Get a Grip on Twitter Handles

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platformGuest blogueur: Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Écrire un nouveau Tweet…

Each time you visit France, all those French classes rush back into your mind, don’t they? You’re Rimbaud Jr. by the time you find your luggage at CDG, thanks to your immersion in the scene, the rhythms, the place.

That’s a great way for a platforming author to approach Twitter — as a language. And nothing works like immersional baggage handling. Publishing is an industry mad for the tweets. You want to be fluent, starting with Twitter’s use of names—yours and others’.

 

Are you putting your byline on your posts? Good. Now add your Twitter handle.

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

Simple name + Twitter handle. Elizabeth S. Craig / @elizabethscraig (Click for larger view)

Place your byline at the top of every post. It’s good, professional procedure.

Your byline needs to do two things:

  1. Name you.
  2. Translate your name to Twitter-ese.

So add your Twitter handle — with the @ symbol — right there with your name.

By Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Are you welcoming a guest post to your blog? Then add your guest’s Twitter handle along with her or his name, up top, first reference:

By My Guest Today / @ MyGuestToday

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

Both blogger and guest get Twitter handles from @JennWebb at O'Reilly Media's radar. (Click for larger view.)

It’s also fine to just make links to people’s Twitter pages, without @ symbols, if you’re working with a large number of names in one piece.

At Jane Friedman’s site (@JaneFriedman), Thursday’s Writing on the Ether references a lot of people. The inclusion of 40 or 50 @-symbol handles gives the Ether a polka-dot aesthetic. Not au courant. So there, we link names to Twitter pages.

However, if you’re just dealing with one or two names, writing out the @-symbol handle is best practice.

But who cares who wrote it?

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

Note the handles, both the auto-RT for @JaneFriedman and the Twitter handle for Jane's guest, @edcyzewski.

I do. And I hope you do.

If writers don’t care enough to credit each other, who will?

The New York Times has never written a word. Journalists do all the writing. I’m glad if I have enough space to credit both a writer and the Times in a tweet, it’s a great paper. But if my 140 characters don’t allow for both? –I credit the writer.

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

This sweetly designed link button to @EvanSelinger's Twitter page shows you his handle. (Click for larger view.)

Same for blogs. Here at RachelleGardner.com, @RachelleGardner does the writing, and very ably, too.

If authors wrote as well as agents…remind me to do that post some day.

So if you’re tweeting about a post from La Gardner here, it’s important she get the credit, mais oui. Messenger over medium.

 

So why are handles better than names on Twitter?

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

@dirtywhitecandy (Roz Morris) has added her Twitter handle to her WordPress profile name. (Click for larger view.)

On Twitter, a name just lies there. But a handle lights up.

Say “vegetable” to your French buddy. Then say “légume.” Right?

The Twitter system “speaks” those @-symbol handles. If you write @Porter_Anderson on Twitter:

  • I’ll know you’ve said something about me (so watch it).
  • I’ll know you’re helping to spread my coverage of publishing news and views to others who follow you.
  • I’ll be able to respond to you, to thank you.
  • I’ll be able to retweet you, which will carry your Twitter handle out to my own followers.

Don’t pass up the amplification of the digital infrastructure.

Is it important to make your Twitter handle link to your twitter page in a post?

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

@KMWeiland's name and Twitter handle link. (Click for larger view.)

It’s not as important as simply writing out your Twitter handle with the @ symbol.

That sounds illogical. But it has to do with time.

I’m writing here as what the online-influence metrics system @Klout designates as a broadcaster. That simply means I move a lot of folks’ material around the Ether.

When broadcasters like me find a great post of yours, we want to alert others to it. But we don’t have time to:

  • Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platform

    A summertime view from a Louvre window. (Click for larger view.)

    Search for your Twitter icon, that bluebird of helpfulness;

  • Click on your name or that bluebird and wait while Twitter’s servers reveal your handle; or
  • Go to Twitter, input your name in the search field, and pray for a hit.

So my recommendation is that you make it as easy as possible for all of us to expand awareness of your work. Wear out your @-key.

Speak Twitter, think in Twitter-ese, use Twitter handles with names, so your platform can translate to the world what you’re doing.

Have you ever found a great post by an author and had to spend time searching for his or her Twitter handle? How important do you feel it is to credit writers in tweets? How fluent do you feel in Twitter-ese?

* * * * *

Porter Anderson, Rachelle Gardner, Writing on the Ether, Twitter, author, platformPorter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson, BA, MA, MFA, is a Fel­low with the National Crit­ics Insti­tute and has done spe­cial read­ings at the Uni­ver­sity of Bath, UK. As a jour­nal­ist, he has worked with three net­works of CNN, the Village Voice, and other media. He writes Thursday’s Writing on the Ether at JaneFriedman.com, and is a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed and Digital Book World’s Expert Publishing Blog.

  1. Danielle Gutowski says:

    What if a person doesn’t use Twitter? Is it even necessary?

  2. I tried to add @rickblumenberg to my blog per your suggestion. How do I make it active? When I try to click on it nothing happens. The only way I could make it work was to copy it out of twitter and paste it in. It works on that one post, but there’s got to be a better way. Can you help?

  3. Kelly Combs says:

    I think the twitter-ease has stuck, when I’m chatting with a friend and say something like, “Have you seen at Rachelle Gardner’s latest blog post? She has a guest poster, his name is at Porter Anderson.”

    When the “ats” (@) start permeating my language, I think I have the concept. Thanks for a great post!

    @KellyCombs

  4. I so appreciate how the internet provides linkage between people with great ideas and those who haven’t thought of them. The inclusion of name and contact information should be a no-brainer, but like many others, I didn’t do it.

    Thanks Porter, for the insight. I always learn new best practices from your posts. I’m so darn clueless about simple things.

    • Don’t feel bad, Leslie, it’s a new world for all of us. (Remember, humankind has never had anything remotely like the connectedness possible today — the entire digital concept is new to us as a species, so you’re hardly behind the curve.) Lovely of you to find good things that might be useful in my posts, thank you. And do check out the latest Writing on the Ether at JaneFriedman.com, lots shaking there, too. :)
      Cheers,
      -p.

  5. Hi, Monica.

    Yeah, my own strong preference is for a Twitter handle to reference your name, not a project or product. This gets back to the point of crediting writers, too: Your blog won’t be writing — you will.

    So you do the logic test.

    (a) Has a girl’s eye view of everything ever written anything? No.
    (b) Have girls written girls’ eye views of things? Forever.

    There’s your answer. People write. Things (like your blog) do not. And partly because of the brevity of tweets, people need to write that you (not your blog) wrote so-and-so. They don’t have room to explain in a tweet why they’re referring to a person (you) as your project (your blog). So folks trying to tweet your work are instantly in a bind.

    And, per an earlier comment I was answering, a bit more about why your Twitter handle, in general, needs to reflect your name:

    First, people simply like to deal with people. In daily life, you wouldn’t dream of walking up to John Grisham and saying, “Hi, The Firm, how are you today?” And yet, somehow on Twitter, some folks think they should adopt a title or corporate name as their handle.

    Second, your career as a serious writer is likely to have several, if not many, major projects to which you may attach “branding” from one time or another — new book titles, maybe new blog titles, etc., all should be coming along. If you’ve built up your following to know you by one or the other project/blog/book name, then when you need to present them with your great *new* project/blog/book, the old name makes a lot less sense.

    Your name is what will always be with you, and, as in daily life, it’s what you’re called regardless of your job or role in various situations.

    So I’d favor getting set up with a Twitter handle that makes the least tricky, most memorable, and most easily spelled use of your name as possible.

    And all the best with it! Thanks for reading me and commenting –
    -p.

  6. Great post! And helpful even to someone like me who speaks Twitterese. Just moments before I started reading it, I had put a new post on my blog, and I zipped right over there and added my name and Twitter handle. It had never occurred to me on my own to do that. Duh me LOL.

    • Hey, Nikki!

      So glad this was helpful, and that’s super that you now are doing a byline with your Twitter handle included!

      I’ve realized that bylining, itself (“bylining” is not approved by Merriam-Webster, it’s just a newsroom corruption, lol), doesn’t come naturally to a great many people who haven’t worked in journalism.

      One great thing it helps do is credit you when some of your work shows up elsewhere. Let’s say you write a guest post for someone who’s terribly well-intentioned but has a weird, awkward way of letting readers know a guest has taken over. This way, with a byline, there’s never any question whose work we’re reading. AND with the Twitter handle, we can all tweet your work so it gets some legs on it.

      Good for you, then, and put a Post-It somewhere to remind you to do that each time. Soon it will be second nature.

      A bientot –
      -p.

  7. Thanks for this thorough explanation. I didn’t fall in love with Twitter at first Tweet and 1K Tweets later I still don’t love it (mostly cuz I’m not plugged in enough to keep up with chatter), but I recognize its functionality and I need to respect it. I appreciate the ideas you gave. I’m going to make sure my @rachellewrites is in my byline or somewhere more prominently on my blog.

    • Thanks, @rachellewrites, anything you can do to get your Twitter handle up high where broadcasters and others don’t have to search for it will increase your chances of having your work covered online. As the old scriptures say, “don’t hide your light under a bushel.” :-)

      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      -p.

  8. I have always wanted to be a columnist, so I decided to use my blog home to start my own. I’ll provide reviews, interviews and commentary on things women talk and think about. On Twitter my full name is listed, but my twitter handle is the column name. I decided to try this because I wanted to start getting the name out there. However, I noticed you suggest the twitter handle be our own name. Is there a downside to doing it the way I have done it?
    @a_girlseyeview

    • Hi, Monica.

      Yeah, my own strong preference is for a Twitter handle to reference your name, not a project or product. This gets back to the point of crediting writers, too: Your blog won’t be writing — you will.

      So you do the logic test.

      (a) Has a girl’s eye view of everything ever written anything? No.
      (b) Have girls written girls’ eye views of things? Forever.

      There’s your answer. People write. Things (like your blog) do not. And partly because of the brevity of tweets, people need to write that you (not your blog) wrote so-and-so. They don’t have room to explain in a tweet why they’re referring to a person (you) as your project (your blog). So folks trying to tweet your work are instantly in a bind.

      And, per an earlier comment I was answering, a bit more about why your Twitter handle, in general, needs to reflect your name:

      First, people simply like to deal with people. In daily life, you wouldn’t dream of walking up to John Grisham and saying, “Hi, The Firm, how are you today?” And yet, somehow on Twitter, some folks think they should adopt a title or corporate name as their handle.

      Second, your career as a serious writer is likely to have several, if not many, major projects to which you may attach “branding” from one time or another — new book titles, maybe new blog titles, etc., all should be coming along. If you’ve built up your following to know you by one or the other project/blog/book name, then when you need to present them with your great *new* project/blog/book, the old name makes a lot less sense.

      Your name is what will always be with you, and, as in daily life, it’s what you’re called regardless of your job or role in various situations.

      So I’d favor getting set up with a Twitter handle that makes the least tricky, most memorable, and most easily spelled use of your name as possible.

      And all the best with it! Thanks for reading me and commenting –
      -p.

  9. Well Jill, you’re higher on the twitter chain than I am. I feel like I’m still waving flags across the bow!!

    Signed

    @JJumping

  10. Jill says:

    There are people who link to really great sites on their twitter pages, so I like to hit on their pages. But other than that, I’m a dunce with twitter. I’ve tried to make a go of it for over a year now, but it seems to have that particular problem of the social media echo chamber.

    • Hi, Jill, thanks for commenting.

      Everything — from your church group to your beta-reading friends, your volleyball team, and your daycare parents’ buddies — becomes an echo chamber if you don’t press the edges of your experience there to let in unexpected and unfamiliar interests.

      On Twitter, simply following someone you don’t know opens a new window that leads to more and more new people and ideas — the person may turn out to be a dud or may turn out to be a life-changer. But echo-chambering is never inevitable. In fact, this is why a lot of such online experience is called a “rabbit hole” … you find yourself led along by one new thing after the next. Quite the opposite of an echo chamber. :)

      It just takes a bit of effort to be sure you’re keeping your options open.

      Really appreciate your reading and commenting, thanks so much, and good weekend!
      -p.

  11. I agree–it’s VERY important to be courteous and thank/credit your Tweeps. I am always so grateful for a #FF. I RT, thank the person, and #FF them at some point. I would want others to do the same for me. It all comes down to what I teach my kids: treat others the way you want to be treated.

    The only reason I know anything about Twitter is because someone sat down with me and taught me how to use it. Unlike Facebook, it’s very difficult to figure out on your own. A tutorial by someone who knows what they’re doing is key.

    @mtprose

    • Interesting perspective, Meredith, and thank you for it.

      Ironically, I’d say that Facebook is less accessible than Twitter. Funny how we each have different levels of adaptability for things.

      I’m glad you have someone to talk you through it, that’s a great way to get at it, since the entire purpose is to connect with others.

      Keep at it, and thanks for reading and commenting! -p.

  12. Wow, I never even thought of this. Thanks for the insight.

  13. Hi Porter! Great post. Thanks, Rachelle, for inviting him.

    I hadn’t thought about adding my handle to my blog’s byline. Seems like a no-brainer now that you mention it. Although I’m moving my website and blog to WordPress soon, my blog currently is with Blogger. Wonder if I can add my Twitter handle to my byline there…

    I’m a Twitter evangelist probably because I love talking with and meeting new people. That’s how I met Porter. Someone retweeted something he’d posted and I found it very informative to me as an author. And since then, we’ve chatted from time to time there. In fact, when Porter is tweeting from a writer’s convention, I set up a special column for him in Tweetdeck so I don’t miss a thing. 😉 He’s one of the best live-tweeters around.

    @LaurieBLondon

    • I have to admit, Kathy, until I read Gary’s note, I’d never have thought of today’s post as a “tech” post. To me, anything related to effective use of social media relates to the writing life and fits right in.

      This is part of the paradigm shift Jane Friedman was discussing lately, the one we need in writing to help everybody stop seeing the various aspects of a writer’s duties as distinct from each other. In time, we’ll all get there, and by God knows how many paths.

      I resisted Twitter for a long time, too — and I still wish I didn’t have to call a perfectly important communication a “tweet.” A system like this is by no means for the birds, but this corporate-cute trend is everywhere. So we “tweet.”

      We’ll all get there in one mode or another, surrounded by blue feathers settling to the ground. :)
      -p.

    • Hi, Laurie!

      Thanks such kind comments about my live-tweet coverage and such, really appreciate them AND appreciate you following so faithfully. We need more writers as careful to be informed as you are.

      With luck, Blogger (which I’ve used only a reader) will allow you to write your Twitter handle into the name field of your profile, just as I’ve done here on this comment system. In fact, look at Elizabeth S. Craig’s page (one of the examples in my post here) — she’s on a Blogger platform with her site, so clearly there’s a way to do it.

      And you’re right, of course, the ability to connect with loads of people is one of the great features of Twitter that we all enjoy.

      Do check out the new edition of the Ether, just out today at JaneFriedman.com, if you get a chance, and thanks again for reading and commenting. See you on Twitter!

  14. Hey Porter (@porter_anderson), thanks for this succinct and convincing reminder to make our twitter handles prominent and easily accessible. Time is such a huge factor in spreading our messages. I have to admit, initially I resisted going on Twitter. Now,I can’t for the life of me remember why because it has become my favorite connection tool. I just jumped in and learned along the way and am continuing to learn more every day, meeting amazing people and making many meaningful connections. Alan Rinzler is right, “Twitter is like the biggest cocktail party in the world.” You’ve been a leader in showing us the way and I thank you for all you do to keep us “in line” :-) I can’t help but respond to Gary’s comment above. With all due respect for his right to express his opinion, I have found that social media is no longer optional and any reminder about the appropriate use of the tools seems to be a very fitting topic for Rachelle’s blog.

    • I have to admit, Kathy, until I read Gary’s note, I’d never have thought of today’s post as a “tech” post. To me, anything related to effective use of social media relates to the writing life and fits right in.

      This is part of the paradigm shift Jane Friedman was discussing lately, the one we need in writing to help everybody stop seeing the various aspects of a writer’s duties as distinct from each other. In time, we’ll all get there, and by God knows how many paths.

      I resisted Twitter for a long time, too — and I still wish I didn’t have to call a perfectly important communication a “tweet.” A system like this is by no means for the birds, but this corporate-cute trend is everywhere. So we “tweet.” :)

      We’ll all get there in one mode or another, surrounded by blue feathers settling to the ground. :)
      -p.

  15. Great post. Important post, really. We writers must embrace Twitter, get all cozy with Twitter, take it out for a nice seafood dinner … and call it back.

    • Calamari, that’s what Twitter wants. Oh, no, that’s what I’m starving for, sorry. :) Thanks for the note, Brendan, appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Do jump in, dive, plunge, immerse — you can’t break it, remember. Start with a few folks you know and agree to tweet with. Test things out with them, and soon you’ll find yourself all over the system … because it’s a part of the writing life now, not something separate.

      Cheers, and enjoy it!
      -p.

  16. Thank you for this post. I am a Facebook die hard, but for some reason, I’m a bit slower to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. I’m not opposed to it (I have an account @MeyerGabrielle), I just have no idea how to utilize it.

    Your post was excellent and gave me a bit more knowledge that I can use as I navigate the Twitter world. What’s your best advice for a Twitter newbie?

    • Great, Gabrielle, I’m liking the fact that you were sure to get your Twitter handle into your comment — one of the guys reading today has realized we can type our Twitter handles right into the “name” field in the comment form after our names. So thanks to Adam Porter (great name), whose Twitter handle is @AtlasProWriter, I’ve picked up a tip on how to get my handle into each tweet.

      And that has to do with my best advice. The social media are all about learning with others and from others. Getting the hang of them is almost entirely hands-on. You need to “feel” it to get it.

      But I’d advise anybody very new to the system to buddy up with somebody else, preferably someone a bit more advanced, but not necessarily some hotshot. (Unless you have a 14-year-old in the house, they are all hotshots, lol.) If you and a buddy can start tweeting back and forth and trying things (you can’t break it!), then gradually, you’ll both learn as you go, and it’s more fun — and sometimes less intimidating — to be able to say, “What on Earth just happened to that tweet, did you see that?”

      Share the ride, in other words, since the social media are all about sharing, sharing, sharing.

      Oh, and let me help you with the move from Facebook to Twitter (or the adding-on of Twitter). Think of it this way: Facebook is like a TV show with lots of people and episodes and stories and visuals going on. Now, think of watching that show on a news network and the “crawl” as we call it, the news ticker, comes across with two or three sentences about each news story scrolling along, or “crawling” in TV terms, on the bottom of your screen. That’s Twitter.

      Twitter is short bursts of newsy communication, in newsrooms, we’d call it a “news feed” or “flash wire.” You still can go back and forth with people in conversations, but the quick-blip format is always the nature of the exchange. Facebook is a whole house-party of a show, big and blowsy, less focused and more gregarious.

      Too many folks think Facebook and Twitter are somehow doing the same thing. They’re really not. And as you get comfortable with Twitter, you’ll learn to like the two services’ respective points for their distinctions.

      Have fun with it!
      -p.

  17. TC Avey says:

    I’m fairly new to using Twitter. Thanks so much for the useful info! Very helpful.

    @tcavey1

    • But I see you have a @Klout score of 40, TC, not too shabb at all. You’re clearly using your time on social media well. And like several of our associates here, you’re getting your Twitter handle into your comments. Smart, smart, smart.

      I’m looking forward to the day license plates are offered with the Twitter handle of one’s choice. :)

      Cheers!
      -p.

      • TC Avey says:

        This is actually the first time I’ve used my handle in a comment section- thanks for the tip!

        Is a klout score of 40 good since I’m so new? Seems low since it’s out of 100.

        • Hey, yeah, 40 is quite respectable. The algorithms are tracking your interactions, primarily — when you tweet, how many others pick up your tweets and move them along, retweet them, apply to you, etc.? You also can hook up Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and some others, if you use them, which then allows Klout to watch you on those media, as well, and get a better picture of how you’re doing. But yes, I’d guess — and I’m guessing, only Joe Fernandez, chief of Klout, could really tell us — but I’d say most casual users social media are running a Klout score between 25 and 34 or so. Pace yourself, though, and be very patient. Every point you move up in Klout score, advancement gets harder. It’s as if more weight is piled on you as you bench press so the difficulty of upward progress increases as you move on. Rather like life. :)

  18. At the moment, I am overwhelmed and fear I will never catch up. The word “twitterpated”comes to mind, but that would be incorrect and misleading usage of the word. Nor, can I safely say , “I am struggling because I am all thumbs.” I am definitely not all thumbs in the twitterpated texting world. Sigh, I shall have to seek the assistance of the younger generation. They will help me, I am sure, with glee; for they are my gift to the world and now they help me.
    I have always loved studios, microphones and stages; so why should platform be a difficult thing to take on? My track record shows my tenacity. I am a true pen and Nifty wielding veteran of the battles of Olivetti, Smith-Corona; double carbons, white-out; early word-proccessor and green screen. I have submitted in person, in duplicate, with SASE, by attachment and by link. You cannot now knock me over with a tweet. I will call my DIL and get to the bottom of the matter.

    • Good for you, Cherry!

      Remember, the whole thing is like a language in another way: You learn it one word at a time. Go at your own pace. Get the Twitter handles of a few friends so you can send messages back and forth. In time, you’ll begin to catch on to how it all works. It’s actually quite simple, there are very few things to truly learn. (French is much harder than Twitter-ese!)

      The best advice I have is never think about “the whole thing.” Just peck along, a tweet at a time. Send one out, see what happens. If you don’t understand why it happened (or didn’t), don’t be afraid to ask. In the online world, requesting assistance is common and, in most cases, you’ll get it, folks are often flattered to be asked.

      Started on a refurbished German manual Olympia typewriter, myself, had a beautiful font (typeface) I’ve found nowhere since.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      -p.

  19. Thanks for the great advice, Porter. I just checked my blog to be sure my twitter name (@mincontro) is there and it is on a Twitter “follow me” button. My blog is new and I need all the advice I can get on how to build a following. I don’t think all twitterers realize how helpful, and how deeply appreciated, RTs are.

    • Hey, Mary!

      Cool to see you here — Rachelle’s blog is a great one to follow.

      I think you’re right about the understanding of the RTs’ function. One of the smartest things to do on the Twitter site, itself, is click the “Connect” button (top nav bar) — it will show you retweets and other actions that have recently “lit up” your handle, things you’d otherwise not have been aware of. When you really start to pay attention and consider the amplification possible as a tweet moves through whole fields of users’ contacts, each of whom has her or his own contacts, it’s pretty boggling. You start to grasp the breadth of the service.

      Glad you’re working on it. Remember the key ingredients are time and patience. It can take some time to get real traction, but stick with it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!
      -p.

  20. Even put my Twitter handle in the “Name” portion of this form.
    Follow folks and I’ll return the favor.

    @AtlasProWriter

    • You catch on fast, Adam (and you have a great last name, lol). Smart move.

      And if you use business cards, letterhead stationery, etc., be sure your Twitter handle goes onto those, as well — even those Old World items can carry your new-media connetions for you.

      Thanks for reading the column and commenting!
      -p.

  21. CG Blake says:

    Porter,
    Thank you, thank you. I was a Twitter doubter for a long time but an old college friend kept bugging me to give it a try. Now I’m an evangelist. If you follow the right people you can access an amazing depth of knowledge. And the marketing benefits for writers are powerful, but you must have a giving and sharing mindset. I do more retweeting than pushing out my own blog content. I always learn so much from your posts. Thanks again, Porter.

    • You know, you’ve made my day with your comment, CG – I went kicking and screaming into the Twitterverse, myself, thinking it was frivolous nonsense for kids. (If I could get the four co-founders in a room, I’d love to explain to them how the name “Twitter” does them NO good in getting across the fact that this is actually an amazingly robust, powerful, worldwide construct all its own. To this day, I wish I didn’t have to say I “tweet,” LOL. But I’m over it, and glad you are, too. As you might guess, I see it as the next best thing to the Reuters or AP feed, functions very much as the “flash” wires I’ve used in so many newsrooms do. Most journalists fall for Twitter as readily as publishing people do.

      So thanks for reading and for your grand comment! The new Ether is just out, by the way, over at JaneFriedman.com — pack a lunch, as usual. :-)

      Cheers, and thanks again!
      -p.

  22. Thanks for the tip. I’ve wondered about the byline on my blog so now I’ll get in the habit of putting it there as I would with any article I write. And I’ll start using my twitter name as well. @PCZick :)

    • Excellent, @PCZick! :) Glad you find the approach useful, I think you’ll quickly note how much more easily you go from one platform to another with this helping make you “fluent.”
      All the best with it!
      -p.

  23. Gary says:

    Hmmm…well-written post, but off the mark as far as content that attracted me to subscribe to this blog in the first place. Tech advice is all over the Web…seems a reach to have this topic appear here. Understand the thin connection, but I think the subject’s off-target for this blog. Just my two and a half cents…

    • Thanks, Gary, fair enough comment by me. I was delighted, of course, when Rachelle invited me to do the piece, but I’m aligned with Jane Friedman and some other folks’ concept that writing and platforming and business-of-writing issues are pretty inseparable nowadays, so to me it seems no stretch at all. Appreciate your input.

      You may be interested in Writing on the Ether, my weekly piece at Jane’s in fact, just released this morning at http://ow.ly/aYjbe

      Thanks again for speaking up, totally respect your point.
      -p.

      • I was actually thinking how much I appreciated this post! I know lots of fledgling (and NOT-so-fledgling) writers who are trying to decode the world of twitter. This is extremely helpful advice for the less techie-inclined among us. Now, I’d love to figure out how to get my @name to show up when people tweet my stuff from Blogger.

        • (Oh, and I’ll throw my actual twitter handle into the mix here. It’s @vikingwritergal. And I know it’s unprofessional…but it sets me apart, and I don’t know how to change names at this point (over 500 followers), so I feel stuck w/it.

        • Hi, Heather, you Viking, and thanks for reading and commenting! :-)

          First, you’ve come to the right place. If you decide you’d like to change your Twitter handle to something else without losing your followers, here are the instructions: http://ow.ly/aYXfr

          And about tweets from Blogger, I assume you mean that a reader goes to your Blogger blog, hits a “tweet this” type of button and a popup opens with a pre-written tweet in it, right? A lot of these auto-tweet convenience boxes don’t credit the writer. While some are designed to do that if you opt in, others just don’t have the option. However, these auto-tweet boxes DO normally open in a popup and wait for you to hit Send. If they do, that’s the moment your tweeters should manually put in your Twitter handle. Alas, most people are likelier to use their turn indicators than stop and put in your Twitter handle. But those willing to do it almost always can intercept that auto-tweet and get a a writer’s handle in.

          Does that help?
          Thanks!
          -p.

          • Mais ouis, C’est vrais (or something along those lines). It does help! Will check out that link for getting a more professional handle, if I can bear to give up my Viking one…

            And yes, that was exactly what I meant– I’d hoped there was a way to permanently embed my @handle via Blogger, so when people tweet my posts, it shows up. If I ever switch blogspots again, I’m going w/Wordpress.

            Merci beaucoups! (Although “vielen dank” would be the language I’m a bit more familiar with).

          • Sie sind willkommen, and yes, I can recommend WordPress. In fact, I haven’t tried Blogger, but those I know who have seem to think they want to get to WP, too. Good luck with it!
            -p.

  24. Porter,
    I think that’s really the way to do it. What’s your opinion on having a twitter handle being something else than your name? I’m asking this because my name does not fit in all together…so I’ve been using my blog name. Does it matter? Or should I switch as soon as possible? Thanks for your input.(And thanks, Rachelle, for hosting Porter). Blessings!

    • Hi, Mari-Anna and thanks for the great question as well as for reading the post.

      Sorry to suggest you need to go to this trouble, but it’s FAR better to use a form of your name than your blog title, book title, company name, etc.

      A couple of reasons.

      First, people simply like to deal with people. In daily life, you wouldn’t dream of walking up to John Grisham and saying, “Hi, The Firm, how are you today?” And yet, somehow on Twitter, some folks think they should adopt a title or corporate name as their handle. It’s quite off-putting, especially when folks don’t put their names even in the profile info. It looks as if they’re hiding behind the blog/company/book name.

      Second, your career as a writer is likely to have several, if not many, major projects to which you may attach “branding” from one time or another — new book titles, maybe new blog titles, etc., all should be coming along. If you’ve built up your following to know you by one or the other project/blog/book name, then when you need to present them with your great new project/blog/book, the old name makes a lot less sense.

      Your name is what will always be with you, and, as in daily life, it’s what you’re called regardless of your job or role in various situations.

      So I’d favor getting set up with a Twitter handle that makes the least tricky, most memorable, and most easily spelled use of your name, or part of it, as possible.

      I say “part of it” because if your name is too long, then shoot for the first name or the surname or initials and your surname. Whatever makes you human and personable.

      Hope that helps, thanks again,
      -p.

  25. It was a very helpful post, Porter, thank you!
    Ever since Rachelle told us to get our social media in gear, I’ve been building my Twitter numbers. (Even though she doesn’t handle my genre, she’s just too brilliant to ignore.) I only have 2,200 followers so far, but I’m hoping to have more by the time one of my 4 novels gets published. (Probably 5 or 6 by then. GRIN)

    The retweet button is definitely my friend. When I use it, it builds a certain amount of goodwill with my Twitter friends. Perhaps it relates to the adage- people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

    • Hey, PJ, glad to hear that you’re using retweets to move material around and make connections. Always be sure to read the pieces linked in tweets you retweet, too — then you’re learning on the job.

      One caution about retweets: You may need to add authors’ handles to them. A lot of great material is retweeted from auto-RT boxes on the original stories’ sites, and it’s rare for those auto-RTs (the ones that say “Tweet this story”) to have the author’s credit built in. In most cases it is possible for that to be included in an auto-tweet but the people setting them up don’t value writer credit as much as they should, so they don’t select it.

      So before you let an auto-RT go, see if the writer’s credit is there.

      If not, turn the RT into an MT (modified tweet) and adjust it to add the author’s handle, condensing and cutting from the rest as needed.
      Thanks for the great comment!
      -p.

    • PJ…2,200 followers is pretty impressive. Would you say the retweets are the catalyst for you?

      • Elaine, retweets simply help me maintain a level of rapport with those on my list. With no rapport, they won’t care when I announce something, etc.

        I’m a nobody on the world stage, so growing a following on Twitter is done by following others who follow me back. Basically it’s as if I’m Donkey in Shrek 2000 times.
        Wakooz.com and similar programs can help you manage all of this “following.”
        Your limited on your followers/following ratio however and it gets trickier after 2000. If I’d known all the tricks months ago, I’d have 4000 followers!
        So, here’s my suggestion to grow a large following.
        Get Wakooz.com (or similar- watch comments below, I’ll bet). Cross follow all of my followers that you can before hitting the peek. Give it a few days, then clean it up with Wakooz. In others words, Rinse and Repeat. You’ll have 2000 followers in a quarter the time it took me.

        • PJ. Thanks for the great follow up! Do you recommend Wakooz.com over Hootsuit?

          • Nope, Hootsuite is a good tool as well. It is a much better integrator. The only reason I picked Wakooz was because it’s for newbies like myself and free. The cross follow feature also makes it easy to grow a following on Twitter.
            The two aren’t mutually exclusive. You could use Wakooz to tune up Twitter and Hootsuite as your integration manager.

          • Just to jump in, I recommend HootSuite, myself. To my mind, its dashboard is the best, and its basic membership is free, too. I have a pro membership to get some extra analytics but even that’s on ly $5 a month, and not necessary. TweetDeck is the other popular dashboard, also free in basic. I’d try them both. But one dashboard or another is a must if you’re serious — the Twitter site itself is actually quite limited.

    • ONLY 22O0 followers? I have 2. TWO. Dos. Deux.
      But I can cook chicken.

  26. Hi Porter
    When someone uses the tweet button on my blog, it automatically gives my Twitter handle in the result. I’d like to say that’s because I was so clever in how I set it up, but I would be being careless with the truth. It’s a happy thing that my WordPress theme does it for me. 😉

    And I think that’s why lots of us don’t have our handle in our little auto tweet button thingies… we’re not geeky enough to know how to do it.

    But your solution to put it in the byline is wonderful. I’ll go and see if I can figure out how to add that to my blog now. And hope many others do it too as it will save me stacks of time in tweeting their blogs. Thanks! Belinda

    • Great, Belinda, glad the byline treatment works for you. The responsive themes from WordPress do have some coded functionality that can get something past you, so your making the right move to use the inputs available to show your handle on your own. Appreciate you reading and commenting –
      -p.

  27. Keeping that in mind.
    So sorry! Autocorrect friendly.

  28. Great post!!! I’ll def be keeping that unkind from now on! Thank you!

  29. Chihuahua0 says:

    Drat. Three Twitter handles with either no or only one tweet to their name have variations of my real name.

    What do I do in this kind of situation? Is there a way to get Twitter to disband these obscure accounts, or should I just stick a middle initial in?

    • Hi, Chihuahua0. All you need to do is choose which of the existing handles you like best (I’d advise the one closest to your normal name usage). In the “Profile” area of the other two, write a short note saying that you’re discontinuing their usage and that followers should use @______ (whichever one you’ve chosen to make active). Then use ONLY that one you’ve chosen. The key is simply consistency. In certain circumstances, the other two handles may come in handy (special projects, who knows?). So rather than scuttle them, I’d simply “park” them in limbo and focus on the one you do want to use. Cheers –
      -p.

      • Chihuahua0 says:

        No, I didn’t mean that I had three accounts with variations with my real name. Other people have them, which can cause confusion when people try to @Mention me.

        Apparently, Twitter’s policy is that they won’t deactivate inactive accounts, so I’ll have to use an underscore and hope there aren’t a lot of mess ups.

        • Ah, gotcha. Well, this is where your all-important Twitter bio comes in. Make it screamingly clear in that thing to anybody who knows you — the ones you don’t want following someone else with a near-handle to yours — that you are who you are. Your first line should contain the main thing they’ll look for, and you’ll know what that is. Whatever your friends/associates know you for. Job, location, sports, whatever. AND be absolutely sure to use a picture of yourself, one they can actually recognize you by. This is how you distinguish yourself as the “right” one for those looking for you. And once they know the underscore, the near-handles like yours don’t matter anymore at all, they just use your handle. Make sense?
          -p.

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