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I tweet, therefore I am

Two weeks ago See Jane Write hosted a social media seminar called See Jane Tweet. Our dynamic speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall shared with attendees invaluable information about Twitter, why it’s important, and how we women writers can make it work for us. 

Since then I’ve attended yet another seminar on social media and the two things that keep coming up, the things that stick out to me most, are the ideas that your social media identity truly is an extension of who you really are and that social media tools do not cut us off from “real world” relationships but actually enhance them by helping us forge new connections. 

Erin shared at See Jane Tweet that she has connected with more likeminded people in Birmingham in two years via Twitter than in 11 years of living here.

With these things in mind it is thus so important that show our personalities when using Twitter and other social media tools. You can show who you are by what you tweet about.  Use Twitter to give attention to people, topics, and causes you care about. Sure, you want to share your own writing but also share interesting content produced by others because as Kristen and Erin said in their presentation, “No one likes a non-stop self-promoter.”  Tweet a news story, a photo, or a song lyric stuck in your head. Another way of doing that is by retweeting links. And don’t be afraid to share your opinions in your tweets. 

If you’re still not on the social media bandwagon, after the jump find 10 easy steps to hopping on the Twitter train, all tips from Erin and Kristen’s wonderful presentation. 

Step 1: Go to and create an account.
Step 2: Add a nice profile photo and bio.
Step 3: Have Twitter connect to your email to find people you know.
Step 4: Use Twitter search to find a specific person or people with a common interest.
Step 5: Use the “suggested user” tab to find relevant accounts.
Step 6: Use Twitter lists of local and trusted users to find more users.
Step 7: Use other social media tools (such as Facebook) to let people know you’ve joined Twitter.
Step 8: Add your Twitter account to your email signature
Step 9: Invite your friends to join. 
Step 10: Have fun! Interact and engage with other users now that you’ve found them and they’ve found you. 

Did you miss See Jane Tweet?

If you missed See Jane Tweet last night log on to Twitter and search for tweets with the hashtag #seejanetweet (and a few are under #seejanewrite because I shouldn’t have been drinking wine while tweeting) for some of the words of wisdom Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall shared with our attendees. Or just click here!

Where Two or Three Gather

That’s me with our amazing speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall

I am a fiercely independent person. My parents raised me to be that way and I’m grateful for that upbringing because I believe I owe much of my success to it. But sometimes being Ms. Independent brings trouble, or stress headaches at least. Too often I take on huge projects and refuse to ask for help. Even when I’m drowning I won’t scream for a life jacket. 

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to begin to make a difference in Birmingham, though at the time I wasn’t really sure what that would look like. Eventually I decided to start See Jane Write, a networking group for women writers in Birmingham. This time I’m not going to make the mistake of trying to do it all on my own. 

Last night See Jane Write had its second event: See Jane Tweet, which was a seminar designed to teach women writers how they can use Twitter and other social media tools to promote their work and connect with other writers. The event, held at Matthew’s Bar & Grill, was a huge success and it couldn’t have been without the help of other women. Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall were amazing speakers who kept the audience engaged, encouraged an interactive atmosphere, and filled us all with their web wisdom. And many of the attendees were there because other people helped me spread the word. 

After the seminar I had a chat with Keisa Sharpe, publisher of the website, about the importance of collaboration. Writing for her website, for example, has brought more traffic to my blog. But this is about something much greater than self-promotion. If I’m going to transform Birmingham into the kind of city that nurtures and supports creative and ambitious women, I need the the help of other creative and ambitious women in town. I need also the help of men who share this vision, men like Wade Kwon, who actually crashed our all-girl event to show his support. 

I’m a church-going gal and in Matthew 18:20 Jesus says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” I think this is concept is one that can be applied to a number of things regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof. When two or more people are gathered in the name of something greater than themselves, be that a deity or a dream, the spirit of whatever has brought them together will be present and will work wonders. And that’s exactly what happened last night as I saw my dreams for See Jane Write becoming a reality.

More shots from See Jane Tweet

Shameless Self-Promotion

State of the Re:Union is a public radio show and website that sets out “to explore how a particular American city or town creates community, the ways people transcend challenging circumstances and the vital cultural narratives that give an area its uniqueness.” The program’s latest episode is on the Magic City, Birmingham, Ala., and features writing by yours truly. Stop by the site and check out my letter to the city.  
There’s even audio of me reading portions of the letter in the show. My reading is about 19 minutes into the show.  
Here’s an excerpt of the letter: 
Dear Birmingham,
I guess you always knew I’d come back to you.
Wooed by the palm trees of California’s East Bay Area, Seattle’s cool summers and snow capped mountains, and the bluegrass of Kentucky, I left you; for six years I called other cities home.
But I came back to the rich red earth that birthed me.
I came back to taxed groceries, seemingly endless DMV lines and poor customer service. I came back to government scandals and corrupt local politicians who have nicknames like La La. I came back to crime reports that scare suburbanites away from your downtown.
But I am not afraid of you.
Click here to read the entire letter and listen to the show. (You’ll find links to letters to the city on the right side of the page.)

See Jane Tweet Rescheduled for May 26

On April 27 tornadoes ripped through the state of Alabama, destroying homes and businesses and killing over 200 people. Many of the women involved with See Jane Write were affected in some way, so we decided to postpone our social media seminar See Jane Tweet. That event has been rescheduled. It will be held Thursday, May 26 at Matthew’s Bar & Grill from 6-8 p.m. Click here to register. 

As our state struggles to pick up the pieces and rebuild in the face of such devastation things like social media may seem trivial and insignificant, but I disagree. It is actually because of the storms that I approach See Jane Tweet with fresh perspective and a better understanding of just how useful things like Twitter can be. 

When I lost electricity in my home I was still connected to others and still aware of when the tornadoes were getting closer to Birmingham because of Twitter updates from my friends, which I was able to access through my phone. Lives were saved as pictures and videos posted on social media sites proved to people that these storms were serious threats and that they truly needed to take cover. See Jane Tweet speakers Erin Shaw Street and Kristen Record Heptinstall will also share stories of how social media tools have been vital to the coverage of the storms and the aftermath. 

As Christy Turnipseed wrote on her blog, “with the new day of social media, it seemed as if we were all one family huddling together keeping one another informed and making sure we were all safe.”

I hope to see you all at See Jane Tweet. 

Register for this free event at

Meet See Jane Tweet Speaker Erin Shaw Street

Erin Shaw Street is actually the reason See Jane Tweet ever came about. At See Jane Write’s inaugural event Street started chatting with a few of the ladies at the dinner about the many advantages of Twitter. Minds blown, they were eager to know more. Pretty soon they were all asking for a Twitter 101. Well, ladies, ask and you shall receive. 

Street, with the help of Kristen Record Heptinstall, will be leading Thursday’s See Jane Tweet seminar. (If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late. Just email me at Street is Associate Editor at Southern Living Magazine and board member of the Alabama Social Media Association (ALsocme). Read on to learn more about Street and why she’s crazy about Twitter. 

Tell us more about your duties as associate editor at Southern Living?
I work primarily with the Health & Beauty section, and am responsible for managing stories from start to finish. That includes pitching, story development, and managing the whole package — from writing the story to working with Art and Photo to deliver strong visuals. My focus is health and wellness, and I love telling stories about the way modern Southern women find balance in their lives. I’m also the liaison between our editorial and digital groups, working to develop our brand across platforms. 

Why and how are social media tools such as Twitter important to your job?
I am able to instantly connect with readers, which gives us an amazing opportunity for engagement and two-way communication.  I use Twitter to find story ideas, gauge reader interest in topics, and explore the South — all from my desk or iPhone. And, since my job involves a lot of travel, I use Twitter (and other tools) to find out what’s happening when I am visiting a city. Wherever I am, if I have a question about the best restaurant or gym to check out, I find an answer on Twitter. It’s where I find “The Next Big Thing.”  

Tell us more about your role as a board member with the Alabama Social Media Association (ALsocme) and how you got involved with this group?
I was approached by the founding members, and enthusiastic about getting involved. I am the Outreach Chair, which means that I work to create partnerships between ALsocme and community organizations. Our goal is to make social media accessible to everyone in our community, demystifying the notion that you need to be a tech wizard to use these tools. So, it’s important that we have partners across our community to help us broaden our reach. We are proud to have more than 15 partners so far, including the City of Birmingham, Alabama Association of Nonprofits, and many professional organizations.  

How did you get interested in social media?
Social media isn’t so different than what I’ve done my whole career; it’s just another way of connecting with people, telling stories, and building community. It’s all about relationships. Good writers are engaged with life, and social media is just another space to explore and learn. Also, on a personal note, it has helped me connect with so many people I would have never met otherwise. It’s not just about talking about what we had for lunch (though we do that!). In particular, I’ve met so many people who care deeply about Birmingham, and we rally via social media, which leads to meaningful, real-life connections.

Tell us a few of the important things about social media tools that you believe many writers don’t realize or don’t understand.
The biggest thing is that social media is accessible, and can open many doors. It does take a little effort to learn some of the tools, but there are so many people eager to help. Plus, social media isn’t just Twitter – it’s Facebook, YouTube, photo sharing tools like Instagram, and many others. Each tool serves a different purpose, but they are all about the same thing: telling stories.  So I encourage writers to stretch themselves and learn about the new way of storytelling and gathering. There’s inspiration and creation in these spaces. What could be better?

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