Twitter is a great platform to not only share your posts with your followers, but also to reach out to larger and harder-to-reach audiences. This is why today, you’ll see Twitter used in a variety of contexts including lecture halls, conference rooms, concerts, parks, etc. A Twitter feed is like one giant conversation with thousands of topics to discuss, welcoming ease dropping and interjection. You just need to know how to find the right audiences to speak with and speak to them in a way they’ll listen to you. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help you maximize your use of your account when entering the twitter-sphere of digital making.
Polish your profile. Even if your account for this course is separate from your personal account, brand it accordingly. Treat it like your LinkedIn; put yourself out there in the same way you would on a platform where you’re engaging in professional and academic conversations. Have a profile picture, cover photo, and interesting bio. No one wants to engage with a boring egg.
Build your digital making community. Start out by following thought leaders and organizations talking about digital making. I’ve begun to do this, so you can get a head start by checking out who I’m following.
Tweet your work. We’re on the forefront of a HUGE maker movement; tweeting screenshots of your projects or photos of what you’ve made is a great way to showcase our class work.
Call people out. Yes, tweet directly at thought leaders and comment on their posts! This is a great way to get noticed by big players in digital making and also to express your interest/expertise in the area.
Tweet often! How do you expect people to engage with you if you’re never speaking to anyone? Tweet out your thoughts of digital making, articles you find, retweet interesting posts, and favorite others’ posts.
#Go #crazy #with #hashtags. When tweeting, 2 hashtags should be used – MAX. Studies on hashtag use have found that using more than 2-3 hashtags in a post actually decreases engagement with a post.
Use #random hashtags. Use relevant hashtags that people in the digital making and 3D printing space are using. A great resource is TagBoard. On this website, you can see how often people are using this hashtag per hour/day/week and see what the most recent posts are that used this hashtag (across all SM platforms, not just Twitter; you can filter though).
TWEET LIKE THIS!!! Exclamatory messages are great for instant messaging, but not so great for Twitter. Nothing wrong with using an occasional exclamation point, but all-caps should always be avoided. Fun Fact: It actually takes people longer to read words in all-caps due to the fact that all-caps gives words a box-like shape, which makes them more indistinguishable from other words to the brain.
Be annoying. You definitely want to interact with other users on Twitter, but don’t assault them with tweets. Tweet at people once in a while and if they’re not responding, perhaps begin retweeting or favoring their posts – a more subtle form of interaction.
When it comes to writing for the internet, you have to always remember that lolcats.com is just a click away for your reader, so when it comes to blogging, generally the quicker you get your ideas across, the better you’ve done.
Readers of the internet like gleaming the meaning of a story from its words, so they don’t necessarily want to read every word in a sentence. You have to construct your narrative so that the important stuff sticks, which is a tricky thing to do.
You probably “skim” all the time too, right? So intuitively, my first piece of advice would be to write for yourself – write in a way that would keep you tuned-in as a reader.
Outside of that, here are some guidelines:
Don’t be afraid ofusingbullets. If you have a list of things, particularly things that need to be explained, use bullets. Throw in some bold if you’re feeling extra fun. Readers like seeing a change in format. They like knowing what the key concept is, and what they can glaze over.
Keep paragraphs short. In journalism, we drop the prefix from the word and refer to them as just “graphs,” just a fun fact I thought I’d share. The idea is that you give the reader some breathing room, and additionally, access points for when they jump ahead.
Inverted pyramid. So along with the previous bullet, try and structure your graphs like this: 1st graph should have a hook and something that explains what your post is about. The 2nd graph should follow that up with more details. Then you get to the meat of your story, and with these graphs, try to move what you view as important up.
Use subheads. It helps organize your story better.
Hyperlink important things. This helps you seem more credible, and makes you a resource for your reader. It helps to add some depth to your blog.
Have a “flow.” You know, transition from paragraph to paragraph. Don’t use “First” or anything like that, just flow from concept to concept. Try to end your sentences in a way that leads into your next sentence.
Be concise. If you don’t, the reader will think you’re grasping for word counts.
Share anecdotes. Just be sure you’re telling them in an interesting way, like with quotes.
Be conversational. It’s a blog, not a report. Directly address your audience, ask rhetorical questions, etc.
Explore different formats. We’re all familiar with the Buzzfeed list format that’s taken the internet by storm. I mean, even the Weather Channel has them now. It takes on a completely different format than your standard blog, but it works. Imagine “7 simple steps to make your very own ____.” There are other formats out there too, just look around and be creative.
Use extra elements. WordPress allows you to not only upload media, but also to imbed using the text feature. The class itself has a limited amount of server space for our photos, so we probably could only post a couple per story, depending on size. However, we are allowed to embed. You can upload a video to Youtube and embed it onto your blog. You can also upload your photos to box and embed a whole slideshow onto your blog. You can even embed Spotify playlists.
Market your content. Every writer is their own best salesman. Write your story for a particular audience, and then market it to that audience. Post it to twitter and use a trending hashtag in that audience, and at least post it to your wall for your friends and family.
Optimize your headline. Essentially, label your post something with words you think your audience would Google. So if you’re blogging about your favorite beat recipe, label it “The Best Beat Recipe.”
Add tags. Search engines use tags to help searchers find what they’re looking for. The more specific your tags are, or the tags that you think most people would use to find a story like yours, the better your post will do. Also, always add a tag for whatever week you’re post is going in, like “week2.” You can add tags on the sidebar of your post page.
Don’t be afraid to just end it when you run out of things to say, you don’t need to restate things with a concluding paragraph. It’s fluff. You can save a gem of info or analysis for the last few paragraphs, we call those kickers. I did it on this post on Medium
The Digital Making course at the Illinois MakerLab is in its second year, and we are excited to begin with a new batch of aspiring makers. Look out for all their work and reflections, as we Learn, Make and Share .