Twitter is an essential tool for writers and authors. While everyone uses Twitter in their own way, writers find it valuable to gain new readers, attendees at workshops, and speaking engagements. If you are pursuing the traditional publishing route, information about agents, editors, publishers, and submissions abound. If you aren’t on Twitter, you are missing out on a platform that still allows you to reach thousands of people without cost and gain valuable information about what you need to be a successful writer. It won’t take long before you’ve mastered the art of Twitter.
What is Twitter
Twitter is social media platform used to communicate tiny morsels of information. Each tweet can contain complete information or, more often, a teaser message with a link to a Facebook page, blog post or video. Without exception, a complete thought is just 140 characters. It’s both a skill and an art to master the Twitterverse especially when you are used to filling pages with your thoughts.
To get started, go to www.twitter.com to sign up. Your Twitter handle will be @something. You can use just your name if it is not yet taken, your book name or something else like @writerDave. Shorter is better than longer to leave more room for other thoughts. Your profile description also needs to keep to the 140 character limit. Funny, quirky, or unique descriptions work best. Read other profiles for inspiration.
Once you sign up, your first priority is to find people to follow. Unlike a Facebook profile and similar to a Facebook page, following and being followed are one-way streets. You can follow anyone and anyone can follow you without the need for reciprocation. When you follow someone, you see their tweets in your feed.
If you use Outlook, Gmail, Ymail, or a few other popular email services, you can have Twitter search your contact list for people who are on Twitter. Another route is to search your city or state in the search bar at the top of the page. If someone is familiar or looks interesting, click on the Follow button.
To find even more people, search for a favorite author in your genre. Once you find their Twitter feed, go to their full profile. Click to reveal who follows them. Follow publishers, book sellers, other authors, and libraries, too. The people that follow them are likely readers for your book. Follow me on Twitter @loishoffmande to get started.
RT – Retweet. If you like a tweet from someone else and want to share with your followers, click the double arrow symbol, add a message and click “Post”.
# – Hashtag. A hashtag can be used in a couple of ways: as a category, commentary, or a virtual meeting place. If your tweet is a writing tip, you can include #writingtip at the end of your tweet. For example, “XYZ author’s favorite place to write is in a tree house. #writing”
Another way to use a hashtag is for commentary. If you tweet about a little kid doing something mischievous, you could include the #dontdoit or #lookoutbelow or something clever. You also might start a conversation around a topic at a specific time. An agent might put a call out for a #kidlitchat between 9-10pm. If you want to join in, include #kitlitchat in your tweet and everyone following that hashtag can follow the conversation. Click on the highlighted hashtag to view other posts using that hashtag.
Popular hashtags for writing are: #writing, #amwriting, #writingtip, #pubtip, #books, #author, #mystery (and other genres), #kidlitchat among others.
* – Favorite. The favorite button is similar to the Like button on Facebook. If someone favorites your tweet, you will receive a notification. When you favorite and retweet others’ tweets and use hashtags in your own, you increase your visibility on Twitter. It increases the chance people will follow you.
What to write
You can post links to blog content, pictures, send a note of thanks, congratulations, news, facts, quotes, and things that make people smile. Subscribe to blogs and YouTube channels to always have a supply of content to share. Make it valuable to the reader and the reader will value you.
Tips for making the most of Twitter
- Use content across social media platforms. Write a blog post then share it on Facebook and Twitter.
- Dig for nuggets of gold across the internet and find interesting content to share with followers.
- Post consistently.
- Plan social media content a week or month at time to avoid “I don’t know what to post-itis.”
- Interact with your audience by replying, favoriting and sharing their posts.
- Continue to cultivate new followers by following people interested in what you write.