More Tips on Tweeting
For an awesome article on how to use Twitter as a promotional platform, check out Michael Hyatt's article on the 20-to-1 Rule. This article lays out Hyatt's trick to keeping his promotional tweets in balance with his tweets on everything else. Hyatt describes the relationship in banking terms, saying you must make 20 relational deposits (tweeting some unique info or news story to your followers) for every one marketing withdrawal (promotional tweet) that you make.
Hyatt also lays out how he manages daily tweeting in a time-efficient way in his post How to Become a Twitter Ninja in Less Than 30 Minutes a Day.
The Author's Guide to Twitter
How Authors like Miranda Kenneally Use Twitter to Promote Their Books
As a social media marketing platform, Twitter often seems the most daunting. The site’s format (restricting posts to 140-characters) has led to a type of Twitter etiquette that can be difficult to master and downright confusing; think “hashtag,” “retweet,” and “trending.” Yet many authors and publishers dive into the world of Twitter and emerge with a stronger Internet presence, more fans and a wider reach across their targeted audience.
Why use Twitter?
I spoke to one Twitter-savvy author, Miranda Kenneally, author of young-adult favorites Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker. Kenneally has embraced Twitter as a site to expand her Internet platform for many reasons; one being that she knows the majority of her fan base is active on Twitter. If you know your potential readers and targeted audience are on Twitter, you can be sure that the return will be worth the time invested.
Twitter also provides a specific type of networking to its users. The fast-paced, SMS-like format of the site can seem limiting, but it also has advantages. Kenneally values the interaction the site allows her to have with her fan-base, saying, “I can have actual conversations there. On Facebook, I feel like I'm just posting stuff - not actually speaking with people.”
While Facebook does allow users to comment on each other’s posts and tag photos and statuses, the text message-feel of Twitter makes posts and comments less formal and adds a familiarity that can be evasive on Facebook. An author’s post to Facebook could have hundreds of comments and likes attached, making the individual comment seem buried in the masses. Yet Twitter allows the user to reply directly to the short tweets, often leading to conversations when the original poster begins to “tweet back” at some of the replies. For Kenneally, this gives her a more direct connection with fans. She says, “As an author, I think I'm pretty approachable. I want people to feel they can talk to me.”
Getting Started on Twitter
1. When you create your Twitter account here, be sure to choose something catchy yet short as your Twitter username. This will be the name that followers “tweet at” to reach you, so avoid anything cumbersome. If your actual name is already taken and you don’t want to add a five-digit number into your handle, feel free to get creative. Just be sure the name can be readily associated with you so fans have an easy time finding you.
2. Dress up your page. Twitter allows you to customize your profile without overcrowding the page, so take advantage of this to advertise your books. Kenneally uses the background of one of her books as a Twitter background her profile picture, while also linking her website in the “about me” section Twitter asks new users to fill out. This will allow fans to confirm that you are in fact the author who wrote their new favorite novel.
3. With your picture set and your background sporting your book, you can now begin following other friends and authors to let them know that you now have a Twitter. As in all social media, networking is key to increasing your following, so spend some time searching Twitter for friends and fans to boost traffic to your account.
Tweet, Tweet, Tweet
Getting used to the 140-character limit can be challenging, especially if you are used to sites like Facebook or blogs that provide you with plenty of space to post in. Rather than getting frustrated, embrace the challenge. Kenneally says, “The thing I love most about Twitter is it trains me to be as brief and to-the-point as possible. I love the challenge of fitting a thought into 140 characters. It helps me figure out what's most important. If I am telling a story on Twitter, sometimes I have to use more than one tweet, but I rarely do that.”
Once you get used to condensing thoughts into short and snappy Tweets, take some time to decide what you want your tone on Twitter to be. One of the biggest mistakes authors make on Twitter is tweeting a whole lot of promotion and only a little personality. Kenneally advises that you avoid this, saying, “Don't only tweet about your books. Make sure you talk about your life and current events. You want readers to see you as a real person, not just an advertisement. Don't tweet just to tweet—tweet when you have something important to say.”
Twitters users will follow you for tweeting informative and witty posts, not a stream of blatant promotional tweets reading “Check out new book only $11.99 on Amazon!” However, once you win the loyalty of your followers on Twitter, your fans will appreciate an occasional tweet announcing the news or sales of your books. Keep up the balance between promotional tweets and tweets about everything else, or you may see you followers being to drop off.
Kenneally keeps up her fan base by limiting tweets about her books to the essentials, saying, “I only promote my books on Twitter when I have something to promote, e.g. I have a brand new release, someone has reviewed my book, I have a new book cover or excerpt to share, or a piece of really cool news (when I've been featured in a major newspaper, magazine, or when I hit #1 on the B&N overall eBook bestseller list). I follow a couple of people online who constantly market their books, and when I see them tweet, my eyes gloss over. I like getting to know people and reading interesting tweets, not constant advertisements. I am more likely to read a book by somebody who seems real to me.”
For more about setting up your Twitter, click here.
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Lauren White recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in History and English. She is serving as assistant editor at Independent Publisher for summer 2013 and hopes to continue her career in publishing in New York City. Please email her at larenee [at] umich.edu with any questions and comments.