I took a Twitter break recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about Twitter. So, a Twitter post.
I’m not one of those people who thinks Twitter is absolutely integral to your success as an indie writer. I think there are loads of ways to be successful as an indie writer, and I can see how Twitter might be one of them, but, well…
What Twitter’s really good for, at least for me, is promoting my blog. A lot of my views come from Twitter, and it’s not a wild coincidence. The Twitter gods haven’t smiled on me, and I haven’t sacrificed my soul for followers (I don’t even know how many I have, off the top of my head. It’s somewhere around 1,400. Not a ton. If you’re visiting this blog from Twitter, by the way: heeeeey. This is, like, totally ironic.).
Twitter’s best, in my humble opinion, for promoting things that are serial in nature–a blog, a Wattpad story published in parts, a weekly paper, etc. That way, you’re giving folks new content every time you link: or, well, you have the chance to vary up your content a little, at least. Most folks who are active Twitter users do, after all, have large lists of followers, and a link travels down their Twitter feed pretty quickly, likely to never be checked again.
Yes, you can promote your book on Twitter. You probably should throw a link to it in there, every once in a while. But if you do the same thing every time you tweet, you sound like a broken bird call, and that’s positively f***ing annoying. People will mute you. They’ll unfollow you. And good luck selling your book to an audience that can’t even see you advertising.
So, for new tweeps, here’s my Twitter plan of attack for writers:
1) Make your profile. Put ‘writer’ somewhere in your bio: you are, after all, networking. Be brief. Be funny. Stand out.
2) Immediately–immediately, you hear?–start using Twitter Lists. Make a list for Advertising, a list for Writers, a list for Spammy Writers, and a list for Friends/Family. Basically, make whatever lists make you feel organized and perky, but please please please at least make a list for writers who actually do things other than post spammy book links. As you get followers, check out their feeds and add them to their appropriate categories. It might not seem so important now, but take it from someone who didn’t do this: a thousand followers down the line, your feed will be inundated with s****ily photoshopped pictures of half-naked women and aliens and other automated bullshit, and you will have no easy way of finding your actual Tweety friends on a list that moves at five to ten tweets per minute. Just because someone’s profile has ‘writer’ in it doesn’t mean you want to see every tweet this person fires off. Some writers spam. Y’hear? Some writers. Spam.
3) Use your hashtags, Junior. Big ones for writers include #amwriting, #writetip, #amreading, #amediting, #1lineWed, #FlashFictionFriday, and genre tags (#fantasy, #romance, etc.). You might want to get into #NaNoWriMo come November or peddle your blog on #Mondayblogs. Perhaps you’d like to vent? #writerslife and #writerproblems are there for you. There are better lists of popular hashtags elsewhere (like here: Erica Verrillo went to a lot of trouble to organize this fantastic list.,) but one thing to remember is: hashtags don’t always stay popular. Remember to check your actual hashtag feeds every once in a while (cue: don’t just toss your tweets out into the ether) to see whether or not they’re moving quickly (and, of course, to interact with others, which you were smart enough to know to do already, right?).
Why You Should Care About Hashtags:
Posting under certain hashtags gives folks with larger accounts (your new tweeps) the chance to find your post, check it out, love it, and retweet it. Retweets help you reach a whole new audience, and are the sweet, sweet, Reddi-whip nippled treats of the gods. For best results, I recommend combining a general and larger hashtag (such as #amwriting) with a more specific second (#writetip, genre tag, #indiepub, etc.).
But don’t make the classic mistake of making a #tweet that is #almost #entirely #hashtags. It looks like an automated bill-pay service just had its way with your tweet. Seriously.
4) Take your serialized content (your blog, your webcomic, or whatever it is) and go to the settings. Make sure every damn post you make auto-posts to Twitter. Want to get more personal? Fine. Make a second tweet later with all your pretty hashtags and a catchy text line. Two tweets isn’t spamming. But keep that first one, because that way, if all else fails, you’ve posted it on Twitter.
5) Remember those hashtags we were talking about? Check them out. Follow people who post to them. Talk to people. Favorite and retweet things you feel your followers would like to see. Retweets, after all, aren’t for you–they’re for the folks who look at your feed. Your follower base will grow.
6) You might want to check out HootSuite, or another similar scheduled social media service. You might not need it all the time–hell, I don’t use it much–but if you’ve got a lot of stuff to post and, say, an actual job, it might help you get things out when you want them out, and not just when you have the time. No, I’m not using it right now. Why? Because I’m an idiot. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t be like me.
A note: I’m not trying to teach you how to have a million bajillion followers here. There are plenty of people far more qualified than I to post about that. These are simple, efficient things to get you started using Twitter–ways to get the most out of it without spending your whole goddamn life stewing in it. Twitter can be a great marketing tool, but it can also be a soulless, heavily-abbreviated time suck.
Trick is, it’s up to you which one you want it to be.
A (succinct) guide to Getting Followers on Twitter, Which Is All Anyone Really Seems to Care About Anyway, Because Engagement Totally Doesn’t Matter, Right?:
1) Post witty things related to your intended network.
2) Use popular writing hashtags. Check out what other people are saying under those hashtags. Friend people who also post witty things in your intended network.
3) Post more witty things. Retweet other people’s witty things.
4) Legasp! It’s undifficult!
Guest post contributed by EFR. Her first novel, Aurian and Jin, came out last year. Outside of novel writing, she blogs about the general art of writing. Check out more of her work on her website.
I have to admit, I still hate Twitter though. I found the writing community there to be pretty toxic. Aside from having to be politically in lockstep, there were the numerous little cliques that felt the way THEY write is the only way to be a REAL author. After 6 months there, I just couldn’t stick my head far enough up my rear to remain, lol.
Great advice! thankyou for sharing, I am new to Twitter and have a lot to learn, I find it a little overwhelming, so thanks for this information.
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Great post. I have found that Twitter is good for the exact things you describe. Very informative post. Thank you for sharing this
Honestly, I struggled for a long time with Twitter until I stopped treating it like a marketing campaign and more of a social platform. The struggle with hitting the writing niche on social media is that everyone is trying to market themselves. Plus, you want to come off as a professional, and so you often censor yourself for the sake of an image.
But – that being said – when I stopped treating every post like a marketing campaign and actually used Twitter and Instagram like a social media platform by engaging other people, responding to their posts, and even just being goofy every once and awhile, people actually began to care about what I shared.
The trick to social media isn’t just hashtags and syndication (although you’re right, they do matter). It’s about building relationships. When you care about what other people have to say and make your presence known by engaging them and responding to them, they start to notice you, too, and care about what you have to say. You build a following that isn’t just a stockpile of lurkers, but rather people who have come to develop a genuine interest in you, often because you showed a genuine interest in them first.
Just some thoughts. 🙂 What you shared here I definitely agree with! But I’ve found that it really starts to gain momentum when you invest an authentic online presence that engages first without a motive or a sales pitch.
I have just recently started trying to promote my blog so twitter seems like a natural social media outlet. I’ve had some modest success in a couple months. I’ve looked at the lists a couple times but didn’t know what they were. Thank you for explaining it and encouraging them. Hashtags are a different matter. I have been using hashtags, but I haven’t figured out which ones are popular but not trending.
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