People who are on Twitter are readers (and writers) by nature. The text-rich medium is perfect for those who don’t want to be annoyed with overwhelming numbers of images and video, and who want access to new information constantly. In addition, the average Twitter referral to a website stays 2-3 times longer and clicks on 2-3 times more pages per stay than both Pinterest and Facebook. Simply put, Twitter followers engage more often, for longer, and are more likely to come back to your website again and again.
As a writer, you MUST be on Twitter in order to connect with those thousands and thousands of readers who are your potential fans.
I know. You don’t get it. Hashtags scare you. You don’t think anyone cares about what cereal you had for breakfast. The truth is, you just need a little education in order to make this incredible tool work for you. These 10 hints will allow you to use Twitter in a way that shows off what you can do and allows you to connect with people who can help you move your writing career forward.
As with all social media, Twitter runs on a set of secret rules of reciprocity. It varies from person to person, but the bottom line is the same: you be good to mama, mama is good to you. When you follow someone, there is about a 30% chance that the person will follow you back automatically. Those are pretty good odds. Coupled with a few other little tricks, you can raise that percentage to 50%, and eventually 80%, every. single. time.
2. Share Fresh Content
Tweeps love to read, and they love to read stuff that they haven’t seen before. It’s always a good idea to have some fresh content to share. As a writer, this can be your own work, but it doesn’t have to be. You can share quotes from writers you admire, links to other writers’ websites that you love, or even blog posts on your site that summarize books that you’ve read. Just make sure that the content you share is connecting you as a writer in peoples’ minds. Also, that you don’t ONLY share content from others.
3. Talk to People at Least Once a Day
When someone is deciding whether or not to follow you back, they will often go to your timeline and see the kinds of things you talk about and share. One of the most annoying things for them to see is nothing but links and promotion bullcrap. Every day, you should be making time to get online and talk to at least 3 different people. Read someone’s blog and tell them you liked it. Find someone who has a cool tattoo and give them a virtual high-5. This shows people that you’re not a robot and that you really are there to connect, not just schlep your crap.
4. Know and Find Your Potential Readers
Now, while you can talk to random strangers all day long (or other writers), what you really want to be doing is connecting with the people who are most likely to be interested in reading what you write. As a horror writer, I have done searches for people who like horror movies, connected over Tales From the Crypt, and met readers through conversations about CreepyPasta.com. These are my readers. These are my potential fans. Do some research to find out what your potential readers are into. Then, chat them up about the things you have in common.
5. Use Hashtags
When I first started Twitter, I was mortally terrified of hashtags. I had no idea what they did or how to use them. My advice? Don’t be afraid of the hashtag. Hashtags are a way for Twitter to organize certain kinds of tweets about certain subjects. For example, people who want to read romance novels can search the #romance feed. If you have put a one-line sample of your book, “Captain Sexy and the Breast-Monster from Planet Quirgz,” and included the #romance hashtag at the end, anyone looking at that feed will see your tweet. Even if they’re not following you. That means you get Captain Sexy in front of a lot more people and start building your loyal band of readers faster.
Remember, though. Too many hashtags makes your tweets look spammy. Limit yourself to 3 at the most, per tweet. Also, check the timeline before you add it. You want to make sure that different people are contributing regularly, hopefully on an hourly basis at least. And, often hashtags have different flavors or rules that go along with them. Check on these before you post.
Some Good General #Writing Hashtags to Follow/Post On:
6. Use Lists
One of the best things that can ever happen to you is to get on a good list. When I was placed on my first one, I had no idea what to do, or how I even got on it. But, I thought, “Hey. Someone thinks I’m like these guys. I bet they’d kinda like me if they got to know me.” So, I followed all 300 people on the list. Voila. In about 18 hours, I had 30% of the list following me back. Amazing. I encourage you to do the same. Someone has included you with a group of amazing people. You might as well follow them and see if you have anything in common. Not having any luck being included on a list? Check out my 100 Tweeps to Follow. These people are incredible and a great place to start building real human connections.
7. Stalk the People You Love Best
After you’ve spent a little time on Twitter, you’ll begin to find people who think like you, have your sense of humor, and who are generally mind-explodingly awesome. When you find someone like that, click on the little number of people they are following and follow everyone. Then, follow everyone who follows them (if you can). You can be discerning if you want, but it’s likely that if you find someone THAT cool, you’re going to get along with a lot of the people who they run around on Twitter with. And vice versa.
8. Be Yourself
I was going to say, “Be funny,” but not everyone is funny. You can also be sexy, introspective, or just plain weird. Whatever you do, be what you are as hard as you can be. What you want to do is put out your own thoughts in a creative way that distinguishes you from the hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter. Say something funny, introspective, or sexy. Just say in a way that gets into peoples’ brains and makes them want to see what other crazy stuff you might say.
9. Time Your Tweets
One trick that is INCREDIBLY valuable is about timing your tweets, especially in relationship to your follows. So, you have decided that you’re going to follow 300 people that you found on a #reading #scifi hashtag search. Awesome. What you need to do is make sure you’ve left them a little calling card. That means you want to put out a tweet or two before you do your follows as a welcome to all the people who will be looking at your timeline to see if they want to follow you. Here’s what you should do:
1. Pick a high-traffic time on Twitter to do your follows (Tues-Thurs, 12pm – 4pm)
2. Write a really cool, funny, interesting, sexy, etc. tweet. That will stick to the top of your timeline, and will be the first thing your new potential followers will see when they check out your profile.
3. Do all your follows (based on a specified search, an AMAZING person’s followers, or a hashtag).
Doing this tiny bit of prep work actually increases the follower percentage significantly, increasing it from 30% to up to 80%. Also, if you’ve done a bunch of following and no one is following you back, reevaluate what you’re putting on your feed. No one wants to follow a robot or read a bunch of book promos.
10. Play the Games
Finally, the best way to build an online presence is to play the games. Whatever games you can find. Some of these games are really fun ways to show off your writing skills. Some of them are just fun to do. Games like the daily one from @midnight get your name in front of tens of thousands of people, plus it’s hilarious. Other games, like the weekly #FP (Friday Phrases), flash fiction game is a fantastic way to hone your writing skills and connect with other writers. Finding little communities like #orjay and #heartsoup (poetry), #sixwords (erotica, romance), and #MondayBlogs (writing craft), helps you have daily interactions with people who become your support system on Twitter.