I love Twitter and You Can Too!

I was the last person of my generation to get email. Or perhaps just the last person that I knew of. In the 90s, I was part of a consortium connected to my job. For communication, they would email everyone else, then print out the message and fax it to me. I am now the last person of my generation to get on Facebook. Which is to say that I am still not really on Facebook; I just have an author page. For over a decade of the new millennium, I didn’t blog because, as a performance/activist poet working on an unpublished novel, I didn’t want a whole bunch more unpaid writing.

Yet, when forced onto social media to “build my platform,” I learned to love it, particularly blogging and Twitter. Blogging is pretty straightforward. You write whatever you want and hope people will read it. Twitter is more complicated, and had a bit of a learning curve. It was totally worth it.

Here are my Twitter tips for new users:

Read Louise’s post from Monday

Her observation about cocktail party eavesdropping is spot-on.

Make sure you have something to say.

Sure, celebrities with a million followers can send a photo of their breakfast or their laundry and get a thousand retweets. But that’s because our culture is fascinated with everything about them. The rest of us are different. We have to actually be interesting.

Know your tech basics: semi-private.

One of the best pieces of Twitter advice I got was this: putting a period before a tweet that starts with someone’s handle will make sure it gets sent out to your entire list of followers. Starting with their handle means it won’t.

So this tweet got sent only to @bani_amor and remained on my timeline:


But this tweet went to all my followers:


Know your tech basics: DM.

DM=Direct messaging. You can direct message anyone who follows you and vice versa. This is wonderful. Like having someone’s email address. But it’s also wonderful in reverse. If someone turns out to be a jerk, just unfollow them and it’s like they forcibly lose your email address…

Don’t abuse the short form.

twitter 140I am very much against the Twitter proposal to expand from 140 characters to 10,000. I love the brevity. If you have more to say, link to a post. That said, I sometimes have something to say that is more than one tweet long. If it’s particularly complex, I’ll sometimes do a three tweet. Anything more than that is a blog post.


Build relationships!

I have found like-minded writers and activists. I’ve met with Twitter users in person, developed creative partnerships, and have made connections with journalists that I’ll be reaching out to when my book launches. Writers love Twitter because it’s about the written word. Just like visual artists, photographers, and others love Instagram, because it’s about images. Do not ever be that person who just starts tagging people in your tweets and telling them about your book.

Have fun!

I love to find quirky hashtags and join the fun. Some are serious and some are side-splittingly funny. As a writer, it’s the equivalent of Sudoku. A fun brain-twister that I can lose myself in for hours when I’m supposed to be sleeping. Here are some of my favorites:


IMG_5904 As the The Trashmen put it, back in the 60s: “B-b-b bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s the word“!

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Aya de Leon directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, xojane, Ebony, Guernica, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, My Brown Baby, KQED Pop, Bitch Magazine, Racialicious, Fusion, and she has been a guest on HuffPostLive. She is the author of the children's picture book PUFFY: PEOPLE WHOSE HAIR DEFIES GRAVITY. Kensington Books will be publishing her debut feminist heist novel, UPTOWN THIEF, in 2016. For more info, go to ayadeleon.wordpress.com.

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