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Get Started on Twitter in 7 Simple Steps

by | Jul 15, 2015

By Judith Briles

Of all the social media platforms, Twitter was designed for me. Why? … It’s fast and punchy, which I like—it’s my style. And it’s the platform that I used to grow my radio listening audience with.

Authors are discovering how powerful Twitter can be. They find like “peeps” and they learn quickly that it’s the way to promote and market their books … and yes, themselves globally. That means branding is in play.

What Twitters brings to you is eyeballs—lots, millions and gazillions. How cool is that? This is why you should put some energy into this viable network. Twitter is a huge network—but the secret sauce is in all the communities that make it up … think hashtags and your profile. It’s how you will gather followers and what is known in Twitter land as a peep. The more peeps you have, the merrier.

The BookDesigner.com has delivered several columns on Twitter. I think it’s one of those things that once you “get it” … it’s a piece of cake … but until you do or decide to tackle it, it’s another social media overwhelm. For those of you who are scratching your head, this column is for you on the basics—the one to start with at the beginning of a Twitter journey with just seven steps.

For those of you who have been happily tweeting, I’m going to suggest you do a quick review and jump to the second step. It’s smart to review your profile and make sure that your key words are still relevant.

Step 1 Create a Handle (your name)

Keep it simple and relevant to who/what is you. Memorable is also a good idea. You don’t want anyone looking for you to need a PhD in search skills. Ideally, just your name, if it’s available. If your real name was Joe Jones, your handle in Twitter land would be @JoeJones … it’s how you would show up in any postings. Note there is no spacing between @, Joe and Jones. If your name unavailable, you could add a word that ties into who/what you are. Like: AuthorJoeJones which would become @AuthorJoeJones.

Or, go to your expertise. I own both my name and expertise. Where I only use @JudithBriles to follow certain people, my primary handle is @MyBookShepherd … and that’s where I want all of you to follow me.—I’ll follow you back.

Tweets only allow 140 characters—it’s important to remember that every character counts. Tweeting is not for fluff. A long name limits the words (a space counts in the character allotment), so be tuned into usage.

Hot tip for creating a handle: Use your name, an adjective in front of it that describes you, or your expertise.

Step 2 Create a Profile

As in every social media platform, you need a profile. Usually word limited, choose yours wisely. Include the word “expert” in it (it’s one of the most frequently used words in search fields—expert in gluten free recipes, expert in book publishing, expert in money strategies, expert in military history, etc.) and if you’re an author, say so. Make sure you include your website in the profile and sometimes a quirky or fun fact will set you apart from other “experts”.

Look at profiles of competitors and those who are top influencers in your field of expertise or genre if you are an author. What are the key words they use; how about the hook to describe who/what they are?

Hot tip for creating your profile: Make sure you use the word expert in it.

Step 3 Follow People

You hunt is on. Start following people; the majority will follow you back. Search for top influencers in your area of expertise. Why?—You want to know what they are shouting out … and they may have many nuggets you want to repost. That’s a retweet, or RT, in Twitter and it’s how you share info in the Twitter stream that someone else creates.

When you are ready to announce a product, a new book, a program … anything, you need followers. One way to start building followers is to use quotes—people love them and will RT them.

Hot tip for adding followers: You can easily see who follows someone in Twitter. Obviously, they either know the person or are interested in what he/she has to say. If it’s your area of expertise, by golly, they might be interested in what you have to say—even though they don’t know you.

Step 4 Start Tweeting

You are a writer … an author. What do you write about?—start tweeting.

You are an expert. In what area?—start tweeting about it.

You follow others—retweet their posts.

You read articles and blogs—do a one line write-up and link to the blog or article.

Do you have favorite quotes?—Tweet them out.

Have you seen a video that is a hoot or is deep thinking?—Tweet out a clever line and a link to the video.

Are you writing blogs (please say yes)?—create a line to hook it and then add the link.

Are you a TED or TEDx watcher?-create an aha to one that you think is terrific and why; add the link—Tweet it out. Etc., etc.

Hot tip in what to tweet: Look for what’s trending and retweet it; scan the Huff Post—tons of items that can be shared; create a marathon of inspiration quotes that is themed based; add an image to your tweets—stats show that there is a 30+% greater eye-catching capability; use your Google alerts to clue you into breaking news for your genre and expertise; and use a management system like Hootsuite or Buffer—bring sanity to your social media.

Step 5 Use Hashtags

Your quest in building your empire will include hashtags, the # symbol that is synonymous with Twitter and now used by all the major social media platforms—it’s the tic-tac-toe looking character on your keyboard. When you end a tweet with hashtags, it opens the door to another community in and of itself of people who are tweeting on the same topic.

This is powerful. Instead of just sending a tweet to your followers, it allows all those who follow (or seek out) that particular hashtag. Your target audience can easily find your post.

Think of your tweet as a one room house. When you add hashtags to yours, you make additions, like adding new rooms. Those additions are potential followers who can discover you with the hashtag usage.

Hot tip in using hashtags: You can use more than one hashtag in a tweet. Sometimes, putting the hashtag within the tweet saves character usage; then add one or two at the end. Here’s two that I used for a recent podcast I did on crowdfunding:

How to ID social media for #authors to use in #crowdfunding campaign-listen to podcast: https://ow.ly/NsesG #selfpub

Tips for #authors and getting #FREE money for #publishing-listen to podcast: https://ow.ly/NsesG #book

Twitter was the shout out method I used for my weekly podcast, AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing. Starting in January of 2012 with just one listener (one of my staff), it now has 180,000 to 200,000 downloads every month. The magic came when I used hashtags that delivered the tweet to those who followed a particular hashtag.

Step 6 Tweet Often

There’s a variety of theories on how many times you should tweet and what the perfect time of day is. In my opinion, there is no ideal time. Twitter is global; there are 24 time zones.

For me, I post each tweet four times throughout the day starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 7: 30 p.m. I have a close friend who doesn’t get active until after 9:00 p.m.—that’s when her peeps look for her sage words. You need to determine what the ideal times are for you and your followers.

Hot tip for when to tweet: Post every day and repeat your tweet. Depending on how many posts you put out and how many followers your followers are following (that is a mouthful!), your tweets have a limited lifespan. If you don’t repost, your tweet may easily get lost. I have over 30,000 followers on @MyBookShepherd; I follow approximately 28,000—of course, tweets disappear quickly with those numbers. Repeat, repeat…

Step 7 Respond

When using Twitter, it’s important to respond to your followers. Thank them for following you … Thank them for their retweets … Thank them for favoring your tweets … Thank them for mentions. Thank them.

Twitter is a social networking tool meaning the more you interact, the more successful you’ll be in developing a community of loyal followers. Followers who look forward to your tweets, your words … and yes, announcements of new book or even a special program that you have developed.

Hot tip for when to respond: Ideally, respond within 24 hours. Add a comment of your own if appropriate.

When you seriously start building your marketing and branding empires, you will discover that Twitter is a powerful ally. Your influence will rock. Hang out with me @MyBookShepherd.

Judith BrilesJudith Briles is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is an advocate for authors and writers and is known as The Book Shepherd. Delivering practical authoring and publishing information and guidance, she has authored 31 books, won multiple book awards and co-founded Mile High Press. Judith is the Chief Visionary Officer of AuthorU.org.

You can learn more about Judith here.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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