How the heck does this Twitter thing work?

So, I’ve been on Twitter for years, following a few friends and some celebs I was interested in. Not that I used it a whole lot – Instagram seems to be the place for following the Hollywood elite these days. Recently, though, I decided I need to take Twitter more seriously.

The reason for this was one of purely selfish interests, and the same reason why many other writers flock to Twitter. A need to boost your social media footprint in the hopes that one day you’ll get published and have a following. 

That was the plan anyway.

However…what I found when I dipped my toes deeper into Twitter’s waters was not exactly what I expected.

Firstly there was the issue of how to get started. That was a biggie! How do you reach out and find people on Twitter that have the same interests as you, and might be interested in becoming your follower?

Well, it’s not easy at first when you don’t know WTF you’re doing.

So, at first I did it all wrong. 

I started looking for Twitter users by finding those with #Writers on them or #Author. Then I’d follow them in the hopes that maybe they’d follow me in return. This was a bad strategy. 

After a few weeks, I was following about 500 people, but had gained no traction in raising my own profile. It was languishing somewhere down around 70 followers. I wasn’t sure what to do. Didn’t know where to get help or advice… I was lost.

Then l got lucky. Really lucky.

I stumbled across a Twitterer who was using the hashtag…



It suddenly felt like the doors had swung wide open, admitting me into a community I didn’t know existed. Writers, writers everywhere! 

What’s more… they did this thing called a #WritersLift


Now, about a month later my numbers are starting to even out. I’m following 1,816 people, and have 1,368 followers. Now I know that this number is still a negative equity, but the gap is closing slowly, and my tiny sphere of influence is growing.

That’s because these #WriterLift tweets encourage Writers to put up a list of writers on their lists that you should follow. You participate by following them all and putting some of your own on that list. The hope is that everyone follows you too. It’s a mutually beneficial (and frankly brilliant) way for writers to support each other and help each other get those all-important follower numbers.

This… is where it gets interesting.

Because what I thought was just an exercise in practically raising your profile actually is A LOT more.

It’s fun.

There are some wonderful figures in the #WritingCommunity, and if you’re a writer reading this you’ll probably have someone like them on your list. These are the people to keep your eye on and jump in with whenever you see them appear in your notifications.

But… I still don’t fully get it?

So, after reading all that, you should know that I am in NO WAY a Twitter expert. All the above is only my experience. 

I have questions and problems.

Firstly, I feel bad that I can’t contribute as much as I’d like. Most of what seems to happen on there, happens on US time. Being in the UK, I seem to come to much of it late. Plus, I’ve been working on this eclectic website, trying to edit book 1, writing book 2 and preparing for agent queries. Add to that a full time job and the need to have time with my wife… It feels like there’s not enough time in the day to also be engaged with Twitter as regularly as I’d like. 

Secondly, and I was talking to @Nikki_Twisted the other day about this, I have no real idea of the proper protocol for the different type of lifts. I simply pitch in where I can and basically wing it! For instance… What’s the difference between a #WritersLift and a #FF (Follow Friday)

Am I supposed to just follow people?  Or throw people up for a lift myself?

Thirdly, because of the first issue, I tend to wake up – or come back – to roughly a billion notifications. Okay, maybe a small exaggeration, but you get the point. There are too many for me to sift through, and because I’m looking at replies to replies to replies to retweets to a reply that I was once tagged it… I have no idea where to even start looking at them.

So again… I just wing it.

I feel I’m probably not the only noob on Twitter that has the same problem. Bless @Nikki_Twisted for taking me under her wing and trying to teach me the ways of the Twitterverse, but this boy ain’t catching on fast.  LOL

So… I open the comments here up to discussion.

  • How do you guys handle all this Twitter stuff?
  • Have you wily veterans got any help or advice you can offer?


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  1. Daria

    I really appreciate this article because I’ve been floundering around on Twitter for several months with no real direction about how to get started meeting other writers. These are all the same questions I have, but now I know to go in search of the Writing Community hashtag. Thanks for this!

    • admin

      You’re very welcome. I’m still learning all this stuff myself, so I wanted people to know they’re not alone. I’ll probably blog about it more in the future as I figure all this stuff out. 🙂

  2. Bev

    Hello Jon, thanks for your blog entry. What you’re writing about here reflects my experience of trial and error and winging it with Twitter. I’ve participated in #writerlift but I wasn’t sure how to include writer’s names. Is this done by simply typing each name. I’ve hunted for a paste/copy function. Some of Twitter’s functions aren’t so intuitive. This is just one of my many questions re Twitter ?.

    • admin

      Yes I have this trouble too. When I do participate in #WritersLift’s how doe I find who I want to tag? It gives me a little list of (what I guess) is the most frequently used or possibly recently used tags. It always seems to have the same people on it, and sometimes I want to tag others. But often I can’t remember the twitter handle of the person I want to tag.
      I haven’t found a good way around this yet. *shrugs*
      If you find a good way around this let me know! 🙂

  3. Nirak

    Ugh I hear you. I did exactly what you did & have the country issue too – I’m in South Africa. Still don’t know if we’re supposed RT other writers – think I’ll do it and see what happens…

    • admin

      I had the same question.

      But if you look at the comment below yours, I think Emma Lombard has some of the answers we need! 😀

    • admin

      Oh my God! Thank you for putting up this link Emma.
      I was going to try and link to it myself, but hadn’t done it yet.

      It’s a SUPERB source for newbie knowledge, so anyone reading this post… GO READ EMMA’S LINK!
      I haven’t put all the tips in there into action yet, but I’m going to try!
      Thanks again!

    • DesireeS

      Thank you so much Emma! I was feeling completely lost, kind of like I was lurking around Twitter. These tips are just what I needed to start making some progress! When to tag, when not to, when to reply versus when to retweet – I have a better understanding now. My hats off to you! I’m going to follow you now so I can get more tips.

  4. Jon, you and everyone else here are on the right track. Being friendly and helpful goes a long ways towards building your followers. I congratulate people on achievements whenever I can. I spend most of my time in the “mentions” column of my feed.
    I have found a wonderful aid for my Twitter, a super clipboard that I use on my laptop. It is called Spartan and it has helped me so much to save and reuse tweets of all kinds as well as lists of people to use on those #WriterLift tweets and others. I will recommend one more thing, use initial capitals on hashtags, it is easier for people who are vision impaired, especially if they use a program to read tweets to them.
    Have fun and participate as much as you can, it takes time. Be sure to thank those that follow you.

    • Jon Ford

      Thanks Mark, both of those sound like handy tips. I’ll definitely try both! 😀

  5. Mason

    Call me shallow, but I was always put off by the name. Like, “How can anyone take anyone else seriously on something called Twitter? Or that you tweet” Come to find out, millions of people do so the reasons why are a moot point. It’s an effective marketing tool regardless of the name.

    And many thank you’s Emma. That will be a good learning tool for me.

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