After a great response to Part 1 last week, and because a handful of you nudged me for more information, I decided Part 2 was in order. But before we get to the nitty gritty, lets go back to the original question: Can Twitter help an author?
Let me ask a different and seemingly unrelated question: Can a car help you get to work?
The answer to that question is yes, as long as you know how to drive a car.
So let’s learn how to drive.
In Part 1, I went back to the basics of setting up Twitter and using hashtags in a way that will help non-bot tweeps notice you. This post will focus on three “next level” practices that will not only grow your platform but also make using Twitter a more enjoyable experience.
Practice 1: Pinned Tweets
There are two undeniable facts about Twitter: 1. There are WAY TOO MANY promo tweets clogging up the feed, and 2. The shelf life of a tweet is about as long as one of those coughing fits that happens when you swallow your own spit.
Pinned tweets address both of these problems. They are a way to create a tweet that doesn’t go away. It will stay at the top of your profile until you decide to remove or change it. As long as you engage (see Practice 3), people will go to your profile and see it. Many will retweet it, sharing it with their followers.
But how does that solve the overabundance of promo tweets? you may be asking.
If an author/promoter doesn’t use a pinned tweet but wants to keep their content in front of people, they have no choice but to frequently post promo tweets. I post a promo tweet once every couple of weeks (more often lately because I have a book coming out), and I always turn the promo into a new pinned tweet right away.
Pinning a tweet it super easy.
After you tweet whatever you want to pin, locate the three dots under the tweet. It will say “more” if you hover the mouse over them.
Click that, and this happens:
Click “pin to your profile page” and you get this:
Click pin, and your profile now looks like this:
Ta da! That tweet will now stay right where it is until I change or remove it.
Practice 2: List creation
Lists are a gift you give to yourself. They essentially allow you to create a custom twitter feed, where you see only the tweets from the tweeps you put on the list. Want to see tweets only from professed cat enthusiasts? Create a Cat Lover list. Enjoy pics of food for some reason? Put together a Food Porn list. The possibilities are endless.
I have one list – Active Writers. The description is “writers who do more than promos”. Pretty straightforward. I add writers who are more interesting than a catalog. Then I have my own feed to scroll through, and it’s mostly promo-free.
The easiest way to create a list is directly from another tweep’s profile. Click on the settings wheel on the right side of the screen.
Then this happens. Click the highlighted option.
You’ll see this, but without the already-existing list option. Dan’s already on my list so it’s checked. If he started being obnoxious, I could uncheck that box and remove him from my list.
Click “Create a list” to do just that. Give it a name and a description if you want. Decide if anyone can see it or if it’s just for you. Once you click “Save list”, it will appear as an option to check when you click “Add or remove from lists” from a couple of steps ago.
If you’re new, I recommend creating your list ASAP and adding tweeps to it as soon as you discover they would be a good fit. Going through the mess of promos in the main feed later and looking for them is a pain.
Once you have your list, click on “Lists” on your profile, then the name of your list to view the custom feed.
Isn’t it pretty?
Practice 3: Increase engagement
You may have been wondering how list creation helps an author on Twitter. The answer is here – using a list makes it much easier to find tweets/tweeps you want to interact with. You don’t have to spend hours searching for interesting posts to retweet and comment on.
One of the most common complaints I hear about Twitter is it’s hard to engage with other tweeps. It feels like you’re yelling into the void with no answer. If you have this problem, I offer two solutions: 1. Use hashtags, and 2. Give more than you get.
I got into hashtag use in another post (click here to go there). I won’t rehash everything, but I will reiterate this point: if you don’t use a hashtag on your tweet, only your followers will potentially see it. If you have 500 followers, only those 500 might see it. Use a hashtag, and anyone looking at that hashtag, whether they follow you or not, can see your tweet. If you show what a witty and interesting tweep you are, they may follow you. Click on the link for specific hashtags for writers.
The second point – give more than you get – is really how to grow your Twitter community. There are a few ways to support your fellow tweeps:
1.Retweet their tweets.
If they post a great blog post link or just made you laugh, retweet their tweet so your followers can appreciate it too. You’re helping other tweeps connect that way.
2. Comment/reply on their tweets.
Twitter is a great place for conversations! If someone tweets something comment worthy, click the arrow and type away!
Usually, conversations are more relevant to the original post. But this is Twitter, so you never know.
The point is if you just toss tweets out without interacting with others via their tweets, they’re less likely to think you’re an interesting person worth talking to. Get to know people. Then fun things like this can happen:
And while you’re supporting your friends by giving more than you get, they’ll support you too. I’ve bought books my Twitter friends have written, and they have bought mine. We tweet about each other’s work, which leads to more exposure and sales. I have never bought a book from a tweep who only spams book links. But maybe that’s just me.
I want to offer a final thought.
Why not unfollow the book spammers?
1. Twitter is a numbers game. The more tweeps you follow, the greater chance you’ll get one who’s a real, interesting person. Say 5% of those you follow are real tweeps. 5% of 5,000 is much higher than 5% of 300. Especially when building your initial following, you can’t always tell who will be real and who won’t.
2. You’ll never remember who you followed then unfollowed. It would be a constant battle of following and unfollowing. Your time would be better spent creating your own list and ignoring the rest.
This post dragged on longer than I expected, but I hope you found it useful. Feel free to ask questions or add anything I missed in the comments.