Many bloggers and writers shy away from Twitter for whatever reason. They tell me:
- It’s too new. My kids are on it. (Well, it’s been out since 2005 at this point. So, no.)
- It’s all about politics. (Only if you follow that topic, sure.)
- It’s just a bunch of other writers spamming their book links. (If that’s who you follow, then that’s what you’ll see. Follow readers!)
I wrote a post last year that goes into the nuts and bolts of learning how to use Twitter as a marketing tool. You can read that here:
Top 5 Twitter Tips to Powerfully Market Your Books
Confused by how to utilize Twitter strategically? Here’s a definitive guide!
Today, I want to discuss how you can connect with your readers in meaningful ways on Twitter. It is possible, though it will take effort on your part. Like anything, Twitter is what you make it. You get what you give. And you can’t be everywhere, so decide if it’s right for you.
Invest The Time
One of the main reasons writers give up on Twitter is time. They don’t invest time into it, so they don’t feel they’re getting anything out of it.
I’ve been on Twitter for eleven years (on my personal author account, @RachelintheOC) and I can tell you from experience, consistency and attention are the keys to building a vibrant, active account.
One of the main reasons I started with Twitter in 2009? I’m not a Facebook fan. I find people write novels in response to a post, tend to be extremely critical, or make something political when that’s not what I intended (e.g., a photo of my cat). I also found out that a former love died by suicide by going to his wall. As you can imagine, this was extremely jarring.
I wasn’t alone. In fact:
The number of active users of Facebook (those people who have logged onto the site in the previous month) has reached a historic high of 2.45 billion. (Source: Statista, 2020.) People wanting to quit Facebook state not only the recent issues as motivation but also the sheer laboriousness of keeping up with it all. (Source: The Conversation, 2020.)
So, I headed over to Twitter and found my people. I had not released any books at that point. All I knew was that I was grieving and wanted to connect with others who may have experienced something similar. And I did.
I followed people based on keywords that held interest for me at that time: grief, grieving, suicide prevention, etc. I also liked the short format (at the time, 140 characters; now, 280). Twitter made it impossible for people to leave novels on my timeline, which is great (we can now create threads, which is helpful from a marketing standpoint).
Keywords and keyphrases are ‘key’ to finding people you want to interact with on Twitter. Keep in mind, they will change over time as you and your interests change over time.
You can read more about keywords and key phrases here:
Why Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now
What author branding is and what it’s not isn’t clear to most writers. It’s not that complicated! Here I break it all…
Create a Strategy
As I got closer to the release of my first memoir, Broken Pieces, which chronicles being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I started looking at creating my author platform.
Once I understood the power of Twitter, I created a strategy to connect with other survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Not to ‘use’ that in some kind of devious, underhanded, capitalizing-on-tragedy kind of way to market my books; more to let them know that I’m there if they want to talk — so they’d feel less alone.
That’s why I started a weekly chat: #SexAbuseChat, every week at 6 pm pst/9 pm est, in 2014. I’ve done this chat weekly for six years. My cohosts have changed, yet I’m completely dedicated to donating my time to create and support this wonderful community. Worth noting: this is a completely non-promotional chat. I don’t pimp my books or anyone else’s. We discuss different topics helpful for survivors to work through.
Strategically, having this chat helps this survivor community understand that by following me, they know I will consistently share information about mental health, survivorship, relationships, and other topics related to being a survivor.
It’s important for writers to realize that not everything we do on social media has to be promotional. Yes, I do share occasional promos for my books, yet never during chats.
You may not have something as serious as childhood trauma or suicide to help you connect with people (I hope you don’t). That’s okay. What are your interests, passions, hobbies? Start with that. There are millions of people on Twitter. Some may be your readers, some may not. That’s okay, too.
Alternatively, when I started my business, @BadRedheadMedia, in 2011, I already knew my keywords and phrases would be author branding, social media, book marketing, author platform, and book promotion since that’s what my experience had been in the real world and what I’d be focusing on in my business.
So, my strategy on Twitter was simple: follow writers who needed information on those topics, as well as others I could learn from.
Given that I know what my keywords and topics of interest are on both of my Twitter accounts, I consistently share blog posts, articles of interest (mine and others), visuals, quotes, videos, and follow people with similar interests.
I also started a weekly #BookMarketingChat there as well — solely to help writers learn how to market their books, to share my own challenges, and to invite experts to share their knowledge. Again, it’s completely non-promotional. Most importantly, I interact with and build relationships with my followers, and that’s where the magic happens.
Be Authentically YOU
Over the past nine years, I’ve worked with many different clients in all genres. Some traditionally published, some hybrid, some self-pub’d, some not published yet. I’ve published all different ways myself as well (I’m currently self-published and am quite happy about it. If you want to read more about that, see this article below.)
This Is What It’s Like As A Self-Published Author
The challenges and joys of publishing on your own
What is crucial for any writer is to allow our true selves to come through. We don’t have to air our ‘dirty laundry,’ and discuss our ex’s weird sexual habits (unless that’s your book topic and then, you go, girl). However, we do need to give ourselves permission not to create such a clean slate as to appear completely robotic.
Example: One client (let’s call him G) refused to share anything personal. He only wanted to talk about his book, 24/7. No matter what I suggested (‘we brand the author, not only the book’), G adamantly refused to share anything about his life, his interests, even his research about the book (which was fascinating!).
It should come as no surprise that his Twitter following not only did not grow, I had to get his account un-suspended several times (Twitter’s TOS — Terms of Service — specifically state that you cannot have a link in every tweet). Despite my explaining this to him, it did not matter. He took over his account and continued to spam book links constantly.
Twitter is not a 24/7 commercial for your books or blog posts, nor is any social media. If that’s how you’re using it, you’ll turn off potential readers and piss off savvy Twitter users. Social media, any social media, is social. Interact. Chat. Be yourself. If that’s too weird, share articles and quotes from other people that inspire you.
Twitter is the Great Equalizer
One of the most fascinating aspects of Twitter from a social and behavioral perspective is how we can talk with people we’d never get to in real life. I’ve had conversations with Neil Gaiman (Neil Gaiman!) about our righteous love of Tori Amos; we’ve even had private conversations in DM about how ridiculous people are online.
Did I pitch him my books? No way. I treated him with the same respect he treated me. (He didn’t pitch me either LOL.)
Rosanna Arquette DID ask me about my books, and requested signed copies, which I was thrilled to provide. Rosanna Arquette! Are you kidding me? And one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Jonatha Brooke, also told me she bought my books. When I had an opportunity to see her live in San Francisco, I jumped at the chance, and yea, I was a little starstruck. She’s amazing.
Meeting our icons in person after chatting with them on Twitter is great fun. I’m not sure there’s any other social platform that allows for this kind of casual, yet meaningful, interaction.
From a business perspective, I’ve given a webinar for the British company, Jericho Writers, who found me on Twitter. So, halfway across the world, writers are seeing me throughout this summer and into the fall, because of Twitter. I also do workshops (blogging and creative nonfiction) and write this column for Shaunta Grimes with Ninja Writers — we connected on Twitter. Most of my readers and clients find me there as well.
From an SEO perspective, Twitter is important because Google indexes tweets; comparatively, it does not index Facebook or Instagram posts (accounts, yes; individual posts, no). That alone should be enough incentive to direct you where to spend your time.
Bottom line: Twitter is an excellent conduit to finding and sharing other resources, whether that’s our books, blogs, services, hobbies, or businesses by connecting with people in a meaningful way. It’s a way to build a bridge, build relationships, and interact.
What you do from there is up to you.