Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Ten Rules for Twitter Success

There are a lot of amazing rules for Twitter success out there, they are easy to find, and in fact this post was inspired by a blog post by Novel Publicity.

However, since many of you read book blogs to help grow your career, I thought it would be valuable to include some tips of my own and hopefully encourage you, those of you hoping to use Twitter as part of your marketing plan, to do some other reading on the subject before diving in.

When I first started on Twitter I had no idea what I was getting into and, honestly, it took me a long time to get comfortable there and decide if it was for me. Now I love Twitter. I've connected with old friends, a ton of colleagues, and authors. I've signed authors because of Twitter exchanges, and introduced others to great books written by my clients. I've hosted give-aways and #askagent sessions in which I answer any questions writers might have about publishing. Twitter has also become my go-to source for news in publishing or otherwise. I've learned a lot from Twitter and you can too. You can also use it to market yourself and your book, but only if you use Twitter right.

These are rules based on my own frustrations with Twitter and those I follow or have unfollowed.

1. Include a bio. You have roughly 140 characters to create a bio for yourself. Use them. I can't follow someone by a name only. If I learn, however, that you're on Twitter because you're writing something specific, published in something specific, a blogger, an expert, or whatever, I might be inclined to test you out. And make your bio interesting and a little personal.

2. Personalize your photo. This is important. If I see a tweet from someone with no photo (or the "Twitter" egg photo), I immediately assume it's spam. When you sign up, include a photo. A lot of authors include the covers of their books. I get it, you're trying for maximum attention for your books. I don't like this though. I like some sort of photo or avatar because then, over time, I feel like I get to know the author and recognize the author whenever a tweet pops up, without the ever-changing cover. Don't be afraid to be creative either. If you don't want a photo of you, find an avatar that represents you.

3. Engage in conversation. You don't need to respond to everyone who responds to you. In fact, you shouldn't, but occasionally you should engage in the conversation you've started with your tweets. Or even connect with those you follow. I've found links on Twitter that I've tweeted to those I follow, but don't know personally, because it connected with something they had tweeted about.

4. Make your links make sense. I won't click on a link that's too vague. If your tweet is something along the lines of "Delicious Food [link here]" I probably won't click the link. If, however, you say something like, "Just made these amazing GF strawberry cupcakes [link here]" I will probably click the link. Like all of you, I don't have time to click random links just because someone suggested it. If I know the link is of particular interest to me I might click it, and if it looks amazing I will probably share it.

5. Be real. The best tweeters are those who allow themselves to be themselves. Sure, it's your professional face so you might not tweet every moment (and you shouldn't), but you are also going to let your passions come through. For example, in addition to a lot of tweeting about agenting and publishing, I share food passions on Twitter, as well as the occasional dog photo.

6. Be interesting. Too many people use Twitter as a regular way to post their morning blog link or to only tell about the release of their book. Boring and far too consistent. Sure, you can post those things, but you need something in between that's a little different and more interesting. For example, are you testing a new recipe to be included in the book? Don't post "testing a new recipe," post "can limes replace lemons in lemon meringue? b/c hubby bought limes instead."

7. Use Twitter. In other words, actually use it. No one is going to find you if the only time you post is the day your book releases. Why would anyone follow you for that? Make sure you post regularly. The beauty of Twitter is that you don't have to be there to post. If you know your schedule for the day you can easily set up some scheduled tweets. When I'm at a conference, for example, I often schedule my tweets based on my workshop schedule. That way I don't have to remember to tweet while I'm rushing to find the workshop, but everyone who follows me knows which one I'm speaking at.

8. If you're trying to start a contest or a conversation always include a hashtag. This way people who retweet can share the conversation by simply including the hashtag and people don't need to follow all of those who are retreating. They can click on the hashtag. Honestly, this is something I need to work on, but it's also something that will make a huge difference when your goal is to spread the word.

9. Feel free to walk away. Just because you tweeted something doesn't mean you need to now police it. Feel free to shut down Twitter whenever you need to and walk away. It's a constant conversation and you don't need to follow every single piece of it.

10. Follow others. Twitter is a conversation, not a press release. If you want people to follow you, you need to follow others, to find a purpose for yourself to be on Twitter beyond simply promoting yourself.

11. Schedule tweets. I mentioned this before, but it's worth mentioning again: If you know you're going to be doing a book signing at a certain place at a certain time, schedule that tweet ahead of time. That way your followers will know where to find you and you won't need to try to remember to tweet in the middle of prepping for your signing.



NatalieCottrell said...

Awesome tips! This feedback is so helpful and will definitely help me maximize my Twitter presence without being annoying. :) Thank you!

wry wryter said...

Twitter ?

Ms. Trite says that she is so far behind she has to look forward to see her ass.

She has graduated from a ‘mobile’ phone the size of a brick to a little thing which flips open. She says it doesn’t take pictures but it plays nice music when someone calls. Problem is, no music lately. I told her, that in order to hear a concert, she has to turn the damn thing on.

“Tweet”, I said. She called me a bird brain.

Lorenda said...

Wow - I wasn't even aware you could schedule tweets - shows how new I am to the scene. Is this part of twitter, or something like the below?

I use twitterfeed to regularly post the title of my latest blog post. Great tip - thanks!

Colin Smith said...

I was considering a blog article asking for Twitter tips, so this was very timely. Thanks!!

J. Nelson Leith said...

I don't keep up my twitter as much as I should, but I am always baffled by the twitter feeds that contain little but "buy my stuff!" tweets. How are they not inundated with spam reports?

Linda said...

A writer who I think makes excellent use of Twitter is Jennifer Weiner. I've read a couple of her books and while I admit they're not my favorites, I love her tweets. They're regular, funny, outspoken, and informative so I continue to follow her.

Sara said...

Thanks for this, Jessica! For Twitter-newbies like me (who are also Twitter-shy), this is really helpful. I agree with Linda (above): Jennifer Weiner definitely gets it. I'd also add Jenna McCarthy to the "gets it" list. She is so engaging and funny. She aces letting her personality shine through--super likeable and you want to support her. I immediately ordered her book!

Danielle said...

I need to figure out how to schedule tweets. I also need to be more interesting haha :) I used to be really into twitter and had a decent following, but I lost it after a while.

Thank you so much for this post :)

girlseeksplace said...

Excellent tips. I have a hard time with Twitter. I feel like I post and it just dies on the vine. Same with Facebook. But I think it's me, rather than the things I post.

SBJones said...

Some nice tips there that I will have to start using.

Melinda said...

Really enjoyed this! Thanks!

ryan field said...

Hashtags help, too. I've met a lot of people through what's trending and had a blast with the most unlikely exchanges.

Martha Ramirez said...

Great tips! Thank you!!

Q. Kelly said...

This is a great post, thanks. I'm doing most of the Twitter stuff right, but I think sometimes I neglect Twitter in favor of Facebook and G+.

Emlyn Chand said...

Thanks for referencing Novel Publicity! We're thrilled to have inspired such a good advice piece :-)

FYI, you're one of our favorite literary agencies to watch - you do a phenomenal job with Twitter.

President, Novel Publicity

Dee Carney said...

I agree with almost everything here except the advice not to respond to everyone who responds to you. I've followed authors who *never* said a word to me after I tried to engage them in conversation. The same authors I watched chatter on with a clique. Guess which authors I unfollowed? Twitter is a conversation. If you're not there to engage with the people "talking" to you, quite honestly, you shouldn't be there.


S.M. Boyce said...

I agree with Dee that you should engage in as much as you can, but it really is a balance. You can only respond to so many people when you also have to market your book through other means, manage your website, oh, and write. So there definitely needs to be a balance.

I didn't know you could schedule tweets, either. Great advice on all counts, so thank you!

-S.M. Boyce
Author of The Grimoire: Lichgates

Nicole Pyles said...

Scheduling Tweets is great! I use HootSuite -- just don't forget to respond back! But actually being active is so important and following back. Don't be shy!