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10 Twitter Tips for Authors (and everyone else)

1. Use your name/brand as your Twitter handle. For the same reason that you want your name on your blog and your Facebook page, people won’t realize that Kiala Givehand is “supercoolwriter,” whose Tweets they follow and love, when they see her book in the bookstore, and they won’t buy it. Unlike on Facebook, you can CHANGE your handle any time. Just click on your settings.

2. Have a focus to your tweets. You could be the funny guy (@shitmydadsays) or you could tweet about wine (@jorgrama), or you could be famous and tweet about anything and everything (@susanorlean).

3. Tweet often. It’s possible, but difficult, to tweet too often. If someone is tweeting every five minutes and clogging up my whole stream à la @guykawasaki, I’ll unfollow them. But if someone is tweeting every hour, sometimes more frequently when they are online and at-replying people, that’s okay. That’s what Twitter is for.

4. If you don’t have a lot of time to tweet, try this strategy: every day send one tweet, one at-reply, and one retweet. Twitter, like blogging and Facebook, is all about building community. You need to interact with other tweeters by at-replying, retweeting and follow-Friday-ing them. (On Friday, type the Follow Friday hashtag #ff followed by one or more people you suggest your followers follow. For example: #ff @meghancward @SFGrotto @SheWrites.)

5. Your tweets should be 80 percent interesting (links, funny observations, insights, etc.) and 20 percent promotional (read my blog post, buy my book). Don’t tweet only when you have something to advertise, or you will quickly lose followers.

6. Follow people. There are three reasons to follow people.

One is to build community. At-reply them, retweet them, DM them if they’re following you back, and make friends.

Two is to find interesting links and information to read and retweet. This can be a great source of material for your own tweets as well as your blog. Just make sure to give the original tweeter credit by retweeting them.

Three is to get followers. About a third of the people you follow will follow you back. You can increase that percentage by paying attention to how many people those people are following. If someone has 1,000,000 followers and is following 6 people, chances are, she won’t follow you back. If your goal is to keep track of what an agent is doing, to entertain yourself, or to mine Twitter for interesting articles to blog about and retweet, you don’t care whether people follow you back. If your goal is to get followers (and my suggestion is that your goal be BOTH of these things), you may want to focus on following the people who tend to follow their followers back. The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, for example, has a policy to follow its followers back unless they look spammy. We don’t want a feed filled with ads for remodeling your bathroom.

7. Use Mashable Twitter lists, WeFollow, Twellow, GalleyCat, (, TwitterGrader, Twitter’s “Who To Follow” suggestions, and other people’s Twitter lists to find people to follow. Another way to find people to follow is to look at the lists of other people you follow. You can follow the whole list or just the people who interest you. You can also Google phrases like “best writers to follow on Twitter” and you’ll find articles about interesting people to follow. Be sure to list yourself on WeFollow, and use these sites and the others listed on the handout of Twitter apps I gave you to find people in certain categories to follow (You can look up writers, editors, etc.)

8. Use hashtags. All you have to do is put #writetip, #pubtip, #amwriting, or whatever else you want somewhere in your tweet and then that tweet will show up when someone searches that hashtag. For a list of popular hashtags for writers, see the handout. For hashtag-search websites, see the attached list of Twitter apps.

9. Let people know you’re on Twitter. Put a Twitter button on your blog, add your name to WeFollow, put your Twitter ID on your business card and at the bottom of your e-mails (Hey, I should do that!). One popular tweeter, @danegolden, suggested putting your Twitter ID at the bottom of publications. “Meghan Ward can be followed on Twitter @meghancward” for example.

10. Use TweetDeck or HootSuite. There are many Twitter clients. Twitter has its own client that can be used on a smart phone or an iPad. The other two most popular clients are HootSuite (which I use) and TweetDeck. I love HootSuite because it integrates my multiple Twitter accounts, it allows me to customize the streams I view (sent tweets, mentions, a particular list I’m following, etc.), it allows me to schedule tweets, and it permits old-school retweets. I’m not that familiar with TweetDeck but know people who love it. Here’s one article that outlines the differences between TweetDeck and HootSuite.

What about you, expert tweeters? What advice would you add?

28 comments to 10 Twitter Tips for Authors (and everyone else)

  • That is a very solid list.

    As you know, I write my novels as serials on my blog. The last two have had around 50 unique readers per day and 250 unique readers per week. I rarely tweeted, posted on FB or G+ about my novels. Nine days ago I decided to make an effort with my newest, "Killing Hemingway", because I'm really excited about it.

    If your readers wonder if Twitter, FB, G+ can move the needle, it can! I've increased daily traffic by 40%. My comments have increased. The weekly unique for the first week increased to 358.

    Writers like to write, but sometimes marketing can make us uncomfortable. The most important thing I've learned over the last nine days is that people don't mind giving you a chance.

    My pitch has been to ask people to check out the first chapter. If they leave a comment, I thank them and ask that they come back for more.

    Twitter has been really helpful in that regard.

    • meghancward

      So glad to know that social media is working in your favor, Brian! That's great news. And congrats on the increase in traffic!

  • Kristan

    I think #4 and #8 are my fave tips! The ones I live by most. I actually think tweeting every hour is still too much (for me personally) although I may have a more streamlined stream than most, so maybe other folks wouldn't notice.

    Unless you're really funny. Then you can get away with murder. 😉

    • meghancward

      I'm not even close to tweeting every hour, so I'm not worried about annoying people. It doesn't bother me, though, when others tweet that often. It makes me take more notice of them and wish I could keep up with them!

  • Thanks Meghan. High quality post…tweeted! 🙂

  • Maia

    Thank you! This is so helpful.

  • annerallen

    Excellent list. I don't use Hootsuite because I've heard people complain about automatic tweets, but it might make my life easier at this point.

    #9 is so important. I'd also add–Don't just put a twitter button on your site. Put your Twitter handle right there on the page That allows people who are tweeting your posts to give you credit without going through the complication of going to Twitter to find your handle, then coming back to your site and tweeting it. I don't always remember your middle initial.

    • I couldn't agree more about the twitter handle– but this is particularly important for paper. I cannot BELIEVE how many ads I see with Twitter and Facebook symbols…..except we can't click on paper. Idiots! No one will engage if you make it difficult to do so.

    • meghancward

      Anne, I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean the twitter button at the bottom of each post that allows you to tweet that article?

      • annerallen

        No. I'm talking about the birdy button on the top left. If that allows a caption, you can put @meghancward under the Tweety bird. Or you can put it under your name in your bio. The tweet button at the bottom of the post doesn't always give an attribution. Yours doesn't. So if I want to credit you, I have to type in "via @meghancward" But sometimes I forget what your initial is. If I look at the twitter feed window I can find out, but not everybody has a twitter feed on their home page. It's best to put it front and center. At least that's what @Porter_Anderson keeps telling us. 🙂

  • An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me lunch simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this subject here on your site.

  • Nina Badzin

    Hootsuite is my savior. I love being able to see my lists side by side. So i guess lists are REALLY my savior though.

  • Joseph David Wilcox

    Meghan, thanks for the great Twitter ideas. I have a Twitter account but no idea how to use it or who sees my tweets. I never knew what hashtags did until I read your tips. I just started my blog and can really see the value of tweeting to point people toward my blog. (If you right a blog and no one reads it, does a tree fall in the forest …, right?) I will definitely invest more time in learning how to tweet now that I've read your tips. Thanks. @josephdwilcox

    • meghancward

      Joseph, Here's a post I wrote about hashtags a while back. And I'll follow you on Twitter!

  • Shellie_Palmer

    Engaging with an audience is important, I find that linking both my Facebook and Twitter pages have really worked well, for the most part my core audience checks up on me when I'm not in use of them, it shows they care, it means a lot as well. Meghan, you're on the money with the twitter tips especially when it comes to those who follow you and you following them, I use hash tags a lot and space out the tweets without over use either. No one wants to see repeated tweets, it can turn people off completely..
    You follow me I'll follow you, supporting you're peers is just as important in the writing world.

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