I‘ve been thinking about Twitter for a while, actually since I started to get serious with it last fall.
There is a LOT of information on Twitter for authors — how to use it, manage it, leverage it, etc. I’m not going to try to duplicate that content, it’s been said so much more thoroughly than I could.
Instead I thought I would write a few blog posts about my experience with Twitter — what I have learned both from my personal experience and from reading the pros.
So, in no particular order, here goes. Five things I have learned about using Twitter:
You need a picture of you in your profile
I didn’t believe this at first, but I have come to see the wisdom in this statement. The “egg” default profile icon says any or all of the following to me:
- I could be a spammer account
- I don’t care enough about this whole Twitter thing to post a photo
- I fear that cameras will steal my soul
OK, maybe not the last one, but I find myself skipping Twitter accounts that stick with the default egg icon. Ultimately, Twitter is about connecting with people, How much of a connection can you have with an egg?
Your Twitter profile matters
This is the purpose of a profile. You can be witty but make certain you provide information, not merely mirth.
You can’t go into great detail (you only have 160 characters), but try to give the reader some idea what your interests are and what you write about. Avoid hashtags and shortened links (others disagree about links) Avoid trying to be edgy.
When I look at a profile I want some idea about whether I would like to follow you. If I see something like:
“I write therefore am I, and you’re not”
Edgy? Maybe. Informative? Not so much. I’ve seen worse as well. Incomprehensible gibberish leavened with profanity. Their mothers must be so proud. I give these people a pass.
Profiles are important because they are often the first thing people see when they are deciding whether or not to follow you. Give them a reason to stay, not a reason to leave.
One more thing on Pictures and Profiles — don’t be afraid to update them. Interests change, your appearance may change, you get a better picture — so update your Twitter information.
You need to tweet regularly
Develop a posting pattern and stick to it. If you tweet irregularly or only once a month people will tend to forget about you. Worse, when they are looking to prune their “following” list, you’ll likely be one of the first to go unless every single one of your infrequent tweets is gold. My guess is that your probably have some dross in there.
You can schedule your tweets automatically using any of several free or paid tools on the web. I’m using Buffer and it works quite well for my purposes. With their free version you can schedule up to 10 tweets in advance. Other tools include Hootsuite and Socialoomph. Many include other features like posting to multiple social media accounts and analytics.
Pick one and use its scheduling feature unless you want to be in front of your computer whenever it is time to tweet, and who wants that?
Your need to focus on a few content areas and tweet quality
People have different interests, and that applies to authors. Pick a few writing related areas which interest you and tweet quality information about them. These means links to blog articles, images, and other information you find interesting and may also interest your followers. Of course, it means tweeting your own content as well, if it is applicable (more on that below).
Tweet some personal information from time to time. You’re an author and readers want to know a little about the man or woman behind the words. Let them into your world a little by tweeting items that relate directly to yourself.
Be tasteful in your tweets. The internet is forever, and if you cannot tweet politely it’s best not to tweet at all. I am surprised at the number of people who ignore the potential consequences of offensive, snarky or rude tweets.
Likewise, do not spam your followers with constant exhortations to visit your blog, like you on FaceBook, or — worst of all — buy your book. Twitter is about engagement and providing value to your followers. No wants to follow a stream of sales pitches. The rule of thumb for promotion seems to be 80 – 20. Eighty percent of your tweets should be content your followers will find interesting or useful, twenty percent can be geared to promoting your book(s), blogs, etc. Again, I am amazed at the number of authors that seem to tweet nothing but demands/pleas/requests to read/purchase their books.
You need a strategy and a way to measure results
Twitter should not be an isolated endeavour for you. It should be part of a larger strategy that will build your brand awareness, help you provide value to those who follow you, and integrate with your overall plan to be a successful author.
I’m not published yet, so my strategy for Twitter is to drive traffic to my blog. This, I hope, will build my author brand, increase blog visits, and put in place a group of regular visitors/follows when I am ready to publish.
I measure the effectiveness of Twitter by tracking two things:
- Twitter engagements (follows, mentions, retweets, favs, etc)
- Blog visits and blog repeat visits
Twitter analytics (go to your profile and select Analytics from drop menu) is useful for the former. I have a WordPress blog and used Stat Counter to measure the latter. Of course, these are not the only tools available.
My efforts seem to be paying off. Progress has been ragged at times, but trending in the right direction.
So there you have it. Five things that I have learned about using Twitter as an author. I will post on this topic again, but it you are interested in more on social media and building an author platform you can’t go wrong by checking out either or both of these two sites:
Thanks for reading, and I will see you again soon.