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.)

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.

Twitter Basics Part 1 — May 9, 2011

Twitter Basics Part 1

*This week I’ll be talking about Twitter.  If you’re an old hand at Twitter, you’ll maybe want to skip these.  Or stick around and offer your own tips in the comments.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Twitter, that oft-maligned and equally oft-lauded medium of social networking.  Yes, it can become a massive time suck.  But it can also be very effective in both marketing and making connections with other people, especially authors.
If you look at my Twitter profile (@StephanieLMcGee), I’ve almost eight thousand tweets.  Yes, that’s a lot.  But I tweet as I do all sorts of things on my computer.  So I’m totally multi-tasking.  (I’ll get to how I do that on tk.)
We’ll start with the basics, for those of you who may not be terribly familiar with it (or unsure of its utility).
First off, the biggest challenge of Twitter: the 140 character limit.  This can be the greatest tool, believe it or not, for an author who uses Twitter.  Each tweet is a lesson in brevity.  Yes, you can use abbreviations.  And I often will if I’m in a hurry.
With 140 characters you need to get to the point quickly.  Yes, you can spread your message across multiple tweets, but that gets tedious to follow.
On the basic Twitter homepage, you have many different options for what to click.  We’ll start off in your Twitter timeline, the main feed.
User names: Click on this and you’ll get a pop-out of their basic information.  (It takes over the right-hand sidebar on the Twitter main page.)  Here you’ll see their brief bio, location, how many users they’re following, how many users are following them, etcetera.
You also get the option from this screen to send the user a message.  You’re still limited to 140 characters in direct messages on Twitter, but these don’t go out to the general public like @ mentions and @ replies do.
Next to that is the pull-down menu to add the user to a list.  (More on lists on Thursday.)  And that last button is for all sorts of administrative stuff.  From that drop-down menu you can mention the user, block them, or report them for spam.
In this same area you can choose whether their retweets will show up in your feed or if their tweets will come to your phone.

Come back tomorrow for more on the Twitter main feed.  If you’re on Twitter, drop your handle in the comments so we can connect with you.  If you’re not on Twitter, read tomorrow’s post then tell us why you’re not there.  And as always, any thoughts you have are welcome in the comments.

Twitter Basics for Authors —
Why I Stopped Following or Commenting — January 11, 2011

Why I Stopped Following or Commenting

*Note: The following does not apply to any one specific person/blog/Twitter account.  Just a general rant over accumulated experience.  If you don’t want to read, that’s your call.  I won’t be offended because I’ll likely never know whether you even came.

“Why did you stop following my blog/Twitter/Facebook/whatever piece of social networking?”

It’s not a question I’ve been asked, because, frankly, I’m not cool enough or popular enough to matter to any one person.

But I’m going to answer it anyways.

1- Uninteresting.  I’m not interested in reading months and months of posts to catch up on the fictional adventures of a character you cut from your WiP.  [Exaggerated a bit perhaps, but that’s also so no one can think to themselves, “Was that me?”]

2- Your blog/Twitter/whatever became high school all over again.  Cliques are so last century.  Really.  I’m on social networking sites to make friends and connections, not be told what a loser I am because you got your hands on an exclusive ARC or your crit buddy just got a deal and you’ve read the book and HOLY SMOKES you should be so jealous because I read it and you have to wait a year.  Neener neener.

Not. Cool.

3- You make me feel like I’m talking into the void or like I’m five years old.

4- I’ve seen you be impolite to people who could be influencers in your career or the career of those you know, simply because they came into the conversation a few tweets/posts/whatevers too late.

5- You got overly political which began to rub me like you’re trying to say, “It’s my way or the highway and this person is so so so wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself for listening to/believing/voting for them.”

Rant over.

Social networking for writers — November 19, 2009

Social networking for writers

The dreaded word- platform.

How important is it, really?  I’m not going into that portion of the argument today.  Maybe another day, but not today.

“For many writers marketing is almost a dirty word–an ugly truth that must be dealt with in order to make money as a writer.”  (Novel Writing a Writer’s Digest Yearbook publication from sometime over the summer, page 60.)

Several social networking sites exist which can help us build a platform, connect with an audience, and interact with our peers.  And it’s not just for non-fiction writers.  The same magazine I quoted above also had a feature on why novelists need platforms.  But there are different ways fiction writers can build a platform.  You build it through critique groups, memberships in professional organizations, interactions in the local literary community, named connections that you could use discreetly to your advantage, and the stuff you write about.

There are many social networking sites to join and utilize in building your platform, be it fiction or non.

First up, is blogging.  Yeah, I’m going to talk about blogging in a blog.  Talk about meta.  (Sorry, academic nerd.)

The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest had a feature on online marketing plans.  The first step is to create a website and/or a blog.  The article says that the website is mandatory while the blog is optional.

I’m going to disagree.  I think that when starting, in the earliest stages of your career, the website is not mandatory.  What are you going to put in there?  You don’t have a book.  You don’t have a cover.  Unless you’ve got short story credits out there, the website at this point is useless.

The blog, on the other hand, is an amazing tool.  But be careful.  See Kiersten’s post about blahgs, blarghs, and blogs.  Never put something in there you might regret later.

As always, budget your time carefully.  Writing is most important at any stage in your career.

Moving on to Facebook.  I have an account over there.  And I’m very accepting.  If you friend me, I’ll accept.  Then your feed will get inundated with posts about Farmville.  But it’s the current facebook fad, so I’m kind of hip.

Some tips for Facbook:
1- Join groups that you’re interested in.  Anything and everything related to your writing.  Writing a book about zombie pirate overlords who spend their days in general debauchery?  Find a group for pirate lovers.  Join a group for zombie lovers.  Then start your own group for your zombie pirates.  (Assuming one doesn’t exist.)
2- Really into pirates?  Change your facebook default language to English (Pirate).  It’s really funny.
3- Update photos and status routinely.  Don’t let your profile page get stagnant.
4- Spend your facebook time wisely.

(All above, save the zombie pirates engaging in debaucheries taken from May/June Writer’s Digest.)

For YA authors, Facebook is going to be one of the best ways to reach that target demographic.

Twitter.  Ah, Twitter.  How I vacillate over thee.  There are so many reasons why I can’t decide on Twitter.  I know I should just stake out my little corner of it, but I’m intimidated for some reason.

From the May/June issue, again, I take the following ways of using Twitter:

1- Follow feeds of those persons or industries relevant to your audience and your writing.  Or start your own Twitter feed as the captain of your zombie pirate ship.  It can be a good way to practice your pirate talk skills.
2- If you follow, they will come- same goes for blogging
3- Have a clear goal from the outset for how you want your Twitter account to work for you.
4- Take full advantage of Twitter shortcuts to save on characters.  Things like “tinyurl”
5- Use the search function to find related feeds
6- Monitor your broadcast ability through twittergrader.com
7- Tweet from anywhere you can.  Your iPhone, your regular phone, your computer, etc.

The May/June issue of Poets and Writers featured an article titled “Are Authors Who Twitter Any Fitter?”

I’d like to quote from it a little bit.  First up, the author says, “…joining Twitter doesn’t mean automatic recognition.  It helps to have a game plan in advance: a specific reason to follow specific users’ updates and an incentive for them to follow yours.”

There are a lot of things you can do with Twitter.  Tour schedules, calls for submissions (for agents and editors), links to your works, etc.  There’s also the blahg idea where you can reveal little bits about your everyday life through Twitter.  Or you can write a mini-novel, like John Wray did.  (The article in P&W talks about it.)

Lastly, there’s LinkedIn.

I used to be on this site.  But I dropped it.  I deleted the account.  It just didn’t seem like a productive use of time.  LinkedIn is more the professional networking route.  It’s not going to help you find an audience, but it can help you connect with professionals such as editors and agents.

4 steps to using LinkedIn successfully:
1- Make a great profile that will highlight your achievements and assets.
2- Ask for recommendations.  That’s how you build your network on LinkedIn.
3- Use it as a platform for professional articles and such.  Build the logos and the ethos will follow.
4- Link everything that’s yours to your profile.

So, there you have it.  I’ve been planning this post for a while, but hadn’t gotten to it yet.  I’ll be on hiatus next week.  It’s a very busy week and I just need to let myself take a break.  I need to re-prioritize.  Plus, I work in retail and next week is a hard one.  I will still try to get a WiP Wednesday up, but that will be the only post in the week.

Q4U: Which social networking sites do you take full advantage of?  Which do you wish you were on?  Are there any you now regret having a profile on?