Monday, September 19, 2011

Twitter Tips: Part 2 of 2

If you have trouble setting up an account, visit Twitter’s help center at Here are some tips for your first foray into the Twittersphere:

1. Pick a good name. If you already have a presence or a fan-base online, use a name that your fans will recognize, such as JKRowling, DanBrown, or the name of your blog (TheCivilWarExpert). Use proper capitalization, but without spaces. If you use something like war_nerd223 or number1mommy, you may not be taken seriously.

2. Fill out your profile. The first thing your peers will do when you follow them is look at your profile. If your purpose for being on Twitter is not clear and compelling, they may discount you. List your blog URL, the title of your book, and any expertise or titles that will convince users that you are worth following. Keep it concise.

3. Include contact information. Supplying your ‘public’ email address is a good way to court connections from fans and useful contacts. Do not include your phone number or any physical address.

4. Use a relevant picture. Obviously the author’s photo from your dust jacket/website is an ideal choice, but the cover of your book or any icon you might use on your blog is also acceptable. Something with bright colors, non-blurry, and with readable text is helpful. Users with blank photos are quickly ignored. Do a web search or visit Twitter’s help center if you aren’t sure how to upload a profile photo.

5. Follow everyone. Begin by using the Twitter ‘search’ feature to look for users who are discussing topics that are relevant to your book. Perform multiple searches with different search terms and look for anyone who seems to be posting intelligent, original information. Good candidates are: popular independent bookstores, history magazines, celebrated authors in your field, bloggers, news media, literary event coordinators, book marketing or PR firms, and niche publishers. Look for users who seem to get a lot of @ Replies directed at them, or who are included in many different conversations. The more users you follow, the more opportunities you will find to join in relevant conversations.

6. Read your Timeline. This is where the most time is spent. The more users you follow, the more unread tweets you will get in your timeline. After following a few hundred users, you will find it impossible to keep up. That’s ok, as you can begin “unfollowing” unimportant users, or simply skimming your timeline occasionally to look for important news.

7. Join in conversations. Whenever you see a user asking a question that you know the answer to, or a conversation that you can contribute positively to, tweet! Remember to use any # hashtags that are being used in the conversation, and to include @ Mentions to key users (or if you are replying to someone’s tweet). Remember that the goal is to promote yourself and your expertise to entice followers, not to advertise your book. That comes later.

8. Tweet original content. Once you have a stable base of followers, you can market your book to them by tweeting interesting quotes or excerpts, discount coupons or special deals on your book, times and places of events that you will be attending, and URL links to your blog posts. If you can, tweet daily, or at least two or three times a week. Remember that you can tweet from most cellphones - search online for instructions on using Twitter with your specific cellphone.

9. Stay connected. Keep an eye on your Direct Messages and @Mentions, and promptly answer any questions directed your way. By staying connected and involved with your fans, you will remain in the forefront of their minds when they are giving book recommendations to their friends and family!

10. Keep it up. Twitter is not a tool that can be honed overnight. You must develop a bevy of followers in order to get your message out. Once you are established, there are many marketing strategies available to making the most of your Twitter network. For example, offer discounts to followers who Retweet your important announcements. Add your voice to current events conversations to attract new fans. Use the “trending topics” list on the right side of Twitter to see what people are talking about, and keep an eye out for topics that are relevant to your book.

Like Facebook, Twitter is all about cultivating a network of contacts, both fans and peers. Like any social network, you can only get out of it as much as you put in. By tweeting original content, news, and incentives like coupon codes or limited-time deals, and by participating in discussions, you will be able to connect with readers and peers alike. Happy tweeting!

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