Twitter is a major player in social media, but so many authors find themselves spinning their wheels — 140 characters at a time. Want some help? Here are 11 tips to help you get traction. These related, but distinct methods will increase the value you get from Twitter by improving engagement with other users on the website. Used together, the methods described in the article will have a significantly-positive impact on your ability to use Twitter in a meaningful way to build your brand.
11 Ways for Authors to Get Better Engagement on Twitter
Twitter has experienced massive growth in popularity over the past few years. Today, almost every major company, blogger, and governmental department has their own Twitter account, which they use to communicate and engage with their followers.
Authors big and small are in a position to particularly benefit from Twitter, as their readers (and potential readers) are already interested in text-based media. At the same time, however, Twitter can at times feel overwhelming, especially to those who are not used to its fast-paced and constantly updated stream of information.
Maximizing the value of Twitter requires authors to understand the fundamentals of Twitter. However, once authors have mastered the technical aspects of Twitter, the key to successfully growing a following is to engage with them effectively. The following are ten methods for authors to engage with their followers, as well as to consistently increase the number of followers they have on a regular basis. None of the methods listed require social media expertise, and all of them can be done by anyone who knows how to use a computer.
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- How to Market Your Romance Novel on Pinterest, Goodreads, and more
#1 Have a good author photo
Twitter is, first and foremost, a platform for personalities. It is important to make sure that the photograph you use conveys the image you want as an author. You want to come across as a unique individual, not as a mindless spambot or clickbait machine. If possible, try to take a photo of yourself in a location that represents you, such as a city skyline, out in nature, in a museum, etc.
Just as important is ensuring that your photograph adheres to all of Twitter’s image requirements. This will help get the maximum use out of your photo. It is important to note that Twitter has recently changed its requirements for photographs, so even if your photos followed their old standards, it is important to understand the new ones as well.
There are now two different photos available to Twitter users. The first is a header photo, which should be 1500 pixels wide by 500 pixels high, and a maximum size of 5MB. This photo can be more of a scenic or landscape photo, and can be used for everything from a graphic of your published work to a scenic vista that you find particularly inspiring. The other photo is a 400 by 400 minimum, with a 2MB maximum size. This is your profile photograph, and in virtually every instance should be a photo of you, looking your best. The background image no longer exists, and has essentially been replaced by the header photo.
#2 Put some thought into the bio
It is important to make the most of your Twitter bio. You’ll be surprised how much information can be crammed into 160 characters, so you should say more than just the fact that you’re an author and your geographic location. Most of your followers will read your bio at one time or another, and likely it will be when they first decide to follow you after seeing an intriguing tweet. Use this opportunity to give followers and potential followers a genuine understanding of who you are and what you are like.
#3 Be present–don’t just automate your Twitter feed
There are more tools than ever before that allow Twitter users to automate their feed. Unless you are already a massively popular author and don’t have the time to personally interact with your Twitter followers, automating your feed is typically not recommended. If you do need or want to use automation services, make sure to actually visit your Twitter account at least once per week to check in and see what your feed and your followers are saying.
#4 Interact with others and reply to people who @mention you
You are much better off using Twitter as a way to actually interact with your followers, not just as a way to increase said following. One of the best ways to ensure that your readership buys your next book and, just as importantly, shares and recommends that book to their friends and family, is to personally engage them on Twitter through tweets and even direct messages. You might be surprised how even a little engagement can go a long way.
Think of it this way: how would you feel if a celebrity or public figure you respected spoke directly to you? You’d probably tell the story to all of your friends, post it on social media, etc.
#5 Spend time curating information–it will go a long way
Even if you plan on spending lots of time on Twitter, it is nearly impossible for anyone to generate enough original content to tweet constantly without burning out. Fortunately, there is plenty of content already out there, just waiting for you to find and share with your followers. You can find this information on Twitter, or on whatever other websites and forums you frequent. Not only are you not expected to post only original content, you are actually better off mixing original content with curated content. This will increase your exposure to more keywords and hashtags, while reducing the burden of constantly being creative for the sake of your Twitter profile.
#6 Share relevant photographs and videos
One of the best types of content to share are photographs and videos that you find inspiring or relevant to your book topics. Typically, if you write about a specific topic or in a specific genre, there will be photographs and other media that people who follow your account will probably be interested in seeing as well.
Once you’ve found the photographs or videos that you want to share, it is easy to upload them on Twitter in the form of a tweet. Images and videos both take up about 40 characters, so keep that in mind when planning out your tweet. If you are using the desktop web browser version of Twitter, you can add up to four photos at a time by simply selecting “add photo” after clicking the tweet button. If you are using a mobile app, the easiest way to add a photo is to save it to your device’s library, then upload it from within the app.
Photographs can be up to 5MB, and GIFs can be up to 3MB. The format must be GIF, JPEG, or PNG. Twitter specifically mentions that BMP and TIFF files will not upload. Don’t worry if you think your image is too large for a tweet, as Twitter will automatically scale the image for you.
#7 The majority of your tweets should not be about your book
This might seem counterintuitive to some authors, but your Twitter account should not primarily be about your book. Tweeting too often about your book will make your account appear spammy and irritating to followers, and doing so will run the risk of causing followers to tune your tweets out, or even worse, might cause them to unfollow you altogether. Try to tweet interesting things that have nothing to do with your book, with the occasional tweet about your book. Unless your new book was released this week, you should almost never be posting about your books more than once a week.
#8 Learn by watching other successful Twitter users
If you aren’t already actively using Twitter, now is the time to do so. It is difficult to create a popular Twitter account without first being a typical user yourself. You should follow several accounts that intrigue you, and stay current with your timeline for at least a couple of weeks. Pay attention to the types of tweets that you find most interesting, and which tweets annoy you and end up getting glossed over without a second thought.
If you follow an account that annoys you, particularly one that annoys you to the point where you consider (or actually) delete them, pay close attention to what they did that annoyed you so much. If it annoyed you, chances are it annoyed others as well, and you should remember exactly what it is that they did that was so annoying, so that you never do it on your own account.
At the same time, pay attention to which accounts you are retweeting and sharing the most. You will likely find that there are common strategies that you can use to increase the popularity of your own Twitter account when the time comes.
#9 Share tweets and promote your fellow authors
One of the great things about Twitter is the ability to share interesting and useful things with others. One of the other things that make Twitter so useful, particularly for authors and other self-promoters, is the ability to build relationship and networks with other people in your industry. Take advantage of this by actively promoting your fellow authors, as well as following and retweeting them as much as possible. Quite often, you’ll find that those authors will notice and appreciate your actions, and will reciprocate as well.
One other thing to remember: don’t get discouraged if promoting others does not generate results right away. Sometimes it takes a few acts of promoting other authors before you get noticed and the act gets reciprocated. The key is to keep at it, and understand that it, like so many other things in life, is a numbers game. Keep playing, and you’ll see the benefits before long.
#10 INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION
Ever wonder how some tweets get retweeted so many times? Experts say that it can be as simple as asking for it. Adding a simple request for retweets can increase the chances of a retweet by 160-percent. Try these call-to-action phrases:
- Please retweet
- Pls RT
#11 Be interesting
It could almost go without saying, but being interesting is perhaps the most important key to success on Twitter. Every one of the other suggestions above will be significantly more effective if what you write on Twitter is interesting and engaging. Even if you do everything above half-hazardly, the act of simply being interesting will overcome most of your other Twitter shortcomings.
It stands to reason that interesting content will get shared, retweeted, and noticed more often. As an author, you already understand the importance of engaging your readership. Simply apply that same understanding to your Twitter account and you will be well on your way to success.
Twitter is, at its core, a place for information to be shared by people with common interests. The steps above are a guide to ensuring that you are creating content that will be shared by others. The key is to maximize your exposure to others that have similar interests while at the same time promoting your own interests as an individual and as an author. Ultimately, success on Twitter will lead to more readers and more sales of your publications.
A social media expert and technology writer, Ian Eddison has worked as a consultant for small businesses and political organizations. Ian has also written for several gamer blogs, including a blog on zombie video games and a professional poker player website.