The other day a client asked me why he should give Twitter a try.
Oh, my. I always feel a tad floored by the question, not because I think Twitter is unimportant to writers but because Twitter can be critical to an author’s marketing platform.
Here’s another reason: I adore Twitter.
Explaining why an author should actively use Twitter is somewhat akin to clarifying why you love your mate or why you still have the ashes for your last dog.
Where do you begin?
I’ll give it a try. Twitter brings Likes to my Facebook page, traffic to my blog, and sales for my books.
Through Twitter, I have social media experts who retweet my content and mention me in their blog posts.
Twitter introduces me to people around the world who ask me to write for their magazines and their blogs. And Twitter puts me in contact with people I otherwise never would meet.
And through Twitter I meet thousands of authors who promote my blog posts and my books.
I could go on, but you get the idea, right?
6 Basic Twitter Tips You Need to Know
I’m not going to spend too much time on this tip other than to say you need to use a decent picture of yourself.
Upload a professional image of yourself. Don’t use a book cover, a logo, a picture of your cat or dog, or the default egghead. Use your best picture.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer. Ask a friend or colleague to spend an hour with you trying different shots. Then select the image you like best and use it on all of your social media profiles.
The Perfect Twitter Bio
You get 160 characters to describe yourself. That’s not much. With those few works your goal is to entice people to follow you, to purchase your book, and possibly to hire you.
The perfect Twitter bio is error-free, communicates the benefit of being followed, avoids clichés such as #CoffeeAddict, and is unique to you.
A poet on Twitter uses two words to describe himself: “Poetry Copyright.” All I know about him is that he’s worried about plagiarism, but who isn’t?
Another person uses these two words: “Oui. Non.” That tells me nothing about him.
Then there are those users who litter their bio with useless hashtags: “#Writer #Reader #Chocoholic #MetsFan #Wino #FrappuccinoAddict #Mom #Foodie.” Hmm.
Let’s look at Denise Wakeman’s bio. She clearly states the benefits her clients will reap when they hire her and includes a link to a specific landing page. It’s awesome.
Hashtags can be confusing to users new to Twitter. A hashtag is a word preceded by what some of us know as the pound sign, #. When the word and the pound sign join they form a hashtag, and that unit becomes hyperlinked and thus searchable on Twitter.
Hashtags can help you to expand your online readership by attracting users who are searching for the genre or topic you write about. Likewise, hashtags can help you find people who love to read.
They are also useful for tracking mentions of your books when you create unique hashtags.
But hashtags can be tricky, too. You don’t want to overuse them, yet when used appropriately (two per tweet), they hold the potential to improve the chance of someone discovering your tweets—and your latest book—through Twitter’s search function.
There are numerous hashtags that writers can use including #bestseller, #eBook, #Free, #Giveaway, #Kindle, #ShortStory, #amwriting, #nonfiction, #mystery, #giveaway and #amediting.
Use Twitter Lists
Once you become active on Twitter you’ll discover that your news feed populates with everything everyone who follows you is tweeting.
The majority of people using Twitter are well-intentioned, however, I’m not interested in what everyone has to say all the time. I want to become known for the stellar content I tweet and to do that I need to follow the top people in the industries I follow.
As you follow people whom you respect, want to connect with and who tweet great content, create a list and add them to it.
For example, my lists include these topics: writing and publishing, women in social media marketing, podcasting, news, social media experts, and Twitter stars.
To create your lists follow these steps:
- Click your avatar on the top taskbar and select Lists.
- Scroll to the bottom and click Create New List.
- Give your list a name and describe it.
- Decide whether you want this list to be public or private.
- Click Save List.
You can also create a list as you add someone to it.
Tweet Images Daily to Boost Engagement
Social media is increasingly a visual platform, and that’s as true for Twitter as it is for Pinterest or Instagram.
It’s important to post images on all of your social media profiles, including Twitter, because the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
Here’s another staggering fact: 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. (Source: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Jessica Gioglio)
Pictures also pique interest and attract the eye far more than blocks of black text. Before I began to tweet images, I was averaging six retweets daily. Now my average is 30 retweets a day.
If you want to increase engagement on Twitter, take the time to tweet at least one image daily.
Here’s an example. I found the image on Unsplash and used PicMonkey to create the text overlay. Then I included the image on my social media posts, including Twitter.
Capitalize on Trending Issues
On the left-hand column of your Twitter account, you’ll see a white box labeled Trends. What you’ll find there is a running account of hashtags that are trending on Twitter.
You can adjust the trends that Twitter tracks for you based on your location and who you follow. If you’re unhappy with the trends being tracked, click Change to adjust your geographic region.
It’s important to watch what’s trending. When issues trend that relate to your book, genre, or even personal interests, you can use the trending hashtag to expand your following and perhaps even your influence. You might also reach potential readers who might not have discovered you otherwise.
On Thanksgiving, I sent these tweets:
— Frances Caballo (@CaballoFrances) November 27, 2014
One day #PictureBooks was trending, so I used that hashtag in the tweets of a client who writes and illustrates picture books.
Another day, #Seattle was trending, so I wrote a tweet about a client’s book she based in Seattle and included a link to Amazon where followers could purchase it.
Trending issues can also be memes and phrases. During the Word Cup, #BecauseofFutbol was a trending phrase. Using this hashtag, a writer could send these types of messages:
- #BecauseofFútbol I didn’t finish my manuscript today.
- #BecauseofFútbol I missed my editor’s deadline.
Another trending issue at one time was #sometimesyouhaveto. A writer might tweet:
- #sometimesyouhaveto turn off the Wi-Fi to get your writing done.
- #sometimesyouhaveto kill a character to make the novel work.
Here are some examples for you to consider:
- The perfect #Christmas gift for your #bibliophile is (then add the name of your book and a link to where it can be purchased).
- What’s scarier than a goblin on #Halloween? My new thriller.
In August, the New York Library launched the hashtag #ireadeverywhere. The library asked authors, readers, and librarians to share pictures of their favorite reading venues.
Writers and readers posted images of themselves reading at a café, on the couch, and on the beach.
The Taboos of Twitter
There are certain tweets you don’t ever want to send. Here are some guidelines to consider.
- Don’t use the TrueTwit validation app. You’ll never grow your tribe if you use this program. If you are worried about spammers, use websites such as ManageFlitter to weed them out.
- Don’t send direct messages to your new followers. In fact, stop sending direct messages unless you’re trying to contact someone you know to convey your email address or phone number.
- Don’t ask new followers to like your Facebook page, read your book, read your blog, or review your website or book and part of your “thank you for following” tweet.
- Don’t send ten tweets in the space of a few minutes or even an hour or two. You will flood your followers’ timelines and they will likely unfollow you.
- Don’t tweet about your content 100 percent of the time. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time tweet content other users generated and 20 percent of the time tweet your content.
I’d love to hear about your favorite Twitter tips!
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.