Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tweet
I'm probably going to sound like a Luddite, but when I first heard of Twitter I didn't have the slightest idea how it would appeal to anyone other than children or close friends. Did I need an update about the Kardashians' latest fashion faux pas? Or course-by-course updates about Kobe Bryant's dinner? No, I certainly did not. But what I've learned in the past few weeks is that Twitter is a very customizable tool, that can be used for a multitude of things. You want second-by-second news updates? You got it. You want quick social media without the slog and puffery of Facebook? Got that too! So let's take a look at how using Twitter has helped me target my audience and put my books into the hands of more potential fans.
ATTRACT A FOLLOWING
The first step is creating an account with Twitter. It's very easy. You can add a picture to your Twitter homepage, and a link to your website. In creating your 'about me' content, try to pinpoint exactly who you are and what it is you do for your intended audience. I see far too many people describing themselves as 'writer, cook, hockey player, mother of five cats, para-glider', or something similar. I would like to hear about such a persons writing, but not their paragliding. Keep it concise. There are billions of people out there, make sure what you do and what you offer to followers is clear.
Your Twitter homepage will have a 'Who to Follow' tab, which is an excellent tool. I peruse the lists for like-minded people, and in the past two weeks, I've been able to find 400 people to follow, and I've attracted 316 followers myself. Every time I log onto Twitter, I search around to try and fine at least ten people to follow. This usually translates into at least half as many followers. This has translated into many more hits on my webpage, and many more units moved through Amazon. Sweet! I mean, tweet!
Tweets cannot be longer than 140 characters, which means brevity is the soul of tweet. Some people treat Twitter like a blog, posting multiple times a day about whatever comes into their heads. For authors, Twitter is quickly becoming an essential way to announce a new book, a free giveaway, or a book signing. To keep your followers, though, your tweets need to be more than shameless self promotion.
Tweeting often is a great way to build name recognition. You don't want to spam people with endless promotion, but a few tweets a day is enough to keep you on the radar. Tweet some of your favorite quotes, helpful links, even the occasional witticism. When you reply to another's tweet, both your name and avatar will attach to it as well. If you add relevant comments to a tweet that isn't yours, you still attract attention to your name. If you do include a link to a Web site or blog in your tweet, try utilizing a site like tinyurl.com to conserve your precious 140 characters.
Other than personal announcements or advertising, Twitter can be used as a resource. It provides you with a huge audience to poll for answers, and you can also enter keywords into the search bar to locate information on your topic and see what millions of others have to say about it.
Whatever your niche may be, you can look for what others are saying about it on Twitter by using a hash mark (#) before the search term. #brownies, for example, will provide you with all the tweets regarding that specific baked treat.
Twitter works so well because it's so interactive. Anyone with a Twitter account can leave direct messages for others to view. Twitter users can also reply to other people's tweets, and even 'retweet' them. This sends out the tweet of someone you're following again under your name, which increases the reach the message. In this way, the most relevant and important news is decided by and passed along to the whole of the massive world-wide-web. This user interaction is the very basis of Twitter's appeal.
If you respond to a follower you on Twitter, your message will be preceded by the @ sign, followed by the person's user name, and then anyone can read the message. If you want more privacy, you can respond by sending a private direct message, though he or she can't respond back unless you're following them.
TAKIN' IT TO THE TWEETS
Now that you are familiar with the basics, get out there and Tweet! Make sure to tweet daily, or you may be unfollowed. Tweet too much, the same thing may happen. And some people aren't going to stay interested in your tweets no matter what, that's fine. There is a whole planet of people out there! Continue to cull and refine your twitter followers and followees to make sure you are optimizing your usage of this excellent new tool.