Trends. They can be tricky to wade through if you’re just starting out on the platform or if you’ve never really paid attention to them before. I’ll admit that when I first started getting back into Twitter I was thoroughly confused by them.
I used to think that I had to use every single “popular” tag to get attention, learning later that Twitter actually marks overuse of tags as spam and, well, they annoyed people seeing a post full of nothing but hashtags. Sometimes the posts that get the attention don’t have any hashtags whatsoever. Hashtags and trends DO perform their jobs as you network with other writers, agents, publishers, editors…
Overwhelmed? It’s okay; I still am as well! But let me share what I’ve learned through the mistakes I’ve made using Twitter hashtags and by either following or ignoring all those writerly trends.
1. Figuring Out Twitter Bios
As you can see, I have many interests. I remember stumbling across another author blog post discussing what you should vs. shouldn’t put in your Twitter bio.
I’m not going to do that here. If you don’t have a website, you don’t need to build one. Everyone uses the available platforms differently. I try to condense my interests and not annoy anyone too much by bombarding them with constant retweets or using trigger words. That doesn’t make sense…unless you like retweeting things and that’s what your account is centered on. Of course go in that direction then.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I prefer having balance between all those interests in my bio. Its purpose is to give potential followers a quick snapshot of what you’re all about. It’s not something where you need to “DO” or “DON’T” do something or else it will kill your career.
Let your personality shine and people will see that.
2. All Those Tags
At any given time there’s at least three misspellings of that ever so popular #writingcommunity tag. I’ve seen it with three “m’s.” With an “n” instead of the second, normal “m.” Then there seems to be a dozen incarnations of that #writer tag.
There are countless tags out there for those in the writing community. Everyone finds their own groupings of them and sticks with what works for them. I didn’t even know they existed until I stumbled across a list of several hundred…yes, hundred… and what days they’re used on.
The most common one is that “writing community” tag. Everyone seems to use it, and that’s not a bad thing. What can sometimes happen is a conversation may turn toxic, and that’s when I choose to not fall into that trap.
Social media can be used one of two ways: to tear down people or lift them up. So no matter which tag(s) you decide to use, you get out of them what you put into them.
3. What the Heck is an Aesthetic?
I’m sure you’ve seen them. They look something like this:
While aesthetics are fun to build and get your story out there, you don’t have to do them. Like those “lists,” or topics that everyone seems to be doing in their author blogs. What seems to be popular now may not be in a week. Who knows. Maybe you’ll start a new one with an original idea – or something that hasn’t been done in a while and you revive it.
Sure, it was fun to build and think about. But it did take away from actual writing time. (You could argue so does writing this blog post; at least I’m writing and having a casual conversation at the same time).
4. Contests and NaNoWriMo
Contests. They’re a great way to get your books or editing services out there. And they’re also a great way to discourage an introvert like myself when you realize just how many folks out there have the same goal you do. To become a published author.
Eye opening, no? So, naturally, it’s easy to feel lost in the jumble.
Even if you don’t win any of those free books, drawings, free editing or query review, you still gained some new connections and hopefully friends in the process.
Just like with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. As a new writer in the throws of working on my first novel series, I’m already in over my head with research, tips and tricks. I knew I couldn’t handle adding another project to it.
NaNoWriMo encourages writers to produce a novel in a month, keep to a word count in a given day, and there are winners at the end. You have to be incredibly organized, know where you’re going with it, and be fully committed to participating. I, for one, was already stressed with life stuffs at the time the one for 2018 came around. So I opted out of participating when many of my Twitter peeps were posting their current word counts.
That’s when you can support their efforts rather than be annoyed by the whole concept. Not only that, it only happens once a year. Be a cheerleader for them as they’re pushing to complete projects during the contest, or even if a contest isn’t going on.
Be a cheerleader. You’re all reaching for the same goal. One day, they may return the favor. But do it with the mindset that you may not always get that favor returned.
All of this is why I’m extremely picky about which trends I participate in. Call me overly cautious but I always research the originator of the tag and the intent of the tag. If the tag/individual harbors a culture of something harmful, then I’ll pass on it. Why add more fuel to the fire if it isn’t necessary to do so?
Trust me, I’m far from perfect with that. We all get on the bandwagon with something at one time or another. There’s also this murky thing where folks feel obligated to participate or follow because someone else did.
Don’t feel obligated to follow everyone, especially if your personalities aren’t compatible. Don’t feel obligated to do every trend, every tag, if you don’t feel confident in its origins. It’s okay to be cautious, especially when it comes to things online. While most of it is for fun, there are suspicious and untrustworthy folks out there.
There are also many gems to counter those who are suspicious. So trust your gut. Go with your instincts. Do what works well for you and your project. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find some like-minded folks who can encourage you, and you them, along the way!