Twitter is a terrific way to meet new people with common interests, interact with fans who read your books, and a way to build your platform. Don’t look at it as networking – it’s more about building relationships. You only have 140 characters to type (including your links and hashtags) and while some people consider this a hindrance, it’s perfect for people like me who like to throw out funny one-liners or short spurts of information. While many people use Twitter for funsies, it’s also a primo marketing tool for indie authors trying to get their name and work out in the world. Here are a few beginner’s tips to get you started on your way to this amazing online universe.
This is where people learn more about you and it’s usually the leading factor in gaining a new follower – whether they land on your page or just click on the profile window that comes up, they can glean information about you and decide if you’re worth their time. It’s important to catch their attention immediately. We have 160 characters to write our bio and I’m a firm believer in keeping things professional yet personable. Here’s my bio:
Indie author. Writer for @Roanoker. Social Media Editor. Dog lover. Reads, writes, eats. Nerdy w/ heavy twist of wit. http://t.co/AXNH1q2t http://t.co/Zsu4ElW9
So in 160 characters, you learn who I am (an author, writer, editor), a few fun facts (that also give insight to my personality – people can infer that I probably have a bit of humor behind my tweets), plus two important links that take a click to my Facebook fan page as well as my Amazon book page. I also list my location so that locals can find me. And last but not least, list your website so that people can visit! It’s maddening how many people leave that off and honestly, if you’re an author and don’t have a website, it’s a big mistake to not include it in your marketing plans. You want to lead them to your website to show off your work and gain a loyal fan.
You should also upload your profile picture, background and a header image. You can change these as often as you like, but I recommend keeping your profile picture up for longer periods of time. Save the constant photo swap for your personal Facebook profile (and even then I don’t truly recommend it). People get used to seeing a particular photo by your updates and if you tweet often enough, it becomes linked in their mind – they begin to know who you are and that’s the goal, right? If you’re constantly changing it up, it can confuse people and possibly even annoy them to the point they unfollow. (Plus, it probably makes you look a little schizophrenic.)
Hashtags are a vital Twitter tool, especially if you like keeping up with certain topics or are searching for specific information. You’re interacting with people looking for the same information you’re providing. For example, when I go to publish a blog post about writing tips, I’ll include hashtags like #amwriting – when people click on this or search for it, it takes them to every tweet that has this hashtag. Because I listed this particular hashtag, I’m included in the list, which leads people to the link I’ve given them on my website. It’s a great way to ask questions and find other authors or useful links to help you on your writing path. Hashtags are also useful when participating in online chats – even if you aren’t following some of the people in the Twitter chat, you can still see each other’s tweets because of the same hashtag use. At a specific date and time, a group can discuss the subject of that week and in the long run, meet new people and potential followers/friends/readers.
You can also list hashtags that relate to your books in order to help readers find it or talk with other readers who also enjoyed the book (#Gifted). And if you work hard enough and get enough people on the boat, maybe you can even make your own hashtag trending for others to find and hopefully follow you. It’s also a great way to keep up with people who may be mentioning you in tweets, but don’t follow you or know your Twitter handle. (I also advise against too many hashtags in one sitting. Stick to three or less per tweet to prevent cluttering up your tweets.)
Here are some basic hashtags that writers use in the Twitterverse:
Industry Info: #writetip #selfpublishing #askagent #askeditor #pubtip #indiepub
Connecting w/ other authors: #amwriting #amreading #amediting #indieauthor #YALitChat
If you’re following hundreds (or thousands) of people, it can be hard to keep up with everyone. This is where lists come in – I can make specific lists and add people to them. These lists are for people you follow, but you can add them to whichever list you feel is best. So if I’m only looking for my Twitter friends who give me helpful social media advice, I can click on this list and get all of those tweets. If I’m looking to connect with locals, I can click on my Roanoke list and see all the people I follow in Roanoke that are talking.
One of my most important lists is full of book bloggers. Because I follow over a thousand people, there’s no way I can keep up with all of them, especially in between all of the other people I follow. But with my blogger list, I can “see” them and make sure I’m not missing out on great book recommendations or simply keeping up with your online book community.
Those are three big tips I can give to authors trying to make Twitter work for them. We’ll discuss more Twitter tips in a later post (the possibilities are endless for sure!). What other tips can you provide when it comes to hashtags, lists, and profile pages?