Tonight is the Purpose Release Twitter Party (8 p.m. EST), celebrating the book’s official release date tomorrow! I can’t wait!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about how to do this Twitter thing…or, if they’re at least familiar with Twitter, how to do a Twitter Party. So here’s a down-and-dirty tutorial.

First, I found a great site that’s all about Twitter parties and how to participate or host one. Here’ the link for the Beginner’s Guide for Participating in a Twitter Party.

Second, I recommend using Tweet Grid for a party. I’ve never actually used it for a party, but others have recommended it and from playing around, it seems to be the best choice. I usually use TweetDeck, which you can also use. Just create a column for the hashtag #purposebykristiecook to follow all the tweets. I’ve noticed, however, that there is a delay with tweets posting in TweetDeck. This can be a problem in a party with giveaways because sometimes the winner is simply the first person to tweet something. If you don’t know that you’re supposed to tweet it because of the delay, you won’t be the first. I missed out on everything in the last party I attended because of this. Hence…Tweet Grid.

Here’s the scoop:

  • You can go directly to tonight’s Twitter Party through this link: Purpose Release Twitter Party. (If that doesn’t work, go to this link: Tweet Grid Party Page. In the hashtag box, type: #purposebykristiecook. In the hosts box, type: @kristiecookauth, @alexisames, @tristan_knight. In the last box, type in your Twitter username.)
  • A window will open with three columns. The left column is the feed for the whole party. Every tweet that includes “#purposebykristiecook” will show up in this column. This is where the conversation is. The center column shows only tweets from the hosts (me, Alexis and Tristan). This is the column you want to watch for announcements of giveaways (those tweets might get lost in the full conversation in the left column). The right column is like your regular Twitter feed – all your friends’ tweets and your own.
  • Before you can tweet, you have to log in. Right under the long window-bar at the top that says “Tweet” is a link to log-in. You’ll need to enter your Twitter username and password and allow Tweet Grid to connect to your account. Now you’re ready to join in!
  • To tweet, simply type your message into that long window-bar and hit enter. Tweet Grid will automatically add the hashtag #purposebykristiecook so that your message goes into the party feed. The red number at the right tells you how many characters you have left before you exceed Twitter’s 140-character maximum per tweet.
  • You can reply to any tweets by hovering your cursor over the tweet and clicking the arrow that points to the left. The Twitter name of the person you’re replying to will be added to the Tweet window-bar at the top. Just type in your message and hit enter. You only need to “reply” if you want that specific person’s attention. Otherwise, all tweets in this Tweet Grid window will go the party because the hashtag is automatically added.
  • To retweet (RT), which means tweeting what someone else has said, hover your cursor over the tweet and click the arrow pointing to the right. The original tweet will show up in the Tweet window-bar at the top. You can just hit enter and the message will be sent as is, going to all your followers, not just in the party feed. Or you can add to it by typing before the “RT” or at the end of the message. When adding to the end, you should separate the original tweet and your add-on with a slash (/) or two so people know that you’ve added your own thought to the original message. When you add to a RT, watch your character count. You might need to edit the message to get it down to size.
  • If you have something to say that is just too long and important for 140 characters, end your first message with … If you know how many tweets it will take to finish your thought, you can also add 1/3 (as in 1st of 3 tweets), 2/3, 3/3 at the end. The first number is which tweet in the message this is and the second number is how many total tweets you need to say it. For example, this bullet point could be divided into 4 tweets, so at the end of the first, I’d put 1/4; at the end of the next part, 2/4; at the end of the next part, 3/4; and at the end of the final part, 4/4. This helps people know in what order to read the tweets because sometimes they’ll get fed funny.
  • If you start to fall behind and want a chance to read everything in the feeds, you can click Stop at the top of the column. This will stop Tweet Grid from posting any new tweets in that column until you click Search! again.

That’s pretty much how Tweet Grid and a Twitter party work. Here are some tips for our party tonight:

  • When you sign on, tweet “I want me some Tristan!” as your check-in AND to enter the giveaway for signed copies of both Promise and Purpose. If you’re not using Tweet Grid, make sure the hashtag #purposebykristiecook is included.
  • Pay attention to the center column if using Tweet Grid! This is where you’ll see something like, “The first person who tweets Alexis’s mom’s name wins a Nook!” Type in “Sophia!” in the Tweet box and hit enter. Do it fast and be the first to win.
  • Be sure to follow the hosts (@kristiecookauth, @alexisames, @tristan_knight) so you can see our tweets in all three columns (just in case you get distracted in one column and we post a giveaway announcement).
  • Giveaways will be about every 10 minutes or so. We’ll give you a chance to catch up – and catch your breath – before doing the next one. But we do have a lot to giveaway, so it could get hectic.
  • You can practice on Tweet Grid anytime before the party officially starts. Tweet this: “Fun & giveaways at the Purpose Release Twitter Party! Tonight, 8pm EST, use #purposebykristiecook @kristiecookauth” to get extra entries for the first giveaway. Feel free to tweet anything else to get used to the program. I’ll be on early to answer any questions.

I hope this has been helpful and hasn’t confused you more! See you at the party!!! It’ll be a blast!