9 effective ways to use Twitter for Writers
Twitter can be an intimidating little bird when you first start. It’s natural to question its relevance as a writer, blogger or an author. After all, our time is precious and unless you find something of value, why should you bother? I started using Twitter in June of this year and this social media keeps surprising me.
As a writer and blogger, I sincerely believe Twitter is becoming a powerful tool for your business/author platform, especially when you know how to use it.
So what’s in it for you? Why should you care?
Well, let me tell you a few things you can apply today and will help you grow your audience/platform. I’m going to assume that you have the basics down, meaning you know how to set up an account and modify your profile/photo to make it appealing and professional. If not, let me know and I will post something else.
So here are the 9 things you should know:
1. The fundamental use of Twitter Hashtags #imnotkiddingusethem
One of the most important aspects of Twitter is hashtags (I.e. #Twitter).
(On social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic
Every time you tweet, you need to use 2 to 3 relevant hashtags to engage a targeted audience. You shouldn’t use more than 3 though because it’s visually disturbing and you may come across as someone more interested in being seen than someone who genuinely wants to share and learn with the Twitter community.
If you do not use hashtags, the engagement with your community will be drastically diminished and you will miss an opportunity to connect with someone who has similar interests as you.
I’ll provide examples of popular hashtags as we go, but here are the 10 important hashtags for writers:
#WritingTip (or #Writingtips)
#WriterWednesday (or #WW)
#NanoWrimo (or NaNoWrimo2016)
#WANA (We are Not Alone Community)
This is the basics, but be sure to tweet, retweet and like posts that are relevant to your business. In other words, if you’re a writer, you should tweet or retweet 80% of the time posts about writing tips or any related field. The key is to vary the type of tweets (i.e. writing tips, article from an expert, quotes, update on your writing, and so on.)
10% can be more personal or about something else you like, but you should never confuse your audience so this should be limited.
Also, only 10% should be about your book or blog. You’re here to build your audience. If they are interested in knowing more about you, you need to make sure the links to your website, blog or books are readily available on your profile. Also, pinned tweets are great to ensure your message is always the first thing your followers will see. They should know why they are following you.
By doing so, you will connect and build meaningful relationships with other writers, authors, bloggers, expert, and readers. Consistency in a topic, along with a good mix of tweets, retweets, and likes, are essential to engage with the Twitter world.
Also, the more you tweet, the more people will connect with you – it’s pure math. Twitter is effective if you plan on being active. If not, your results will only be mediocre at best and may be a total waste of time for you. Again, everyone should have realistic goals to avoid any frustration.
Make sure to always reply to other tweeters’ messages. Encourage them, share ideas, contents, experience and anything relevant to your area of expertise/points of interests. Be positive and polite! I’m not saying we’re all going to sing Kumbaya at the end of the day, but be civil, respectful and positive. In other words, use common sense.
NO ONE likes trolls. I’m having a hard time understanding why some people are mean to others without a real reason. If you don’t like the tweet, move on. You don’t like being insulted or receiving a nasty comment, so don’t do it to others. Tweeter created “mute” and “block” functionalities for a reason. Use them if someone bugs you that much! It’s not healthy for anyone. Plus, I believe you can say just about anything to anyone if it’s stated in a polite, respectful and constructive way.
I’ve learned a great deal from Twitter. The people and content are great and you can access industry information and expert advice when you would normally not. Engaging with the right audience can also be inspiring. You might find just what you were looking for to get inspired and inspire others.
Spread positivity – Thank people for retweets (RTs), likes, or mentions. Be nice to those who feel down – we all need encouragement at some point. Congratulate those who accomplished something and be genuine. Twitter is about building relationships. I personally love connecting with fellow writers.
The only word of caution is not to get sucked in. At the end of the day, you also need to write, so be wise and know when to unplug from the internet.
4. Follow the right people!
What I mean by this is know who your influencers and experts are and follow them, BUT do not follow more than a handful because they most likely won’t follow you back and this is messing with your ratio. Pick who will bring knowledge, content, advice and industry information to the table. Keep in mind you can only follow 10% more of your Twitter followers past the 4,000 mark. (I explain this part in depth in the free E-book provided on my Website) So choose wisely!
You want to follow people who are interested in you. If you’re a celebrity, you might not need to, but if you’re not, see following back as a courtesy. There are 550 million users on Twitter, but this person chose to follow YOU. The least you can do is return the favor to not prevent this person from following more people down the road and also because this person may turn out to be a great resource to you.
Agents, publishing companies, writers, authors or social media experts can all teach you a thing or two. Be humble! You can learn so much about the industry and from your fellow writers/authors. It’s important to get a different point of view because it will help put yourself in an agent or publisher’s shoes.
Examples: What do agents think when they read a query? What are popular genres at the present times that publishing companies like to receive?
You can also ask a question to get an expert’s opinion:
Twitter will bring you insights that will educate your search and will give you tools/advice to be successful.
5. Be concise
Remember you only have 140 characters (unless you use a Twitter Card*), so go straight to the point. It’s also good training to edit your book. Using the minimum amount of words to convey all you need. GREAT, yet challenging exercise!
An excellent way to engage with more users is to actively participate in Chats within your area of expertise. On a particular day/time every week, a mix of writers and well-informed individuals discuss current topics and issues. This is another tool you can use to learn more about the industry and tricks/tips other expert uses.
#LitChat (every M/W/F)
#MemoirChat (every other Wednesday at8pm EST)
#BookMarket (Thursdays at 4pm EST)
#PBLitChat (Picture Book only)
Chats are a fantastic way to connect with other people and access a wealth of information.
7. Build a list
I have to say I’m not very good at this, or at least not very consistent with it, but I do have a few lists, and they are helpful when properly created. I find them useful if you want to see all the tweets from a specific group of people (I.e. Publishers, influencers, agents, authors, bloggers, NaNoWriMo group…). It allows you to stay connected and current with the people that matter to you.
Word of caution – be careful with the name you use when you create the list. Whoever you add will see it. It’s always better to see you’ve been added to a “Writers” List versus an “Annoying People” List. LOL You get the point and again, Twitter should be a positive environment. If you don’t want to see someone’s feed, just hit “mute” under this person’s profile.
This is probably one of the greatest ways to promote your site/product. Use Twitter to promote it whether you do this from your site, GoodReads or any other platforms; Twitter will help you reach out to a larger audience.
9. Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards are great to drive traffic to your site, landing page or even to get subscribers to increase your mailing list and ultimately build your author platform.
An Author Platform is necessary for all writers and Twitter can be one of the tools to be successful. Linking several tools is the best way to make your efforts worthwhile. For example, connecting WordPress (Website/Blog), MailChimp (Email list) and Twitter (Social Media) is one great combo, but you need to find what works best for you, your brand and your product. Leads Generation cards are another a great example because they allow your followers to subscribe to your email list or be redirected to your site by only clicking on the Twitter Card.
You can also promote contests or giveaways in your Twitter Cards to attract your audience by providing something of value.