Twitter (like facebook) and other social networks are not only a good way to keep in touch with friends, find out about news, collect tips and links to helpful blog articles but is also, for an author, an indispensable way of spreading the word about your own books. Yet it can soak up a lot of time. In this article I look at some tools to help you make the most from Twitter.
Making the most of twitter
To get the most out of twitter you need to put effort into:
- Expanding your network of followers. If you don’t have many followers you won’t have many people listening to what you have to say. If you only have say 20 followers than each time you tweet you can only reach 20 people. They might retweet your comments BUT the more followers the more likely this will be.
- Getting followers who are interested in WHAT you have to say. This means linking up with people who have the same interests as you. If you tweet, as I do, about history, sci fi and writing then you want followers who find that interesting. Ever been to a party and said “did you see DR Who (insert program you watch here) last night?” only to be met with stony silence. How much did you enjoy that party? What about the contrast with a party when you said that and five people responded and a debate on who played the best Doctor ensued!
- Following people who share the same interests. This is all the same thing thing as 2 above really. If you follow someone they may follow you back and you might start up a bit of a relationship. I learn a lot be reading blogs and tweets of OTHER writers and folks interested in history. Twitter should be a two way thing. If you are just talking and not listening you wont get as much out of it.
- Unfollowing people occasionally. What? Why do that? Well there are several reasons. Firstly Twitter will restrict the number of people you can follow to only 1.2 x the numbers of followers you have when you reach 2000 followers. Not an issue for me yet (I have 900 and something) but if you are following someone who is NOT following you they are potentially restricting your growth. Â If you are following someone who if not following you then you don’t that 2 way relationship going on anyway and so you are not getting that much out of them. You may also find you are following someone who just fills your timeline with adverts or tweets like “win an Ipad” all the time. Competitions are fine BUT if they are 90% of that user’s tweets you don’t get much out of following them do you?
- Responding to people when they mention you, retweet you etc. This is not just polite but helps to build that relationship.
Only so many hours in the day
But this is the issue. All this activity takes time. being active on social media is an important part of marketing books these days but it is easy to lose hours in it. If you have a day job too, are working on a book etc – well it all cuts in to available time. THAT is where tools come in which can help this process. I am going to mention 3 which I have used.
Tweetdeck is a great piece of free to download software. You can setup an account on it and link in multiple twitter accounts as well as Facebook. Then you can set it up so that it has a different column for each Twitter account time line, your mentions feed, direct messages feed etc. See above I have my main twitter account @richarddenning as well as my @merciabooks one, a column for mentions of @richarddenning and one for any messages. Off screen to teh right (and scrollable) i have other columns set up for some regular searches, scheduled tweet etc.
All of this means you can keep a check on all that is going on and respond more quickly. Tweetdeck also allows for scheduling of tweets – useful for when you are away and want to keep up some activity online. Because tweetdeck saves the profile online you can install it on a home pc and a laptop, access the same information and keep more in touch.
TweetAdder is a pay for use service but it is not too expensive at $55 for one twitter account and discounts for buying for multiple accounts. Once you have paid there is no ongoing charge. What you do is set up you account and then use TweetAdder to help you find followers. How do you do this. Well TweetAdder can search for folk who share a common interest with you. It does this by searching Twitter profiles, posts etc You can ask it to save the findings of that search to a list of people to then follow. Hopefully you are linking to people who are interested in the same things you are. You can also get TweetAdder to send a little welcome message to anyone who follows you. It can also un-follow people who have not followed you in a specified time period to keep you follow and followers list dynamic.
Once setup you can let it roll and concentrate on the blogs and writing and interacting with people.
How do you know how well you are doing connecting with people? How can you gauge the success of you activities online? Well this is where Klout comes in. You setup an account and link Klout to your Facebook and twitter account and several other online accounts. Klout then analyses things like how many followers you have, how many retweets you get etc. All that boils together into a score that shows how much splash you are making online. Klout presents its findings in a series of graphs and also places you in a category of online user. I am Explorer at present – finding my way but quite active. What I found interesting was during a recent 16 day holiday when my online access was poor my score fell from about 47 to about 40 which shows that you need to maintain activity at a fairly frequent level to make the most of twitter.
Being active on Twitter can take up a lot of your time – time that perhaps you would rather be writing in. These tools help by giving you some of that time back.