Twitter is a social media platform that focuses on
sending brief messages out into cyberspace. (Wow, that word dates me.) Twitter
is a public forum for posts, conversations, news, pictures, and videos. Members
can chat live through tweets (posts) and direct messages. Twitter is PUBLIC.
Anything posted on the site—pictures, comments, videos—is available for anyone
to read. It’s free on
both desktop and mobile.
Using Twitter is easy. Create an account with a
unique username. Add pictures to your profile and avatar. Make sure your
description tells about you and your books. Tweeting is also easy, though you
must learn to construct your messages in short bursts. Twitter still has a
limit of 280 characters. But you’re a writer and can work with these limitations.
Think Flash Fiction. If you have more to say, create a thread on Twitter by
replying to your own posts. Find friends and new people through searching
names, topics, or hashtags. Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up
in your feed. On the app, there is a stream of tweets from people you follow in
real-time. The more you follow, the more you see.
How will Twitter help me as an author?
Twitter seems to host more authors than readers. (Of
course, authors are readers, too.) But you may not find the bulk of your
audience here. So beware, as you tweet, you are talking to colleagues more than
To get the best use of Twitter, learn the hashtags
for your books and brand. Hashtags are words or phrases with a # sign before
them with no spaces or punctuation. Example: #writingcommunity Hashtags allow
users who might not follow you to find your tweet through the common interest
of your hashtag. These tags are part of your 280 characters so use them wisely.
I find using tags such as #amwriting #authorlife #writerproblems help others
find me on Twitter.
Like hashtags, you need to learn the language of
Twitter. A tweet is a post. A retweet is reposting something someone else has
tweeted. DMs are direct messages. And mentions are when someone tags you in
their post by using the @ sign with your screen name. If a topic popular with a
certain hashtag, it can be trending. Click on the hashtag to see the tweets
about the topic.
Be aware of Twitter’s etiquette. “Don’t spam” is the biggest rule
to adhere to. That means do not run through and retweet someone’s entire stream
of tweets. Also never direct message anyone with sales pitches or similar
nonsense. Remember, these are more your peers than your readers. Also, if
someone follows you, it’s nice to follow them back. In the past, people have
made long lists of thank-yous when someone retweets them. This practice became
old fast. But thank-you posts are sweet.
Tweets are forever… kinda. You can delete them but not edit. Be aware of your
typos and missteps. Also, the lifespan of a tweet is very short. Expect thirty
minutes before your tweet is lost in the shuffle. (It’s probably even less than
that.) What does that mean? Time your tweets to best hit the audience you are
aiming for. Lunchtime tweets are great as are 7 pm for older audiences. Also,
get some friends/fellow writers to retweet your post. Retweets refresh the
information, giving your post a longer life.
Tweets come fast and furious if you follow many
others. (And you should follow other authors, publishers, agents, fan groups,
etc.) Keeping track of tweets in the single feed on the app is tough. You can
make lists within the app of users you follow. Several other apps that work with
Twitter and allow you to divide up your follows into manageable chunks. I use
Tweet Deck, and I have several columns of interests and users so I don’t miss a tweet. There are other
supplemental apps to assist with Twitter, too. Search for your specific need to
get the most from the app.
If tweets are short-lived and there are so many, how
do authors use the platform effectively? Retweet others. Start conversations. Hashtag
well and often. Put pictures/videos/GIFs in your tweets. Images catch the eye
in this world of text. Use management tools to create a spectacular platform.
And guess what? This is just Twitter 101. There are
tons of ways to use this app beyond just putting your words out there. As I
mentioned, there are many apps to assist with marketing, follow trends,
analytics, chat, and more. There are marketing trends, publishing trends,
events such as PitMad.
Twitter is an
excellent tool for your author tool belt.