Twitter Tips for Writers Who Hate Social Media
(Originally published on Randy’s blog, The Loneliest Planet.)
It's easy to hate social media.
- It can be incredibly time consuming.
- It's constantly changing: Some experts now claim that Twitter and Facebook are past their primes and will soon be replaced by something else, like say, Pinterest.
- Did I mention that social media can be incredibly time consuming?
But agents, editors, and publishers insist that you to have a social media presence, particularly on Twitter. And it's hard to ignore the constant flow of success stories, such as this blog post discussing how social media can generate more book sales than a favorable review on the cover of the New York Times Book Review.
Today, we'll focus on Twitter and time-saving ways to build a book marketing platform -- 140 characters at a time.
Twitter Strategy: Non-Fiction vs. Fiction
If you're a non-fiction writer, you can simply enter the topic for your book into the Twitter search box and start following influential people: recognized authorities, people with lots of followers, journals and magazines, etc. You can also start tweeting and including hashtags related to your topic. (More on this below)
For fiction writers, you'll want to search for readers who follow your genre. If your book, like mine, doesn't have a narrowly-defined genre, consider subtopics or themes. My work-in-progress is a comic novel about a never-married hypochondriac who takes a trip around the world looking to change his luck with love. So, my book has at least two subtopics: travel and relationships.
Two Tools to Manage the Twitter Mess
Within Twitter, use the List feature to organize people you're following by topic. For example, I have a list for Travel and here's how I added a popular author named Rolf Potts.
Three Ways to Find Your Audience
1) Follow influential people in your subtopic.
For me, I searched for travel writers I like, and then looked at who they were following. I also clicked the "Similar to..." button on their page to find other people to consider following.
(Note: With Twitter, you don't want to follow hundreds more people than you have following you. Why? Following 500 people and having 5 followers makes you look needy, unpopular loser. Instead of following, add people to your lists. You'll still see their tweets. As you gain more followers, follow more people.)
2) Follow influential magazines and Web sites.
If you can't locate the publication with Twitter's search box, go the magazine's Web site to find the Twitter handle. Or simply Google the <name of the publication> and "Twitter." For travel, I Googled: "Lonely Planet Twitter."
3) Find related hashtags, which are essentially forums where people with similar interests hang out and post.
- Start by looking through tweets by influential people to see which hashtags they're using.
- Google "best hastags <insert your topic>." Here are my results for "best hashtags for travel"
My Personal Experience
Though I've had a Twitter account for two years, I've only been using the techniques above for the last two months. I'm now adding followers -- albeit slowly, five to ten per week -- who are related to my target audience.
When I started with Twitter I was following agents, editors and other writers -- people who are probably not going to buy copies of my book.
One thing I have found reassuring: Experts says it is better to have fewer, more influential followers who care about your book than thousands of people who are only following you because they want you to follow them back so they can have a large number of followers.
For more Social Media tips, see: