Up until just a couple months ago, I always believed twitter to be a downgraded version of facebook, with people making obnoxious posts that relate to nothing of importance. Twitter also seemed very difficult to understand or navigate.
Then I discovered two invaluable tools: hashtags and Tweetdeck.
Simply put, hashtags are classification labels you can include in your tweets. They must be one word with no symbols, and must be preceded by a # sign. For example, every tweet I make regarding my fantasy novel series includes the hashtag #Beholders.
So you can add a label to your tweets. So what?
Sooo, that's where Tweetdeck comes in. Tweetdeck is an AWESOME tool which turns twitter into a live-streaming, interactive community. See my screenshot below:
As you can see, I have multiple columns showing at a time. Each column is streaming a specific thing that interests me. You can stream a list of your followers (we refer to our twitter friends as "tweeps"), the tweets that all of your tweeps make, hashtags, or a list of specific search terms (like "Terron James").
By utilizing twitter through a program like Tweetdeck, you have joined a free, worldwide community of people with similar interests. As an author, some of my favorite hashtags are #yalitchat, #amwriting, #amquerying, and #pubwrite. There are also friend-sharing hashtags like #ww and #ff ("writer Wednesday" and "friend Friday"), which are great tools to connect with new tweeps.
If you use programs like Tweetdeck, twitter becomes a gigantic chat room. #yalitchat hosts a international chat session every week to discuss all the young adult literature circulating through the world. A lot of these hashtags have their own websites set up to manage their community and post their chat schedules.
Through twitter communities like #yalitchat and #amwriting, I have received free help with my query letter from strangers on the opposite side of the world, obtained free advertising for my novel series, and most importantly, made lifelong friends.
I expect that, as with myself, twitter has suddenly become extremely valuable to you. How could it not?
In the infamous words of Darth Vader, "Join me, and I will complete your training."