Twitter is a great way to digest current events in bitesize chunks. For writers in particular, Twitter is an excellent networking tool that connects authors 140 characters at a time – that is, if they know how to use it.
If you’re a budding writer who wants to expand their network of fellow writers – and perhaps gain some new friends in the process – this post is for you. Follow these tips, and you’ll be a Twitter aficionado in no time.
- Keep the ‘social’ in social media. People get so lost in follower counts and page hits that they forget the important stuff – actually talking to people! I’ve made countless writer friends because I simply took the time to read the short story they posted on their blog, reply to their funny tweet, or compliment the picture they posted of their cat. In return, I’ve gotten gorgeous snail mail, free Kindle books, writing opportunities, and some amazing friends who I talk to every day. So engage! You never know – you may find a friend for life.
- Use Twitter Analytics. Twitter Analytics is a must-have tool for anyone serious about using their account for networking. Twitter’s version isn’t anywhere as sophisticated as Google Analytics, but it will show you how many impressions your tweets are getting all across Twitter, your followers’ interests, ages, mobile carriers, and so much more.
- Make lists. Lists are God’s gift to Twitter. If your TL gets clogged with ads or endless book promos, you can go hide in your lists. I have several: one for my #amwriting friends, one for the people on my MA course, and one for publishers I like, among others. Lists help me keep up with what they’re doing, and I don’t miss their tweets in a constantly refreshing TL.
- Create polls. If your followers like your work, it’s cool to let them have a say on what your next blog post should be about or what genre your next short story should be. You can even gain insight into your own page analytics by asking what time zone your followers are in, what time they’re usually on Twitter, etc. I find polls very effective – and even when I don’t get very many votes, it’s nice knowing someone took the time out of their day to give me some feedback.
- Show gratitude. None of these people have to talk to you or follow you, but they do anyway, so let them know you’re grateful. I’m constantly thanking my followers. I’ve even made a series of fiction on my blog dedicated to them!
- Primarily use bots or automated services to post tweets or follow accounts for you. I get it – we’re all busy in this day and age, and sometimes we can’t tweet at peak times. I’m not saying never use these services; tweet schedulers can be a useful resource. Just ensure that you write each tweet you schedule so it sounds authentic. As for automated following services, they’re a definite don’t if you want to make real connections with real people.
- Solely use your account to promo your own work. This is one of the main reasons I unfollow people. Of course, the occasional tweet plugging your new novel is okay – promoting your work is part of the reason you have an account in the first place. But one-sided, shameless self-promotion gets old after awhile. Make sure your tweets are diverse; support fellow writers by retweeting them, share an article or a quote about writing, or even post a photo of your favourite hot beverage/writing fuel.
- Send automated messages. This is my pet peeve! Automated messages are impersonal and self-important, particularly when they include loads of links to the author’s website and other social media pages. Messages like these assume that the person receiving them is going to be interested in the person sending them, even though the automated message will likely be their first encounter. Remember that old adage ‘first impressions are everything’? It’s true for Twitter, too – so make sure yours isn’t robotic.
Twitter has the power to enhance your writing and networking experiences. Equally, keeping your page updated can feel like a chore if you don’t have a clear objective for your account. If you want to build relationships with people who share your passion, the trick is simple: be authentic. That’s what the ‘dos’ in this list are all about.