtags

Identifying Hashtags
Most hashtags are self-explanatory, such as #amwriting or #selfpub, but what happens when you don’t understand a hashtag? What the heck does #asmsg mean?
When in doubt, you can always refer to Tagdef. On this site, simply write in the unknown hashtag, and check the definition:
#asmsg is Authors' Social Media Support Group : A Talented Group of Independent Authors from Around the Globe Offering a Diverse Collection of Books.
You won’t find every single hashtag (for example, #WLC –World Literary CafĂ©—isn’t in the database), but it’s a good place to start. What’s more, if you know the meaning of a hashtag, you can always add it to the database and help out others.
Tracking Hashtags
Another great site to check out hashtags is But beware! Signing up is quite expensive for the humble writer (fees go from $49-349 a month). Nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop you from giving it a look. Snooping around, I found a little trick around the system. Just click this link for a taste of the free service (access to the demo is somewhat buried in the website). At the top of the page, you’ll see a search box with a giant hash symbol at the front. Simply type in your hashtag and watch the magic unfold.
Here’s an example. Let’s type in #asmsg. Remember that one? Author Social Media Support Group. Here’s what we get:
This is the 24-hour trend graph for this hashtag. It shows an approximation of how many times the hashtag has been used in the past 24 hours. As a paying customer, you can track hashtags over periods of 12 months (very useful for commercial purposes).
What’s so important about knowing when a hashtag is most prolific? It’s a sign of when people interested in that hashtag are using Twitter. If you want to, say, promote your blog about writing with the hashtag #writetip, it’s a good idea to check this graph to see when the hashtag is most used. It’ll probably have more chances of being seen with the #writetip community is at a peak.
The website offers three more delicious morsels:
As you can see in the image, even in the demo we get a short list of prolific users of that hashtag (in case you’d like to contact or follow any of them), part of a pie chart with other related hashtags (you have to upgrade to view half the chart, but still—it’s better than nothing), and a short list of recent tweets related to the hashtag you just looked up.
What to do with all this new information?
Hooting Hashtags
At first, I used just Twitter. Then, I went over to Tweetdeck so I could manage my tweets and schedule them for when I was away from the computer. However, I quickly left Tweetdeck because it was unreliable. I would spend several minutes organizing my tweets, leave, and hours later I’d find out not a single one of them had been sent. There wasn’t any apparent reason; the site just sometimes didn’t want to work.
My current recommendation is the social media management dashboard Hootsuite. It’s reliable, sturdy and intuitive. You can see all your streams in columns: Home Feed, Mentions, Scheduled Tweets, Direct Messages and Sent Tweets. I won’t delve into the intricacies of Hootsuite, but I will point out that it’s a great tool to manage your tweets.
At the top of the page, there’s a schedule button. Click it and you’ll get a very easy-to-use menu. Just write your tweet, select the time and date for it, and click schedule. The new tweet will appear in your Scheduled Tweets column.
The only drawback I see to Hootsuite is that the scheduling intervals run each five minutes. Options such as 10:48 aren’t possible, it’s either 10:45 or 10:50. This constraint gives the tweets a bit of an artificial flavor, but the application is still well worth the time.
So that’s it! With these three tools, I’m sure any tweep will be able to make the experience more valuable!

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