It’s the Manic Moment, my column where I learn something and then tell you about it!
I’ve been talking about using Twitter to build your Author Brand. I focus my blog specifically on the Indie and Small Press Author. Brand is so important to the indie author. Sometimes the only place you’ll ever see them is online. If they don’t have a strong branding you may never hear of them. Twitter is a great place to brand yourself, but the only if you know what to tweet about, right?
Welcome to the Manic Writer
I’m Ann Shannon. I write romance, erotic romance and sometimes a short story or two. I also do book reviews and anything else that grabs my attention. Today I’ll be talking about what you should and should not tweet about to help you gain followers, make friends and avoid controversy in Twitter-Land.
My previous posts in this column have covered why Twitter is useful to authors, how to choose a name on Twitter, building an authentic brand and optimizing your profile. Twitter is a place to connect with industry experts, find people to interview or be interviewed and, especially most of all, make friends. It’s a great community that I have learned to love. It didn’t come naturally to me at all.
The truth is I’m quite awkward on Social Media and rarely know how to respond to a message, or post. It’s worst on Facebook which will be tackled once I’m done with my Twitter column. Fortunately, I have still have a lot to say about Twitter.
What Do I Say?
Anything. Well, anything you can say in 140 characters because Twitter limits the length of your tweet.
You could make an announcement about; your birthday, your workload today, your WIP, your newest release, or your best friend. (The best friend announcement is more effective if they’re on Twitter also.)
You can share snippets or brief excerpts of your WIP to garner interest. Or pictures that make you think of characters or relay the mood of your WIP.
You can post meme’s and pics that share your mood. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but those extra words won’t count against you on Twitter.
All these things are good to tweet about, but they shouldn’t be the backbone of your tweeting. Remember that a good conversationalist focuses on the other people they are talking to, not themselves. No one wants to listen to you talk about yourself all the time in person and they don’t want to on Twitter either.
Instead of plugging yourself, plug someone else. Sometimes. Selling is still selling and if your followers sense you are only out to sell them something they’re likely to become unfollowers. If you get my drift.
So what’s left?
A lot. You can join in hashtag games, curate articles, participate in twitter chats and ask questions. I will be making a separate post about hashtag games but they are easily searchable if you know what to look for. Watch for what the people you follow are doing and search the hashtags they are using. Or you can write engaging tweets.
The single best tweet is an engaging tweet. Respond to someone else’s tweet, with either question or a gif or a pithy answer. Get the conversation going, though it may move much slower than you expect. The person you are engaging with might not check twitter for a few hours, watch for their response but don’t be impatient. And respond when people engage you.
Five Ways to Engage on Twitter
Retweet– When you retweet you are sharing someone else’s content with your followers, who probably wouldn’t see it otherwise unless they also follow that person. You’re saying that their tweet meant something to you, or that you’re willing to spread their message. You are endorsing them so be sure of what you retweet. It’s a great tool to quickly spread the word about something you think others should hear about. I almost always retweet anything @DalaiLama tweets because it’s an uplifting and good message. A ray of sunshine on an internet that can get quite dark.
Quote– when you click on the retweet icon you get the option to quote or retweet. Quoting gives you an opportunity to add your own thoughts to the tweet without copying someone else’s tweet. So if the Dalai Lama tweeted “To really be of help to others we need to be guided by compassion.” I could quote it and add in “This is something I need to remember every day, especially when I’m driving.” I try not to sound too preachy when I’m doing this so I apply the thought to myself rather than the collective “we.” It’s a way to help your followers understand you and what you believe about the world around you.
Heart– Under each tweet there is a small heart icon. It turns red if you click it telling the tweeter and everyone else that this tweet meant something to you. You read it, and you love it. Sometimes, such as in the #5amwritersclub, it’s a show of solidarity. I post about how I’m banging my forehead on the keyboard to stay awake and you heart my post to show me you understand and support me. Other times it’s a way of letting the people you follow know you’re there, reading their tweets, even if you don’t have anything to say.
Reply– This is the heart of the communication on Twitter. It opens a conversation. You read the tweet, hit reply and add your thoughts to the discussion. BEWARE! Everyone on Twitter can see it. This is NOT a private discussion so it’s probably not the best place to divulge super personal information or controversial opinions, unless that’s the basis of your Twitter presence. It is a chance to engage and get to know your followers, and the people you follow.
Direct Message, or DM– Finally, we get to the only private conversation you can have on Twitter. A direct message. You can only DM people who follow you so it’s only really meant for things that can’t be said in the public forum, or as an occasional way to reach out. I use an auto-DM feature to welcome my new followers and I’ve had a few conversations in DM as a result. If someone responds to my automated DM I will always respond to them unless they are trying to solicit money from me, either by donation or sale. And my automated message is simply a thanks for following and a direction to where they can find me on Facebook or my blog.
So that’s it, right? Say hi, be social, retweet, and heart. Not quite.
Ways Not to Engage on Twitter
Remember that show “What Not to Wear”? This is like that only it’s “What Not to Tweet.”
I want to start by saying that this is only a guideline. You may have a Twitter profile that is meant to stir the pot and that’s fine. As an author you should be making friends, not pissing people off, angry people don’t buy your books. So what shouldn’t you say? Well, it might be obvious but keep it positive.
Don’t make a habit of complaining about your day, your life, your spouse, or your assistant. (If you are lucky enough to have an assistant.) Not only do your followers not want to know, it’s embarrassing to the people you are complaining about. Of course you will have a bad day sometimes; the printer will jam, your coffee will spill, and your assistant will turn on you and run off with your editor. I wouldn’t share that last one but it’s fine to reach out for encouragement when you need it, just don’t let your tweets be swallowed by your need for it.
Don’t ever call out an agent, editor or fan that you are angry at. It will give you a reputation that will be hard to shake. Tweet a hundred positive things and no one’s likely to remember them. Tweet one negative thing and it might haunt you forever. It’s not fair, but it’s true. Unload to a trusted friend in private and then be positive on Twitter. (And other social media, of course)
Don’t be a troll or engage them. Again, unless your Twitter presence is designed to stir the pot don’t troll people, or call them out. And definitely don’t engage people who do. If someone is trolling you ignore them. If you can’t ignore them then block them. If their tweets are offensive, hateful, or otherwise break the Twitter rules report them before you block them. Let Twitter deal with them. Twitter employs about 4000 people and that’s how they earn their money, by running Twitter.
So, now that you know how to reply and what to say or not say, what will you tweet? Follow me on Twitter and see what I say. I’ll follow you back to see what you say too! Next month I’ll be back with another Twitter guide post. What would you like to learn about?
The mania is always more fun with friends. Next month I’ll be discussing what to tweet on Twitter! Subscribe on the sidebar, or follow with WordPress so you don’t miss a moment of the Mania!
Want to see what’s on my TBR pile? Check me out at Goodreads! Want to know what I do with my days? Follow me on Twitter or Facebook and drop me a note. On Twitter I’m active in the #5amwritersclub, #authorconfessions and other Twitter hashtag games.