Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Writers and Social Media - Twitter

Recently I posted an entry about how using social media can be a very powerful tool for marketing yourself. I talked about Facebook and the ways in which you can use it to really connect with your fans and to marketing yourself and your writing.


Now I'm going to talk about Twitter. Twitter is an interesting one because it's not as widely used as Facebook yet in a sense it can almost be more powerful. A single tweet on this social media platform can gain you huge reach. If a few influential people or organisations, or followers with many followers of their own, retweeted you, you could be hundreds of thousands of people seeing your tweet.

Twitter is also a great place to engage with your followers. If people have questions or comments about your book you can communicate with them easily, and safely. If one of your followers is a huge fan of your work, and they tweet you to tell you so, then you reply to them, you could quite possibly make their day. Heck, you could even make their year! You can use Twitter to create a real discussion within the platform and to build a real loyalty from your followers to you and your novels.

If you can get into people's twitter streams regularly, your name will be out there. You will get to the top of their list and stay in their mind. That's why frequency on Twitter is super important. When you post a tweet you may only have a minute of two before your tweet has disappeared off the feed of your followers. Especially if your followers are following hundreds of people. This is why you need to post on twitter numerous times a day. Not only do you need to post your own statuses but it's a very good idea to respond to any tweets that are directed immediately at you, and if possible, to even jump into other conversations that you see happening around you. That way you're spreading your name around, and it's quite likely Twitter lurkers who haven't heard of you before, may see your name of the feed of someone you're talking with, check out your twitter profile and then consequently check out your book.

Twitter is a great way to run competitions - especially competitions that involve retweeting one of your tweets, or that involve tweeting a message that includes your twitter handle (@author) and a possible hashtag (#thenameofmybook).

Now Twitter is a great platform for communicating with your fans and followers, but it's limited to a sense so it must work alongside other channels to deliver your goals. To do this you have to think about ways you can integrate with Pinterest, your blog and Facebook. How can you use Twitter to drive traffic to your blog? How can you run a competition between Pinterest and Twitter? These are things you can think about to really utilise your various social media platforms.

You can hold really great author Q&A via Twitter. Getting your fans to send in questions and then answering them either on Twitter or by making a Youtube video that you can post on both Facebook and Twitter. You need to figure out how active your audience are. If you ask a question, do many of them respond? If so you'll be able to do great audience engaging activities with them, to really get them excited, but if not then you need to use a different tactic - a more one sided approach.

Twitter is still a great place to give the audience "behind the scenes" glimpses - photos of your printed out manuscript, or the mess of a desk you're trying to write your story at. And in terms of what you say on Twitter, it's a great idea to use an editorial calendar again, however as you want to be posting numerous times each day you may want to have basic generic ideas and then see what happens each day.

You need to again be human and genuine. Even more so than on Facebook. On Twitter it's almost like a commentary of your life. Do not use it to send every tweet promoting your book. Talk about the giant steak you ordered for lunch that was bigger than your head, mention the crazy lady on the subway, talk about the beautiful forest walk you're going on, or the fluffy new dressing gown you can now wear while you're typing out your book. If I was tweeting right at this moment I would talk about the creepy noises that are coming from my wardrobe. It's so very human, and people enjoy that. People like to know that you're just like them. People can relate. Other people might be hearing creepy noises inside the walls of their house, or want to tell me that with a fluffy new dressing gown should also be a steaming cup of hot chocolate. People like to be involved. It creates the feeling that you're friends, and who knows, you could be. I have met so many incredible people on Twitter, and it primarily started as a few exchanged tweets. Remember, if you're friends with your followers, or at least if you respond to them and talk with them, that will create loyalty.

Again on Twitter, as with Facebook, you want to support others like you. You want to encourage other writers, and congratulate those who just signed a book deal, and talk about the latest great book you've read. You want to join the conversation, and make new connections. Help those who need it - if someone is asking a question which you know the answer to, don't be afraid to jump in there and help them out.

So, the things that work well on Twitter

·         Transparency – Twitter is all about honesty. No bull. It's a place to be honest about who you are, what’s happening behind the scenes. The more honest you are, the more followers you'll have. If something goes bad on Twitter you need to face up to it. If there is a mistake in your book that people have picked up on, just acknowledge it. If you slipped up and made a mistake in one of your tweets, don't delete that tweet and pretend it didn't happen, just face up to it. You're being honest, and you're being real.

·         Responsiveness – It’s not just about tweeting things out but you need to answer questions that are being asked and being responsive. But also being alert about what is being said about you and what is being said about your book, where people have problems and issues out there. Being responsive and on top of it. 
·         Conversation – If you have a conversation, responding, talking to people and if you have personality come through, be playful and intriguing then those things work well on Twitter.
·         Personality
·         Playfulness
·         Intrigue
·         Frequency – Twitter has such a short lifespan because the newsfeed always is moving, they see your Tweet in a feed, in a list etc just passing through so you need to be frequent.
·         Brand consistency – Very important. Be consistent with who you are, what you stand for and your writing. Think of yourself as a business. How you market and project yourself is how you're marketing and projecting your business. 

Being active on Twitter is the only way to build up your community. So the more you talk, the more you'll show up on people's feeds.

So, if you're stuck on what to write, there are 9 different kinds of Tweeting types you can choose from

1. Questions – Ask questions of your followers. What are you doing today, what are you working on, what are you reading at the moment.
 2. Information Sharing - So share content that is not created by you but your audience can benefit from. Maybe it's the top 100 YA books of 2013, or maybe it's an article about the strength of your particular genre.
3. Solve others’ problems – Find questions, look what’s coming through the feed and find a question you feel confident to answer, then hop into the conversation.
4. Opinions – Sharing your opinion, giving people a unique insight into your head. Be careful not to offend though, unless you're going for one of those 'opinionated, controversial authors' titles!
5. Link promotion – Tweeting links out to your own content. Utilise what content you’ve got going on and link to it. This means linking to your website, your blog, your facebook page, interviews you've done with others, guest blog posts you've done etc.
6. Community highlighting – Highlighting people in the community who have great stuff going on. Shows you  to be very community minded because you don’t want to just be tweeting about yourself. 
7. Conversation – Watch what people are saying in the sector and just respond to it. For example, Random and Penguin House merge - see what people are saying and respond to a couple of people's tweets. Really get into the conversation.
8. RT-ing information – Reinforces your goal, and shows that you're not all about you and plugging yourself
9. Slice of life – real human stuff, what are you thinking about right now, post a picture of your mega sandiwch and talk about how you just don't know if you can eat it all.

Most important - do not have an automatic DM saying, thanks for following me, here's a link to my amazon page where you can buy my new book. Honestly, you will lose so many followers that way.

Finally, consider using a dashboard such as hootsuite or sproutsocial or other alternatives to help you manage your feed. You can also write a lot of tweets in advance and schedule them to be posted at certain times to ensure you're not falling behind in your writing because you've fallen down the rabbit hole of social media.

So there's my reasonably long rant on Twitter. Again, if you have any burning questions, do let me know and i'll do my best to answer them for you! I hope this has helped those of you who are a little stuck on the Twitter side of things, although I know so many of you are Tweeting superstars. 


  1. Some of my pet Twitter peeves:

    * People who follow *just* for a follow-back. I'm not going to follow someone just because they follow me. I'm hoping they follow me because they like/follow my blog, or think I have interesting things to say. That's why I follow people on Twitter--I like their writing, they're blog friends, they make me laugh, or they talk about things that interest me. In other words, I know them and like what they have to say.

    * People who are not politicians/religious leaders opining on their pet political/theological topics. I follow writers because I like their writing, not necessarily their politics. Yes, sometimes these things are relevant to a discussion. But often certain writers just go off on a rant, and it's very annoying. If I want to discuss politics or theology with someone, I either follow people who I know write/work in those fields, or I discuss them with people I know are open and interested in those topics, and I know either share my views or can have a friendly dialog. I don't like popular writers using Twitter as a platform to spout their political and religious views, assuming their followers all share them.

    OK, that's my rant. :) Otherwise, I love Twitter! :D

    1. I completely agree with you! Especially the ones who actually tweet you and say they've followed you and could you now follow back!

  2. ooh, great post! So timely too. A couple days ago posted a (much less useful) post about some Twitter faux-pas I had noticed since recently starting to participate in Twitter this January.

    These are awesome tips for all of us new to Twitter! Bookmarked!

    1. :) Thanks Carissa! I'm so glad I could be of some help! And welcome to Twitter!

  3. I'm just getting started on Twitter, so these were some good things to keep in mind. I've been posting when I have new reviews up, but I know I need to interact more with people daily on Twitter for it to be a more useful social networking tool.