10 Steps for Authors Who Want to Get Started on Twitter

POSTED ON Jul 12, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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Do you have a fear of Twitter engagement? Do you have an account on the service but don’t know quite what to do with it? Are you getting ready to publish a book and realize you have to “get up to speed” with your social media marketing?

A lot of authors I talk to want to learn social media and how it’s going to help them sell thousands of books by “going viral.” But they hesitate, baffled by how the whole thing works. They know they need to be building their author platforms, but don’t know how Twitter fits in.

I don’t think you need to buy a book like “Secrets to Twitter Success” because it’s really a pretty simple platform. There are only a few things you can actually do on Twitter. Everything else that flows from your involvement with it comes from the network of people you connect with.

And in order to connect with the people you want to tell about your work, you have to forget the whole idea of “how Twitter will sell thousands of books” entirely. Because it won’t. Not directly, anyway.

Twitter is powerful, but its power is in connecting to other people, in growing a community around the value of the content and ideas you share. I’m confident you can use it to your benefit if you can only get started.

These are simple things you can do to get going with Twitter, and to learn about what goes on there and how it works.

10 Steps to Getting Started on Twitter

  1. Get a twitter account. Make sure your username name isn’t too long, 10 or 12 characters should do. Remember that your username on Twitter, if you’re going to use it for promoting your book, is part of your branding strategy.
  2. Get some software. There’s great free software that makes Twitter a lot more fun and efficient to use than the official website. I like Hoot Suite on my Mac, Twitterific on the iPad and the iPhone, although there are many others. Get one that appeals to you and fool around with it to see how it works. Being able to schedule Tweets in advance is a big advantage.
  3. Seek out your people. Do some searches to find the thought leaders and people with the biggest followings in your niche. By finding just one you can start looking through the list of who they are following to find more people to follow.
  4. Find friendly lists. Twitter lists allow you to create categories of people to follow all at once. For instance, I have a list called “Self-Publishing” with 55 Twitter users self publishers could follow for great information on the field. Try to find lists created by someone in your field. These are a great place to find people to follow too.
  5. Follow the tweets. You should now be following many important people in your niche, and you’re likely adding followers too. Keep your focus pretty tight at first so you don’t overwhelm yourself with input. Read the tweets from these thought leaders and the people with lots of followers. Click through anything that looks interesting to see what they are linking to. Watch especially for links that get re-tweeted—or passed along—by more than one of the people you’re following. Make sure you check out those links.
  6. Keep reading until you get it. There’s no rush. I read tweets for two or three months before I sent out any tweets of my own. Be patient and keep watching and soon you’ll see why some people are popular and lots of people want to follow them—because they consistently provide links and ideas that are valuable. Or because they make an effort to connect with people individually. You want to be one of those people, so keep reading until you understand what makes them popular to their followers.
  7. Tweet some value. By this time you’ve seen what’s considered valuable in the niche you’re following. It’s time to become a participant. Do a little web surfing and see if you can find resources that haven’t been mentioned recently. Create a short tweet alerting people to this resource and put in a shortened link and tweet it.
  8. Follow the golden ratio. Tweet something of value, or re-Tweet someone else’s content or message once or twice for every Tweet you do that promotes your own book or website or other content. This is all about sharing discoveries, sharing content, not about selling. You are building trust and a community of followers at the same time you are receiving value from the people you are following.
  9. Be trustworthy. I think this is done most simply by giving value, and by not tweeting anything you have not personally verified for yourself. Trust is the most important element in the community you are building.
  10. Be generous. Give as much value as you can. Pass along things of interest from others. Create content that has something of value to other people, something that makes their life better in some way. This will be content you’re happy to share with your growing Twitter tribe.

Twitter is an amazing phenomenon, considering that it only consists of 140 characters of basic text. The creativity, the energy and vitality on Twitter are astonishing. It can be a great place to connect to people who are interested in your work, and who in turn will send your message out into their own networks of followers.

Make sure you have something for visitors to look at, to download, to sign up for on your website or blog when they get there. And keep an eye on your analytics. You’ll find Twitter is a growing source of traffic and potential book buyers for your if you follow these simple rules.

I think this quote from Zig Ziglar really illustrates how to use Twitter to best advantage: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Happy Tweeting, and let me know how it works.

Here’s a question: What’s worked well for you on Twitter?

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by K Jarrett, https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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