Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Social Media”

#AtoZ, 2014: Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910 Who’s on your list of Twitter Followers? Look carefully and you might find a few surprises (shocks?):

Twitter Fight

Twitter Fight

a porno queen or two
a foul-mouthed jock
a beggar (asking you to follow, pleeeeease)
a person boasting about how many followers they can get for you
people with very strange names
a person who may be calling you or your mother names in another language
other surprises.

I like Twitter, but the speed of its message flow disrupts idea continuity. Still I check Twitter fairly regularly, and I always find something interesting or funny. Kristen Lamb is one of my favorites. She gives lots of advice on writing, blogging, and jumping into the social network. She always has something amusing to say.

Lamb_2011_1__biggerKristen Lamb@KristenLambTX Apr 14
Been working since 7 this morning. Can I have back all those naps I didn’t want when I was a kid?       Best-Selling Author. Social Media Jedi. Newest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

But given the fun, Twitter does have it annoyances: love-hate relationships with followers, for one. I have found it necessary to develop my own guidelines for accepting followers. (Yes, that sounds snobbish. Others may have their own personal guidelines.)

Here are a few guidelines I use for managing my own wannabe followers:

1.  I do not use an autofollow program.

Early on in my Twitter lifetime, I tried out an autofollow program, that is, until I realized there are some Twits that I absolutely do not want in my followers list. Since that time, I look at each new follower to see if I want to follow them back or not. This takes only a few minutes every few days. I like to know who follows me, not how high my follower number gets.

2. I choose those I want to have as followers.

I follow those people who have somewhat related interests: reading, writing, blogging, publishing, education, travel, religion, child safety and welfare, food, technology, and perhaps some organizations and businesses related to these topics. Of course, I follow family and friends. You find out some interesting things that way! Most often, but not always, those with the similar interests follow back.

I like inspiring quotes, so I follow Denny Coates along with 24.7K followers. Alas, he doesn’t follow me back. Oh well.

coatesDenny Coates@DennyCoates 5m
 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

3.  Every few days, I check my list of followers to see who they are.

I do this by looking at the following three words on my Twitter homepage:

Tweets                Following                  Followers

Followers: Click on Followers and a list of your followers and wannabe followers comes up.

Wannabe followers (waiting to be approved) have a white box.
Click on the new followers’ names and see if they are fairly active tweeters. A very low number of tweets may mean this is a new Tweeter. If this person has similar interests, I usually follow back. People who use faceless avatars and have only a few tweets may be nameless persona who fish for people using automatic follow-back programs. These clickers really are only after numbers, not friends. I automatically skip over this second group of tweeters.

Click on the white box so the wanabees of your choice can forever be your devoted followers (BFF).
Or leave the white boxes alone if you don’t want to follow back.

I do not follow:

1. Empty heads (avatars). I do click on these to see if more information is available about them, but generally I do not follow, andimagesTWC4023L avatar after a few days or weeks, I find they disappear from my follower list. (Qwitter tells me when I lose followers, but I don’t worry about that because these qwitters are probably the empty-headed avatars.)

2. People who do not have bios. I like to read the brief bios that Tweeters put out, and I generally follow anyone who has put a little thought into their teaser. Ten words or so is not much, but you can say a lot about yourself in those limited characters.

3. Beggars. “Follow me, and I will follow you back. Pleeeeeese.”  Sorry.

4. Language abusers and foul language. Using the word that got Paula Deen in trouble (and other words of the same ilk) is also a no-no for me. It’s disrespectful. Really, we have all heard all these words before. They do not impress. Give it a rest.

5. Erotic language, suggestive language, or bare-chested (male or female) poses. Not necessary.

6. Tweeters with unusual names who offer followers: Astuty Astika? Menda Wahyungtas?  Dinda?  Wai Routt? Anggun? Solikha?  Really? These names sound phony to me. (Honest, I did not make these examples up.) Click on their names, and you will usually see only a few tweets. Of course, they do have followers: those people who use autofollow to build up their numbers. These Twits love to count their “Gotchas.” A few of them do have lots of followers, but do you really want to have an infusion of people who have no common interests?

Of course, some of those with phony-sounding names may have something going for them. Some can have hilarious, off-the-cuff commentary.

Barracks O’Bama     ‏@P0TUS19h       BREAKING SCANDAL–Fox News: Photos prove that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were masticating together.

Alas, on my latest check, Barracks O’Bama seems to have gotten lost in the dust of all those others with spelling variations of Barack Obama. (By the way, can you spell our President’s name?)

7. Tweeters who promise thousands of followers for $. Nope. Watch and you will see that these follower promises crop up in batches. Five or six unusual names, no bios, no picture.  Click on their names, and you see that they have only a few followers themselves and have only put out a few tweets. If they can promise you followers, why don’t they have all that many followers themselves? Don’t click on the URL they give out.

8. Tweeters who tweet in another language. Sorry, If I can’t interpret what you say, I don’t follow. And you probably can’t read what I say either. I do follow a few French or Spanish Tweeters. It gives me practice in reading those languages that I studied many years a little while ago in high school. Most of those who tweet in another language are probably pretty nice people, but how can I tell if I can’t read what they write? Better to just leave these alone.

9. Tweeters who go by one name. Really, if you are Hillary (followers: 1.99m, following: 9, Tweets: 94) or a Monica copycat (followers: 952, following: 171, Tweets: 419K) you can get away with that. Even Justin Bieber uses both names. Of course, made-up names are okay. Just use the same cautions when following. I like the comments by

10. Tweeters (and Facebookers, for that matter) who ONLY tweet their new book repeatedly. That alone will keep the Tweeter off my follower list AND my BUY list. I admit that I do tweet about my WordPress posts, but I usually do that only a time or two for each post.

Even with fairly careful adherence to these personal follow guidelines, I get surprises in my follower list. No problem. I can remove them.

Twitter Limits

Now how about when you add people to follow, and Twitter interrupts and announces that you have reached your limit? What is that secret limit? How can you follow more people when you get to this stopping point.

After the first thousand or so followers, Twitter allows you to follow about 10% more people than follow you. So what do you do? Some people will never follow you. They just won’t. Take Dennis Coates, mentioned above. He has a following of 24.K Tweeters,  yet he follows only 8,841 people. He will likely not follow you or me. Still, I like his positive attitude and his quotes, so I will continue to follow him until he discovers what he is missing by not following me back.

At this point, in order to add followers, you must first delete people on your follow list who do not follow you back. (You will find some big-timers who do manage to get around that Twitter count practice.)

ManageFlitter will give you a list of your non-followers in the order from when you joined Twitter, and with a few clicks, you can delete those non-followers either en masse or one by one. Generally, when you invite someone to follow you, they follow you in a relatively short time or not at all.

Of course, I follow some people who will never follow me, because I want to hear what they have to say.

Here’s what a few other bloggers have to say about Twitter:

Cynthia Hartwig, “How Susan Orlean Built a Posse of 260,000+ Twitter Followers,” August 21, 2013.
Terry Whalin   “How to Improve Your Twitter Followers,” June 28, 2013.
Bridget Whelan, “8 Reasons Why a Writer Should Join Twitter on the Shortest Day of the Year”
Janice Heck, “They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter
Janice Heck, “Twitter Bio in Ten Words”
Two Writing Teachers, “Connecting with Other Writers,” 4/12/2014
Anita Ferreri, Sharing TCRWP: Getting Started With Twitter, 4/12/2012
TCRWP: Getting Started with Twitter

Here’s one more…about unfollowing a blog…

Don Charisma, “Please unfollow my blog”

A note from Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/66885-i-can-t-follow-people-follow-limits#

The Last Meow
Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

tWITTER CATMeow for now.  =<^ !^>=


Hello, Dear Readers. Who Are You?

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Challenge Prompt 27

Write a Letter to Your Readers

Dear Readers,

Almost every writing expert tells us writers that we should know our audience when we write.

But because of Internet and its vast network, our writing reaches farther than we could have ever imagined, so that basic writing suggestion simply doesn’t work.

We bloggers write not knowing who our readers are. We know we have readers because WordPress counts them and gives us fascinating statistical reports.

My favorite report shows a colored map and tells me how many readers/views I have, and from which countries they have viewed my blog.

Wordpress stats

I am not surprised that I have views* in the English speaking countries:  United States (7,198 views), Canada (761), United Kingdom (650), and Australia (390). All four together represent my largest audience. But it is amazing to me that I have had readers in Egypt (38), Saudi Arabia (8), Qatar (8), Brunei Darussalem (3), Occupied Palestine (1),  Azerbaijan (1) Latvia (1), and so many more. (*WordPress counts each view of a post separately. If one reader reads three posts, then views= 3).

Why are you reading my blog? Are you learning English? Are you an expat? Are you an old friend?

I can look at sections of the map and think about specific people who might be reading my blog: Is that you, blogger friend Ellen V. Gregory in Australia, reading my post? In Alaska, maybe its Jim, Linda, Joan, Tina, Sherry, or other people I knew when I lived there. Maybe it’s Gary or Mary Jane in Korea; or Kent, Mary, Tammy, Jenny, Leslie in Hong Kong, my friends from Hong Kong International School. In Germany, it might be my nephew, Bill. In India, it might be my friend, Abraham, or one of his family or church members. Maybe it’s my blogger friend Julie Ferrar in France. I don’t know. It boggles my mind.

Equally interesting are the white spaces on the map: Greenland;  Paraguay, Suriname, and French Guiana, three countries in South America; all the Middle Eastern Countries; many countries in Africa; and Papua New Guinea in the Far East. It makes me wonder. Is Internet available in these areas? Is Internet available but restricted? What interest would they have in my blog anyway?

So dear readers, I am curious about you. My world geography is getting better because of your interest in my blog. Seeing your country colored in on the map reminds of visits that I have made to many of your countries, and I have many more countries on my bucket list for visits, enough to last a lifetime.

But regardless of who you are or where you live, I do appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. I know you have many blogs to choose from (does that sound like the arrival speech from the flight attendants on your favorite airline?), and I appreciate your interest. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing! To you, my heartiest thanks for visiting.

And if you have a minute, let me know who you are and the name of your country. I look forward to getting to know you better.

The Last Meow.

What about us kitties?  Look at our map. We have fans all over the world. How about that!

INternational cat day map.

Meow for now. =(^;^)=

Blogger Friends, Blogger Awards, and Childhood Pictures

Blogging brings new friends. We read about each other’s worlds in posts and connect.

Bloggers encourage each other. Getting over the hurdles of setting up a blog and then posting regularly is time consuming and more than occasionally frustrating. Bloggers know how discouraging it can be when photos don’t fall into place the way you want them to, widgets fight with you over their placement, links don’t link, picture captions disappear, or sneaky typos infiltrate your newly pressed post.

If you have a problem, you only need to ask another blogger for help. Some bloggers get special notice for their techie skills, and Laird Sapir, blogger-techie-advisor-friend, is one of those bloggers who’s always willing to help a newbie.

Bloggers know the way it is, and they support each other with comments… and…*tah dah*…*drum roll*… awards.

My blogger friend, Jacqui Talbot, recently passed on the Very Inspiring Blooger Award to me.  Thanks, Jacqui. Your posts inspire me, too.

Jacqui, a teller of tales of the Choctaw Nation, is a gifted story weaver.

Jacqui also passed on the rules for this award:

  1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you. Here’s the link to Jacqui Talbot’s blog. Go read it. Not only does she retell Choctaw Tales, she writes about things she has learned the hard way. She has lessons for all of us.
  2. Post the blog award on your page. Done. It’s posted on my blog page (after a tussle with the widget control master, but hahaha, I won!)
  3. Tell 7 facts about yourself, nominate 15 other blogs for the award, and let the nominees know they have been chosen.

Okay, here goes. Seven Facts…. I thought I would share some (undated) childhood photos.

1. This is the only baby picture of me that I have.  William Asbury Cooper, son of Rev. Edward Cooper of West Baptist Church of Vineland, NJ, holds me when I am only a few months old. I don’t know the backstory on this picture since our family attended the Presbyterian Church for as long as I can remember.

2. My nickname as a child was “Nan,” although I never knew how I got this name. My brothers teased me by calling me Nannygoat. I hated that, but I got even with at least one member of the family. I called my brother Bill, “Billygoat.” Here’s a picture of Billygoat and his ukelele.

Christmas, circa 1950 (?)

3. I loved playing with dollies when I was little. Here is my newest dolly at Christmas, 1950 (?)

Bill, Bobby, Janice (front)
Judie, Charles (back)

4. Here is a picture of me with Thomas-soo-lo, the family cat, when I was a little tyke. Thomas-soo-lo loved napping on Daddy’s lap as he read the newspaper after dinner. He condescended to cuddle up on other laps when Daddy was not around, and he tolerated me carrying him around the house and yard. Other times, Thomas-soo-lo wandered the farm looking for tasty, four-legged tidbits to snack on.

  • Thomas-soo-lo, the family cat, with Janice

    5. I went to Spring Road School, a two-room schoolhouse, through the fourth grade.

    Spring Road School, Vineland, NJ

    Our classroom desks looked like those below. Mom snagged a desk when Spring Road School finally closed down, and all of us country farm kids had to ride the bus to bigger schools in town.

    Photo: Share the Memories. Old classroom in Milwaukee with desks similar to those at Spring Road School. These students are practicing an air raid drill.

    6. As a girl scout, I wore my hand-me-down scout uniform, while all the other girls had the newer style. Poor me. Being the youngest female sibling of six, hand-me-downs made up the bulk of my wardrobe.

    Here are the six Kroey girls. (L to R, back row: Joyce, Joanne, Shirley. L to R front row: Beverley, Judie, Janice) See that littlest one with the knobby knees? That’s me.

7. The first car I could claim was an old black Chevy. It was passed down through the sibling ranks over the years, and it was as old as the hills. It even has a song written about it. I have been blamed for writing that song, but I’ll never tell. You may soon read about this family relic car  in an upcoming post.

So there it is. My childhood. Did it bring back any memories for you?

The last requirement for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award is a bit tricky. I read so many good blogs that it is hard to narrow the list down. But I’ll give it a shot. (Note: taglines written as bloggers show them. Some prefer capital letters; some do not.)

1. Shannon Messenger: books, ramblings, and plenty of shenanigans

2. Rhonda Hopkins: Where Reality and Fiction Collide

3. Barbara Forte Abate: Scribbling Outside the Lines

4. Sara Walpert Foster: Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

5. Myndi Shafer: Blogging Barefoot. one stray sock away from insanity

6. Cora Ramos: Drinking the eclectric cool-aid

7. Ellen Gregory: to beyond and back

8. Fabio Bueno: Diamonds and Rust

9. Elizabeth Fais: Where the awesome begins. . .

10. Shay Fabbro: Fun, Family, and Time Travel Accessories

11.Karen Pullen: Cubicle Escapee

12. Siri Paulson: everyday enchantments

13. Rabia Gale: writers at play

14. Nikki McCormack: Dancing on the Treetops in the Forest of My Mind

15. Susi M. Nonnemacher: Barefoot Bliss

And here’s one bonus blog!

16. Laird Sapir: Shabby Chic Sarcasm

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do.

They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter

Years ago (1926), when novice advertiser John Caples (1900-1990) sat down to write ads, he wrote “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano…But When I Started to Play!”–
In his ad, Caples described the local bar-crowd having fun at the expense of one attention-craving buffoon. But one day things changed.  After a dramatic entrance, this socially inept guy strode to a grand piano in the bar, shook out his silk hanky with a flourish, dramatically dusted the piano keys, then flawlessly played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata–much to the amazement of those who had earlier egged him on.

In just a few minutes, the jokesters in the crowd went from mocking their favorite taunt-target to singing his praises.

Caples’ ad quickly became a model for highly successful direct-mail advertising campaigns.

Some of us, as Twitter newbies, can identify with Caples’ ad character.  As we started to tweet, we more or less bumbled along until we figured out what this form of social media was all about.

A few friends tried Twitter, too, but they just didn’t get it. After three or four tweets to a friend or two, they decided that telephoning and texting were far more efficient. And didn’t they laugh at us when we announced we were “tweeting”?

“What? You? Tweeting on Twitter? What on earth for?

Hold on. Consider these six reasons why we find value in posting mini-messages on Twitter.

1. We make lots of new friends. It’s slow at first, but then it becomes addictive. We connect with a few like-minded people, then snag some of their friends. Then we learn about #hashtags, those seemingly magnetized key words that connect people with common interests. And we join funny-numbered groups like #WANA112, #WANA711, and #WANA1011, led by social media guru Kristen Lamb. (See Kristen’s blog at www.warriorwriters.wordpress.com, read her book We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and find her on Twitter @KristenLambTX.)

Kristen has a heart for newbie tweeters and bloggers. She puts us in a group and spoon feeds us info on how to be successful in our social media endeavors. She constantly reminds us that “We Are Not Alone” (WANA). And she teaches that encouraging others is more important than becoming important ourselves. What can be better than that?
 2. We become better writers. It’s tricky to write a 140 character message on Twitter—12 to 15 words, one or two sentences. How can you say something meaningful in that bit of space? Write more than that, and Twitter tweets back: “You have to be more clever.” And with a chuckle,  we reword the tweet; choose better, shorter words; abbreviate; or just delete irrelevant words. In short, we become tighty writees.
 3. We stretch our imaginations. Writer challenges flourish on Twitter as writers encourage each other. Can you write your bio in 140 characters? Can you write a story in exactly 100 words? Can you write a novel in six words or six sentences?  Can you write a novel in 30 days (NaNoWriMo)? Can you write a nonfiction book or article in 30 days (WNFIN-write nonfiction in November)? Poets join the fun in April (NaPoWriMo). These challenges not only provide mutual support, they test and develop our writing ability.
 4. We learn to proofread better. Snarky typos sneak into our writing without so much as polite notice or fake apology. We type, check, and check again. We post a tweet, and there, glaring in its naked arrogance, is a typo, an error in grammar, a misused word. We think faster than we type, and our eyes fail to catch the typos before we hit send. It only takes a few embarrassing errors to prod us into proofing better. Good lesson to learn before we finish that novel or nonfiction book!
 5. We make commitments to our new writer friends to take our writing more seriously. A number of brave writers join #ROW80 and commit writing goals not only to paper but to the others ROWers. With promises to report each week on progress, these writers keep on writing despite the many time-consuming obstacles that crop up in our lives and steal our writing time.

 6. We build our personal brand. Many newbie tweeters and bloggers join Kristin Lamb’s WANA tribe. Not only do we make instant friends, we can ask dumb questions without embarrassment. “Blogging babies” (as Kristen calls us) further along the blogging trail help us with their own new-found expertise. These friends become our first readers, our first commentators, our first subscribers. And they become plain good friends.

Jeff Bullas (www.JeffBullas.com) suggests other business-related reasons for tweeting in his blog post, “10 Reasons Why You Should be Using Twitter….” His reasons relate primarily to business and focus on Twitter as a major marketing tool. But we newbies are happy just to be writing, making new friends, and having fun in the process. Maybe later we’ll worry about making some money.

We mastered Twitter, and now we’re starting to blog. Don’t laugh. We can do this!

Here’s someone else who was teased by his friends. George Formby (1904-1961), British singer, songwriter, actor, comedian played his banjolele and sang “They Laughed When I Started to Play.” I thought you might get a chuckle out of this video clip.


YOUR TURN: How did your friends and family react when you started to tweet and blog?

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