Monday, July 13, 2015

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part VI—Is Twitter Worth the Bother?

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media basics for writers.
Today I want to jump into one of the most important social media platforms, Twitter. But first, in case you've missed the previous posts, here are a list of them, with links.

3 Reasons to Master Twitter 
I remember the first time I ventured onto twitter. It’s an intimidating site, full of unfamiliar terms and strange rules. Beyond that, the more people I followed, the more confusing the newsfeed became. To my untrained eye, all those 140 character bursts were just disjointed and disconnected chaos.

I really didn’t understand how anyone could get anything good out of this network.

Luckily for me, I didn’t give up. I kept digging for articles to help me understand the value of Twitter. And that’s when I began to unravel the Twitter chaos. As I became more familiar with this alien landscape, I began to appreciate why Twitter and writers are a perfect match.
Twitter is a respecter of time.
  • It respects our time. Interacting in 140 character bursts keeps conversations focused and moving quickly.
  • It helps us write tight. If you’ve spent any time at all studying writing, you’ve heard the advice to write tight. This means eliminating unnecessary words.
  • It’s a networking superconductor. There is no social media platform out there that is better at allowing us to find connections with like-minded people.

Tips to Make Valuable Connections
1. Be sure to follow people back. It’s considered good manners to follow people back who follow you. This doesn’t mean you have to follow people who make you uncomfortable or who are trying to sell you 10,000 followers. Use common sense, but unless there’s a good reason be nice and follow people back.

Don't protect your tweets
2. Don’t PROTECT YOUR TWEETS. On your Twitter profile there’s the option to protect your tweets. This locks your account and doesn’t let people follow you unless you approve them. If you feel the need to protect your tweets, you really shouldn’t be on Twitter. This social media platform is a place to get found, not lurk.

3. Make sure your 160 character ABOUT ME gives a good picture of who you are. You don’t want to over use hashtags here, but you do want to cover all the things you might tweet about and hashtags are a good shortcut for that. Here’s what I have as my description: Writer & Author—passionate for life's stories & God's path. #Militaryfamily blogger #steampunk #vets #scifi #socialmedia4writers

4. Show your face. Always use a picture of YOURSELF as your Twitter icon. The evidence is overwhelming. People respond to a head shot where you can see the person’s smile. The only exception is if you have a business account. Then you can use your company’s logo.

Have a regular presence on Twitter &be consistent.
5. Have a regular presence on Twitter. I Tweet a lot more now than I did when I started out. More first goal was to Tweet four to six times each day, four or five days a week. I use Hootsuite to schedule my Tweets throughout the day. I’ll be covering Hootsuite next week, so don’t worry if you’re not familiar with a scheduling program. Just remember, Do NOT send out all your tweets at once. This is called hogging the stream and is the height of bad manners!

 6. BE CONSISTENT with the subject of your tweets. I tweet about social media, writing, some books, and issues important to military families. Occasionally, I’ll find something that I just want to share outside of those topics, but that’s an exception, not the norm.

7. Make sure you’re sharing valuable content with your Twitter updates. Don’t make your Tweets all about you. Instead, promote others who have something valuable to say to your followers. I know it’s counter intuitive, but it works every time!

8. Look for strategic people to follow. Here’s what I mean. I’m working on a science fiction manuscript and trying to grow my Twitter followers for that specific market. To find new people to follow, I visit some of my favorite science fiction author’s profiles. Then I click on their followers. This does two things.
1. It gives me people to follow who are interested in following a scifi author.
2. It gives me a good chance of them following me back because they’re already good about following back.

9. Reply to others publically. Twitter is a public medium and people like to be mentioned. If someone says something nice about you, or mentions you, be sure to reply publically to thank them. I also keep a list of people who regularly mention me and try to find something they do that I can mention. Here's a post I wrote on the Ways to Utilize Twitter Lists

What NOT to do on Twitter!
Twitter No-Nos
There are several things that may seem tempting for short cuts to Twitter followers. I cannot urge you strongly enough not to try them. This is one of these times when if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Do not use an auto responder. You may think you’re being polite, but what you’re really being is irritating. Auto responders are obvious and no one likes messages from a computer clogging up their timeline.

Do NOT buy Twitter followers. This may look like a good shortcut, but most of the followers you buy are fake or spam accounts. You are not doing yourself or those who follow you, any favors with this short cut. Beyond that, if Twitter catches you, your account can be shut down and you can be banned for life.

Do NOT use ANY automatic programs to increase your followers on Twitter. As with buying Twitter followers, using a program to increase your followers can result in a high percentage of face or spam accounts. And this practice can also get you penalized by Twitter.

Twitter has very strict policiesagainst these practices and I’ve known several people who have had their Twitter accounts suspended because of this. 

These are the basics of why I've found Twitter valuable. What about you? Do you use Twitter, avoid it? Be sure to leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Is Twitter worth the bother for writers? answers from #SocialMedia expert @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Twitter for writers - tips & tricks to get started or move to the next level - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Edie, I felt the same way about twitter at first. I love it now. Twitter is where people found me and asked me to write a blog or magazine article. I know it is because I retweet, follow and thank people for following me. I learned from the best. Thank you for all your help.

    1. Cherrilynn, learning the process and putting it into practice are two very different things! Way to go! Blessings, E

  2. Edie,

    I have been asking myself whether or not Twitter is worth the effort since first opening an account. It's been over a year and I still ask that question with alarming frequency.

    Even after reading this post, I understand in my head why Twitter can be good for writers, but I still wonder. I'm just not a social media fan in any form except blogging. If I could do everything that needs to be done with blogging, I would.

    Alas, even a three-legged stool needs three legs and Twitter is one of the legs on my platform stool. So, love it or hate it, I keep doing it.

    Thanks for the tips and rules, though. It never hurts to be reminded periodically.

    1. Carrie Lynn, We all have our social media sweet spot. That doesn't exempt us from doing something necessary. But once we know what it is, we can spend less time on it and more time on something we enjoy more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

    2. Edie,

      Too true. It has helped immensely to find a system that allows me to schedule tweets for a whole day in 30 minutes or less.

      But that doesn't keep me from wondering if the effort is worth it. What it does is help my justify the time.

      Sometimes that's as helpful as convinced something is the right thing to do.

  3. Great article. I am gradually learning to use Twitter mroe effectively. My pet peeve is the direct messages asking me - worse, telling me - to go check out their blog/FB page/buy their book (or download it free) and I now no longer reply to such direct messages.

    1. Mary, I'm with you! I absolutely hate auto-responders, as do most people. I recommend folks avoid using them. Thanks for adding that pet peeve - such a good learning point! blessings, E

  4. Great article on Twitter! I haven't started an account yet, but plan to, so I appreciate all the helpful tips I've picked up from you on the subject! Looking forward to your post on Hootsuite as i know I will need to use it soon. Thanks Edie! (How did your Barnes and Nobles book signing go?)

    1. June I'm glad to help! And my book signing was AMAZING! Thanks to all the shares on social media it was packed. I'll be announcing the winners from those who shared this Saturday on my blog! Blessings, E

  5. Hi Edie! I've never been very Twitterpated but I'm using it more and more. Question: what do you mean by not using an auto responder? Do you mean sending out direct messages when some follows you? I have a program that I created a direct message to send out automatically to thank people for following me. Thanks, Marcie

    1. Marcie, that's exactly what I mean. We want to avoid using automated responders whenever possible. Those autoresponders are hated through-out the Twitter universe. A lot of people I know will unsubscribe if they're hit with a direct message like that. I think that's extreme, but I know what they get frustrated about. We follow someone to interact with them. Instead, we get a computer generated message. there are a lot of schools of thought on this, but this one is mine. thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

  6. I don't understand how it can be effective. When we follow hundreds (or thousands) of people, the tweets scroll away so fast that whenever I open Twitter, I only see a handful of messages. I can look down through the page, but the odds of me seeing a specific author's tweets are slim. And most of those are links to something, with only a vague "read this review" description. It doesn't have the same social connection as Facebook does.

    1. For example, when I got up this morning, there were 957 new tweets! I follow over 600 people, so I could delete about 500 of them, but still... it just moves too fast and disappears!

    2. Cathe, the value in Twitter isn't found on Twitter. You're right, the newsfeed is chaos. BUT when you use a dashboard to manage your social media, you can pull out the topics you're interested in on Twitter and see them clearly.

      It has great value because you don't get random posts (like on FB) you pull out topics that you're interested in, like social media, or twitter, or romance books. Hang in there and watch what a scheduling dashboard can do to bring order from chaos.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

    3. Thank you. I will look into a dashboard. :)

  7. On my Twitter description I have: Author Published by Ambassador International under D.M. Webb Writer, Artist, Dreamer
    I'm thinking of venturing out and looking at other houses, too, show how can I revamp my description by incorporating hashtags?
    I write contemporary, but am working on a romance series plus a fantasy series, so I'm not in just one genre (the one "rule" I choose to break because I just love to write stories).
    Would this description work?
    Author of #Romance #Action #Sci-fi #Fantasy, Artist, Dreamer, #Reviewer
    I'm not good at this. :(

    1. Daphne, I think that's a GREAT description and you're right not to tie yourself to one specific house. Beyond that, one of the reasons this works is because you're connecting with people - and we all like more than one thing. The variety is a plus, not a minus. Well done! Blessings, E

  8. Thank you for writing this. I was terrified of Twitter at first and felt out of place. After reading your article, I feel much better about using Twitter.