Social media marketing–having a presence in the social networking community–is really a must for authors. This is especially true for Twitter and Facebook: a writer’s “big two,” in my personal opinion.
It’s common advice to hear, “Don’t wait until after you publish to get started on social media. Get going NOW. Build up a following before release. Get people interested in you and your work.”
But why? Why is social media so important? How is it that Twitter, in particular, can be a writer’s best friend or her worst nightmare?
I’ve been on Twitter for a year now, and built up a following of close to 25,000. I’m no expert, but I’ve learned some things from experience. Here’s how to make Twitter work for you, as a friend.
- Let people get to know YOU, on a personal level. Not just your work. Not just the ways you promote your work. Send out occasional tweets about your reactions to what you’re watching on tv. Mention crazy cute things your nieces and nephews, or your kids, tell you. Let people know how you’re human when you do something goofy. (Recently, I bought a gallon of milk and left it on the dining room floor, in the bag I brought it home in. Found it the next morning. Well, it was no good after spending overnight at room temperature. I sent out a funny tweet about how scatterbrained I was, and got a funny response or two from followers)
- People tweet about all KINDS of useful articles for us authors: about social media and how to use it, about grammar and editing, about writing and blogging, about SEO tips for your blog. Take advantage of the great information to improve your knowledge base.
- When you tweet something clever, or links to your blog with valuable content, you’ll get retweets and responses from people with affirmation that will make you feel as warm and gooey inside as a chocolate cake fresh from the oven. It’s the best.
As great as Twitter can be, it can also turn on you if you’re not careful.
- Set a time limit of how much time you’ll spend on Twitter and on sites that Twitter directs you to. Otherwise you’ll waste hours. I promise. Hours.
- If you tweet nothing but self-promotion, you’ll be ignored. You’ll give people a bad impression of you and your work, which is worse than them never hearing of you in the first place. So share the love. Engage and help out other people rather than focusing on your material. And never, ever send out personally directed spam tweets to people.
- Don’t overuse hashtags. One (or none) per tweet is optimal. Two can be okay. Make sure the ones you use are appropriate. If you’re new to Twitter, do a little bit of research on what hashtags are before you try to use them. (They group tweets on related topics together for easy search access. They also allow a group of people to have a large “conversation” on a feed based upon the hashtag)