social networking

You know Twitter has made its mark when the Merriam-Webster definition of the word “tweet” now includes “to post a message to the Twitter online message service.” Below are tips and tricks on how to use Twitter to your best advantage, written by our own longtime community member, Doreen Martel.

It has been some time since we addressed the Twitter and Helium connection, and it may be time to revisit how important Twitter is to writers at Helium. As Google has changed its method of ranking content based on social media, it may be more important than ever to make sure that you are participating actively on social media sites. For most writers, one of the easiest sites to participate in social media is Twitter. While Facebook and Google+ are simple to use, for maximum exposure, Twitter is probably still the best social media platform.

Hashtags are more important than ever!

Twitter has made it simple to share information, but one of the problems is the “flood” of links that come through a time-line. The more followers a Twitter user has, the more likely they are to find that they simply cannot keep up with the stream of information. This is when hashtags (which look like this: #) come into play. Hashtags help sort links by category and make finding information much easier. In addition, many Twitter users create “newsletters” through the free service, and they use these keywords to “pull” information into their newsletter. When your work is used in a newsletter you gain credibility and possibly more traffic. Hashtags must be used properly to be effective. For example, if your article is about a literary review, you can use the book name, author name or something related. Misleading hashtags are going to tick off users who use these to find information and could also lead to suspension of your Twitter account.

Twitter changed link shortening

One of the recent changes to Twitter is how it handles links. Writers can save some space by removing the “http” before their long-links. In fact, it is a good idea to remove most of the long link as the short link can be created using even fewer characters. Helium writers need only use the string that starts with “Helium” and ends with the item number. An example of this is “How to get followers on Twitter #twitter” which includes the article title, URL and item number as well as the hashtag. The tweet can be posted directly to Twitter or used as is in any automation program. In reality, writers can remove the “www” from the string as well.

You have to stay active!

Automation tools have made it easy to set up tweets and leave them to run unchecked through the day and night. However, the more active you are on Twitter, the more likely you are to have others read your work. Don’t ignore your followers, make sure that you at least check your account on a daily basis and respond to people who have retweeted your work or made comments. If you fail to do this, you will lose followers and run the risk of not getting anyone to pay attention to your work.

Twitter can waste a lot of time if you do not handle it properly. However, after doing some testing, it is easy to see a difference in Helium earnings when you (a) use hashtags, (b) make sure you are following the new link standards and (c) interacting with followers. Try it and see!

Helium is getting into the holiday spirit! We are looking for a holiday-themed logo for our Facebook page. Whatever holiday you celebrate, we want something creative and inspired that captures the Winter Holiday spirit while retaining the essence of what Helium is all about. If you have an original idea for the fresh new face of Helium’s Facebook page, submit your artwork by December 6 to, and Helium’s community will vote on the best logo! Check out the design contest page for more information.

Activating social media networks can lead to increased visibility of quality articles. We already know that promoting your writing on social network sites can help drive traffic to your Helium articles. Is it possible that Google might be able to help that process along?

Google changes its search algorithms 500 times a year, so what’s different about this newest change? According to Claire Cain Miller’s recent blog in The New York Times, this new search algorithm will have an effect on about 35 percent of all Google searches.

This new “freshness algorithm” recognizes that sometimes the most current information is coming from sites like Twitter and Facebook. The new formula will not dismiss Google’s commitment to show the best results, but will also bring up breaking news, recent reviews and, of course, social media updates early in the search results.  People want fresh information about what is happening right now.

For example, someone who searches the name “Kim Kardashian” in Google would come up with news stories posted today, the celebrity’s Twitter page and her Facebook page within the first several results.

So what does this mean for Helium writers? For evergreen content especially, Google maintains its commitment to showing the best results.  But now, you can increase views to your articles by blogging, tweeting and updating status in Facebook.  Not only will you drive traffic to your articles through your own social network, there is also the potential to improve visibility by taking full advantage of Google’s new algorithm to promote your interesting, quality content.

Today Helium celebrates our fifth year anniversary. Happy Helium Day 2011

As we enter our sixth year of web presence, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those who have been involved in making Helium what it is today. There have been an amazing number of people who have in some way contributed to this effort and to all who have we wish to say “Thank You”

From the beginning, Helium has been driven by such principles as listening to our community, innovating with new ideas and improving on existing functionality. This has kept us fluid and flexible and has allowed us to remain a force in the industry.

Helium is and always has been far more than just a user generated content site for writers. We are an international community of writers and of late writers who are also photographers. We foresee many great changes going forward and expect that it will be met with great success.

These five years have not been particularly easy. We have watched the entire industry of both online and print publication as they have been turned upside-down due to technology, economy and its own evolution. We continue to do business in a challenging time for a continually evolving industry and we plan to be on the leading edge as all of this settles.

Again we wish to thank all of those who have been involved in making Helium what it is today.

We love Facebook. Not only is a fun social site, but it’s a great place to connect with Helium members, share news, promotions, create stories together and keep in touch. So last week we sent out an email to many Helium writers encouraging them to like our Facebook page.

The response was wonderful! Not only did we get more than 700 new people to like the page, we LOVED the amazing comments, feedback and helpful advice members posted on the page.

Our email requested people like the page for a chance to win a $10 assignment. We said we’d raffle off one $10 assignment for every 1,000 new fans of the page. We did break the 2,000 “likes” mark and could have awarded one $10 assignment to a fan. Instead, we thought it would be much more fun to award seven $10 assignments for every 100 new “likes.”

The winners are:

Regine Reviere

Dayna Rutherford

Brian Keith Compton

Ernest Smartt

Cyn Lee

Carolina Dream Coy

Joseph B. Arrington

Congratulations to all! We’ll be in touch via the Helium inbox to coordinate assigning you a great title!

It seems like social media is everywhere these days, and as an online writer it’s important to know what’s what in the world of social media and how to refer to everything properly. The AP Stylebook now has a chapter specifically focused on social media. Here are a few of the most helpful rules. Following them will help your finished work seem more polished and professional.

Facebook: The name of this social networking site should always be capitalized.

Foursquare: This location-based social networking tool should be spelled out as one word starting with a capital F.

LinkedIn: This social network is geared toward career and professional networking. Its name should be spelled out as one word with a capital L and a capital I.

Twitter: This social media site allows users to post messages of up to 140 characters and share links. A Twitter message is called a tweet, and tweet and tweeted can be used as verbs. Only Twitter needs to be capitalized.

friend, follow, like: All of these words, which refer to ways people can connect on social networking sites, can be used as both nouns and verbs. Friend and like are used on Facebook, and Twitter users have followers and follow other users.

unfollow, unfriend: Removing someone from a list of accounts being followed on Twitter or from a list of friends on Facebook. According to AP style, defriend is also an acceptable term, but it is not used as commonly.

check in, check-in: Foursquare and other location-based social networks allow users to share their locations using mobile devices such as smartphones. This is called a check-in. Check in should be two words when used as a verb, and it should be hyphenated when used as a noun.

hashtag: On Twitter, a number sign, referred to as a hashtag, can be used in a tweet to indicate what the tweet is about and to connect it to related tweets from other users. There shouldn’t be any spaces between the hashtag and the accompanying words. For example, #socialmedia could be used as hashtag.

trending: The term, which is usually used as a verb, refers to topics that are getting a lot of attention on social networks, especially Twitter. According to AP style, trending should not be used in an article without giving context and explanation. For example: The topic of the earthquake in Virginia was trending on Twitter yesterday.

retweet: When Twitter users forward a message or link from someone else to their followers it is called retweeting. Although it is often abbreviated as “RT” on Twitter, the word should always be spelled out in articles.

We’re almost to 1,000 fans on Helium’s Facebook page. To celebrate this milestone we’ll be raffling off a Helium goodies prize pack that includes a Helium T-shirt, pen, sticker and more!

“Like” the page to be in the running for this gift pack.

Thanks to everyone who has already liked the page. We’ve had such wonderful interactions with Helium writers already and can’t wait for more writers to join the conversation, share their articles and have fun!

As part of our upcoming release on Monday, Helium will get more social! We’ve cleaned up the social media sharing icons at the top of each article page and included the Google +1 button.

We’ve also created an action bar that moves as you scroll down the page. This bar includes social buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google +1. You can even click “hide” if you want the toolbar to be hidden. When logged in as Helium writer, you will also have additional tools in the action bar. They include “Article Tools,” “Print article” and the “Write now” button.

It’s important to note that the “Write now” button will no longer be at the top of the article. It will now be housed in this action bar.

If you’re not logged in to Helium, the action bar will look a little different. It will not include the “Write now” button, and it will not include “Article Tools.” This creates a cleaner and more user-friendly presentation for readers of the site.

Earnings & Payments changes

We’re also adding a new feature to Earnings & Payments for all writers. Writers will be able to download an Excel spreadsheet listing their earnings on every article they’ve written on Helium (up to 1,500 articles). Now you can clearly see how much each article has earned, making it easier to see which articles have been more successful and which ones need some editing, or some promotion.

On Monday, Twitter released Twitter for Newsrooms, its new guide for journalists using Twitter. Broken down into four sections called #Report, #Engage, #Publish and #Extra, the guide is full of helpful hints about the best ways to use Twitter to research stories and publish and promote your work on Twitter, which makes it a great resource for Helium writers – especially the first two sections.

The first section, #Search, breaks down four different tools or apps that will help you find information in different ways on Twitter. Twitter Search, which just switched its address to from earlier this month, is the basic search. Advanced Search lets you fine tune your search terms to find exactly what you’re looking for. The guide also breaks down the differences between TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac as apps for monitoring people, topics or lists on Twitter, as well as how to use Topsy to search Archives. Knowing how to use all of these tools effectively will make it easier than ever to use Twitter to find story ideas and new experts you should follow in your niche.

The second section, #Engage, gives pointers on how to use Twitter to help engage readers and promote your work in a productive way. The guide uses Katie Couric and reporters from The Washington Post and the Boston Globe as examples of what works well. They all personalize their Tweets, doing more than posting links to their own stories. They talk about what they’re reading, what they find interesting (including work from other writers and sources) and what they’re working on, and they respond to readers, too. According to the guide, this approach helps build a sense of community that keeps readers interested. The guide also includes a few tips on how to brand your Twitter profile to make yourself easier to find.

The final two sections, #Publish and #Extra, include guidelines on how offline new outlets (like TV broadcasts or the print edition of newspaper) should display Tweets, and links to support forums and blogs.

Stop by and check it out! Even if you think you’re a Twitter pro, you’ll find something useful. If Facebook is more your style, they have a similar site called Facebook and Journalists that you can like to get tips on using Facebook as a writer, too.

We have created a new Helium Facebook page. Our previous Facebook page disappeared from Facebook’s site on April 14 and despite repeated attempts to contact Facebook, our previous page never was restored.

Please take a moment to “like” our new page and interact with and communicate with Helium on Facebook. On the Facebook page we post links to our blog posts, answer questions, share photos and more. We’ll also reestablish Topic Tuesdays and One Sentence Fridays.

Thanks so much everyone for your patience and understanding!

Feel free to share the link with others:

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