Archive for April, 2012

Today’s Author: Building a platform, Part IV- Twitter, a hard look at the numbers

Posted on: April 24th, 2012 by Carrick Publishing

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to Tweet and he’ll forget to eat

One of the key benefits of Twitter over other Social Media platforms is the ability to interact with such a large and diverse group of people. If you’ve been following our series (See Building a Platform Part I, Blogging, Part II, Networking and Part III, Twitter Basics) you’ll already be aware of several of the powerful Social Media forums available.

However, any tool is only as effective as the person using it. If we lack the skills to reach that broad group of people, we aren’t going to be able to spread our message the way we’d like.

A patient tweets to his on-line psychologist, “Doctor, I think I’m being followed!”

How critical are the numbers displayed in Twitter? Their importance will vary depending on what we’re hoping to accomplish. Many people dislike seeing a blatant push for followers and will sometimes avoid following people whose only objective seems to be acquiring a follower base.

Having said that, as writers we’d be naïve to think the numbers have no meaning. Naturally, the more people we are able to interact with, the more exposure our work will receive.

There are a few tips that can help you build a follower base without having to press constantly for new followers:

1- Reciprocity is a word you’ll encounter on Twitter, and with good reason. Many Tweeters will refuse to follow anyone who maintains a skewed “follower/following” ratio. As our accounts grow, it may not be possible to auto-follow everyone who follows us. However, it’s important to at least maintain that ratio.

A skewed ratio is a clue that one may not be interested in engaging followers. It implies one is more a “talker” than a “listener”, who wants only to blast tweets to a large following without considering the needs of others.

I won’t follow most celebrities for this reason. When I’m deciding who to follow, I don’t care how many followers an individual has. I do care that they make an effort to follow others. If I doubt their intention toward reciprocity, I won’t waste my time.

2- About the Numbers: Twitter has rules that relate to the numbers. The most important rule you need to be aware of concerns “follower/following” ratios.

When you set out to build your platform in Twitter, you’ll soon learn there is no magic formula. In order to connect with followers, you will have to first follow people.

Twitter sets a ceiling on how many people you can follow. You can freely follow up to 2000 people. After that, you may not follow anyone until your “follower” base matches your “following” base.

This is a challenge for many Twitter users. Busting that ‘ceiling’ takes time, patience and some inside knowledge.

The time and patience only you can provide. As for the knowledge, here are a couple of tips that might help:

a) Tweet out loud to the people you follow. This will encourage them to follow back.

b) Follow people who maintain a strong “follower/following” ratio. It needn’t be exact, but it should be strong enough to show they make an effort to “follow back”.

c) Follow lots of people. The more people you follow, the more people who will follow you.

d) Use the Search and Hashtag (#) functions to discover and follow people who share your interest in books. Some excellent Chat forums are #WriteChat , #epubChat , #AmWriting and #StoryCraft. There are many more to be found, but those will lead you to some terrific people to begin following today.

e) Unfollow as needed. When you are first starting out and have not yet broken your 2K ceiling, this will be most important. If you’ve followed someone and Tweeted them a greeting, and they haven’t followed back, you might try tweeting them again. If that doesn’t work, unfollow. You need to get past that 2K limit.

Keep in mind, though, if they do follow back it’s considered poor form to unfollow. This is called “dumping” and Twitter may penalize you for it. It doesn’t mean you can never unfollow someone. I’ve followed people whom I thought would be interesting only to discover they were prone to expletive rampages. I unfollow without a second thought in those cases. But in the general course of things, I never unfollow anyone I’ve followed, unless I discover they will not follow back.

The most important thing I encourage Twitter newbies to remember is that these ‘avatars’ that fly through our Timelines represent real people. Yes, the numbers can be meaningful to us as we set out to build our platform. But the numbers are only a very small part of the story.

For each ‘number’ in your “follower/following” base, there is a person. That person has needs and goals, just as we do. He or she has a message to send.

When I see Twitter bullying or disrespect, I shun it at all costs. There are no “Twitter Bosses” who can tell you who you should be engaging, or what your message should be. Likewise, it’s not my place to tell others how to Tweet. If I don’t like what I see, I simply unfollow.

Some writers find Twitter to be too fast, too restrictive with its 140 character limit, too difficult to latch onto. However, I confess I am very taken with Twitter. At its best, it represents an almost Jungian representation of the “collective consciousness”. The more I experience new connections, the more astonished I am by human similarities.

And yes, when used well, Twitter can be an invaluable building block for our author platforms.

~ Donna Carrick, Carrick Publishing, author of The First Excellence, winner of the 2011 Indie Book Event Award for excellence in fiction.

In Today’s Author: Building a platform, Part V, we’ll explore the world of FaceBook.

Join me for this series at:

Attending Bloody Words 2012? Hope to see you at our workshop on Building A Writer’s Platform through Social Media.

Donna is an executive member of CrimeWriters of Canada and the author of three mystery novels as well as 2 short story anthologies. Her titles include: The First Excellence (winner of the 2011 Indie Book Event Award), Gold And Fishes, The Noon God, Sept-Iles and other places and Knowing Penelope.

Donna blogs regularly at , , and

Something we’ve been working on…

Posted on: April 10th, 2012 by Carrick Publishing

A catch-all of our work…

And another point of view: