Hootsuite and Tweetdeck — September 6, 2013

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck

I love Twitter. But I must admit I find their site a bit cumbersome to use. For starters, I don’t like that I don’t get to see retweets and favorites. (If this confuses you, see my Twitter Basics for Writers series, linked in the sidebar.)

For another thing, if I want to keep updated on a particular conversation or set of people, there’s a lot of navigation to go through to get to there. And then when I’m there, I miss my full timeline.

Direct messages are not user-friendly on Twitter’s website.

For a long time, I used the twitter app on my tablet but then it updated and there were some awful changes to the UI and I couldn’t stand to use it. It was then that I switched to Hootsuite and I really haven’t looked back. I love Hootsuite for my phone (now I’ve upgraded to a smart phone) and my tablet.

But for my computer, I still use Tweetdeck. I have for ages now and I don’t particularly like Hootsuite’s desktop/laptop UI.

First, let’s talk Tweetdeck.

I like that Tweetdeck is customizable as far as choosing columns. You can choose various columns, including specific lists you create, and you can choose how you’re notified of new tweets in that column. You can customize what is shown in that column and you can mute people or content.

I like the interface on Tweetdeck. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Simple keyboard commands minimize the amount of mouse work necessary to it.

Now, Hootsuite is nice because it allows you to add various social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) and view updates from those in a single dash. I like that compared to Twitter’s website, new updates (if you’re using it on a laptop or desktop) show up automatically and you can set the refresh rate yourself.

That said, I don’t like it because it’s in a browser window. Tweetdeck on my laptop is a separate application that runs independently of my browser. Which means I am never at risk of accidentally closing it when I don’t intend to.

Tweetdeck has another distinct advantage over Hootsuite, in my opinion. That is the column for mentions and other interactions people might have with something you post on Twitter. In Tweetdeck, the column is labeled “Interactions.” In this column, any time someone mentions you in a tweet, favorites one of your tweets, or retweets one of your tweets, it shows up. All three interactions in one single column. In Hootsuite, you can set up a column for mentions and a column for tweets of yours that have been retweeted. But nothing to show you when one of your tweets has been favorited by someone else.

And that is one thing which makes Tweetdeck feel far less cluttered than Hootsuite.

However, I do like Hootsuite’s clean interface on both tablet and smart phone. Though I haven’t tried Tweetdeck for mobile devices so perhaps I would like it better if I did.

Do you have a preference?

If you have a question you’re dying to ask me, something you want me to address here on my site, or an interview or other similar request, send it to info(at)stephanie-mcgee(dot)com 

General email can be sent to stephanie(at)stephanie-mcgee(dot)com

When Social Media Bleed Together — September 2, 2013

When Social Media Bleed Together

Odd title for a post? Perhaps a bit. Let me explain what it means.

There are so many social media sites out there. Some are more powerful than others. Some are more nebulous as to their purpose and advantage than others. (I’m looking at you Instagram and Flickr and all those other similar sites.)

There are several heavy-hitters in the social media world:

Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
Pinterest

Of course we can add Blogger and WordPress into that list. (I also find it interesting that Blogger’s spell checker has Tumblr as approved spelling but has yet to add Pinterest to its dictionary as acceptable.)

Of those four, I am on two– Pinterest and Twitter.

I love both equally. I’ve whiled away many an hour on Pinterest, repinning to my heart’s content as I explore the Geek board (along with Women’s Fashion, History, Food & Drink, and sometimes Humor).

I have many boards. I used to have four more than I currently do. I’d titled these boards very specifically to my interests. BBC Ruins Me (for Sherlock and other BBC programs), Fantastic Bananas (for Doctor Who), Nerd-dom (for all things geeky which didn’t fit those boards), and eventually I added Legends of Hyrule (for Legend of Zelda, obviously).

Why did I delete them?

Because they no longer fit the defining characteristic of Pinterest. I mean, isn’t the point of Pinterest that you’re visually bookmarking things to reference again later? You pin recipes with the intention of someday making them. Clothes to be able to reference them again and perhaps purchase or find a similar garment for purchasing. Historical fashion and photos can be pinned to reference later in writing research.

But the geeky stuff?

I found my Pinterest was quickly becoming a Tumblr fangirl wannabe. Most everything I ever pinned onto those four board was from Tumblr. I still don’t quite get what Tumblr’s unique purpose and contribution might be to a future writing platform. And I’m still determined to keep Pinterest largely not about a writer’s platform. But I did find that my Pinterest was becoming too much like all the fangirl accounts on Tumblr.

So I deleted them. And have determined to keep a clearer focus on the reason Pinterest was created as I move forward in my use of the website. This is the same goal I have with any of my other social media. Twitter is one giant chat room. One in which, admittedly, I get lost more often than not. Thus far, however, I have yet to see Pinterest and Twitter bleed into one another.

I think the bleeding is more likely to happen between Pinterest and Tumblr and between Facebook and Twitter. Though I do have plans for a Tumblr should I someday be blessed enough to have Heirs of the Seven Realms and all its sister books published. (Assuming Tumblr is still popular then.)

Meanwhile, don’t mind the tremors in my hands as I go through pinning withdrawals. (I kid, I kid.)

Retaking My Social Media — April 5, 2013

Retaking My Social Media

I’m taking back my social media as of today. This blog will still talk about writing, but I reserve the right to blog about whatever I like. I was going to put a caveat on that, but I don’t think I will.

You see, I’m not published yet. I don’t have an agent. I don’t need a blog to be all about writerly stuff. I should be able to blog about the nerdy things that appeal to me. So you might start seeing nerdy theorizing or rambling on here from time to time. I’ll definitely start talking about books more. (I full intend to start reading on pre-writing levels again one of these days. Soon as I get over my aversion to library books.)

So, start expecting to see stuff from me that doesn’t directly (if at all) relate to writing. This blog is titled Chronicles of a Novice Writer. I set out for this blog to be about my writing journey. That includes all the non-writing stuff that inspires me, takes my time when I go on writing hiatus, and about the stuff that does inspire my writing. Because, as is the case with Heirs of the Seven Realms, that non-writing stuff can shape the current and future course of my writing.

Social Media, the Internet, and the Writer — March 8, 2012

Social Media, the Internet, and the Writer

Pinterest.  Google+.  Facebook.  Klout.  Twitter.  Tumblr.  WordPress.  Blogger.  YouTube.

Sigh.

I’m sure I’m not even scratching the surface here on this topic.  But lately it seems everyone is talking about social media and the internet and such.  And, frankly, it’s overwhelming.  There’s a new semi-coherent or semi-logical social network every month it seems.  I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation, but I do have something to say.

To be honest, it’s ridiculous.  It can sometimes start to feel as though you’re expected to be on every single social network and internet phenomenon out there to try to connect with readers.  Connecting with readers and potential readers is a valid and valuable thing.  But we have to be smart about it.

I dropped Facebook months ago over concerns about privacy.  No matter what I did, it seemed, I couldn’t prevent random strangers from seeing things I’d posted simply because someone liked a photo, a post, or commented on something in my Facebook feed.  I unsubscribed to everything but my friends’ unique status updates and one other thing, ignoring games and apps and all the noise.  And still I saw photos of random strangers’ families because my friends had liked or commented on those.

Google+, well, I had an account and then something strange happened.  I never visited.  Ever.  Well, hardly ever.  This may have been a symptom of being in it during early stages of adoption, but it wasn’t part of my usual awareness.  I also got tired of people I didn’t know being able to add me to their circles and see the things I posted.  The privacy and security issue seemed worse there than on Facebook.  Perhaps it’s just Google’s grabby hands over all of our internet activity.

Here on Blogger, I’ve really painted myself into a corner by focusing this blog on writing-related topics.  I’m feeling a bit of blogger fatigue as a result, I think.  (Hence the reason I have been very spotty in my blogging of late.)  I think a blog can be valuable, but I definitely would have done things differently with this blog if I’d known better when I started.  I’ve gained invaluable friendships through my blog that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  But I definitely feel trapped in a corner surrounded by wet paint.

YouTube I’ve never understood and rarely used.  In fact, all the videos I posted have been pulled.  Klout?  Um, someone explain that to me?  Is it really even a social network?  WordPress is just another blogging platform, right?

Twitter.  Ah, Twitter.  See, Twitter is one I actually enjoy.  I talk about writing stuff, but I also talk about basically anything and everything there.  I feel like I’m freer on Twitter than I can be on my blog or other places.  I like Twitter.  What I like best about Twitter is I can run it in the background while I focus on other things.  It really only takes 10 seconds of attention at a time to be effective, I think.  And that works great for me.

Recently I started a Tumblr blog.  And I quite like it.  Over there, I’ve given myself the freedom to post anything that sparks my imagination.  Which gives me quite a lot of freedom, if you think about it.  The only downside to Tumblr is finding people to follow.  I still haven’t figured out the nuances of the site and of finding people to follow over there.

And then there’s Pinterest.  For me, I’m using it as a giant organization tool.  I collect recipes, things that I find pretty, things that warm my little nerd heart, and all sorts of interests.  What’s nice is that on Pinterest you can organize everything in vastly different ways.  I have a board there for photos inspired by and which inspire my current WiP and the trilogy it’s part of, which is the extent of my writerly use of Pinterest.  Over there, while it can be a good way of marketing if you’re already published or you’re an agent/editor/publishing house wanting to share what you represent or enjoy, it feels more like a giant conversation.

I’ve had to pick and choose because it has gotten to be too much.  The pressure to be everywhere all the time is overwhelming.  The pressure to come up with original, new, fresh content after years of doing what I’ve been doing is too much to bear sometimes.  Especially on outlets where I’ve clearly laid out what the focus of my contribution there should be.  I have run out of things to say, be they clever or otherwise.  (I’m rarely clever, I fear.)  Some days I just want to scream, pull the covers over my head, and pray the internet dies a speedy death in some regards.

What about you?  Do you love how many social networks and such there are?  Do you thrive on the thrill of joining every one and try to be the expert user of them all?  Or are you like me and run screaming at the introduction of a new internet tool/social network?

Also, self-promote away in the comments.  Link to your own social network profiles: your FB page, your Twitter profile, your Tumblr/Blogger/WordPress blogs, your Pinterest and YouTube accounts.

And someone please explain the purpose and utility of Klout to me.

Social Media Redux — November 3, 2011

Social Media Redux

I know I already talked about ditching Facebook.  Since then, I’ve done likewise to Google+.  The same day I did that I culled my blogroll to just the blogs I regularly read.  (And even then I’m sure I’m not faithful in my visiting of those blogs.)

Why?

It’s just too much.  Even Twitter I’ve gotten lax on.  Partly it’s because I’ve gotten a seasonal job which is taking a lot of my energy.  (Way more than it rightly should, if you ask me.  I’m just out of practice on this whole being employed thing.)

But a bigger part of it is that it’s just too much.  That’s why I’ve pared down the blog schedule to only two days a week.  Priorities are in need of constant reassessment.  This is part of that process.

Yes, authors need a platform.  But more and more I’m seeing agents and publishers talking about how it’s not something fiction authors need to focus on before they’re published.

Yes, it can help grab an agent’s attention.  It can be a good leg up when you do get a book published.  But it detracts from what’s really important in this process– WRITING.

I’ve learned a lot along the way in the two-plus years I’ve been blogging consistently.  But I’ve learned even more with each book I’ve written in those years.  But while writing has always been my goal and what I wanted to do, blogging took over.  The pressure put on authors on the road to agent, editor, and finally book-on-shelf to be out there on the social media is overwhelming.

And it just got to be too much.  So I decided to cut it back.

Social Networking and the Author — October 6, 2011

Social Networking and the Author

I left Facebook.

I did.  And I am not ashamed of this decision.  For a while now I’d been realizing just how much control over my life that site had.  Already I was trying to wean myself from using it so much.

Then they rolled out a few changes to the news feed and suddenly I didn’t feel secure.  Sure it was a public site.  It is social networking after all.  But suddenly I was seeing pictures and status updates of people I didn’t know.  All because someone I was friends with either commented on or liked something of their friends’.

In this day and age, there has come to be a certain expectation.  An expectation on readers’ part to be allowed to peek behind the curtain and see the real person behind the name on the dust jacket.  There’s an expectation on writers’ part, too.  One which sometimes seems to expect readers’ rapt attention for everything they do.

The truth is people pay far less attention to us than we like to believe they do.

In part, social networking has contributed to the propagation of this attitude.  Yes, authors are expected to get out there and do everything in their power to generate word of mouth.  Yes, a big part of that is social networking.

And when the time comes I may create another account, or reactivate the old one, in order to do so.  But that’s a bridge I’m going to cross when it comes to it.  For now I’m content with my blog and twitter.  Occasionally I post something on Google+ but most of the time I forget it even exists.

Authors and social networking go hand in hand these days.  But at what cost?  Where do you draw the line?  Sometimes, a little privacy goes a long way in creating balance and peace of mind.

Google Alerts: Usefulness and Non-Usefulness — September 2, 2011

Google Alerts: Usefulness and Non-Usefulness

A couple weeks ago, Sara Megibow, agent with Nelson Literary, tweeted the following:

It got me thinking about Google Alerts.  For published writers I can imagine they’re a lot more useful.  (Or for writers with less, apparently, common names such as mine.)  I have four alerts set up at the moment:

“Chronicles of a Novice Writer” brings in results that more often than not match to my blog (despite being hosted on its own domain now).  But on occasion they take the words separately and I get very random results.

“Lodestar” (the title of my book that I’m currently possibly querying or not) has not once brought back a result from my blog wherein I talk about this project.  This one by far gives me the most random results, none of which I actually understand because they’re mostly talking about missiles and aircraft and other science-y stuff.

“Stephanie L. McGee” and “Stephanie McGee” is another hit or miss one.  Back during awards season, I kept getting red carpet pictures of some producer or someone who was at the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, etcetera.  Sometimes it’ll bring up a random tweet of mine from a few days before but this one doesn’t come very often as there aren’t that many results to mine.

So where does this leave me?  It leaves me questioning the usefulness of inundating my email inbox with emails of things that don’t matter.

For any published writers out there who might be reading this, do you use alerts?  Or do you avoid them like they’re the black death poised ready to choke your writing career before it takes off?

Unpublished authors, what about you?  Have you used alerts?  If so, do you find them useful?

Twitter Basics Part 4 — May 13, 2011

Twitter Basics Part 4

*This week I’m talking all about Twitter and its basics.  If you’re a Twitter pro, please read and leave any tips you have in the comments.  Or skip these posts because it’s nothing new.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Okay, so today we’re going to talk about hashtags.

Here’s where Twitter gets ridiculously useful for writers.

Hashtags are searchable keywords that users create and use to carry on larger conversations and engage with a wider audience.  Those trends in the right-hand sidebar?  Those are generated off of hashtags.  So are your searches that you save.

There’s a slew of hashtags for writers.  (There is a really hand list of hashtags for writers here.  I’d also recommend paying attention to what hashtags your friends are using, in case they’re not on this list.)

The last thing I want to talk about is using a third-party client for Twitter.  I currently use Tweetdeck.

You can use Tweetdeck to update Facebook as well, but I found it cluttering my columns so I removed it.

Tweetdeck’s most useful feature is the column function.  You can create columns for any hashtag search you want.  There are also “core” columns to select from which include your direct messages and mentions feeds.

This is where your lists and hashtags become invaluable.  My Tweetdeck currently has 5 columns.  I have the main feed column, my mentions column, direct messages, and two hashtag columns.

My columns do tend to fluctuate from time to time.  At one point I had eight columns going.  Trust me, that gets unwieldy.

My favorite feature outside of the column organization is that new tweets pop up in a window in the corner so I can have Tweetdeck running in the background while I work in an internet browser or in my word processor.  As tweets show up I can glance over, see if it’s something I need to reply to or that is useful, etcetera, and keep going.

You can tweet from this pop-up window, too, which means that tweeting and working are no longer mutually exclusive.

There are several clients out there so I’d suggest looking around at various options and finding the one that suits you best.

So that’s the end of our basics guide through Twitter.

Are you still railing against Twitter?  Why?  If you’re there, you may want to leave your handle in the comments so that we can connect with you.  Any tips you Twitter pros would add?

Twitter Basics Part 3 — May 12, 2011

Twitter Basics Part 3

*This week I’ll be talking all about Twitter.  If you’re a pro at Twitter, you may want to skip these posts.  But maybe read them and offer any tips I’ve missed in the comments.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Okay, yesterday we talked about your main Twitter feed.  Today it’s all about the right-hand sidebar of your Twitter home page.

At the top, you have your picture, which links to your profile, with the number of tweets you’ve put out there in the Twitter-verse next to that.  Here you’re also shown what your latest tweet was.

Below here are the links to the pages showing you who you’re following and who is following you.

Below this is where your favorites and what lists you’ve been added to are shown and linked to.

Next down are two columns: Trends and Who to Follow.  The former can be changed to reflect a certain city or country, whatever your fancy desires.  The latter is populated based off who the people you follow are following.

The tabs across the top of your actual Twitter feed are next:

@Mentions: These are the tweets that others put out there with your Twitter handle in them.  To mention or reply to a user you simply put the @ symbol before their handle and continue on with the tweet.

A mention looks something like, “Check out @StephanieLMcGee ‘s blog posts on Twitter basics are crazy.”  A direct reply would start off with the @ symbol and only be visible to the user whose handle you used and users who follow you both.  Mentions are visible to anyone in your feed, regardless of whether they follow the user mentioned.

Retweets: This tab gives you several options for viewing the retweets.  Clicking the arrow will bring them up.

The first is “Retweets by others” and will show you all the tweets that are retweets from people you’re following.

Second is “Retweets by you,” which shows you the tweets you’ve retweeted.

Lastly is “Your tweets, retweeted,” and shows which of your own tweets people have retweeted.

Searches: Any time you search a topic on Twitter you can save that search for easy access at a later date. These are saved here under this tab where you can pick which one you want to view from the drop-down arrow menu.

Lists: Lists are awesome.  Especially if you’re going to use a third-party client like Tweetdeck.

Every Twitter user can be sorted to a list of your choosing.  You create the lists so you can organize them any way you want.

I have 5 lists.  Two of them are not relevant to my author career so I’ll not mention them by name here.  The other three are “publishers,” “agents,” and “writers.”  Generally when I follow someone I put them into one of these lists.

You can also follow the lists created by other Twitter users.  Lists are hand in that they will only show the tweets from people on that list so you can cut more quickly to the relevant information from those users.

I’m going to go ahead and mention here that you don’t have to be following a user to add them to one of your lists.

Come back on Friday to talk about hashtags and third party clients.

Still averse to Twitter?  Tell us why in the comments.  If you’re on Twitter, leave your handle so you can start connecting with new writers.  If you’re a Twitter pro and I’ve missed a tip, tell us in the comments.

Twitter Basics Part 2 — May 10, 2011

Twitter Basics Part 2

*This week I’ll be talking about Twitter.  If you’re already a pro at Twitter you don’t have to read this.  But maybe still read it and offer your tips in the comments.

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

Back to the main feed.  Each individual tweet in the feed (the ones that aren’t yours) have the same buttons:

The little star is your “favorite” button.  With this you’re simply saving tweets to a private list for storage and reference at a later date.  In the Twitter home page these will show up on the right-hand sidebar.  They’ll also show under their own tab list on your Twitter profile.  (To access your own profile click on your Twitter profile picture in the right-hand sidebar.)

The recycler arrow symbol is the re-tweet button.  With this you can share the tweet of someone you follow with the Twitter users who follow you.

What is the use of something like this?

1- It’s a great way of finding and making new connections.  There are several hashtag memes that enable this.  (More on hashtags tk.)  But the best use of the retweet is when someone tweets something you think your own followers will enjoy, such as a joke or article link.

2- Are you running a contest on your blog?  Tweet about it.  Ask others to tweet about it.  Retweet other users’ contests. (Karma makes the Twitter world go round sometimes.)

3- Did someone tweet about their latest blog post and you found the post really worth the time to read?  Then send out a retweet.

The little curved arrow pointing to the left is the reply button.  This is the basis of Twitter, in my opinion.  It’s also the button I use the most.  Nothing turns people off faster than users on Twitter who do nothing but tweet and never engage other users.

The biggest complaint about Twitter I see is that it’s so hard to engage people.  That people feel like they’re just shooting the breeze with themselves.

In response to this, I say use the reply button.  Wear it out.  If someone tweets something, don’t just giggle or groan in sympathy.  Reach out to that person with either a direct reply or a mention.  (A mention is simply when you put the @ symbol and someone’s Twitter handle anywhere but the start of your tweet.)

Lately on Twitter I’ve been getting involved in massive Twitter chats with friends I’ve made there.  These connections I’ve made are invaluable to me.

This post is getting long enough as is so we’ll end there.  Thursday we’ll be talking about the right-hand sidebar on Twitter and the tabs across the top of your main feed.

Are you on Twitter?  What’s keeping you from there?  If you’re on Twitter, leave your handle in the comments (if you want) and any tips you think I’ve missed here on this portion of Twitter.