If you follow marketing or technology publications at all, you might wonder if Twitter can be effective anymore. In the face of falling user numbers, ongoing reports of poor moderation and protection of its users, and financial woes, many people are wondering if Twitter is dead. With more than 300 million active users, it is definitely NOT.
For writers, Twitter can still be a powerful tool for getting and promoting our writing work. Here are five effective ways you can use Twitter as a writer:
#1. Use Twitter to Establish Social Proof
Twitter was potentially one of the first social media tools for “social proof,” which is why you see so many people who have massive followings, but who also follow massive numbers of people.
Having a large following isn’t necessary to prove you’re a talented writer, but it can serve as a great part of your online presence. Twitter shows you are cognizant and competent in different digital formats, especially if your tweets don’t include “2” instead of “to,” and if you’ve mastered how the @ symbol works.
Your Twitter bio can also be a good place to tout your writing affiliations. By putting some of my past clips in my bio, such as “Writing can be found on travelleisure, @afarmedia, and @roadskingdoms,” other writers and readers can find me through the Twitter search tool – and editors can double-check credentials.
#2. Connect with Editors on Twitter
Speaking of editors, Twitter is still one of the most effective ways to connect with an editor before pitching them. Many are active Twitter users, and have often shared their email on Twitter at some point in the past. You can either follow and Direct Message them, or search their tweet history to find their contact details.
To do this, search Twitter with their username and relevant terms. For example: “@JohnSmith email” will pull up any times editor John Smith has shared tweets with the word email in them. This may well include tweets that read “Here’s my email: [X]” Suddenly, you have an editor’s email, and can pitch or follow up with them directly.
#3. Use Twitter Chats to Build Your Reputation with Publications
I recently came across a fellow writer who regularly publishes on the blog of a major travel brand. Having searched high and low for their editorial guidelines, I decided to ask her how she started writing for them. Her response? She had regularly participated in their Twitter chats, and then pitched the editor via direct message.
Each week, she had been online and sharing insights during their branded chat, and the company had noticed. When she then pitched them through Direct Messages, she had already proven her knowledge in the chats, so it was a logical step for them to start letting her contribute to their blog regularly.
Identify Twitter chats hosted by publications or brands in your industry. Start participating on a regular basis, and share your knowledge in those chats. Don’t see a relevant chat in your industry? Try starting one, and inviting major brands to participate.
#4. Share Clips to Boost Traffic
One of the most practical uses of Twitter is for sharing content to your followers. If you already use Twitter in other ways such as connecting with fellow writers and establishing your social proof, you probably have a following of people interested in your work.
Whenever you have a new clip, be sure to share it with those followers. This helps continue to build your presence on Twitter, but also drives a little bit of traffic back to the publication. Writers who can effectively help drive traffic – the currency of digital publications – are often in a good position when sending future pitches or asking for more regular work.
#5. Crowdsource Stories from Your Followers
If you have an active and engaged following on Twitter, they can be a great asset to you when working on a story. Whether it’s figuring out the best hotel amenities or top destinations for 2017, I know lots of travel writers who solicit ideas from their followers on Twitter.
This can also work in other industries, if you identify the right question to ask. You can find out which brand of yoga pants moms most love wearing, or run a Twitter poll to have people vote on their most important consideration when buying a new computer. These types of tweets can do really well, since they start a conversation but also provide you with value as you work on assignments.
At the end of the day, Twitter is still one of the top social media channels. It’s helpful for sharing your articles, building relationships, and connecting with readers and like-minded fellow users.
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Valerie Stimac is a nomadic travel writer and blogger at her site Valisemag.com. She has previously contributed to AFAR, Travel + Leisure, and Roads & Kingdoms. Follow her on twitter @Valerie_Valise.