One of the questions I’m asked by fellow authors is: How can I build a strong network on Twitter?
By now you’ve set up accounts with several of the major Social Media forums. (See Building a Platform, Part I: Blogging and Part II: Networking .) You’ve added your Twitter link to your Email signature, your Website and any other on-line pages you maintain.
You’ve designed an appealing Twitter page, including a bio that links to your blog, your Website, or directly to your book selling page.
You’re shooting 140 character pearls into the Twitter-verse, taking care to present your most interesting self in every Tweet.
The challenge remains: How to build a following? Without that key ingredient, we’re just “Tweeting in the wind”.
Here are a few ideas that may help you connect with folks on Twitter:
A handful of Twitter users may be ‘bots’(Robotic Tweeters), but most twitter accounts are manned by real individuals with specific reasons for being there. Behind those Avatars are human beings.
If you visit the Twitter pages of the people you follow, you’ll easily identify what those reasons are. You can make one general assumption: Almost everyone on Twitter is looking to connect.
So the key is to “connect”. If you follow Crystaline Blythe, let her know you’re following her. Send a “Nice to meet you @CrystalineBlythe” tweet to Crys. She’ll appreciate the mention and will be far more likely to follow you back. She may even respond to you by saying “Nice to meet you, too, @Joe_Writer727”. This mention will be visible to all of Crys’s followers, which raises your prominence on Twitter.
2- RTs or ReTweets
Pay attention to the people you follow by viewing your Twitter Stream on a regular basis. If you see a Tweet you find interesting, Retweet it. The sender will appreciate it and will be far more likely to pay attention to your Tweets.
3- Identify yourself.
Most people are reluctant to follow ‘bots’, or accounts that serve the sole purpose of high-powered selling or even spamming. These bots are often easy to spot on Twitter. They may not sport a proper avatar, displaying only the Twitter avatar, the egg or the bird. Even bots cleverly designed with a proper avatar may still have common features. The bio can be revealing, or you may notice they are following 1 and have 1100 followers, or they’ve posted only a small handful of tweets.
Take care not to dress like a ‘bot’. Design your page to reflect your personality. As a writer, your bio will say something like: Joe Writer is the author of the Nellie McDuff mystery series, available at Acme E-Books. Visit www.joewriter.blog.com Be sure to include the link.
Use an avatar. People won’t follow you without one. The avatar can be a book cover (popular and useful), a character image, or a photo of you, the author.
Your own image is always your best choice, especially when you are first building your Twitter presence. People want to know who you are. Give them something real to connect with.
4- Exclusive or Inclusive? That is the question.
When faced with a decision regarding whom to follow, each of us will quickly build our own criteria. For example, I won’t follow pornographic sites or tooth whitener ‘bots’. However, I will follow most anyone in the arts or literary industry. I learn a lot from these wonderful people, so why not follow their Tweets?
I ask myself: Is this someone I’ll be comfortable interacting with? It doesn’t matter to me where they’re located or what walk of life they come from. So long as I’ll be comfortable interacting with them, I go ahead and follow back. After all, you never know who will give you the most pleasure. It’s best to keep an open mind.
If they Tweet links to pornography or violence, I’ll unfollow in a flash and block the Tweeter.
5- Why follow writers?
We’ve all heard the arguments. What’s the point of following fellow writers? Will they buy our books? Where are readers hiding?
Joseph Konrath made this point with eloquence in a recent blog post. He reminded us that Social Media is just that, social. It can’t be relied on to sell books. Nor should it be.
In our changing literary landscape, the people with the greatest vested interest in encouraging the general populace to read are your fellow writers. They are bright, enthusiastic and knowledgeable people, well worth knowing.
And yes, they may buy a book or two, occasionally.
Their true value, though, lies in the community they share. I strongly encourage you to approach Twitter with that in mind. In my opinion, this bonding between writers and other artists is one of the unexpected gems forged from the Social Media experience.
I’ve learned a great deal from these people, including how to sell books.
Where are tomorrow’s readers likely to be found? Will they frequent bookstores? Some may still venture there, but the recent unfortunate closings of the brick and mortar stores seems to belie that assumption.
My guess is that tomorrow’s readers will reach out for a multi-media experience. They’ll discover their new favourite writers through talking with friends on Social Media platforms, including Twitter and FaceBook. They’ll read these books electronically, on their Kindles, iPads or even on their phones.
Although a Twitter presence may not sell a gazillion books, if we’re going to connect with the readers of tomorrow, the most likely avenue will be through building a sound on-line platform.
~ 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 IV, we’ll take a closer look Twitter’s rules and how to successfully manage the “follower/following” ratios.
Join me for this series at: www.carrickpublishing.com.
Attending Bloody Words 2012? Hope to see you at our workshop on Building A Writer’s Platform through Social Media.
author services, authors, building a platform, Carrick Publishing, Connecting through Social Media, e-books, e-publishing, ebooks, establishing a platform, fiction, formatting, great books, independent books, independent writers, literature, manuscript evaluation, publishing services, reaching readers, self publish, self-publishing, social media, Tweeting, Twitter, writers' community, writers' platform, writing
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 www.onfreedomroad.com , www.carrickpublishing.com , www.donnacarrick.com and http://donnacarrick.blogspot.com/