Having a Twitter account is almost a given for an indie author seeking new readers for their self-published books, and in amongst all else that we do to market our books, it's easy for us to grow jaded with this social media service and fall into bad and unproductive tweeting habits. So today ALLi Partner member Helen Baggott, editor, proofreader, and enthusiastic tweep, reminds us how to put the fun back into the time we spend with the little blue bird, and thereby to make it more productive.
Do you have a Twitter account but don’t know why? Do you send out an occasional tweet hoping someone will buy your book? Establishing a presence does take time but it doesn’t have to be hard work – and you might even enjoy it.
First Principle of Social Media
The key to using social media, especially Twitter, is to engage with other users. The liking and sharing of a tweet promotes my profile. This isn’t a one-sided affair, and sharing a tweet that I find entertaining can result in either new followers or retweets of my own messages – often both. I know that tweets with an image have a better reach and I’ll often add a photo.
There’s more to me than my day job and a Twitter-feed of ‘publishing’ messages would soon bore me. So, I follow accounts that tweet about my non-work interests: Rome, history, local news and events, etc. Of course, I also follow authors and service providers, people involved in all stages of publishing.
I rarely pay for any advertising – the ALLi directory is my only real outgoing. Despite that apparent lack of promotion, my business profile is high.
I can trace clients back to Twitter – the liking of photos taken on a walk, the sun setting in Rome, even an image of an exploded baked potato.
All that sounds very trivial, and yet it works. Why?
The Three Stages of Tweeting
I believe that to get the best from Twitter, you need to follow three stages:
Engage > Entertain > Exploit
The first two are interchangeable, but number three has to come last.
Before you even consider sending out exploitive ‘buy my book’ tweets, you must engage and entertain.
It’s akin to meeting new people at a social event. No one likes the boring person who only has one topic of conversation.
Why My Approach Works
Does all that sound like hard work? Well, if you use Twitter as I do and follow and share information outside of your promotional goals, it becomes far more sociable.
Even when I share information about my home town in the UK that’s of no real interest to someone in Seattle, I know it might lead to work.
What I tweet reflects my personality, and clients (even the one in Seattle!) have told me they like that. They like that I have a sense of humor, am interested in more than reading a dictionary – although I do tweet photos of dictionaries!
Authors who use Twitter with success are the ones who share more than book adverts.
A photo of their dog, frustration with an internet provider, a train journey that derails a schedule… all add color and bring the person to life. Potential readers like that – they get a glimpse into the author’s life.
When those authors eventually tweet about their new book, it’s as if they’re sharing personal news, not pleading for someone to buy it.
They take their readers on a journey that begins long before publication day.
My Perspective as a Reader
How do you attract me to your book?
I filter out tweets that are solely links to Facebook, Instagram, etc. I’m lazy; I won’t click again.
I won’t engage with anyone who can only speak with hashtags: #romance #ireland #read #download #kindle with a link and an image of a cover is a sure way to alienate me. I won’t click on the link and I certainly won’t buy the book. Show me Ireland, show me the inspiration. Do that and I won’t feel exploited.
When you’ve engaged and entertained me – and I’m ready to buy your book – don’t forget to include a link. Again, I’m really that lazy and even if I’m mildly interested I won’t search for it. You’re the author, you want the sale – take me to the shelf in your shop.
Twitter is a powerful tool; use it wisely and you will gain more than just followers. Actually, don’t worry too much about the stats. Your tweets can be read by anyone, not just your official followers.
To see Helen practising what she preaches on Twitter, hop over to her profile at @SelfPubSupport. With over twice as many followers as people she follows, she is clearly doing well at engaging an audience!
OVER TO YOU Have you found a different approach that works for you? We'd love to hear about it. Join the conversation!A breath of fresh air on how #authors should use #Twitter to engage with their readers - by #editor Helen Baggott of @selfpubsupport Click To Tweet
OTHER TAKES ON TWITTER FOR AUTHORS
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive
I use Twitter less and less; it’s simply not my microblogging platform of choice any more. However, this is good advice for engaging on any social network
An excellent article and solid advice! Thank you for sharing it with us all!
Love your enlightening article, Helen, and thanks for the links to additional information on using Twitter. I just started following some of my favorite authors and self-publishing professionals on Twitter and ran across a retweet of your article by Lindsay Buroker. I’m new at this and have been looking for a social media platform that I feel comfortable with, so your article came at just the right time for me. Twitter feels simple, direct, and uncomplicated. I like that. Thanks.
Thank you, Sherry. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.