Imagine this: You’re a writer (probably easy to imagine) and an introvert. Social interactions are difficult at best. That’s part of the reason you chose this career or hobby. But when you’re an author, a big part of being published is creating a platform. (If you’re wondering what an author platform is, look no further than this post by Rachel Huffmire.)
Part of creating your platform is to be present on social media and build a following. If you’re seeking traditional publishing, know that your following could be very important to them. Some won’t even take your work, no matter how amazing it is, if you don’t have a strong enough online presence. Is that scary, or what?
Now, not every publisher will snub you if you have fewer than 20k followers, but even if that’s not a requirement, it’s still important for people to know who you are. Utilizing social media is a great way to meet and connect with lots of people who can support you and your work, with friendship if not with sales.
There are a lot of social media platforms you can use to gain an online presence. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, and even more than that, I think. Today, I’m going to focus on how to build a following on Twitter.
If you’re not used to Twitter, it can be overwhelming at first. Two years ago, I made an account, took one look at the feed, and closed the app for what I thought would be forever. I was more of a Facebook person back then. But last February, I decided I was going to get serious about my career as an author, and I dove back in with no idea what I was supposed to do.
I wasn’t sure how to get thousands of people to follow me. I knew it wouldn’t happen like magic, so I started out posting links to this blog, giving old-timey-Facebook-like updates that only stated what I was doing at the time, and making up my own hashtags, because every tweet has to have at least one, right? Wrong. Thankfully, I've come a long way since then.
In my year on Twitter I've seen and learned a some things that can help accounts gain and maintain traction, and I'd love to share them with you. So, without further ado, here are Rachel White's Top Ten Things to Make Your Twitter Profile a Success!
1. Drop the idea that it’s all about followers
Yes, building your following is important, but if you’re only using Twitter as a numbers game, it’s not going to go well. Your followers will be able to tell. Some of them will leave, and some will choose not to follow you in the first place. It inhibits the friendships and other connections you could be making, and you’ll end up feeling more frustrated than anything.
2. Once you’ve created your account, create an eye-catching bio
Your bio is an important part of your account. It’s the first statement from you people will see when they check out your profile. Feel free to tell everyone you're a writer (and not just an aspiring one. You write? You’re a writer), and add something that’s unique to you. As an example, I put that I’m a mom and the owner of an anxious dog.
3. Start by introducing yourself to the community
I missed this boat, but a great way to connect with people when you first start tweeting is to use the hashtag #writingcommunity. Lots of people look at this hashtag every day, and you can gain momentum a lot faster that way.
4. Find your niche
What kinds of tweets should you post? Whatever you’d like, really. You’ll probably start to notice that certain people post specific types of things, whether it be motivational quotes, relatable lists about the writing process, or what have you. You don’t have to be so specific with the genre of your tweets, but doing so can make you more appealing to those who want more of the content you could be recognized for producing.
5. Don’t just advertise your book
Yes, we all need to sell our work when it comes out, and Twitter is a great place to advertise. But if you only ever post about what you’re trying to sell, no one will want to follow you. There will always be people who want to support your work, especially if it looks like something they would enjoy, but they will lose interest if that’s all they ever see from you.
I should also mention that this includes using direct messages (DMs) to advertise. I don’t know anyone who has been excited to get an unsolicited offer in their inbox from someone they hardly know.
6. Post tweets that invite responses
Be aware of how conversational your tweets are. If you do nothing but retweet stuff from other people, or just post a random tidbit from your day, you might get the attention of a few people, but likely not much when you’re first starting out. Try saying something that gets people thinking and talking, and see what responses you get.
7. Interact with people!
If someone does reply to your amazingly-conversational tweets, you should definitely respond to them. And when you find tweets that appeal to you, you should respond to those, too. Interacting with others will encourage them to do the same for you when they see you again.
8. Don’t feel like you have to follow everyone back
No matter who it is that follows you, you don’t ever have to follow them back if you don’t want to. Simple as that. Focus on following the people you want to see in your feed, and let others do the same.
9. Find games to play
Many people on Twitter have set up hashtag games that anyone is allowed to participate in. There are some that give you a question to answer every day (such as @jmsullivanbooks and @jjulienauthor's #authorconfession), some that provide daily prompts for fiction short enough to fit in a tweet (such as @SalnPage's #vss365), and many more. These give you a chance to loosen up and have some fun, and when you use the hashtag to see the responses others gave to the same game it becomes yet another way to connect with people.
10. Support others in the #writingcommunity
It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one struggling or succeeding as a writer. If you want people to retweet and comment on your posts and boost your work, you should do the same for others. We’re all in this together!
I’ve become a big fan of Twitter over the past year, and I hope these tips help you to enjoy your experience there, too. Feel free to shoot me a tweet at @rachel_v_white, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve already got Twitter figured out!
Rachel White has lived in Utah all her life, and has been writing fiction nearly as long. “Starsworn” is her debut published work, but as long as her husband, three children, and over-anxious dog cooperate, there will certainly be more to come. Be sure to watch for "Shattered Snow," her first audiobook narration project, coming soon!
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.