Many authors use Twitter to engage with their readership and promote upcoming titles. With over 230 million active users, Twitter is an amazing tool to get your message across to a wide audience, but how do you use it to great effect?
Obviously, those of us already on Twitter try to stay away from Twitter accounts that are overly promotional and “spammy.”
What’s wrong with this tweet? For one thing, no one likes to be yelled at, even if it’s on the web! Tweets such as these fail to make a positive impression on potential followers and readers. People follow you on Twitter because they want to engage with you. Just tweeting out the title and the link to your book page is not going to cut it.
It’s fine to promote your book, but it’s important that your Twitter account is focused on building a relationship with your audience. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating an engaging Twitter account.
Include a Great Profile and Header Image
No one wants an egg or a hazy picture of you on the beach talking to them! Many great authors, from Julie James to Madeline Hunter, use professionally taken, smiling photos of themselves for their Twitter profile picture, because it shows their best selves and invites engagement. If you can invest in getting a professional photo done, do it. If not, try taking a close-up in a brightly lit area. People want to see the real person behind the tweets!
Have a Fun Bio That Includes your Title and Website
When people read your bio, they should automatically get a sense of who you are and what you do. The bio is where you should put the title(s) of your book and a link to your personal website or blog. Twitter only gives you 160 characters for your bio, so it’s a good idea to play around with it until the wording feels right!
Tweet Regularly and Appropriately
To have an engaging Twitter profile, it’s important to tweet regularly. Don’t just tweet about your book the day it publishes and then don’t tweet again until your next book is out! However, don’t be the author who tweets nonstop about their book all day long, every day of the week. Generally, 2-5 tweets a day is a good balance. Online tools such as Hootsuite, can help you schedule tweets and keep you on the right track.
Engage with Your Audience and Fellow Authors
Conversation is a two-way street! Talking to readers online and supporting other writers is actually a great way to invite others to talk to you and check out your book. To talk to someone directly on Twitter, just include that person’s personal Twitter handle (i.e. @BCJanetU) in your tweet so that person is notified. Here’s an example of great engagement by Book Country members Jaycee Ford and Alex Rosa:
Don’t Be Overly Promotional
Do “spammy” tweets from people make you interested in buying their book? No? So, don’t do it! Twitter is not a marketplace. Not only is it rude (you wouldn’t do this in real life, would you?), but it also turns off people who might be interested in reading your book. Twitter is all about conversation. Instead of tweeting out a link and hoping people will click, you’ll have a better chance building a real connection with your audience.
Some of the most popular writers on Twitter, such as John Green and Maureen Johnson, rarely tweet out links to buy their book, but instead focus on engaging with their fan base and sharing snippets of their personal life. Being personable on Twitter is what gets people to follow you and want to read your book!
Tweet Photos and Videos
People are more likely to engage with you when you tweet photos and videos. According to Mashable, tweets with photos and videos are 35% and 28% more likely to be retweeted respectively. Tweeting photos and videos are also a good way to be promotional without being overly promotional. Here is an example from Jill Shalvis‘ Twitter account: Jill tweeted a cute photo of what looks like a copy from her recently published book, THEN CAME YOU. She also tweeted the words “So this is out… :)” What’s cool about this is that she still is being conversational and friendly while being promotional at the same time. There is no link to her book page, but the photo does a better job in showing what the book is about- something a buy link can’t do!
Many authors are also creating short video clips about their book, also known as book trailers, to connect with their readership in a new way. Twitter has made it so that if you tweet a link to your video, the person can watch that video without leaving Twitter. How convenient!
Use Hashtags to Increase Reach
According to the official Twitter Help Center:
People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets and help them show more easily in Twitter Search.
In other words, use hashtags often to reach people who are interested in the keyword, but may not be following you (yet!). On Twitter, popular hashtags for writers include #amwriting, #amediting, #author. Here’s an example from Book Country member Dan Croutch’s Twitter profile:
The most important advice I can give in having a successful and engaging Twitter profile is to be yourself. Your voice should be at the forefront even when your tweeting! Twitter is a great tool in getting your message out but the #1 purpose is to have a conversation with your audience. For author’s just starting out, it will take time to grow a rapport with your readership, but the effort is worth it!