Your 10 Step Plan for Becoming a Twitter Star

by Joel Friedlander on April 29, 2011 · 17 comments

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Ed: This article originally appeared on BookBuzzr.com‘s Book Marketing Technologies Center. This is a terrific resource for authors and I highly recommend the great collection of articles on book marketing that they are amassing. If you haven’t had a look, check it out.

Social media keeps making news and attracting hundreds of millions of followers. It’s estimated that Twitter has 75 million members who sent 25 billion Tweets in 2010.

In the last year it’s become common for Twitter to get mentioned on national news programs and celebrity shows, with Tweets being shown onscreen with growing regularly. The popularity of Twitter for celebrities like Sarah Palin, Kim Kardashian and Keith Olbermann to engage with their audience and post instant responses to news events and comments by others has brought the micro-blogging site tremendous prominence.

So, how can an author get started on Twitter and learn to use this incredible real-time tool? Here’s a rundown on 10 tips to help supercharge your Twitter experience.

  1. Change that avatar! After you’ve signed up for a Twitter account at the opening screen, you’ll have a chance to customize your profile. This is one of the most important steps you can take because it establishes your “brand” on the service and creates the atmosphere you want to convey to the rest of the Twitter universe. As an author, this is where your branding starts.
  2. Complete the bio Another crucial task that you shouldn’t overlook. The bio, which allows you to further brand yourself in 160 characters, will show up in searches of all kinds. Give some real thought to what you want this to say.
  3. Show up From statistics it looks like many people who set up Twitter accounts never use them or abandon them after a few weeks. That’s too bad, because this has to be the easiest form of social media to use. But first you have to give it a try. Spending time just reading and following other user’s tweets for even 10 or 15 minutes a day will quickly make you feel right at home.


  4. Brand the background Last among the setup tasks, bring the branding of your website or blog to your Twitter background. This is just an image file you or a designer can create that loads “behind” the Twitter panel on your home page. Consistency across platforms lets us know we’re dealing with the same trusted source in each location.
  5. Social proof matters I don’t think a Twitter user’s usefulness is determined by the number of followers they have. It’s more about engagement and helpful content. But you can’t ignore the element of social proof. As you find more people to network with in your field of interest your followers will naturally grow.
  6. Be sincere A lot of posts on Twitter are indecipherable to the newcomer, as people attempt to shorten their thoughts and links to meet the 140-character limit. This can result in strings of text that barely qualify as English. However, it’s still important to you and to your readers that you come across as a real person with real interests and concerns.
  7. Use Twitter search The biggest challenge facing new authors on Twitter is: Who should I follow? Amongst the millions of Twitter users, how will you find people who have something interesting to say, or who post links that you would find useful? This is where Twitter search comes in. You can start with search.twitter.com by simply searching on keywords within your niche. There are also third-party services that aggregate users by their interests or fields of expertise. Another way to find likely “follows” is to look at thought leaders in your field and follow their followers.
  8. Identify collaborators You’ll soon run into hashtags, a way to signal to other users what your Tweet is about. These appear with the pound sign (#) or hashtag at the beginning of a word or phrase. Because most people who take part in the discussion understand this, they include the hashtag in their posts, making them discoverable to a search. You will undoubtedly come across these in your Twitter reading, and when you see one just click on it and take a look at all the recent tweets on the same subject.
  9. Provide context and engagement with pictures Did you know you can post photos and other graphics to Twitter? You can do this easly through Twitpic links. Many dramatic shots from recent news events around the world are first seen on Twitter. But even if you’re showing a picture of your new book cover, it’s a great way to add an engaging element to a tweet.
  10. Tweet great content Like all blogging, your growth on Twitter will depend largely on one thing—great content. It might seem ridiculous to talk about content that’s only 140 characters long, but once you get used to the short form text, you’ll be surprised at how tweets can vary in their quality. Great ideas, interesting connections, humorous thoughts, news updates and links to genuinely valuable content will gain you lots of supportive and engaged followers.

Okay, tweeters, you’ve got a plan. You know how to get set up, how to get started, how to begin to find your community, and how to give—and get—value from Twitter. Tweet on.

Photo by josey4628

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    Judy Croome April 29, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Hmmm. Now here was a lot of info I didn’t know. This is probably why my twitter is struggling. I must absorb, assess and act on what you’ve said here, Joel. No 4 will be first I think. Thanks again!
    Judy, South Africa

    Reply

    Judy Helm Wright April 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Hello from Montana,

    I have written an ebook bonus report on Life Lessons@ 140 characters or less. Would you allow me to put this article (giving you full credit) in the book? Or maybe even links back to this article.

    Let me know.

    Thanks,
    Judy Helm Wright

    Reply

    Betsy Gordon April 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

    @Judy — I don’t mean to be unsupportive, but your brief message made me realize once again why we editors are necessary to the writing profession in all its manifestations. Judy, do you really mean you need to “absorb asses”? Don’t quite know how that would happen, but it’s an interesting thought. I am hoping you actually meant you must “absorb, assess, and act on” the information Joel so generously offers his readers. A single “s” and two commas change the meaning of that phrase completely, and for the better, I think.

    Not too many people edit or even proofread their blogs or e-mails before they send them out into the ether, unfortunately. When communication is so easy, and virtually instantaneous, I should think it would be even more important to make certain you are really saying what you mean to say.

    Sorry, Judy — I don’t mean to offend you, but it’s only 10:00 a.m. here on the Pacific Coast, and I’ve already read three personal e-mails with phrases I had to stop and figure out because of misspellings or weird punctuation.

    @ Joel: Like so many of your blogs, this one makes me want to DO something — in this case, try tweeting. I first have to take the monumental step of acquiring a cell phone, though, I guess. Joel, I’m very much enjoying your book! And (aside from the contents) I am using your cover as an example to point out to clients who want a white background for their own covers. Your red border stands out on the white Amazon page and attracts the eye immediately, while you still have the advantage of dark letters on a white field. Thanks once again for the generosity you bring to your blogging and writing. You’re a real inspiration!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 29, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Betsy, I corrected Judy’s typo, since I have the ability to do that. Thanks so much for your comment, and probably the nicest thing someone has said to me recently about this blog. Taking action, as we know, is the only way to go from where you are to where you want to be.

    As far as the cover is concerned, putting a border around a print on demand book is not generally a good idea, and I would caution my clients against it. So why did I do it? It just seemed right, and I knew I could change it pretty easily (since I’m the designer) in case it didn’t work out.

    Reply

    Betsy Gordon April 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Oooops: while I was writing to Judy Croome, Judy Helm Wright arrived! I need to get my Judies straight… what are the odds of two people named Judy being the first to comment on this post? Sorry!

    Reply

    Judy Helm Wright April 29, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Wow! Thanks Betsy for the heads up anyway. Even though I did not make that mistake, I have made plenty of others in my life.

    Bless the editors and proof readers.

    Judy H. Wright
    http://www.ArtichokePress.com

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 29, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks to both Judys for your contribution here. Judy Helm Wright, I’ll email you about how to incorporate this article in your book, thanks so much for the generous offer.

    Reply

    Irene Vernardis April 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Hi :)

    I’m not so fond of the 140 characters of the tweet message.
    For one, I don’t like “killing” a proper sentence. Second, when re-tweeting (new English word :D ) names’ referrals might take a lot of the message space and it gets too short. I think that names (at least one or two) should not be calculated in the characters’ total.

    However, it seems that twitter is a necessary tool nowadays.

    I have a small list of people and I’m already lost through the tweets. Especially since many tweets have links to interesting articles (as this one :) ) and I spend a lot of time reading, commenting and re-tweeting.
    I know about the Tweetdeck, but I have concerns regarding its security, so I haven’t decided to use it yet.

    Your points above are great. I don’t know if I’ll become a star, but I’ll definitely take them into consideration :D. Thank you for your article

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander April 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Irene, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I use lists in Twitter to channel different tweets into their own tweet stream, and I find this makes it much more manageable. For instance, I follow a lot of people who work on e-books, so I have them all on one list and can check that list independently.

    Have fun with Twitter!

    Reply

    Katharina Gerlach November 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

    How do you start a list in twitter? It’s probably something I missed.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Katharina, go to your home page on Twitter and just beneath the status box at the top of the screen (under “What’s Happening?) you’ll see a series of links, he last is “Lists” and from that dropdown you can create a list.

    Reply

    Kimberley Barker Nightingale November 8, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Thanks Joel,

    I am fairly new to this world of “tweeting”, I find it fun but also a bit challenging to understand its language! lol! But..I am getting the hang of it. The more I read different articles, the more I learn. I find your site extremely helpful in my efforts to market myself in this world of social media. Thank you so much!

    Kimberley

    Reply

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