Use Twitter & Hootsuite to Promote Your Blog for the 2017 A to Z Challenge

2017 Badge.jpg

COPYRIGHT – ALPINE ACRES PUBLISHING 2017  In 19 days a whoop will be heard from computers around the world as nearly two thousand brave souls make their best effort at creating 26 blog posts in as many days if not more if they are blogging one more than one theme. What is this madness? It is known as the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge.

2017 will mark my third try at the challenge. I have completed it once, but got too excited last time and made a big mess. This year I decided to focus on one blog in particular, my favorite, the Fiction Playground. I tend to blog about a wide variety of topics. Family, faith, gardening/flowers, my model railroading hobby and more, but by and large my passion lies with fiction writing.

I join in on three photo fiction prompts each week, all of which challenge the writer with word limits. I can tell my ability to pack a lot of possibility in my stories has developed markedly and I appreciate the kind of feed back others in these challenges provide. I anticipate the same kind of interaction in the A to Z Challenge.

Okay, that was too long of an introduction, especially since I am 200 words into this post without the first mention of my topic, Use Twitter & Hootsuite to Promote Your Blog for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. Who wants to write something that will just float around the internet for eternity with no one engaging or making any kind of comment? Not me! Sure you put it out there for the wolves to rip apart too, but writers create for consumption and the possibility of mass consumption by the A to Z pack is very real.

During this past November I played around a lot with Twitter as I took part in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). One of the things I saw immediately is there is a tremendous amount of self-promotion going on there. At first I found that kind of off-putting, but as I took time to reflect between then and now I see the value. You have to make your product stand out. Why not use any tool you can understand to do so?

With that in mind I formulated a strategy to begin tweeting teasers for my April 2017 A To Z Challenge Theme. I guess I am jumping the gun a little, but I am going to share that theme with you here. Another thing I came to understand during NaNoWriMo 2016 is that the more you map out your novel ahead of time the easier it is to write. Keeping with that concept I began to flesh out a historical fiction novel I want to craft..

I used to be enthralled with wars, including the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World Wars. I suppose I still have some interest in all, but I am particularly fond of the Civil War. Perhaps it is because I live in Virginia, which was one of the most affected states in the sense of the amount of battles. Whatever the reason I have been knocking around the idea of writing a historical fiction about the Civil War. Pulling in the connection to my recent initiation of a model railroading hobby I came up with an idea that fused the two loves.

The Steel Horse Saviors is a story about the United States as it tries to right itself following four years of civil war. It is 1866 and three civil war veterans, two Yankees and a Rebel head to the western frontier with a nearly new steam engine to seek their fortune. On their way they encounter Clementine O’Grady, a breath-taking redhead struggling to keep her family’s Timber & Lumber company from collapsing. Civil War prejudices as well as our heroes’ past will combine to complicate their lives.

Now to the Twitter and Hootsuite connection. Hootsuite is an application that allows you to schedule tweets or Facebook posts, if you like, to post whenever you choose. I immediately grasped the process and find Hootsuite to be easy to use. Here is an example of some posts I scheduled:

SHS

You will notice I have employed the use of hash tags. One was pre-existing, #atozchallenge, which I hope will become really popular in the next days as people get excited about the challenge. The other is my own creation, #steelhorsesaviors. By doing this I can go specifically to that hashtag on Twitter to see what is going on. There is another hash tag I am trying to use, provided by the A to Z Challenge @Aprilatoz, but so far Hootsuite does not recognize it.

Here is a calendar on Hootsuite showing the various tweets I have already sent to twitter. You will also have a similar display for the tweets scheduled to post:

HS

I want to take this moment to give a shout out to one of the A to Z Challenge C0-Hosts who has been re-tweeting my scheduled posts since I began four days ago. J Lenni Dorner should get a kudo for living the role as a co-host. I mean really, it is 18 days until the real madness kicks off and this representative of the A to Z team is in full-on “Get It Done” mode!

JLD

So what value is their in this re-tweet? I have a grand total of 398 followers, of which I am not sure how many actually check my tweets regularly. Conversely J Lenni has 7,392! That is almost 16 times as many opportunities for someone to see the tweet. You cannot beat that kind of possibility for promotion of your work.

So you ask, am I concerned my effort will get smothered out by the torrent of similar effort when the real challenge begins? Concerned? No. Expecting it? Yes. I am not the only one to ever consider this, but am thankful it occurred to me early enough to work out the logistics and get it rolling now.  Tell me if you like this idea or if you have tried anything similar.

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