A Twitter Marketing Strategy for Authors and Writers

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What is Your Twitter Marketing Strategy?

Note from Nick: this is a guest post from Matthew Yeoman. If you don’t have a twitter marketing strategy, or you don’t think your twitter marketing strategy is going to pay off, read this post!

Twitter Marketing StrategyMany businesses and brands can obviously benefit from a Twitter marketing strategy. You, however, are a writer, an artist! You’re certainly not a brand. You certainly don’t need a Twitter marketing strategy for your book or author platform. Right?

Well, if you’d rather not think of your Twitter marketing strategy as “brand building,” you can think of it as audience building, readership building, relationship building, or whichever other synonym for “getting more people listening to me” that you prefer.

This post is going lay out the what, when, how, and who (where and why should be obvious: On Twitter, and to increase your audience) of a great Twitter marketing strategy so that you can apply it to your own efforts and, I’m hoping, become so popular that Stephen King finally retires due to plummeting sales.

What to post about on Twitter

You’re signed up for Twitter and ready to hit “Tweet” for the first time. But what do you write? Well, if you’re mega-super-TV famous like George RR Martin, you post this:

If you’re Salman Rushdie, and have written work fine enough to never owe anyone anything ever again, you get away with this:

For the rest of us, here’s what you will want to post to your Twitter account to grow your audience and keep them engaged:

  • Show your personality: Writing for social media is much like any other platform – if you fake it, you don’t make it. Give people a look at who you are, do not give them the polished marketing message that your publisher puts on the back of your book.
  • Share your useful content: Post your blogs, interviews by other media outlets, articles written about you, and any other form of the written word that you have. Videos, GIFs, podcasts, and images you create are also very important.
  • Share useful content from others: Not everything that comes out over your Twitter account has to be a 100% original piece of content from you. Sharing the blogs, articles, videos, and tweets of others keeps your followers minds, and you hardly have to think beyond “oh, that’s cool.”
  • Be topical: The primary strength of a Twitter marketing strategy is that Twitter has a real-time feel. Twitter users want to comment on the latest events right when they happen.
  • Conduct surveys: If you want to know what your audience is interested in…ask them! Try a tool like Survey Monkey to track this and off you go. Don’t forget to post the results, and try to start conversations around the data you collect. There’s no such thing as a Twitter marketing strategy unless you’re tracking your results!
  • Build a buzz: Have a new book coming up? Of course you do! Start talking about it on Twitter before it is released. Link to pre-order sites, post the official launch, talk about speaking engagements, and give your followers exclusive excerpts.
  • Promo their face off: Twitter followers love giving retweets to promotions, specials and contests. This type of content adds value to their feed when they send it out.
  • Remember the 80/20 rule: Only 20% of your posts should be self promotional. The other 80% should the value added type of content that your audience seeks. If you’re a war history writer, tweet about war movies and TV shows you’re interested in. If you’re a fiction writer, tweet about the real world events or places in your book. If you’re Kim Kardashian, tweet out pictures of your butt. Play to your strengths in your Twitter marketing strategy!

Using HashTags in your Twitter marketing strategy

Using hashtags on Twitter will help you find more followers by increasing your visibility. Think of hashtags as web links that connect conversations, adding organization and structure to the crazy mess that is Twitter.:

  • Don’t overuse hashtags: If you go over three in a single post you’ll likely be seen as annoying. I have unfollowed many people for the #every #word #is #a #hashtag #tactic. See how annoying that is?
  • Use hashtags in every tweet: Even if you don’t have a conversation that you’re trying to connect with, the hashtag you use can be used by someone else to connect with you.
  • Use titles to your advantage: Use a word in the title of a blog post you’re tweeting out to cut down on your use of the 140 characters. For this blog post I’d use: # Twitter Marketing Strategy for #Writers and Authors.

Keep in mind what hashtags are for, connecting and starting conversations, and you’ll use them appropriately.

When to Post on Twitter

Twitter shows some very clear trends as to when people use it. The most common advice for a successful Twitter marketing strategy is to post during the morning and afternoon rush hour. People are commuting and checking their phones for quick updates.

Once you have started to build your audience, I would highly recommend that you use a tool like Tweriod. This audience tracking tool tells you exactly when your audience is online by tracking your tweets, their tweets, and other Twitter activity. Twitter’s in the digital world, use digital tools if you want to succeed.

When you know the best times for posting to Twitter for your audience, you can start looking at scheduling tools, and how often you should post. Oh, look at that. Those are the next two topics!

Scheduling tools for Twitter

There are four main tools that people use to schedule tweets, as well as perform a number of other tasks:

  1. HootSuite: You’ll be able to schedule posts, as well as organize your tweets, mentions, direct messages, and keyword searches into live updated columns. HootSuite also allows you to integrate with other social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, all from one dashboard.
  2. Buffer: Great for those who want to schedule out interesting blog posts and websites that they find online.
  3. Social Oomph: Think of it as HootSuite Light. Much of the same features, but in a slightly more streamlined, simple, and less powerful package. This may be what you want to use if you’d prefer to use something more beginner friendly.
  4. Tweetdeck: If I don’t mention TweetDeck, owned by Twitter, a small bird is killed by Biz Stone. TweetDeck is nearly identical to HootSuite, except for their lower support of other platforms. Take this into consideration if you have multiple social platforms.

How often you should post to Twitter

By using some of the applications above, you should be able to cut your Twitter posting time down to 15 minutes a day, with periodic check-ins for replies. Do not let a Twitter marketing strategy take over your life – you have Stephen King-crushing books to write – use the scheduling tools and only allow yourself to go on at times that you schedule. One of the primary goals of a Twitter marketing strategy is to be as hands-off as possible, so you can get back to writing!

Your followers will appreciate you following up on their comments, but you need to be reasonable as Twitter can be a dark, dark hole you throw time in if you let it. Schedule your tweets, no more than three per hour, then walk away until you schedule time for replies.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the 24 hour nature of Twitter by scheduling tweets for fans in other time zones.

Who to follow on Twitter to get followed

There are some basic Twitter following etiquette rules:

  • Follow people who follow your account
  • Follow people who retweet your content
  • Follow people who @mention your account
  • Follow people who give you a #followfriday, #teamfollowback, or any other mention

A Twitter marketing strategy works best when there is two-way dialogue. Only having people follow you makes it impossible for you to ever talk to them about their interests because you can’t see their tweets.

As for who the actual people to follow to build your account:

  • Follow influential people in your industry: This includes editors, agents, and publishers. It also includes other authors, researchers, and your biggest fans.
  • Follow people based on search: This includes searches based on keywords, genres, and geography.
  • Follow hashtags: There are going to be conversations going on that you are interested in, connect with them to join in on something bigger than your account.
  • Follow your followers: Click on your list of followers and look around for those who have a large number of people following them. These are people who you should connect with and have help you if they’re interested. Use crowd marketing tactics to start getting them on your side.

Don’t be overwhelmed by a Twitter marketing strategy – just get started

My word count is telling me I’m on the plus side of 1400 words, and I have only hit on the main points of a Twitter marketing strategy for writers and authors. What you need to do right now is digest this information and put it in action. You need to start finding out exactly what works for your audience.

Also, I need you to get back to work on your Twitter marketing strategy so we can all send Stephen King to Florida… or wherever writers retire to. Seriously, he keeps talking about it but he never does it!

Matthew is the writer/researcher/image collector for the Devumi.Com Social Media Marketing blog. He can be found there every Friday writing about the latest developments relating to Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, Pinterest, Vimeo, and Google. Come by for more advice just like the post you have read!

Nick ThackerA Twitter Marketing Strategy for Authors and Writers