#46: TweetDeck Love
Artist Donald Poquiz was nice enough to Tweet me the above compliment and question the other day, and I thought it was worthy of a Creating Comics! article. As an independent comic creator working hard to tell stories and build a readership, and as someone with a passion for sharing the lessons I've learned with others on a similar journey, it's important to keep my finger on the pulse of the industry. But today, with the number of blogs, webcomics, podcasts, and voices in comics seeming to grow exponentially, just what does that even mean? And how the hell is anyone supposed to keep up with it all, and still have time to, you know, actually make comics?
Ask this question to many creators, and you'll find a growing number of them pointing to Twitter as their primary resource for what's hot and happening in comics (or pretty much any other industry they may be interested in.) Ask me, though, and I'll tell you that Twitter only became a valuable resource to me once I learned how to manage it. And I learned how to manage it by using TweetDeck .
TweetDeck is a free Adobe AIR application that interfaces with the Twitter API, allowing users to manage their Twitter account(s.) There are TweetDeck versions for the desktop, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones. Users can send and receive messages through TweetDeck, and its column based display enables a strong, up-to-the-minute browsing experience. TweetDeck also syncs with Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Foursquare, and (ahem) MySpace.
Here's a look at my base TweetDeck for the desktop set-up:
Notice the Column Set-up. The first three columns are the core of my TweetDeck experience:
All Friends - This column is simply a feed of all the ~450 people I'm following. Since I've chosen all of the people who show up in this list, I've handpicked the voices I choose to listen to.
Mentions - This column shows a feed that only contains posts mentioning me by name, using the Twitter @ reply convention. (And let's face it, we ALL want to know when people are talking about us.) TweetDeck makes it easy to monitor and to engage people in conversation through Twitter.
Direct Messages - This is the Twitter version of a Private Message or direct text. (And, in fact, I have my Twitter DMs synced to cell phone so they show up as text messages, too.)
Posting messages in TweetDeck is extremely straightforward, and offers a ton of cool features, including:
- Automatic link shortening
- One click selection of which accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) you want to update with a particular message.
- Simple tools for attaching images and video to your Tweets
Where TweetDeck really comes in handy is in its ability to easily set up new columns for searching particular key words, phrases, or hashtags. (In Twitter speak, anything preceded by a # sign is referred to as a hashtag.)
Why search stuff in Twitter? Well, let me give you a real example. This November, once again I'm spearheading the 30 Characters Challenge , a fun initiative where creators challenge themselves to create 30 brand new characters in 30 days, one for every day of the month. ( Sound like fun? Join us! ) Obviously, prior to and during the challenge, I'm going to want to keep tabs on what people are saying about it. I've created and have been popularizing #30Characters as the hashtag shorthand for people talking about the challenge, so it makes sense to set up a TweetDeck search column for just that phrase. Doing so is simple.
Once set up, I get a handy, up to the minute feed of all of the #30Characters related conversation happening in the Twitterverse. I can see who's talking about it and what they're saying. If people have questions about it, I'll see them and can respond. As many of the people signing up for the challenge are friends of friends of acquaintances' acquaintances, there's a good chance their Tweets would have never shown up in my regular feed. But by creating this key word column, I can get access to and be a part of these conversations.
So what if you're not interested in the #30Characters challenge? What else might you set up columns to watch out for? How about specific comic book conventions? I was watching the #BostonComicCon feed for months prior to the show, engaging with fans and fellow attending creators. Doing so builds anticipation and excitement for the event AND increases sales. Other smart searches include things like your favorite author, artist, comic or television show.
A note about using Twitter. Some of you who have yet to fully embrace Twitter still may be struggling with what exactly they should be Tweeting about. The best advice I've heard regarding this (and the advice I try to employ in my social networking) comes from @JayBerkowitz , someone I discovered (you guessed it) through Twitter. His advice: Limit your Tweets to the "Three Es": Entertain, Educate, and Engage.
Entertain - Something enjoyable, worth reading for a chuckle, or clicking on because it's cool.
- Something genuinely funny that happened to you.
- Retweet an awesome gag strip by your favorite webcartoonist.
- Posting a link to your own work meant to entertain.
Educate - Advice, tips, or a link to a resource that might help someone.
- A link to a great online scriptwriting service like Scripped .
- A suggestion to listen to a strong new webcomics podcast like the Webcomics Workshop .
- Dos and Donts when looking for an artist collaborator.
Engage - Attempt to interact with Twitter users, be they followers or people you are following.
- Ask for recommendations for a great burger place in New Orleans. [Port of Call...hands down.]
- Respond to someone else's question about a good all-ages Halloween comic. [Check out Frosty the Gourdman by Dani and Nicole Jones.]
- Get feedback on a new logo, sketch, or page. [Whatcha think of this Supergirl I did?]
Those are the Three E's, and I try to do them in equal measure. Notice what's NOT there? Things like:
- Begging for followers.
- ReTweeting iPad contests.
- Auto-Update announcements of your Farmville status.
- 100% shilling and self-promotion of your own work.
- That you're eating a ham sandwich.
You may also want to avoid controversial topics, such as politics (unless you're a politician), sex (unless you're Kevin Smith), and religion (unless you're Jesus.)
Well, there you have it. Twitter and TweetDeck, the primary way I keep my ear to the ground on what's happening in the world of comics. Want to see my approach in action? Just follow me @tylerjamescomic .
Tyler James is a comics creator residing in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He writes and draws Over , a romantic comedy online graphic novel, writes Tears of the Dragon , an epic fantasy webcomic, and EPIC , a new superteen comic. His work has been featured at Zuda Comics, and includes Interrogation Control Element , a political action thriller, and Super Seed , the story of the world's first super powered fertility clinic. When not making comics, Tyler works as a game designer and content producer for a software company.
1: Big Goals
3: The Great Idea
4: Research Part I
5: Research Part II
6: The Killer Pitch Part I - The High Concept
7: The Killer Pitch Part II - The Synopsis
8: Pay Your Artists
9: Zuda Comics- A Tale of Five Submissions
10: Creating Great Characters Part I (Or Why Wolverine is Everywhere)
11: Creating Great Characters Part II (Or Why Wolverine is Everywhere)
12: Structurally Sound- The Beginning
13: Your Reputation
14: Structurally Sound- The Middle
15: Structurally Sound - The End
16: Your First Con
17: Beat It
18: Memorable Scenes
20: Comics Dialogue - Part I
21: Comics Dialogue - Part II
22: Baltimore Comic Con - Part I
23: Baltimore Comic Con - Part II
24: Is It Worth It?
25: The Re-Write Part I
26: The Re-Write Part II
27: The Re-Write Part III
28: Taking Initiative
29: Setting the Table for a New Year of Creating Comics
30: Ready to Script
31: An Artist Ready Script
32: Going All In
33: The Dip and Being the Best in the World
34: Patience Pep Talk
35: Tools You Should Be Using: Viddler
36: Zuda Says No More Competitions
37: Business Mailbag
38: 30 Characters Challenge Post-Script
#39: Google Wave - 5 Uses for Comic Creators
#40: What May Be Holding You Back, and What Definitely Isn't
#41: The Danger of the New Idea
#42: When Collaborations Go Sour
#43: The Lagniappe
#44: Sharing Space at Conventions
#45: Cart-Before-the-Horse Syndrome
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