Today’s Friday Five post is dedicated to the topic of Twitter. I’ll be frank, Twitter is probably my least favorite social network. I was an early adopter and used to find a lot of value in it, but these days, it feels less and less like a community — a place to network, learn from and socialize with internet denizens, friends and thought leaders — and more more like a stream of time-sucking robot-spam.
Separating the chaff from the wheat is no easy task on Twitter. So many people use Twitter to push messages and drive traffic, neither listening nor engaging or even behaving like humans. This is not communication, ugh, and it’s certainly not social. So what’s the point? This week I set out to find some helpful advice for those of us looking to use Twitter to gain value from our efforts and build community, not just make self-serving noise like those other dudes.
Sadly, a lot of the advice out there encourages using Twitter to AUTOMATE and PUSH PUSH PUSH … all those things that make me dislike Twitter. I just can’t abide by that kind of advice, y’all. There must be a better way…
1. Straight from the horse’s mouth — advice from the Twitter staff for authors:
Be authentic, be yourself
If you want to build a following and engage with your readers, the best way to do that is to be authentic. Twitter offers a direct, instant connection between you and your readers — they want to know what you’re up to. An idea: Pick one thing in your daily routine and Tweet about it: a word you love (or hate), the weather, the first sentence you write each day.
Share your process
Twitter is a place where fans get a deeper connection to artists, performers, scholars….and authors. Your readers are interested in your process. Tweet a bit about how you work. Invite your followers to a local book signing. An idea: Take a photo of the view out your window or of your work space and describe it to your followers.
Engage with your readers
Twitter is also a place where your fans can directly engage with you, however much you want (it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time). You can see messages from other users in the “Connect” tab on your Twitter homepage. Is there a question in there for you? Answer it. If you want to spend a little more time with your fans, hold a live Twitter Q&A. An idea: For a Q&A, tweet that you’re accepting questions for the next hour, day or another short period, and then answer a few as you see them appear in your timeline. When you’re done, tweet again to say that the session is over, and be sure to thank everyone who participated.
Twitter allows you to send a public message (via the @reply) to anyone else using Twitter. These can be your fans, or people for whom you are a fan. Just use the Search section on Twitter’s homepage to find other users. An idea: Who is your favorite living author? See if they’re on Twitter and tweet a ‘hello’ to them. Or find your favorite athlete, performer, or artist.
Make sure that you’re regularly searching Twitter to find people with similar interests, those talking about you or your work, or new ideas you want to explore. Just type what you’re looking for into the search tab to see what people are tweeting about right now. An idea: Is anyone tweeting about a book you wrote? Type the title into Search and find out.
Above all, have fun
Twitter is an exceptionally flexible platform that is ripe for creative use. Play around with it. You can live-tweet an event as it happens, or live-tweet a fictional world. You can interview another author or create a completely fictional account based on a character you dream up. An idea: What’s your favorite live sport or TV show to watch? Tweet along while it airs and engage with others doing the same.
This post is gold:
2. Don’t Be That Guy: How to Get Your Message Across Without Spamming
Everyone knows a version of that guy. You know who I’m talking about. We all know the type (because we all, unfortunately, have at least one of these individuals on our various social networks): That author who never says anything, never comments on anything, never sets fingers to keyboard unless it’s to relentlessly self-promote.
So, how do you get your message across without spamming?
I’ll let you in on a little secret—when it comes to indie authors, the thing that initially sells books is not the book. It’s the author. If people like you, they’re more likely to check out your work. If people love you, they’ll not only check out your work, they’ll share it, too. And if people adore you, they’ll check out your work, share it, and then talk it up like mad. That’s how tribes get created and how buzz begins. So, your goal, dear author, is to become lovable. Here’s how:
Check out some amazing tips on what to do and what not to do over at NovelPublicity.com
The folks at Mashable created a list of 10 “To Dos” for building a community on Twitter, you’ll find some good basics here if you’re just starting out.
3. HOW TO: Build Community on Twitter
Twitter is all about karma. The more good you put out there, the more you receive. When you find others with great information, don’t be shy in sharing with your community. It’s a great feeling when you promote one of your followers (instead of yourself) and it results in dialogue among your community. It ultimately reflects support for you and credibility for your follower. Win-win!
Read the full article on Mashable.
4. 7 Ways to More Effectively Network on Twitter
Whenever you send out a tweet, question how your followers will see it. Will it come off as being too sales-ey? Too pushy? Too self-absorbed? You want to think about how your tweets will be perceived by others if you are going to network effectively.
Just like when you talk with someone at a conference, consider the impact you’re making and take a moment to stand in their shoes. At a conference you offer a business card when you’re having a really great conversation, so why not extend this to Twitter and ask a particularly interesting person to have a longer conversation with you over email or DM?
It can be difficult to read sarcasm and emotion online, so be careful of tweeting things that could be misinterpreted. All of your actions have some impact on your business network on Twitter, so just be sure you tweet with confidence that you’ll be well-received.
Are you a little shy when it comes to saying “hi” outright on Twitter? Retweeting is one of the best ways to show someone you’re interested in networking with them without being too pushy.
By retweeting someone, you’re sending the message that you are listening to what they say and you want to share it with others. What better way to start up a business relationship is there? And if you add in your own opinion to the beginning of the retweet, they’ll get to know a little bit about your personality before you reach out and begin networking more one-on-one.
Get your Twitter network talking by asking a general question. Here are two general rules of thumb to keep in mind when writing a question on Twitter:
- Stick to your niche – you’re more likely to hear from people who are interested in the question this way, and if you’ve built a targeted network, they’ll want to share their opinions.
- Let them know you’re listening – retweet some or all of the answers, add your own answer, or tally them up and present them in poll form. This will tell your followers that you actually care about their answers.
Read the full article on Media Bistro
All lovely advice so far, I just wish more people subscribed to it. Twitter could be such a wonderful place to learn, share and connect. But if you’re like me and not entirely convinced…
5. Even the Twitter Elite Say It’s OK to Hate Twitter Now
Mat Honan, the Wired writer with nearly 25,000 followers, took that approach in his column “Twitter’s Big Challenge: Too Much Twitter.” He writes: “If you use Twitter actively, it almost inevitably becomes unwieldy.” So Honan ended up agreeing with one of those much hated “Twitter sucks now” columns by an even bigger Twitter star, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, who has 311,453 followers.
Both Honan and Klein do something that a lot of other complainers don’t: They give prescriptive advice to Twitter on how to improve things for its too many users. Honan suggests a better Discover tab, while Klein is a bit more vague: “If someone could come up with a really effective way of separating the wheat from the chaff in high-volume Twitter feeds and then letting users engage with it at their leisure, there’s got to be an audience for it.” They want to like Twitter again, but for now, they hate it — and it’s officially okay for you to feel the same way, because they said so.
Read the full article on The Atlantic Wire
Do you use Twitter? Do you find it’s helpful to build your platform, connect with your readers, gain industry insight or just have fun? I’d LOVE to hear about your experience!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone, and Happy Solstice! xo~Taughnee