Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Twitter is abundant with compelling news, live debates and real-time interaction. Millions of tweets are chedulehared daily, and the whole world is reading. Despite this, even the most provocative writers will go ignored if they don’t put time into building a following. As with every social media platform, you’ve got to get your strategy right.
Over one million tweets are published every hour. Luckily this doesn’t mean you’re inevitably going to be lost within a white noise of marketing posts and photos of people’s breakfasts. Twitter IS an enormous community, but it is made up of thousands of smaller ones. As long as the content you post has one core focus, you will successfully create a community of people with one shared interest.
The key is knowing how to build a Twitter following of readers who are genuinely interested in you.
Part 1 – Build your profile.
If your profile is unclear, readers will not follow you. Building your profile will take a while but you will only have to do this once. Below are some simple steps you can take to pique interest of potential followers.
Make your Twitter name short
Before starting to think up the most original, wittiest, quirkiest and most memorable name known to mankind; slow down and try to think about what communicates yourself and your work in the simplest way possible.
Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so every single character counts.
As you can see in the image, typing @PenguinUKBooks has lowered the character count from 140 to 124 characters. When your followers cannot fit their tweet alongside your Twitter name, they will abandon the tweet resulting in you losing exposure.
An unorthodox name is memorable, but it will jeopardize your chance of being found. Think about what your target audience will be searching for; you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find you.
Consider using your author name or blog title. Either of these would be easy for potential readers to find. Failing that, you might consider using the title of your best-selling book or series. Ask yourself; can your readers find you? And how are you making it easy for them?
Your author bio
Simplicity is key. Use only one sentence to help the reader pre-empt the nature of your tweets. If your tweets are primarily focused on your writing, your bio could simply be “author”. Margaret Atwood takes this approach. However, I would recommend adding your genre of writing into the bio; for example “Horror author” or even “Fiction writer”, to paint a clearer picture of what to expect. You can, of course, expand on that but I highly recommend that your first three words sum you up.
Part two – the daily routine.
So you’ve got the dashing profile photo, snappy name and a killer bio, now let’s go ahead and get some followers. The routine listed below provides daily and weekly steps that you can take to build a large following in less than fifteen minutes per day.
1. Follow the followers
The most effective way to organically accumulate more followers is to follow people who will be interested in you. Following English lit students would be a great way to gain more followers.
An efficient strategy is to locate a profile of another professional author, preferably who writes in the same genre or style as you. You then need to view their “followers” list. From there, spend one or two minutes following their followers, most of these people will follow you back. They have already shown a public interest in authors of your genre. Do this once per day on different authors lists.
Twitter limits the amount of people that you can follow, so it’s important that you regularly clean up your following list. One of the simplest ways to do this is to login to www.justunfollow.com using Twitter. Once you are logged in, select “Non Followers”. This generates a list of people who aren’t following you back. You can then quickly scroll down the list and un-follow all of your non-followers. Do this once per week to make space to follow others.
3. Use hashtags
Ending tweets with hashtags makes you more searchable. When you choose hashtags, carefully consider what your potential followers may be searching.
Make a habit of composing a monthly tweet where you hashtag a trending topic at the time. This will dramatically increase your exposure. Trending topics appear in a box to the left of your homepage.
A popular choice with with authors is the #amwriting hashtag.
4. Tweet twice
People will un-follow you if you tweet too little, and people will un-follow you if you tweet too much.
I recommend tweeting twice per day. Once pre- 9am, and once post-5pm. People are most likely to be checking Twitter before and after work or on their commutes. By exploiting this primetime, you instantly boost your chances of being seen. A great tool to help you schedule your tweets is Social for Publishers. Login with your Twitter details, and you can send tweets to be scheduled later in the day.
You need to be conscious of maintaining a variety of posts, whilst avoiding posting irrelevant content. Try to vary the content between the morning and evening tweet, diversity will attract more followers and force you to be selective.
Morning tweet: An external link or information on a surrounding topic, such as any of the following:
- Comment on a current affair.
- Sharing a news article related to your industry.
- Re-tweeting an interesting post from a famous author.
- An opinion on a trending topic. Commenting on trending topics using the same hash-tag can increase your exposure.
Evening tweet: A personal comment. This tweet should be directly talking to your audience, the content of this could include:
- A competition. If you choose to run a competition, ask your followers to re-tweet the post in order to win. This will allow your post to be shared with a greater number of people.
- An update. Have you started writing a new book? Are you doing something interesting as research? Has your book just been published?
- A question. Ask your followers for advice, or ask their opinion on a certain topic.
Finally, respond to people. As an author it is imperative that you acknowledge your readers’ goals on Twitter. Remember that they are also using Twitter as a networking tool, and they too are seeking interactions and followers. Twitter thrives on an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” approach, and something as simple as replying to a tweet can dramatically improve your status on the network.
If you really don’t have time to reply, make sure you at least acknowledge it; either by selecting ‘favorite’ or Re-tweeting, it will do you a lot of favors in the long run.
How do you manage your author Twitter profile? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments.