Ah, social media. Those of us of a certain age tend to fall into two camps at the mere mention: embracers or scoffers. And even within those who embrace these virtual connectors are separate sects of social media-lytes. Just because that 50-something is on Twitter and Instagram doesn’t mean she is a fan. Many are there out of some sense of duty. These days, strong social media skills are pretty much a job requirement for those who are involved in communications.
Let’s Talk Twitter
When Twitter was born, the poet in me was intrigued. Poets love restrictions, playing with word forms, and poring over every single syllable. The things people were doing (or attempting to do) within the limitations of 140 characters were exciting and a bit intimidating. I wasn’t, however, at all convinced that I needed to go there.
And then I worked at a magazine. Our art director gently — but firmly — pushed me into Twitter. He provided guidance and technical advice. Slowly but surely, I eased into the tweeting waters.
Since I’ve been freelancing, I’ve worked Twitter in a way I never did when it was simply an additional task on my already overloaded plate. Now, me, my Twitter, and my writing are all one happy knot of words. Through training and practice, I’ve come to look at social media in a very strategic way. The resulting experience has been educational (especially in terms of statistics) and entertaining.
I’m definitely a better Twitter user now than I was at first post. Which is why this one particular tweet brings a smile to my face — it simply keeps on keeping on.
A Tweet with Staying Power
When I was first used Twitter, my purpose was advertising, pushing the magazine out to greater audiences. Taking photos of the latest issue in various places and then tagging appropriately was an easy formula to follow. Not difficult (any 50-year-old can do this) but not particularly imaginative (or engaging), either.
The September 2014 issue promised to be one of my favorites. The cover story was on boxing in Austin, and we’d included world champion and national legend Ann Wolfe. As a fledgling boxer, I was thrilled to meet her; as an editor in chief, I was proud to portray an athlete, especially a woman, of this caliber and renown on the cover; and as a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed the story by local writer Amy Winters.
And so the minute I had a physical copy in my hot sweaty hand, I tweeted it out:
Looking back, it’s a fairly crappy tweet. There’s glare from the overhead lights in my office, and the photo’s a bit blurry, too. The magazine is laying on a chair; you can see the edge of the seat in the lower left corner. These days, I’d have placed it more artfully (perhaps leaning against my boxing gloves) to provide additional interest and better clarity. I’d certainly have taken several shots to pick the best. And I’d have utilized hashtags, such as #boxing #girlpower and #fitlife.
But fortunately, my crappy photo couldn’t take away from the cover image I loved. Wolfe is a physically imposing woman, and it’s a strong, athletic stance. Yet somehow, there is also a bit of softness in the beautiful sheen of her face. I think she looks a little sad. Whatever you read into that expression, Wolfe draws you in.
My 140-character promo flew off into the Twittersphere, my socmed duty for the day done.
What Makes a Good Tweet?
I had a banner day with that tweet. The first few hours had outstanding numbers of impressions — hundreds and hundreds (and more hundreds). Now, this is nothing if you’re used to breaking the Internet like Kim Kardashian, but hey…for a midlife newbie tweeter with limited skills, it was a job well done.
But that’s not what leaves me smiling. After all, it’s almost a year old — who remembers what she tweeted a year ago? The only reason I ever think about this little gem is due to my notifications feed. People continue to find it.
There isn’t a month that goes by where someone doesn’t retweet or favorite this. What prompted this blog, in fact, is that two different people interacted today with my aging shout-out to Ann Wolfe. And, as I’ve done every other time the notification pops up, I chuckled, admired Wolfe anew, and thanked my lucky stars I put out a quality magazine that September.
Can You Bottle Tweet Magic?
I have several theories about why this particular tweet keeps on giving. And I’ll share some of the insights I’ve gained over my last year of Twitter usage.
The boxing community. It’s a tight-knit world out there, full of dedicated fans. They follow their favorites and it doesn’t really matter how current the material is. It will be new to some fan somewhere all the time.
Ann Wolfe. Wolfe was kind enough to retweet, even though she’s clearly not one to enthusiastically embrace social media on a regular basis. And so it remains on her Twitter page, where I’m sure many a fan stumbles upon it.
That photo. Brian Fitzsimmons did a great job capturing a champion, and the one decent thing I managed with my tweet execution was giving a look at Wolfe’s face in the upper body of my photo.
Tips for Improving That Tweet
Clearer photo. It’s worth the time to take a few pics and then choose the best one to post. Just think how much a sharper photo would’ve improved my tweet. It’s worth purchasing an inexpensive tripod to steady the hand.
Better placement. The seat of a chair? I should’ve thought about the background beyond looking for a simple flat surface. You’d be amazed at what some fabric can add. I love putting things against gravel or grass for some cool texture.
Natural light. Ugh, that crappy tint from florescent overheads. These days, I take my subjects outside whenever possible, where I can get the best, most flattering light. Second best — near a window.
The right people. I did a good job by tagging Wolfe and my publication, but I did nothing to tap into the greater communities. That’s where hashtags are invaluable, and these days, I search for popular ones with appropriate associations to extend my audience.
Timing it right. I lucked into the timing on this tweet, in that it came out just prior to the magazine’s availability online and in print. Now, I’m cognizant of tee-ing up tweets so that they hit at the right time.
Revisiting. Though I haven’t gotten around to it yet, I should repost with some slightly different wording to gather more traffic. I’ve gotten quite a few profile looks and followers from the subject.
Put it on Instagram. Well, that’s a whole ‘nother topic….