Monday, March 9, 2015

3 Reasons Twitter and Writers are a Perfect Match

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I remember the first time I ventured onto twitter. It’s an intimidating site, full of unfamiliar terms and strange rules. Beyond that, the more people I followed, the more confusing the newsfeed became. To my untrained eye, all those 140 character bursts were just disjointed and disconnected chaos.

I really didn’t understand how anyone could get anything good out of this network.

Luckily for me, I didn’t give up. I kept digging for articles to help me understand the value of Twitter. And that’s when I began to unravel the Twitter chaos. As I became more familiar with this alien landscape, I began to appreciate why Twitter and writers are a perfect match.

1. It respects our time. Interacting in 140 character bursts keeps conversations focused and moving quickly.

2. It helps us write tight. If you’ve spent any time at all studying writing, you’ve heard the advice to write tight. This means eliminating unnecessary words.

3. It’s a networking superconductor. There is no social media platform out there that is better at allowing us to find connections with like-minded people.

How Connections are Made
So how do we tap into that networking superconductor? First, lets back up and evaluate the reason we’re all working at building an online presence. We are looking to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. But building new ones can be difficult if the only people we interact with are those we already know, either online or in person.

We can get a little bit of exposure to new folks through introductions from our existing connections, but that’s a time consuming way to go about it.

Twitter offers a better way—hashtags.

What if there was a way for someone to search a given social media network by topic and find new, interesting people to interact with? That would be a great way to grow our connections.

THAT, in the simplest of terms, is the purpose behind hashtags.

If I do a search on twitter for the popular writing hashtag #amwriting, I’m instantly able to discover people that I’d never have known existed.

AND if I include the hashtag #amwriting in one of my tweets, people who are searching for writers can find me, even if they’ve never heard of me from anyone before.

When you compose a social media update that includes one or two hashtags that summarize the topic, you are giving folks a way to find you.

For example, I’m working on a new series of Steampunk novels. Because of that, targeting a specific type of reader—one who reads Steampunk. I find those readers within the larger group of people who read science fiction (ABA – secular) or speculative fiction (CBA – Christian).

Here’s a sample tweet I might send out, targeted at those specific readers: 

Step-by-step instructions to help you turn a plain 
top hat into a #Steampunk masterpiece! 
Via @EdieMelson #Specfic

Let’s break down how I composed this update. I know that the Steampunk community loves to create costumes. So I’m giving them information they’d find useful and interesting.
  • I used #Steampunk so that anyone searching Twitter for others who are interested in this genre can find me.
  • I also included @EdieMelson, because on Twitter, that is a clickable link that takes them directly to my Twitter page.
  • Finally I used #specfic, because that’s the hashtag for speculative fiction to pull in readers who might find this interesting.
  • If I was targeting the general market reader, instead of #specfic, I would have used #scifi.

NOTE: Use # (hashtags) to denote a subject, and use @ (at sign) to denote a person or organization. With organizations, you’ll find some that hashtag their names and others use the @ sign.

Twitter isn’t the only social media network that has hashtags. You can use hashtags in the same manner on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. There may be other networks that also use them, but those are the main ones.

Hashtag Etiquette
Try to never use more than three hashtags in any one tweet. If you can make it two that’s even better. Otherwise you end up looking like a used car sales man. If you’re trying to reach more groups, schedule multiple tweets, at different times, about the same subject and target your groups two at a time.

Always research your hashtag before you use it. Never assume it’s the correct one. For example, I was targeting military families with tweets about my devotional for military families and I thought #military would be the logical hashtag. No, turns out that hashtag is frequently used by those trying to date someone in the military. Not really the demographic I was trying to reach. The hashtag I wanted was #militaryfamily and #deployment. The best place to research hashtags is also the easiest, just type it into Google or the search engine of your choice.

Now it’s your turn to ask me any Twitter questions you have. Or share how Twitter has helped you make more connections. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments sections below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. Thanks so much for this post, I needed it long ago. I know twitter works and has helped me grow my blog, but I did not understand how to target groups. With this and what I have learned from you about hyperlinks you have opened up my writing world in a whole new way. Thank you and God Bless.

    1. Ric, I'm so glad I've been able to help! Blessings, E

  2. Twitter is fast and fun but I have learned it is important to add those hashtags to your posts so they are found.

    1. Ballantine, you are so right! Thanks for adding your thoughts, Blessings, E

  3. I am still learning this connection site and sometimes it is overwhelming. Thanks for the update on the way things work.

  4. I am still learning this connection site and sometimes it is overwhelming. Thanks for the update on the way things work.

  5. Edie, I am a used car salesman ;( Thank you for the heads up. I use about 4 # I will now tweet more and hash tag less. Twitter has been a great source of community. I have found other like minded Christians, we tweet and pray for each other and our country. I have been asked to write an article for one online Magazine after they read one of my tweets. That was a blessing. Each of us has a God given message. Twitter is a great place to get it out there. I have had some really rude comments made about some bible tweets; I ignore them, pray for that person and move on.

  6. Just for the record Edie, my blog which had been getting about 30 hits a day, with the information in your post is now over a 100 a day and climbing fast. Thanks again.

  7. Just for the record Edie, my blog which had been getting about 30 hits a day, with the information in your post is now over a 100 a day and climbing fast. Thanks again.

  8. Thanks! I didn't know you could use hashtags on Pinterest. Somehow I'd missed that scoop. Thank you!