February 2018: #TwitterFlash

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

February 2, 2018

By C. Jai Ferry

I’ve spent the last week studying copywriting to create advertisements. To say that my eyes are glazed and my brain is mush is an understatement, but one of the big takeaways for me has been congruence.

When a social media follower (who is hopefully also a reader) sees one of our blog headlines or titles that intrigues them, they will click to read more. If the information at the other end of the link meets (or exceeds) their expectations, the information is congruent with the “teaser” in your headline or title.

But if the link leads to information that is unexpected, the congruency fails and the trust is broken between the reader and the writer. For example, if our fearless leader published a blog post entitled “Unicorns are real and I have proof!” but then the entire post talks about walking along northern beaches and never once mentions unicorns, the reader will feel confused or even let down. If this happens too often, the reader will stop reading the writer’s works.

Congruency between titles and articles (or blurbs and novels) is vital for building a relationship with our readers. It’s also critical for maintaining our lines of communication via social networks. If a reader wants to share content from your website on social media using the sharing buttons on your website, they expect the message produced by those buttons to include your Twitter handle (or other social media connection). Not seeing that information can create incongruence. If you are not taking the time to ensure that your sharing buttons are set up correctly, then they might question whether they should be sharing the information for you.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Include all your public social media accounts on your website/blog. Make the information readily apparent. If a reader has to search for ways to connect with you, you may be losing an important opportunity to ensure the creation of a lifelong supporter. Most website-building programs include simple ways to include social media buttons, and most visitors to your site will be comfortable using these.
  2. Ensure that all sharing buttons for website content are linked to your social media accounts. If someone wants to share one of your blog posts with their friends (i.e., if someone wants to promote your work for free!), you should make sure that the simple sharing buttons on your website include your account information so that the next reader can easily connect to your website and read the content firsthand. This also tags you on your own social media so you know when your content is being shared. When a visitor uses these sharing buttons, they end up retweeting a link to your content followed by “via @[your Twitter handle].” If you do not connect your social media to these sharing buttons, you instead see, for example, “via @wordpress.” For WordPress users, Carrot Ranch-hand Norah Colvin provides a clear overview of how to ensure that your sharing buttons are connected. (Please note that if you use Jetpack, you might need to access the Jetpack settings from your dashboard and then go to the sharing menu to follow the same steps as what Norah outlines.)
  3. If you would like to go one step further, you can embed your Twitter feed into your website so visitors can see what kinds of tweets you are sharing. This can be a powerful way to create new connections. To learn more, read this overview of embedding Twitter on your website.

February Challenge

As we discussed in January, content rules on Twitter, but interactions are important too. Therefore, this month we will once again create meaningful content, but we will also interact with others. So here is your mission (if you choose to accept it):

  • Make sure your website sharing buttons are connected to your Twitter account (as outlined in #1 and #2 above).
  • Write a 200-word story (give or take on the words) incorporating the theme of congruency. Post it on your website/blog.
  • Click on your sharing buttons to verify that you see “via @[your Twitter handle]” at the end of the pre-populated message to be tweeted.
  • Go to Twitter. Tweet a “teaser” line from your story and include a link back to your website/blog. Include the hashtag #Twitterflash.
  • Search for #Twitterflash on Twitter to see what teasers others are sharing.
    • When you find a teaser that entices you to read more, comment on the tweet. Your comment can be a word or two to show your curiosity or even an emoji. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
    • Visit a few #Twitterflash participants’ websites/blogs and, when you read a story you think your Twitter followers might like, click the sharing button to tweet about it. (Not all websites include sharing buttons. If you like a story without sharing buttons, compose your own tweet and tag the writer in your tweet. For example: “I can’t believe that word wrangler @Charli_Mills claims that unicorns exist, but she convinced me!”)
    • Bonus points: If you see teasers that you think your Twitter followers might enjoy, use Twitter’s retweet function. You can add your own comment to your retweet if you want or simply retweet it.
  • On February 23, come back to the Carrot Ranch and share your teaser plus your favorite tweet comment (made on yours or one you see on someone else’s tweet).

Ready? Set… GO!

C. Jai Ferry is a flash fiction freak, human trafficking warrior, and Master Ninja at novellaninjas.com, an online space promoting published short stories and novellas to readers. Her titles include Unraveled, a collection of microfiction and flash fiction stories, and “Skeleton Dance,” 2014 winner of the Vermillion Literary Project Short Story Contest, which was turned into a film and included in the 2016 Nebraska Noir collection. She tweets from @CJaiFerry

Carrot Ranch’s Twitterflash 2018 is a monthly challenge focused on expanding writers’ use of Twitter as a tool for writing. Throughout the year, writers will experiment with storytelling via tweets using the following areas of focus (in no particular order):

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

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  1. Charli Mills

    Oh, copywriting! That’s a form of twitterature unto itself — tight writing to convey message, emotion and that ever-so-delicate blend of expectation and surprise. A good lesson, C. Jai! Often I go to share flash fiction stories from participating blog posts but if I see “via @wordpress” I don’t. I’m not sharing for Word Press! Thanks for mentioning fellow Ranch-hand Norah Colvin’s overview. I’ll be practicing my teasers this month! And, it is true — unicorns are real.

    • C. Jai Ferry

      Now that I am studying copywriting (for ads) I am noticing how others use it effectively (and ineffectively) all over the place (it’s not just for ads anymore!). There are the “bait” headlines that never deliver what they promise (e.g., see what Hollywood starlet completely changed her look — you won’t believe your eyes –> and it’s a story about Charlize Theron changing her look for her role in Monster [i.e., old news, not a permanent change] or a story about someone changing from a long bob hairstyle to a short bob [oooOOOooo big change]). But the newspapers that deliver an email roundup of stories to my inbox are doing an exceptional job at this. Their teasers are really tease-worthy and the stories they lead me to are interesting feature stories that dive deeper, thereby fulfilling my curiosity. Social media posts can use the same ideas of enticing your followers — as long as you deliver on what you promise. We have to use this same congruency in our writing. If we have a character who is terrified of mirrors, has built their entire life around avoiding mirrors, but then does not struggle or even flinch when required to use a mirror, we’ve created an incongruency in our narrative that leaves the reader dissatisfied. Now that I see it, I feel like I am being haunted by it, like the kid in The Sixth Sense: “I see congruency.”

      (And yes, unicorns are clearly real. Was there ever any doubt?)

      • Charli Mills

        Bait headlines are so annoying yet they work so well because they feed human curiosity. I think of these headlines as the speech of snake oil salesmen back on the frontier. It’s great to recognize when it works, too. I’m that way with branding and strategy. I always think, what’s the strategy of this campaign? I love it when I see it. It’s also a part of congruency and helps create a “brand experience” where the reader or consumer begins to define and deepen the brand. That’s cool to see happen (like “A Coke & a Smile and forever you smile when you see Coke in a bottle). Oh, but I suck at titles and headlines. It is truly a marvelous art to practice and master. Thanks for this lesson and practice!

        Oh, whew! You do know about the unicorns!

      • C. Jai Ferry

        the classes that I am taking are showing me how to use the same lessons from ads for titles, first lines in stories, and social media posts. They are hammering hard not to go the snake oil route (which I totally agree should be avoided [unless your story is about snake oil, of course!]), but I love seeing how well-established and respected brands are using the same ideas effectively and responsibly. Yes, a Coke and a smile was first used in 1979 but is still generating returns in that investment — thirty-nine years later! In the newspapers, I am seeing things like: Something bad happened. Then something totally unexpected happened… and you feel compelled to read how the story shifted from point A to point Z so dramatically. It’s really quite powerful.

  2. Jules

    Respect seems to be a good partner to congruency. I would opt to add sharing buttons, but do I really want the world in which at least 70% or even more are not really interested readers? I had an issue with spam and a troll that made me close down and restart my daily blog site. Really I had over 500 people supposedly following me… but only about 10 or less that ever made comments. So, ‘No’ I’m not ready to ‘expose’ myself again to everyone who may not be interested in what I have to say by turning on all of my social media buttons – but then I don’t tweet, instagram or have FB either.

    I’ll stick with the tried and true. Look into my mirrors for that entrance into the forest of the unicorns. And be happy being part of the Buckaroo Nation.

    But, hey it if it works for you, then go for it. I guess I’m just an ol’foggie. I’ll live. And please give me a real book any day of the week. Thank you. I will however idle at the Ranch – a fun and safe community. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Anyone who is concerned about spammers, trolls or bloggers breaking Word Press’s Terms of Service (TOS) can report it here: https://en.support.wordpress.com/report-blogs/. Other blog sites will have a similar process). It’s unfortunate you had that experience, Jules.

      Consider that 70% of your followers who did not comment are actually reading. 95% of Carrot Ranch followers do not respond! But they are loyal readers, buy books from our community and a large percent share using the social media buttons. Share buttons do work.

      I agree, there’s more than one way to engage, which is why I invited C. Jai to educate us on how to develop best practices for Twitter. I believe in having a good “mix” to reach target audiences. Maybe what you need to explore is identifying who your target audience is and how best to reach them.

      Every writer has to begin with his or her own goals. That’s how you best decide which strategies will work for your goals. Evidently, Twitter is not one for you and that’s fine. We can’t speak for the goals of others, though and this is important knowledge to share.

      We have much diversity at Buckaroo Nation, including many ways to find those unicorns and mirrors! Ol’ foggies and youngins’ welcome!

      • Jules

        I appreciate that WP Info. I created a document and saved it.

        I like how the Buckaroo Nation is growing – I can barely keep up with reading everyone (though I am trying).

        I just need to find a pardner a tad closer to connect with – I wonder if anyone else is in my area?

        I guess you get to see your traffic (in all medias) which I am going to guess increased with the Rodeo.

        Sometimes ol’foggies still need to take baby steps 😀

      • Charli Mills

        We can talk about ways to get some local reading or writing events cooking! Getting out in person is a fun way to share literary art. Yes, I think I over-estimated the impact of the Rodeo! We may have to work up an Ambassador Committee for the Buckaroo Nation. 🙂

  3. Norah

    Great post, C. Jai, and thank you for mentioning my long-forgotten post. I hope the information is still current. Like Charli, I won’t tweet anything without a handle either. I’m going to check that JetPack information for my readilearn blog as it doesn’t have the handle connected and I’ve not been able to figure that out.
    I love reading all this helpful advice about Twitter but I’m struggling a bit to keep up with my own (self-imposed) have-tos at the moment so won’t join in, though am keen to learn just the same. Hopefully things may settle down a bit for me soon.
    I could do with your copywriting/advertising course too. There’s much for me to learn in all areas. I do agree with the importance of congruence though, but getting those teasers right can be difficult.
    Thank you for an interesting post.

    Charli, did you over-estimate or under-estimate the impact of the Rodeo? It did far more than I expected.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you wrote that post because I have found that with the increased traffic, fewer people have their blogs connected to their Twitter accounts. I hope what C. Jai also shared with the Jet Pack helps you over at readilearn. And, I underestimated. 🙂

      • Norah

        Yeah. I find it frustrating that people don’t set up the links. Why should we make the effort if they don’t?

      • Norah

        I have fixed up my readilearn account. The tweets now include the @readilearn handle. Woohoo! Thanks, C. Jai. I also added a few other features in the process. So happy. Thank you both.

      • Charli Mills

        Good job, Norah!

    • C. Jai Ferry

      I’m glad you wrote that post, too, Norah. I always use Jetpack for connecting everything, but following your steps would work for that as well, which made it doubly nice. 😀

      • Norah

        I’ve just been into Jetpack and added the handle to my readilearn account and added a few other features I wasn’t aware that I could. Woohoo. Thank you. Happy dance. 🙂

      • C. Jai Ferry

        Yeah, Jetpack has really come out with some nice features. It’s worth poking around and exploring everything.

  4. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Well, if it isn’t the four wise women of Buckaroo Nation. Careful Boss, you don’t want your ranch renamed, or is this just an example of the fine and fun branding you have accomplished.
    Honestly some of yawl’s wisdom hits my ears as Jetpack Twitterish Gibberish.
    I would like to do something with this prompt but the soul-leeches are sucking my time and energy.

    • Charli Mills

      The best thing that can happen to a brand is that it gets hijacked by those who love it! We’ll get you Gibberished up, D.! Good luck with the soul-leeches. Stab ’em with a pen.

  5. Sherri Matthews

    I’m lost! But I do have a Twitter handle linked to my blog thanks to Norah when she first posted about it. I was one of those that hadn’t clocked. Thanks for the info and advice C Jai – I will do my best to join you in your Twitter flash as soon as I can…

    • Charli Mills

      Spread your Twitter wings and fly! Actually, it’s good to learn about Twitter first. It was one of those deep ends I jumped into and swam a different direction than I needed to go. TwitterFlash is fun, though!

      • Sherri Matthews

        Yes, I need to learn about Twitter. I retweet other’s posts as you know and share but that’s it. On my to do list… 🙂


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