Tackling Twitter, Part 2: Replying, Retweeting & Using the Hashtag, Oh My!

Now that you’ve filled in your bio, personalized your page with a photo of yourself, uploaded a background, and have followed others or found followers of your own, what’s left to do?

Well as I mentioned in last week’s post (Tackling Twitter, Part 1), it’s important you maintain the relationships you’re building. This includes updating your own account on a regular basis, of course, as well as replying, retweeting and familiarizing yourself with the # sign, a.k.a. the hashtag.

What does that mean, though? Here’s a rundown:

Retweeting: It’s essentially a forward without commentary or, in dialogue form, “Hey, look at this interesting article / funny thought / smart observation I found.” Often I’ll pass along interesting pieces from The New York Times’ Twitter feed, blog posts from writers I follow, or even a 140-character sum up of how someone else is feeling because it’s how I feel that day, too.

Replying with the original tweet: I follow a bunch of writers who dish out some really good advice so often I’ll include their original tweet with my reply thanking them for the tip. This way other Tweeps I know can find the initial blog post / thought easily. So how do you reply like this, and what does it look like? Reply as you normally would, copy the original post after their username, put a “RT” before their @name, and then add your commentary before that. Here’s an example:

  • Original tweet from author @CathCrowley: The days of empty pages. Blog Post # 4 http://bit.ly/zPKvWC
  • My reply: Great advice for #writers who, like me, sometimes find it hard to start / keep going! RT @CathCrowley The days of empty pages. Blog post # 4 http://bit.ly/zPKvWC

Replying without the original tweet: Replying with the tweet usually indicates that the “conversation” has more of a broad appeal, but not all convos do. Recently I wondered if the Westminster judges accidentally picked a skunk instead of a dog as this year’s winner, which then kicked off a chat with a follower about her dog. Since our talk was more for us, and not for the general benefit of others, she didn’t include my tweet when she replied and so on and so forth. It went like this:

  • Original tweet: Does anyone else think that the #Westminster judges picked a long-haired skunk instead of a dog as the winner?
  • Reply tweet from a follower: I can’t judge #Westminster, I own a pup who bares similar Pepe Le Pew resemblance.
  • My reply: Your dog is AWWW-dorable and has normal dog hair/fur, not a mane, as yesterday’s winner does!

The #hashtag: This one is tricky, and it took me some time to get used to. It’s helpful to think of using the # sign to:

  • Become part of a larger conversation: Type #HungerGames into the twitter search bar, and you’re likely to find thousands of people talking about the books or the movies. Jump in on the conversation by writing your own thought about the #HungerGames and you never know who else you may connect to. Great twitter “trends” (what popular hashtag phrases are known as) for writers include: #amwriting; #writetips; #yalit; #yawednesday. There are tons of others though, so keep an eye out for what pertains to you.
  • Organize your tweets for followers: By tagging all of your posts as say #TheBakersDaughterTour, which I saw a fellow Tweep once do, her followers could easily find all of her tweets pertaining to her tour dates. It’s important the “trend” you’re creating be specific. Otherwise if you’re tweeting about the #Giants on game day a search will end up revealing all associated tweets, whether from you or not, and a follower will most likely just be overwhelmed.
  • Indicate a last observation: This is a particularly weird one and honestly pretty unimportant. Basically, though, sometimes people make a declaration on top of their initial observation. Wait, what are you talking about? It’s confusing so here are examples that are often supposed to be funny, with varying degrees of success:
  1. How is this day not over yet? #longestfridayever
  2. I promise never to wear bright green skinny jeans #noiwont
  3. I hate when I lost access to free articles on the NYT website #timesfail

I know it’s a lot to grasp, but deciding when to reply, retweet or use the # sign  becomes surprisingly instinctive after a while. Also if you fear you’ve not done it “right” there’s the nifty delete button, which lets you try again.

Above all else though, the #1 rule is to have fun, so get to it, Tweeps!

Other questions, tips or tricks for twitter?

 

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for this great article re: Twitter. It is confusing, wonderful, and mysterious all at the same time. At least the confusing part is a little better now :)

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