Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Look at Twitter for Writers


*I will fully admit to listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack during the writing of this blog...

It's time to take a journey. No, you wont be taking a ring to the fires of Mordor, but you will be weighted with glorious purpose.

The mission: To use Twitter more effectively
The destination: Spreading the word about your writing and you!
The guide: Your passion (and maybe some tips from this blog)

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7 Twitter Tricks to Rule Them All

1) A Plan

In order to go anywhere you need a direction firmly in place. But you also have to understand the way to get there. With Twitter it's easy to get overwhelmed by the fast-paced, ever changing, stream of tweets. Let's start out by establishing one thing first though:

Twitter isn't about permanence, it's about relevance. (click to tweet this) 

Yes, it's great to have something "go live" on Twitter but it will be gone in the blink of an eye should your followers have more than fifty, Twitter-happy people they are following (or even 10 people who Tweet at a constant rate).

Think through these things with regards to your Twitter plan:
  • Who's your audience? (Take a look at Ralene's post from yesterday for some great ideas to establish your audience.)
  • What can you share with your followers: What are you an expert in or have knowledge about?
  • What are you directing them toward: Facebook, Blog, Website?
  • What's your approach: Funny, helpful, informative?
  • What can you sustain: Tweet frequency and content?
Once you've established these things, then create a plan to follow through with. Something as simple as: Every Monday morning I'll spend 30 minutes preparing and scheduling tweets.

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2) Presence 

Thought this image is funny, it actually applies to Twitter. How, you ask? Well, first off, when you establish yourself on Twitter you are one in a sea of unending people who tweet. There are business, public figures, cities, authors, other entrepreneurs, hey there are likely even Orcs on Twitter! You will get lost in that if you don't make yourself stand out.

BUT, do not misrepresent yourself.  Don't be putting up something on Twitter that isn't really you.

Instead, take time to put these things in place:
  • A short but informative bio (here's a place to showcase your whit)
  • A lovely cover image that's relevant (you can use this space to advertize your books but be wary of the transition from a webpage to a mobile device - where most people will see it)
  • A profile picture (I'm pretty passionate about professional headshots. You can see why here, and here, and here too!)
  • An active link (soooo important - and this goes back to part 1 with the question of where you're directing your Twitter followers to)
  • A location (less important, but it could be an asset depending on what you write. Example: "You write novels set in the South and you're from Alabama")
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3) The Right Words

Just like they had to say the right words to open the Doors of Durin, you need to use the right words (and number of words) to unlock the secrets of Twitter.  

//140 characters//

Yep, I just heard the anguished cry of writers all over the world shouting about the injustice of it all. I know, I know, I hate the limitation too...But it can have its benefits.

Things to consider when writing out tweets:
  • Use a question to capture attention
  • Think of Buzzfeed or Huffpost titles like "Dog stranded: You won't believe what happened next!"(ooo...you have to click to find out what happened!)
  • Use snipits of news or blurbs from your post
  • Share something funny
Keep it short--don't try to say too much--and realize not every tweet will go viral. It's not about that, it's about providing quality content to your followers while having fun and showcasing your personality.

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4) The Right Crew

Without the help of the hobbits the ring never would have made it to Morodor. Just as Fordo couldn't have made it without Sam and they couldn't have made it without the help of the others. It was a team effort.

Twitter may seem like a different realm to you, but it's just social media! Yep, social. People follow you because they are interested in what you have to say with those 140 characters.

But remember, to get a friend you have to be a friend. Retweet others tweets, favorite things you like, tag your friends in posts. This is the best way to guarantee new followers but also to "give back" in a sense. 




5) Links & Pictures

This is in line with using the right words (#3) but is so important. First off, including a link is a great way to draw your Twitter audience to your other platforms of social media. I often find myself using a link to draw attention to a post I've just written that I think will benefit my Twitter followers. I also try and use photos as much as possible because people are more likely to look at pictures than anything else.

WARNING: Using links for your books is great too, but don't make all of your posts promotional. No one want's to follow someone who just spouts off tweets about their books all day. It gets tiring and a little like the boy who cried wolf. When you tweet about something important people may not see it due to your previous content.

Don't forget to keep it short: I use Bitly to shorten my links but I'm sure there are other websites out there that do that as well.

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6) You have my sword, my bow, my axe, my...hashtag?

Hashtags are so so so important on Twitter! Hashtags are the grouping system that Twitter uses to collect topics around the same thing. When you're Tweeting, you can type in a # sign and then type in words after to see what comes up (these are typically popular hashtags you can use). The use of a hashtag or two increases the visibility of your tweet. Remember, relevance is important too. Search Google for popular, trending hashtags and create some of your tweets around those.

If you are creating a hashtag, first check to make sure it isn't already taken (type in the hashtag you want into Twitter and search - same goes for Instagram). Then, create away and encourage your followers to use it. My hashtag for this month's posts and challenges is an example: #ttmediachallenge

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7) Perseverance

Last, but certainly not least, is the idea of pressing on. Twitter can appear a little overwhelming, but go back to #1 and remember your audience. Your rally cry may not be "For Frodo" but it can be "For ______" fill in the blank of who your audience is.

When crafting tweets, get a good mix of helpful, funny, informational, promotional, and personal tweets. This well-rounded approach to Twitter will lend itself well to your followers and I believe will show you an increase in followership as well as interaction.

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So, what do you think? Are you ready to join the journey?

Additional tips: 
  • Follow people/products/businesses you adore and Tweet @ them when relevant. You'll often find they retweet a lot which gets YOUR name out there!
  • Also, retweet any posts you are featured in - share and share alike!
  • Use a service like TweetDeck to schedule your tweets - it will save you a LOT of time. 
  • Use Click To Tweet to create a link people can click to tweet your great ideas!
  • Get a new follower? Don't be afraid to interact with them via a tweet or Direct Message. (This won't always work--especially as your following increases--but it wont hurt when you are trying to build your audience.)
  • Use twitter for fun too! I've already said this, but really--tweeting about a movie you just saw or something funny that just happened can draw great attention to your twitter page.
  • Don't be afraid to have conversations with other twetters! Chime (or chirp -hehe-) in to get the convo going!
And I don't know about you, but I am more than ready to go watch Lord of the Rings from start to finish...the extended versions nonetheless!

Your Challenge: 
  • Schedule out tweets for a full week in advance using slightly different content for each tweet and including a hashtag or two. 
  • Send out a tweet about your favorite of the 7 tips from above
  • Tweet out your favorite LOTR character! (If you don't like LOTR...well...just never mind)
(Don't forget to group it to the hashtag: #ttmediachallenge)