There’s no way around it – if you want to build a writer’s platform and cultivate relationships with your readers, you have to be on Twitter as part of your author toolbox. Although I didn’t really see the purpose in Twitter, I followed this advice and worked hard on building what I thought was a solid Twitter following with over 10,000 followers.
Like many busy authors, I used Twitter to project myself. I tweeted about my books, found articles I thought my followers would find interesting, and – every so often – did a search for funny or interesting tweets to retweet. Every once in a while – usually as part of my work on a re-tweet team – my tweets would gather some sort of following, but more often than not, I felt like my tweets were disappearing into that place where all Internet rubbish disappears to (please note: I’m not really sure where this is, but I hope never to go there).
What was I doing wrong? I was doing all the things I was supposed to do. *Stomps foot* Why wasn’t all that work having any results? The answer is actually quite simple: I wasn’t engaging with my audience. Despite liking and re-tweeting every once in a while, I was phoning it in and the twitterverse knew that. So, how does a writer truly engage with its audience?
Don’t just retweet. When you retweet someone’s blog post or tweet, add a comment. Twitter makes adding a comment quite easy:
Adding a comment, shows you are engaged with the content of the tweet. There are also a lot of book bloggers out there who refuse to follow twitter profiles that are largely made up of retweets. If you add a comment to a retweet, you avoid this problem as well.
Tweeting articles. I usually spend around an hour per day reading various articles to find content my followers will enjoy. If I just tweet those articles, nothing happens. I don’t know if anyone actually sees them, but no one certainly responds to them. Once I started adding my two cents and hashtags to the articles I was tweeting, then I started seeing responses. In the example below, I merely added the words: “LOVE this idea!!” and the hashtags #amreading and #library and ended up getting several re-tweets and likes.
Hashtags are your friends. For some reason, there are those on twitter who oppose hashtags. While I agree a tweet composed almost entirely of tweets making it nearly impossible to read is annoying, one or two hashtags should be included on every tweet you post. Without hashtags, your tweet is not searchable, and isn’t that a waste.
Time of day. This is a difficult one. Twitter is hopping twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but a writer needs to sleep! The vast majority of my followers are in the US while I’m in Europe – a minimum of six hours ahead. If I only tweet when they’re sleeping, my twitter feed looks like the land of the lost. I use tweetdeck to ensure I have tweets being sent out in the hours when I’m sleeping (or just need a break!).
Really engage. This is the most important advice to follow but also the most difficult to do. How do you ‘really’ engage with followers? Isn’t it enough that I followed back and liked some tweets? I wish. The truth is you need to have conversations with other tweeters. I had two problems with this idea. First of all, I didn’t think anyone would want to read my comments. Who am I to them? I actually mentioned this to a fellow introverted blogger, and her answer was essentially: why wouldn’t they want to hear my comments? So, if you see a tweet that makes you laugh, tell the person who tweeted it. Have a comment? Go ahead – get it out there. You can always hide in your writer’s cave afterwards.
The second problem is the one we all have: time. There just isn’t enough time to engage with 10,000 followers every day. I solved this problem but spending time on twitter several times a day BUT for just a few minutes per time. By spreading the time around, I was able to engage with followers spread throughout different time zones. Limiting my time on twitter to a few minutes per time allows me to avoid being sucked into the social media black hole.
And what about you? How do you engage with others on twitter? Any other tips you have?
This blog post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. This is a monthly blog hop hosted by @raimeygallant. Make sure to stop by the other author blog posts in this month’s blog hop to fill up your author toolbox!