I’m a huge Twitter fan. I probably spend more time than is healthy scrolling through my newsfeeds – I use it as a source of information and entertainment, as well as a nice way to waste time when I should be doing something more productive. But I’ve also found that it’s an enormously helpful marketing tool (I’ve had several gigs off the back of it, sold some books and made some useful contacts). But many writers are either scared of using Twitter at all, or use it badly. Here are some tips on making the most of your Twitter feed… so get tweeting (and come say hi! – I’m @thriftygal)
Avoid the hard sell: one of the biggest mistakes writers make is to use their Twitter feed as a stream of self-promotion. Nobody minds you promoting stuff – after all, that’s the purpose behind a lot of feeds, whether they are theatres, brands or artists. But if that’s all you do, it gets boring very quickly. I unfollowed one author recently because all he did was tweet quotes from his own books; I’ve read his books, so what’s the point? People want a person they can connect with – so tweet about what interests you, what you are working on, etc. Create an online persona that reflects who you really are, and people are much more likely to engage with it. (Aim for no more than 20% of your tweets to be ‘plugs’.)
Build relationships: to get the best out of Twitter, use it as a conversation. If someone tweets something you like, tell them! If someone asks a question and you can help, answer it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you attract like-minded people. While you shouldn’t just think of them as potential customers, obviously this is widening your potential readership. It’s also fun: I have a whole batch of people I interact with regularly, none of whom I know in ‘real’ life, but it makes for some great exchanges.
Support other users: Retweet posts that you think are clever, or funny, or thought-provoking (or where people are asking for help/information); use Follow Friday (#FF) to promote tweeters who you like or who you think your followers would be interested in.
NEVER troll! Remember, your tweets are public and identifiable. Don’t ever tweet anything abusive, and try to be measured if you are stating a negative opinion. Be aware that some people follow thousands of users so won’t see every tweet, so don’t think it’s OK to tweet something then ‘contextualise’ it (eg, tweet something inflammatory/racist/homophobic that you mean ironically, then follow up with something like ‘obviously I’m joking’ – I’ve seen it done! What tends to happen is people will see the first tweet then think, hell, I’m not following this nutter any more…)
Clueless as to how to get started? I’m assuming a basic knowledge of what Twitter is and how to use it, but if you’re completely in the dark, do check out an earlier post I did on Twitter for Business which is aimed at absolute beginners.