A Tweetorial

When I decided to see what Twitter was all about some years ago, a tech savvy friend enthusiastically described it to me this way:  It’s like a big cocktail party, where everyone is having interesting conversations and you join in!

That was a red flag, waving at me to stay far, far away.  I’m a writer, which equates to antisocial.  Still, I was intrigued, mainly because I love me some hors devours wrote the book on networking.  Seriously, I did — “Fast Track Networking: Turning Conversations into Contacts.

Fast forward a few years, after giving Twitter a twirl.  Here is what I’ve learned:

1.  My tech savvy friend is actually delusional and needs to be placed in a mental hospital.

2. “I’m so bad at Twitter,” a highly successful businessman said to me recently.  After reading his feed, I wholly agreed. Twitter requires a learning curve.  Before jumping in, reading others’ tweets is a necessity.  You want to be original, clever and interesting.  If you’re not, no one will read your comments.  Much less re-tweet or share them.  I know this from no one reading, re-tweeting or sharing mine.

3.  Don’t follow others willy-nilly.  (Did I really just write “willy-nilly”?)  I know many tweeters who follow thousands upon thousands of people.  Yes, the numbers are impressive, but how can you read so many tweets in one lifetime?  I prefer to follow a select number of people who are entertaining, insightful or who can help advance my career in some way. By keeping my followers at a reasonable amount, my Twitter experience is manageable.

4.  Yes, it’s a little thrill when the likes of Judd Apatow, Penn Jillette, Aasif Mandvi or Jimmy Fallon respond to a tweet (OK, Jimmy, not yet).  But don’t think for a second that you’re IN.  You’re still out. Yet, it’s fun to engage these celebs, isn’t it?

5.  Now a word about that cocktail party:  You can think of Twitter as a cool bash, complete with A-list celebrities and VIPs, but you should also remember that you’re not an invited guest.  You’re crashing this gig.  Maybe someone will actually “talk” to you.  But should that happen, show good manners.  Say “thanks” or whatever, and move on.  Otherwise, you’ll be quickly kicked out by the bouncer.  His name is “BLOCK.”

6.  Lastly, forget #3 and follow me.


Fifty Shades of Write — A Sadistic New App

I just learned about a new app for writers.  It’s designed to combat that horrid p-word … procrastination.  Say it with me, kids.  Pro-cras-ti-nation.

Every single writer I know suffers from this condition, and often.  But some brilliant techies came up with a solution — a sadistic app called Write or Die.  The tagline:  Putting the Prod in Productivity.   Here’s their app description:

“Write or Die is a new kind of writing productivity application that forces you to write by providing consequences for distraction and procrastination.  As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but if you become distracted, punishment will ensue. Everything is configurable, name your word goal, time goal and preferred punishment, then start writing!”

Among this taskmaster’s punishments?  When the app is set to “kamikaze” mode and you stop writing for a certain amount of time THE WORDS START TO ERASE THEMSELVES.  This is their idea of motivation.

I have a much better antidote to procrastination, and this one doesn’t involve perverse masochistic technology.  It’s called a “calendar.”   All I have to do when my attention span is elsewhere is glimpse at the looming deadline. Oh, and also at my bank balance.  Works every time.

Facebook’s IPO. Meh…

If you’re jumping on a couch somewhere due to Facebook’s initial public offering, you can stop reading right now — no offense taken.  But if you’re like me and the IPO just triggers a massive yawn, you might enjoy my op-ed in today’s Newsday.  And by “enjoy” I mean “pass around, share, tweet, pin, digg” and otherwise broadcast to your entire social network.

522 ‘friends’ can’t be wrong

Published: May 17, 2012 6:38 PM

So the world’s largest social network is finally going public today (sounds pretty redundant). For months, the pending initial public offering of Facebook has had investors giddy with excitement — but I get the sense that no one else cares.

Frankly, my friends and I are so over Facebook. By “friends” I mean 522 people I’ve mostly never met, and by “so over Facebook” I mean totally addicted. The hours are marked by compulsive status updates, which revolve around the frenetic creation of cute photo ops accompanied by clever captions. We post these relentlessly on our news feeds and then, vastly pleased with ourselves, wait hopefully for comments. Mere “Likes,” which equate to disengaged nods, are usually a disappointment, but they’ll do in a pinch.

For the rest click here…

User Names for Facebook SEO

Social media is constantly changing — and Facebook seems to be leading the pack, with “new and improved” functionality to keep track of almost daily.  For instance, a writing colleague just pointed out that we can now choose a “user name” for our Facebook pages.  This seems like a smart way to increase SEO  for our overall Facebook presence.  Now, I’m no techie, so I’m going to take her word for it.

To get your own user name, go to http://www.facebook.com/username and just create your new name. The best (succinct) ones have already been snagged, but I just changed mine to http://www.facebook.com/NewYorkJournalist.  Give it a whirl.

And if you change yours, please leave a comment here…