I usually write long blog posts to explore a topic in depth. But sometimes, I know you just want to get some useful information you can grab quickly, and then get on with your day.
So, here is my first Quick Tips post. Today’s Quick topic is Twitter for Writers.
My disclaimer: These tips are not RULES. There are no RULES for Twitter, except the ones decreed by Twitter in their own Terms of Service.
Feel free to take anything you find helpful from among these tips, and ignore the rest.
This is a distillation of things that I have discovered about Twitter during 3 years on the social platform. Three years in which I have made an extraordinary number of useful and inspiring connections. Connections that have boosted my own writing and publishing career in concrete ways. All because I joined Twitter in 2011 and made that first “not sure what to say here” tweet. 😉
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Use Twitter to connect with other writers, not to sell books.
This probably goes directly against what your publisher told you and what you learned in that Writer Marketing seminar. Nevertheless, you’ll find that the people who try to sell books on Twitter get disillusioned and give up. The writers who love Twitter are using it to connect. Just for starters, I have personally met four of my brilliant beta readers on Twitter. Count ‘em: four. And I learn all the time from the links writers tweet. There’s a lot of other outcomes I could tell you about, but we’re keeping it brief today!
For more on how this connecting thing works, check out my post Twitter for Writers: Two Golden Rules. (Dang. That post title is making a mess of my “no rules” declaration above. Perhaps I’d better change it to Two Golden Suggestions. Haha 😉 )
2. Small is beautiful.
I used to think I needed a gazillion followers to do any good on Twitter. I no longer believe that. I’ve noticed that the people who genuinely interact with me often (but not always) have small followings. In fact, I now often make a point of following the small accounts and newbies, because they will actually talk to me. (They probably wonder why I’m stalking them, haha.) I’m not the only one to notice this phenomenon. This article in the Wall Street Journal talks about how big companies are finding that having a small, engaged following is more valuable than a big following.
3a. Following back is polite…
It’s not compulsory to follow back when people follow you, but it IS the generally accepted way to say, “Thanks and hello.” It doesn’t mean you have to read everything they say. Let go of that idea, and it frees you up to follow whoever looks interesting.
3b. …but CHECK first.
Setting up one of those autofollow thingies on your account is a bad idea, and will make you a spam-and-bot target. Plus you’ll end up reading fascinating tweets from a lot of p*rn stars and people trying to sell you Twitter followers.
4. And while we’re at it, don’t auto-message ANYONE.
Your publisher or that Writer Marketing seminar probably told you to send an auto-Direct Message to every new follower. Go to google search, type in “hate auto dm”, and see why it’s a bad idea. (I got 1.5 million results on that search just now.)
5. Share useful/inspiring stuff.
Some ideas: you can tweet links, pics and thoughts. Not sure what to tweet? Refer to Point 1: what would be useful, inspiring or encouraging to another writer? What might help them? What has helped you?
Click on that “notifications” tab, and you’ll see who’s talking directly to you, or talking about you. It’s nice if you answer. But it doesn’t have to be instant. The world has lots of timezones, and most of us are happy to wait.
7. Be yourself, relax, and have fun!
If you’re a newbie, don’t stress. All of us were awkward — all knees and elbows — for the first few months on Twitter. Allow time to find your voice… or let it find you. It’ll come.
What do you think? Are you a Twitter fan? Has it helped you? Share your stories and suggestions!