Today, over on L.M. Stull’s blog, Andrew Mocete is blogging about Twitter, specifically how to use it to market self-published books, but it’s actually good advice for anyone.
I’ve been loving Twitter for a while now. The first time I tried it, it didn’t take. I didn’t have any followers, I didn’t know how to find people I wanted to follow, and it seemed full of lingo that didn’t make sense to me. What the fuck was a hashtag? I made a second go when I saw a few friends from facebook say they just loved it, and this time I put some energy into filling up my list with other writers. When I didn’t get what something meant, I asked. That’s when I started to see how deep Twitter went and now I enjoy it every day.
But too many authors (and others) treat Twitter like a tool to be used. Okay it is. Sort of. But like with my second look at Twitter, it goes a lot deeper than that. Twitter is made up of people, not targets, not an ‘audience’, and not ‘customers’. It’s a cocktail party, not a networking conference. Sure you can pass out a few business cards when you meet someone, but if you stand there, bellowing about what you have for sale, you’re going to end up by yourself, or worse, surrounded only by people who also want you to buy something.
In Andrew’s post, he suggests using the hashtag #amwriting to find people to follow. That’s a great way to start. Besides my advice for treating folks on Twitter like, yanno, people, I’d also suggest:
1. Make your bio something interesting, but specify that you’re a writer. Avoid words like ‘guru’, ‘expert’, or ‘marketing’. I never follow people with these words. They’re usually Twitter “users” and just want to sell you confidence for the low, low price of $199. The bio is important, because it’s 1 of 2 factors I use when trying to decide if I’ll follow someone back who follows me. The second:
2. Retweet, @mention, @reply. If you are new to twitter and don’t know what those things mean yet, find out. It won’t take long. About 3 minutes. But if I go to a timeline and see that their posts are all adverts of their own blog, their writing, their books, or various links, but they don’t interact with others, I pass them by. Why would I follow someone who isn’t going to talk to me? Remember: cocktail party. Twitter is give and take. It’s full of PEOPLE.
3. There’s lots of advice out there about Twitter, so I won’t go on and on. You’ve probably heard the rest of what I could add already. I will just say this: be friendly, be honest, but most of all, be yourself. (Unless you’re one of those people I have yet to understand that tweets as a character in their book, or more strangely, as their dog. I love you all, but I don’t get that one.)
One interesting fact I’ve noticed… these days I visit more blogs that are recommended from my Twitter feed than my blog reader. And, most of my blog traffic comes from Twitter. More than facebook and much more than my regular subscribers.
So, question for you: What unexpected things or people have you found on Twitter? For those who haven’t started tweeting yet, why the heck not?