Twitter for Authors: The Unending Debate

downloadI have my fellow Boroughs Publishing Group authors to thank for this post. As a member of the Boroughs Author Group private Facebook page, I got to listen in on a debate that was raging about the value of Twitter for authors.

The original post which sparked this lively debate wondered why only followers who had been followed back were retained. It also questioned whether Twitter was an effective sales tool. It’s a common misconception, one that I see far too often, unfortunately. It hurt my heart to think that my fellow authors were having difficulty with Twitter because they weren’t using it in the most effective way. Moreover, that they could be using it very effectively if they only changed their mindset about what it is and how it’s valuable.

Because I’m all about helping others, I felt compelled (at the risk of sounding like a know-it-all) to put in my two cents. I thought I’d share my response on my own blog, in case anyone else has had a similar debate.

So, without further ado, here’s what I said (excusing, please, the loosey-goosey grammar that I didn’t bother to check before posting 🙂 ) …

Hello my fellow Boroughs author friends. It’s me, Veronica Bale. I wanted to weigh in on this Twitter debate because I think it’s great. Thanks, [Fellow Author], for opening up the conversation, I love these kinds of topics!

As a content marketer by trade, I know that Twitter is one of the most misunderstood media platforms. Truthfully, it is only really valuable if you’re going to maintain a content marketing campaign as part of your overall author marketing strategy. To do this, you want to be creating useful, valuable content (usually on your blog) and sharing it on Twitter, in order to lead people back to your website/blog where (hopefully) you’ve optimized the crap out of it (ie your buy links are prominently displayed). By valuable content, I don’t mean anything about your book. Your content should be something that others will find interesting and useful. Me, for example, I blog mostly about marketing for authors. What’s great about this approach is that not only do I share my content on Twitter, thus inviting people to check my interesting blog post out (which has all my books and buy links in the side bars), but my blog followers also share my content on Twitter for me, thus extending my reach.

The purpose of Twitter is not to sell your books. It’s a conduit to lead people back to your website. So often, authors post about their books on Twitter. As much as we like to think that making our books visible will get people to check them out, this is the wrong approach. It’s actually the other way around – by only talking about our books and ourselves as authors, we tend to turn potential connections off checking us out. It’s seen as selfish by the general populace (even though the Tweeter didn’t mean it to be, that’s how it’s seen). The general social media best practice is the 80/20 rule: 80% of your social media activity should have nothing to do with you or your books. It should all be for the benefit of others. Sharing useful content that has been tweeted by others and tweeting about your own useful content.

I’ll give you an example of one of my most successful posts. A while ago, I blogged about the 4 Things Publishers and Agents Want in a Writer. I scoured the web for tips, and provided links in my post back to those agents’ own websites. It was a very popular post, and got shared a whole bunch of times on Twitter by my followers (not to mention the retweets when I shared it myself). But the best part was that one of the agents, who uses a ping-back service, got notification that her post had been linked to by mine. She then shared my post on Twitter, which got shared by a whole bunch of her followers! All this meant that there was potential for people to find me and my website. Nowhere in this post did I talk about my books or my writing or anything I’m doing as an author. But I had huge traffic to my site that day, and I did see a small jump in my sales.

Social-Media-Touch-HD-ForWallpapers.com_-1024x719Twitter is about establishing connections and creating brand loyalty (by that, I mean your author brand). It’s a long-term commitment, too. If you’re only posting about your books, and where you’re guest posting and all that, you’re going to bore people because it’s all about you. Instead, create valuable blog posts that help your readers, and share the valuable posts of others (I would suggest manually retweeting rather than hitting the ‘retweet’ button – you elevate your visibility, and maybe get a ‘thank you’ from the original Tweeter). That way, when you do have something to post about yourself, a book release or cover reveal for example, you are more likely to find support from the followers you’ve managed to attract and retain.

One more thought from me on following back. It is best not to be selective about who you follow back. There is no benefit. I never look at my feed for information to share and post, I always search Twitter for keywords and hashtags. If someone has followed me who has anything remotely to do with my sphere, I follow back. Bloggers, authors, avid readers, content marketers, book promoters … if they have a legitimate account, I follow them. Why? Because it’s about making connections and establishing relationships. It has to be give and take.

Anyway, those are my two cents, and they’re founded on years of content marketing, seminars, content writing and social media workshops. And no, I do not follow my own advice nearly as well as I should 🙂

Hope that was helpful, and hugs to you all.


Have you had the Twitter debate before? What are your thoughts about the most effective way to use Twitter as an author?

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