This post, by Rob Kroese, originally appeared on the New Wave Authors blog.
Let me say first of all that I’m not a Twitter expert. However, I have had some success using Twitter over the past two years to promote my books, and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some of what I’ve learned about the do’s and don’t’s of Twitter.
Twitter is an especially difficult medium for many writers to adapt to. Writers tend to be verbose, and 140 characters just isn’t enough to say very much. There are sites that will allow you to post longer tweets (like Deck.ly), but overusing these sites defeats the purpose of Twitter and will probably cost you followers, as will using Twitter solely as a means to promote your latest blog post. If readers want to keep up with your blog, they will subscribe to your rss feed. There’s no need to constantly spam them with blog post-related tweets. Also, resist the urge to post anecdotes or diatribes that span four or five tweets. If you have something to say that requires more than a tweet or two, do a blog post. The most popular tweeters are those who use Twitter the way it was intended: for short, pithy remarks or updates.
And as with all social media, remember that people don’t enjoy constantly being bombarded with advertising. Your primary activities should be to socialize, entertain and/or enlighten. If more than a third of your tweets/posts/updates are self-promotion, people are going to get irritated and lose interest. Treat your followers with respect.
To that end, here are a few Twitter don’ts that I’ve picked up over the past two years:
- Don’t follow people at random. If you’re going to start following large numbers of Tweeters in the hopes that they will follow you back, at least pick people based on some kind of relevant interest. For example, if you write romance novels, try following people who follow other romance authors. Otherwise, you’re just going to annoy and confuse people.
- Don’t spam people. By this I mean don’t Tweet self-promotional message directly at individual users. In fact, don’t Tweet directly at someone (you do this by typing their Twitter handle followed by your message) unless you have something specific to say to someone. Recently I got a Tweet from one of my followers whose name I didn’t recognize, saying, “robkroese, Hey there! Been a while. How are you?” I looked up the user’s account and saw that this person had been Tweeting a long string of these sorts of messages, apparently in an attempt to “engage” his followers. His whole Twitter stream was filled with “@someusername Hey, how’s it going?” and “@someotheruser What are you up to these days?” That sort of insincerity is transparent and will probably get you unfollowed a good amount of the time.