Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2006, then you probably already have a Twitter account. But, are you using it to its full potential? It’s a sad fact that most writers don’t. There is slightly more to it than keeping track of what people you’ve never met are having for breakfast.
When used correctly, Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool. Here’s how:
Your profile page is very important. You have only seconds to make an impression before they click off, so make it original and don’t be afraid to pimp yourself. It helps some writers if they think of the profile page as an advertisement for themselves and their work. First, go to ‘edit profile.’ For the header, have something eye-catching and visually appealing. If suitable, a cover of your book is ideal. The same goes for your profile photo. Remember, people like seeing smiling faces. You can adjust the theme color on your profile, so make sure whatever color you use doesn’t jar with the other components. For the description/bio, keep it succinct. You will notice most journalists and authors make a reference to a project they are involved in, or at least a work-in-progress, and don’t forget to post a link to direct traffic toward your website or blog.
If you intend to use Twitter as your primary marketing tool, there are certain things you should consider. First, the title of your book. Remember you only have 140 characters to play with per tweet so the shorter your title is, the more space it will leave. For the actual link, it may be advantageous to use a URL shortener, such as: https://bitly.com/
Follow Me, Follow You
Obviously, the more followers you have, the more effective whatever self-promotion you do will be. But, don’t be tempted to “buy” followers. Sure, you might look popular, but if you get rumbled you’ll just look desperate. A group of 200 or so genuine followers is infinitely more valuable than 20,000 false ones. The easiest way to build a following is to follow others, and be active. Use the search facility to find people with similar interests, like readers, reviewers, or other writers in your genre. Creative people usually follow back. An easy win is to use the hash tag #amwriting. This will put you in touch with literally millions of fellow writers (who are invariably also readers) all over the world.
This is social media, after all! It may be largely a numbers game, but don’t just add people for the sake of it. Communicate with them. Leave the odd comment, ‘favorite’ and retweet them. Not only will you be doing someone else a favor, which they usually reciprocate, but you also generate content for yourself. There are lots of writer’s groups out there that pool their resources and promote each other. Cross-promotion can be very effective, as it gives you the opportunity to harness other people’s followers without actually having to do too much.
So find one, and join. If you can’t, start your own!
Alternatively, use a service like:
What to Post
Don’t just tweet the same blurb and buying link a dozen times a day. That’s boring. You’re a writer, be creative. Throw out the odd intriguing quote or line from your book and reference your characters. Even assume the role of one of them and enter into dialogue with your followers, if you wish. This will spark people’s interest! Another great idea is to use a longer extract, and tweet them in sequence. This can be done automatically using a service like:
Beware, though, talking about nothing else but your books will soon lose you followers. Nobody wants to be constantly spammed. If you want to build a Twitter platform, you have to make it valuable to your followers. In any case, don’t put out more than two or three tweets a day.
‘When’ Makes all the Difference
Be aware of time zones. If, for example, you only post in the evening when it’s most convenient for you, then you only ‘hit’ people who are generally online at that time. That’s probably a very small percentage of the population. So, vary when you post, send out some at breakfast time, some at lunch, some in the evening, and some before you go to bed. It might be worth keeping a log of your activity, which you can later analyze and see what strategy is the most successful for you. Remember, there is generally more web traffic on weekends and public holidays, so by tweeting around these times you hit a statistically bigger potential market.
Use the 5-5-5 Rule
This is a great concept to help you build a following quickly. It will take just 15 minutes a day, split into three sections. These are:
5-minutes reading updates and re-tweeting
Follow the simple advice and guidelines set out in this feature and unleash the power of Twitter!
Chris Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, has worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing to over 40 international publications. He is currently a sports writer based in London. His new novella, Out of Time, is available now on DeadPixel publications. Visit his blog at: http://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/