We've covered Twitter before because it's a go-to social media network for many writers. Here we present Twitter 101 to help ensure you're on top of your Twitter game.
No other platform compares to this microblogging site. You can connect to other authors who write in your genre and co-market your books together—or network with influential book bloggers, book reviewers, editors, cover designers and literary agents. And, of course, you can meet and engage with your readers and potential readers.
How? Follow targeted individuals, retweet them, ask questions when appropriate, reply to their comments or questions, or just start a conversation. Through this process, you’ll meet people within your industry and niche and start to broaden your platform and sphere of contacts.
Twitter 101: Do's
Having difficulty growing your tribe? Try these ten tips:
1. Use relevant and popular hashtags. See the list of hashtags at the end of this post. Remember, never use more than two per tweet.
2. Create your own visuals. Try Canva.com (free version) or PicMonkey.com ($35/year) to make custom, branded images. Find copyright-free images at LibreStock.com or use those available on Canva for free or a small fee. Use these apps with your brand color and fonts and create text images featuring quotes from your books.
3. Network with other authors in your genre. Social media isn’t competitive; it's collegial. Don't consider other authors in your genre your rivals. Treat them as colleagues and approach them about blogging opportunities and ways you can help them to market their books.
4. Promote discounts and giveaways of your books. Create fun images using Canva or PicMonkey to help you promote your KDP Select price reductions, free books on Smashwords, or Goodreads giveaways. Images attract the eye more than text, make your promotions more effective.
5. Tweet milestones, such as selling the first 1,000 copies of your newest book. Without bragging, it’s okay to announce to your following significant achievements and news.
6. Engage with your readers. In the screenshot below, I didn’t merely thank Chris Well for sharing my post, I also wished him a lovely weekend. See his response:
7. Ask and answer questions. Try to think of questions you can add when you post images or pictures with quotes. Questions and exchanges help you to get to know your followers better. See this example:
8. Be informative and entertaining. Tweet your own blog posts, those by other experts in the field, and tweets that convey excellent useful information. You can also achieve balance by tweeting fun memes or beautiful images, such as a picture of a sunset that you took.
9. Keep it real. Be authentic. Your followers will sniff out any attempts to ingratiate them without engaging them.
10. Be consistent. You need to post, at a minimum, three times a day. Tweeting five times a day would be even better. Once you start, keep it up, and you’ll see your interactions increase, your retweets rise, and your followers grow.
Twitter 101: Don'ts
If you haven’t been using Twitter for long, you may not know that certain etiquette rules apply. Follow them if you want to grow your following. Even if you’re not a newbie, you'd be wise to avoid these faux pas.
1. Not uploading a picture of yourself as your avatar. Don’t be an egghead or use an image of your cat, dog, book cover or favorite lake as your avatar. Your avatar needs to be a professional photo of you. If you don’t want to hire a photographer, ask a friend to take a picture of you and skip the funny face.
2. Leaving the header image blank. There are a variety of free applications, such as Canva or PicMonkey, mentioned above, to help you create a header image for your account. Add your book covers, announce the publication of a new book, or use an image that reflects a scene in your book. You can download a free image from LibreStock.com, Unsplash.com, or Pixabay.com or upload a picture you took. Check out Joanna Penn’s header below in which she’s promoting her newest book.
In my header image, I’m promoting the three books I published in the last six months.
3. Writing a senseless bio. Is your bio littered with #cappuccino #frappuccino #kittens #puppies #writer #reader #blogger? Write a professional bio instead. Your Twitter avatar and bio are searchable on the Internet, and you want to use your Twitter profile to advance your author brand and your professional presence. Check out BookWorks' Marketing Expert, Penny Sansevieri’s bio below. It clearly establishes her as a respected author publicity and marketing expert.
4. Using all 140 characters available to you. Don’t do this. Instead, keep your tweets ideally to 110 characters and no more than 120 characters. If someone wants to retweet you using a social media scheduling app, such as Buffer or Hootsuite, a shorter tweet will allow your username to be added.
5. #Doing #this #with #your #hashtags. Are you using more than two hashtags in your tweets? The more hashtags you use, the less likely your tweet will be shared.
6. Not interacting socially with other writers. It’s important to be friendly on Twitter, meet other authors—especially those authors who write in your genre—and promote other authors. The more authors you meet who write the same genre as you, the more they will suggest your books to their readers.
7. Spamming new followers with direct messages. This will cause people to stop reading them. Don’t ask a new follower to read your blog, buy your book or visit your website in a direct message. In fact, don’t even reply to them or send them a tweet with this type of message. Instead, attract them with the content you post on Twitter. Engage new followers; don’t spam them.
8. Retweeting tweets that praise you or your book. I once read somewhere that retweeting tweets of praise is like laughing at your own jokes. Promoting yourself in this manner is akin to bragging.
9. Announcing how many people you followed/unfollowed. Yes, applications such as Tweepi want you to announce to your following that you just used the app to unfollow 201 people, but you know what? No one cares, and this isn’t the type of content you want to become known for.
10. Ignoring the 80/20 rule. Guess what? It’s not about you. Make sure that 80 percent of your content comes from a variety of sources and that you restrict your self-generated content to 20 percent of your tweets.
Twitter 101: Hashtags
The list below contains hashtags that writers can use to be discovered and to find readers.
#1K1H: This hashtag communicates that you’re about to write 1,000 words in one hour.
#1LineWednesday: Share the best line from one of your books on Wednesdays and use this hashtag.
#99c: If you have a spare $0.99 to spend on a new story, use this tag in your Twitter search bar, and you’ll find a cheap eBook. You can also use this hashtag to find new readers if you’re selling an eBook for this price.
#Amazon / #GooglePlay / #Kobo / #iTunes / #Smashwords: Use these hashtags to let your readers know where your book is available for download or order.
#AmazonCart: You can encourage your readers to connect their Amazon and Twitter accounts. Then each time your readers include #AmazonCart in a tweet, Amazon will know to add the items with the corresponding Amazon link to your readers’ shopping carts.
#amwriting / #amediting: These terms are commonly used for Twitter chats you join. Johanna Harness is the creator of the term #amwriting as well as the www.amwriting.org website. Chats take place throughout the day. Some authors use #amediting to let their readers know that they are editing their next book.
#AuthorChat: This hashtag is used for ongoing conversations between authors.
#askagent / #askauthor: These are great tags for writers who don’t have an agent or editor, but have questions for them. Who knows? You just might find your next editor or agent on Twitter.
#askeditor: Similar to the above hashtag, use this one to ask an editing question.
#bestseller: Have you written a best seller? Let everyone know. Refrain from using this hashtag if you haven’t written a best seller. Are you reading a best seller? Show your readers that you read as well by including the title, a link, and this hashtag in a tweet.
#bibliophile / #bookworm / #reader: If you’re looking for a reader for your books, add one of these hashtags to a tweet about one of your books.
#bookgiveaway: Is your book listed for free during a Kindle promotion? Use this hashtag. Use it also for your Goodreads giveaways.
#bookmarket / #bookmarketing / #GetPublished: Search for this hashtag to learn more about marketing your books.
#bookworm: Looking for avid readers? Use this hashtag when tweeting about your books.
#BYNR (Book Your Next Read): Authors use this hashtag to promote their books.
#eBook: Did you release an ebook or recently convert a hard copy novel to an ebook? Use this hashtag so that iPad, Nook, Kobo, and Kindle users can download it.
#FollowFriday / #FF: This is a fun Twitter tradition for expressing gratitude to your retweeters by giving them exposure to a wider audience. On Friday mornings, write a message composed of the usernames of your most loyal retweeters. You can also use #FF to connect with writers you admire or members of your critique group or book club.
#Free / #Giveaway: This has become a popular hashtag on Twitter. Let readers know when you’re offering your next book or story giveaway.
#FreeDownload: Use this hashtag when you want to promote your book as being free.
#FreebieFriday: If you offer a book giveaway on a Friday, use this hashtag.
#FridayRead: On Fridays, you can share what you’re reading. Refrain from using this hashtag for your book. Authors use this hashtag to communicate their love of reading.
#Genre/ #Romantic / #Comedy / #Suspense /#Mystery / #Erotica / Paranormal / Poetry / #DarkThriller / Dark Fantasy, etc.: Some readers search specifically by genre when looking for a new book. Use the hashtag that corresponds to your genre.
#Goodreads: Use this hashtag when referring to a review, book giveaway, or favorite quote on Goodreads.
#Greatreads: You can use this hashtag for promoting your friends’ books or just sharing your impressions of the last book you read.
#Holidays: #Halloween, #Christmas, #Hanukkah, and other holidays are sometimes trending on Twitter. Use them in creative ways to promote your blog and books when you feature an event or blog post related to a holiday.
#HotTitles: Have you read some books lately that are selling like wildfire? Let your Tweeps know about them. (Don’t use this hashtag for your books.)
#Instapoet: Use this hashtag to attract traffic to your Instagram account, to identify yourself as a poet who has risen through the ranks as an avid social media user, or to attract attention to similar poets.
#KidLit/#PictureBook: Authors of children’s books will want to use these hashtags.
#kindle: If you have a book on Kindle, let everyone know.
#KindleBargain: Use this hashtag when your book is listed temporarily for free.
#memoir: Connect with other memoirists and readers by using this hashtag. Also, designate your latest memoir with this hashtag.
#nanowrimo: Every November, thousands of writers take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the effort to write a novel in one month. The project started in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over time, it became a national and then international effort. By 2013, NaNoWriMo attracted 310,000 adult novelists, plus an additional 89,500 young writers. You can keep in touch with other NaNoWriMo writers all over the world by using the #nanowrimo hashtag in your tweets or by searching for this term. Use it to let your readers know that you’re writing another volume in a series you write too.
#ShortStory: Do you prefer to write short stories? Attract new admirers with this hashtag.
#ThankfulThursday: Similar to #FF, use this hashtag to thank other users in your community.
#WhatToRead: Looking for a new book to read? Use this hashtag in Twitter’s search bar.
#WLCAuthor: The World Literary Café is a promotional website for authors. Similar to the Independent Author Network (#IAN), Indie authors in these organizations help each other in their promotions. TIP: These types of hashtags are unfamiliar to your readers so use them thoughtfully, if at all.
#wordcount: With this hashtag you can share your progress with other writers on the book or story you’re writing.
#writegoal: Users include this hashtag to announce publicly how many words they intend to write that day.
#WriterWednesday/ #WW: Use this hashtag to connect with writers you admire and authors who are your colleagues.
#WritersBlock / #WriteMotivation: Do you sometimes need a little motivation in the mornings to get your writing started? Use these hashtags to find your inspiration. If you’re also an editor, use these hashtags to inspire authors.
#WritersLife: If you have a fun image or quote to share about writing or the writing process, use this hashtag to amuse your author colleagues.
#writetip / #writingtip: If you don’t have time to take a workshop, trying using these hashtags to learn more about your craft. Authors who are book coaches or editors can use these hashtags to attract new clients.
#writing / #editing: These terms are similar to #amwriting and #amediting.
#writingblitz: Use this term to let your followers know that today you are writing as fast as you can.
#writingfiction: Fiction writers use this hashtag to meet each other or to share their books, goals, or ideas on writing fiction.
#writingprompt / #writeprompt: Is it hard to get started on the next chapter of your novel? Well, worry no more. Log on to Twitter, search for this tag, and you’ll find a great prompt to get those creative juices bubbling.
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