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!

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 twitter.com/search from search.twitter.com 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: http://www.facebook.com/HeliumWriters

As an online freelance writer looking to improve your writing skills, you should be following experts in your field on Twitter. These people and organizations can provide you with inspiration, training and help with writer’s block. It’s also a great way to keep up to date on news in the industry.

Take a moment to enhance your writing skills and follow these experts:

Knight Digital Media Center (@kdmc)

PBS MediaShift  (@PBSMediaShift)

NewsFuturist.com (@NewsFuturist)

NextNewsroom (@nextnewsroom)

American Journalism Review (@AmJourReview)

Knowledgewebb (@Knowledgewebb)

Poynter’s Romenesko column (@Romenesko)

Wiredjournalists.com (@wiredj)

Modernjournalist.com (@ModernJourno)

FreelanceFolder (@FreelanceFolder)

Take advantage of these free skills and training. It will not only help you improve your writing, but give you ideas on how to approach different articles.

Don’t forget to interact with these writers, bloggers and organizations. Reply to a tweet. Message them with a question. Or retweet their post to your writer friends to help spread the message.

Interested in learning more? Read our previous post:
10 writer training resources you should follow on Twitter

Follow Helium on Twitter: @Helium, @HeliumWriter, @HeliumVP

You joined Twitter, tweeted some friends and followed some celebrities. Now what? Well if you’re an online freelance writer looking to improve your writing skills, begin by following some experts in your field.

Twitter is an amazing tool to help you get training and advice to develop your talent. By signing on to Twitter you can see what others are talking about, thinking and sharing. For writers, it’s very often free education you’d be a fool not to take advantage of.

Take a moment to enhance your writing skills and follow these experts:

10,000 Words multimedia journalism blog (@10000Words)

Poynter school for journalists (@Poynter)

NewsU is the e-learning site of @Poynter (@newsuniversity)

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (@PEJPew)

The Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University (@NiemanLab)

Society of Professional Journalists (@spj_tweets)

The Journalist’s Toolbox from SPJ (@journtoolbox)

The Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University (@JLab)

The Committee of Concerned Journalists (@journalists)

Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy (@JournoResource)

Writing is a talent, but it’s also a skill you can and should improve by learning new things, or refresh your knowledge. These writers, bloggers, journalism schools and organizations also share informative news about the writing and publishing industry.

Twitter is great because not only can you read the articles, tips and expertise these experts provide, you can also interact with them. Reply to a tweet. Message them with a question. Or retweet their post to your writer friends to help spread the message.

You’ll be sure to learn a few things and even find inspiration to write more.

We’d like to hear from you! Share with us who else you get writing advice from on Twitter in the comments section below.

Freelance writers face unique challenges. Many freelance writers do not depend solely on work from clients or from upfront payments, instead, many depend on income that comes from residual earnings. Residual earnings are based solely on the traffic, number of people who view the work, that a piece of content receives. So, in addition to being able to research and write high quality articles, freelance writers also need to learn the art of Internet marketing.

One of the most popular and easiest marketing tools to utilize is Twitter. Like anything else that involves marketing, it takes some time and energy to learn in order to market articles effectively, but the return on your investment is worth it.

Twitter is a micro-blogging (posts of 140 characters) and social networking site. As with most social networking sites, it can account for large amounts of time before you even know it, but with good time management and some automation, you can tweet while you sleep and continuously earn.

Before we continue, if you’re new to Twitter, please consider reading “5 reasons every freelance writer should invest time in Twitter.”

Why automate Twitter?

Wait a moment, consider what happens to an article when it is sent through a Twitter stream. Someone posts a tweet and it then is pushed to a feed which everyone who is following them can see. The followers who are reading that stream see the article and if they are curious enough, they may read it and if they like it they may even re-tweet it to their followers. Remember the old shampoo commercial “and they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on”? Twitter works under the same premise and has the ability to send anything viral. By automating Twitter it means that a freelance writer does not have to spend time revisiting Twitter and manually creating updates. Automation of tweets will help save time, effort and can even market for you while you’re sleeping.

What tools are there available to use for automation?

Automation is a great tool and one that everyone, especially freelance writers, should be using to their full advantage. There are many Twitter applications such as HootSuite, TweetAdder and SocialOomph that help you schedule tweets for certain times of the day and will tweet them for you. This offers you not only the opportunity to save some valuable time, but to market to others while you’re snoozing away. Most of these options are of low to medium cost solutions that can potentially provide a respectable ROI on your time and money spent.

What kind of ROI are we looking at here?

Each of the three programs mentioned above have different fee structures. HootSuite offers a free (limited) version as well as low-cost monthly options. TweetAdder offers a lifetime subscription for a set price of less than $75 and SocialOomph offers a monthly service for less than $30. Speaking only for myself, I use SocialOomph for my Twitter account (and several client accounts). On average, my earnings drop $3-$5 per day if I forget to load work into SocialOomph. Over the course of a month I average $10 per day (this is with approximately 900 articles). Other income has increased as well (AdSense, etc.) as a result of using automated Twitter features.

How many followers do I need?

Fortunately, there does not appear to be a correlation between followers and income. In fact, some client accounts have fewer than 1,000 followers and are gaining as many hits a day as the account that has more than 10,000 followers. It is more about the quality of the followers you obtain versus the quantity. One person who is interested in what you have to say, reads your posts and shares them is much more valuable than 100 people who don’t bother with anything you post.

To recap the value of tweeting while you sleep

If used properly, Twitter is a great promotional tool that can educate writers on crafting better headlines to attract views, aid in finding new work and increase residual revenue opportunities. By selecting an automation option that schedules your tweets, you’re likely to tap into a market you might never have before like the one viewing while you sleep.

Follow me on Twitter @doreenmartel
Visit my Helium About Me.
Read my blog: FreelanceandMore.biz

Image Credit: By Sanseng (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Want to find out everything Helium has to offer its writers? Then check out our new Community page!

Our new Community page is a central hub for Helium writers. It directs members to our Discussion Boards, Groups, Marketplace, writing contests, credentialing program, volunteer opportunities and more.

New to Helium? This page has everything you need to know including new member information and training materials.

Curious about Helium? Read what our writers have to say in our Writer Testimonials.

As a hub for all community aspects of our site it links Helium writers to our social networking pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Learn about the amazing opportunities Helium offers its writing community now!

We’ve just started sending the last Helium News members will receive for quite a while. We’re reevaluating how best to communicate with our members.

As we look at Helium.com, we realize we have lots of ways to let you know what’s up, and maybe an old-fashioned e-newsletter isn’t the most efficient anymore.
So, for our Helium News swan song, we want to remind you of all the places to look for up-to-date messages from us:

  1. Helium Inbox. With the introduction of the Helium Inbox, you can get all your messages in one place. Be sure to use the settings function to personalize things like email notifications and your signature.
  2. Announcements box at the top of your My Helium page. Your My Helium page is where to look for your latest stats too.
  3. Community forums. Look for the News from Helium forum for the latest or in Marketplace News and Questions for info on our latest publishing partners.
  4. Helium’s official blog will have more frequent updates too.
  5. You can also check on us through Facebook and Twitter.

As always, if you want to get in touch with us, write to Help@Helium.com with technical questions and to Content@Helium.com with questions about articles.