Monday, June 20, 2011

Six Twitter Surprises

What's Twitter, I asked?  A Social Media site.  You must be active on Twitter to sell your book, I heard in reply.  I posted here a while back about finding out how to forget trying to read the whole stream of Twitter and get in.  Go ahead and follow me/follow you in excess.  The stream of Twitter is a lot like a real water stream.  It is constant, it has molecules of every dead king and live star, it is always moving and never the same, and there is no way you can experience it all.  That was my first surprise.  The second one was hearing things before they officially happened.  In the Arab spring we all know this now.  Tweet before news even after repression.  But that's a surprise we all got at about the same time.  Here's something else I, who thought of Twitter as an outgoing publicity machine, never expected: moments of transcendent beauty.  Instant poems that transfix me as the stream rushes by.  Referrals to lightning storms set to gorgeous music.  Images of volcanos erupting.  Moons covered with frost flowers from a winter window.  And moments of connection with people I really don't know were another surprise.  A young woman whose cat died.  A man whose father never hugged him even once.  Simple, direct appeals to the open universe for support by these tweets.  And fifth is the #ww and #ff system.  These symbols are for lists of people (tweeps) you recommend for others to follow.  If they like you, they might like them too.  And it's a good way to reward people who follow you and put you on their #ww and #ff lists.  Last, but by no means least, there are hashtags.  Want to find authors?  Go to #writers or #authors.  Want to work with working writers?  Go to #amwriting.  There you can even go to the associated web site and post a bio.  Want to read writing tips?  Go to #writingtips.  Writing memoir?  Go to #memoir.  You can even make up your own hashtag and start including that in your tweets.  If you're irresistible, others will follow and you can manage the hashtag list.  There is a heck of a lot more to Twitter than I thought!  Enjoy.