If you’re having trouble finding enough time to maintain multiple social media presences at once (Facebook and Pinterest and blogs . . . oh my!), then Twitter is a perfect choice for engaging in meaningful social interaction with a less demanding time commitment.
With its simple format and strict space limitation, Twitter gives you a pared down way to express your thoughts. Of course, like any social media outlets, Twitter has its own nuances, tricks and best practices. First let’s go over some basic Twitter terms.
- Tweet—An update with a maximum of 140 characters.
- RT—Stands for retweet. If you share another user’s tweet verbatim with a credit to the original tweeter, you’re retweeting.
- DM—A direct message sent privately to another Twitter user (the feature Anthony Weiner intended to use).
- @reply—Mentioning a Twitter user by name on your tweet by using an @ symbol before the user’s Twitter handle.
- Hashtag—Using a # symbol before a keyword. A hashtag is used to tie a tweet to a specific topic and make that topic easily searchable.
Now let’s cover some tips to help you make the most of your Twitter presence.
- Dive In—Twitter is a public forum, so don’t hesitate to weigh in on what others are tweeting about.
- Go Mobile—Get the appropriate Twitter app on your phone so you can tweet when you’re out. Some of the most interesting tweets consist of commentary on events and places outside the home and office.
- Be a Resource—If someone asks you a question via Twitter be sure to respond in a timely manner. You can even offer to connect via DM or email if the question requires a more in-depth response.
- Tag Your Tweets—Use hashtags to align your tweets with popular topics (e.g. #FridayReads) or to strengthen you own brand (e.g. #GreenleafTips).
- Wash, Rinse, and Retweet—If you see a valuable tweet from one of your peers, influences or influencers, feel free to share it with your followers. Retweeting is the sincerest form of flattery.
- Short and Sweet—Shorten your tweets using bit.ly. You’ll save space on your character count and the site is trusted by the Twitter community.
- To Thine Own Self Be True—Twitter is arguably the most conversational and informal of all the social media outlets, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.
When put to good use, Twitter can enhance your status as an expert, foster connections for new business ventures, and constantly expose you to fresh ideas from people around the world. The sky is truly the limit with Twitter. Log on and see how far your tweets take you!
While you're at it, follow us!
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In reality, Twitter really is quite simple. This fun video shows you how easy it is to get started and how it works.
We also found this one that explains twitter keywords and hashtags, which are important for targeting your reader.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to utilize twitter, it’s time to focus on what you should actually say or “tweet” about. Like with anything you do to build your author platform, you need to be answering the reader’s question—“What’s in it for me?” Even at 140 characters, readers are still looking for value. You can provide it through:
News: What’s hot and trending in your topic right now.
Links: What resources are available to educate, inform, and entertain your reader.
Tips: Quick tips and insights to help your reader improve or enhance their lives.
Throughout your posts full of news, links, and tips you also want to sprinkle in some self-promotion and engagement with your readers. A good rule of thumb is to keep promotion to about 20% of your content and focus the rest on providing value to and engaging with the reader.
A few quick tips:
- To add links and still keep your posts to 140 characters, use Tiny links or Bity links
- Add keywords designated with hashtags (mentioned in the video above). This will allow you to get your post in front of people outside of your network. If your tweets are interesting and informational, they’ll start following you.
- Don’t worry about mass. It’s not about how many followers you have, it’s about having the right followers who are interested in your topic and view you as a great resource/expert.
- Social media is a two way street. Engage with readers, answer their questions, and share other people’s informative posts.
Here are some popular hashtags related to writing and publishing:
#dearauthor: Notes and tips from industry professionals to authors.
#dearpublisher: Notes and questions from authors to publishers.
#publishing: News, trends, and information on publishing.
#pubtips: Tips on getting your manuscript picked up by an agent or publisher.
#writing: Information on the craft of writing.
#amwriting: Updates on what you are writing now.
#WIP: Work in progress.
#writegoal: Share your daily writing goal.
#womeninpublishing an #meninpublishing: Focus on the men and women in the industry.
#books: All things related to books.
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By the beginning of 2010, you should have heard something about the multipurpose power of Twitter. Tweens can keep tabs on Miley Cyrus; huge corporations can interact with their customers; authors can get visibility with readers. But besides reaching out directly to their target audience of readers, authors can use Twitter to access communities that can be crucial to the success of their book—like booksellers. Generally passionate about their work, booksellers have a large and vocal presence on Twitter, and the Twitter-savvy author would do well to befriend them.
John Kremer has a long list of booksellers on Twitter, and Jennifer Tribe of Highspot Inc. has compiled an amazing directory of book industry people here. In addition to booksellers, Tribe’s list also includes publishers, agents, publicist, author services, and more. As you follow people you’d like to know on Twitter, remember that it’s as useful a listening tool as it is a broadcasting tool: get to know what each specific bookseller uses Twitter for, and join the conversation respectfully, waiting for a while before you start pushing your book on anyone. Once you’ve followed and gotten to know the bookselling community on Twitter, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to stick around: they’re smart, helpful, and a lot of fun.
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For author and experts in today’s rapidly changing marketplace, participation in social networking is a must. Lucky for us, the technology to help us build meaningful professional relationships now exists. So authors/experts: if you aren’t already tapping into the power of social media, we have one question for you. Why not?
How does social media play into the overall promotion of you and your book? Here’s how it boils down. While your publicist works to make connections for you with the media, you ought to be working on your online visibility; once we generate interest with a reporter, guess where that reporter is headed next? Your blog. Your Facebook page. Your Twitter account. Your LinkedIn page.
That’s right. Your name will likely be Googled, and if the results don’t reveal your expert knowledge and your well-honed message, that interview just might go to the next person on the journalist’s list.
Whether your first book is still months away from pub date or you’ve already published three, the time to get started is now. The options are numerous, but the road to establishing yourself as a credible expert source through your online presence doesn’t have to be confusing or overwhelming.
Before you log on, read up. We’ve compiled a quick guide to one social networking platform you can’t afford to miss: Twitter. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way to streamlining your personal brand, boosting your credibility, maximizing your exposure, and broadening your fan base, too.
Start with Twitter
Called “micro-blogging,” Twitter allows you to post short, bite-sized updates about your life to a community of followers. The updates are 140 characters (or less) and bring you closer to people who share things in common with you. Twitter has quickly become the most essential online networking tool for authors.
First, reporters use Twitter. Journalists often post questions as a time-saving tool to help develop angles and gather targeted feedback for their stories. Some outlets go straight to the Twitter-verse during news meetings. Following media who you want to reach with your message will help you not only stay “on the radar” and interface directly with the media you aim to reach, but you’ll be up on the trends and know what’s happening in the news before it reaches the paper. You’ll be educated on a reporter’s news beat, making you a more relevant, newsworthy source when the time is right.
How to tweet?
Sign up for a free account at Twitter.com. To help build your personal brand, use your real name along with a headshot, rather than a more elusive, creative handle. Regular, frequent updates are the key to using Twitter. Chime in with your thoughts on breaking news item, post details on your upcoming book events, host a book giveaway, join “Tweet-Ups,” or discussion groups on topics in your area of expertise. Get the most out of Twitter by interacting with your community of followers. Use the Direct Message feature to send a brief note to compliment or congratulate someone on a big announcement, or even to make an introduction with someone you might not know personally.
Who should I follow?
Clicking the follow button will likely cause that user to follow you in return, as long as you prove to be a legitimate Twitter-er (with a track record of regular, frequent posts). Here are a few places to start.
- Follow your publicist: twitter.com/prbythebook!
- Follow the newsmakers you want to feature you in turn (for example, the book editor at the Dallas Morning News: twitter.com/mmerschel).
- Follow the radio host who just interviewed you and you’ll show them you respect and appreciate their work enough to keep in touch.
- Follow your fans! Use the search box to find mentions of your book or your name and see who is Tweeting about you.
- Follow industry trendsetters and bloggers who cover your area of expertise.
Note: Aim to keep your follow/follower ratio close. In other words, Twitter is a two-way discussion; no one wants to follow someone who won’t follow them back.
- Mashable.com - Twitter Guide Book
- Twitter.com – Twitter for Business
- Editor Unleashed - “Authors on Twitter: Who’s Getting it Right?”
- The Book Publicity Blog (Penguin Publishing House publicity) - “How Twitter works and why people in the publishing world should consider using it”
- HuffingtonPost.com – “Best Friends Forever: Authors and their Readers on Twitter and Facebook”
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Last month, publishing guru Dan Poynter followed up his popular self-publishing manual (now in its 16th edition) with Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual: Volume 2, which focuses on using the latest technologies to produce, print, and promote a self-published book. To help you in your efforts to stand out in the giant self-publishing playing field, Greenleaf Book Group and the Big Bad Book Blog are giving away five new copies of the book tomorrow on (where else) Twitter.
To play, just follow @GreenleafBookGr, and before 1:00 p.m. CST tomorrow (April 21), tweet the following message:
@GreenleafBookGr Enter me in the Dan Poynter giveaway!
We'll randomly select five winners and announce them shortly thereafter. Good luck!
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Are you a Tweet? Or a Tweeter, Twitterer, Twit, Birdie, etc? Regardless of what charming epithet you may think to dub it, the word is out: Twitter is the newest fad in digital neuroticism. (We mentioned it way back in ‘07, but its recent rise has been so meteoric, and so important in cementing the book community, that it’s definitely worth revisiting.) Twitter is a “micro-blog,” one that limits your total characters to 140 per post. This means a certain level of succinctness that I, regrettably, find difficult to attain (this post, for example, is 3370 characters).
But that’s part of the challenge and the fun: spread the message in the most concise way possible. Think of it as a series of unlimited online text messages. Said messages are spread to your followers, who need only subscribe to your account to follow your every digital budge, shift, or stir. And when Times Online reports even famous persons tweeting their hearts out, you know that it’s a smart move (personally and professionally) to join the fray.
[Time out for a moment: Is it silly that it made me rather happy when I discovered the hilarious Stephen Fry was the most popular of the “famous persons” on Twitter? Followed by the beloved Neil Gaiman at lucky thirteen. And spread the love for Kevin Smith and William Shatner. And I am such the nerd.]
I mention the Twitter today firstly because I have finally become a Tweet, this being my preferred soubriquet. (Greenleaf has also been Tweeting for a few weeks now as well. Follow us!). Secondly—and more important to you—I mention it because it’s a unique service that offers authors a marketing apparatus that is simple, free, and at your fingertips, accessible via computer and phone, day or night. Tweet, and your followers shall hear the call. As I have mentioned before, authors and would-be authors creating and maintaining a digital presence—a way for people to find you—has become increasingly important. And for authors, especially those who are self-published or with independent publishers, services such as Twitter are invaluable as an addition to websites, social networking pages and blogs, through which Twitter can provide a seamless interconnectedness through the use of applications or widgets. Once you’ve built up a few hundred followers—hopefully relevant ones, and ones you interact often with via Twitters @ replies), do something as simple as giving away five free galleys or copies of your book to the first five respondents. The contest will most likely last a matter of minutes, and you’ve gotten your work into the hands of readers who will, hopefully, enjoy your book and then talk (or Tweet) about it.
And remember that Twitter, like all manner of online apparatuses mentioned, is not only for spreading the word about yourself. It is also about discovering others. I will do unto you as you have done unto me: the more people you follow (or friend, or message, or e-mail), the more who reciprocate in kind, and the stronger your following will grow.
If you’re completely new to Twitter, start an account, follow a few people, and then watch and listen to get a feel for how it works. (Here’s a good guide to Twitter etiquette.) To learn about more writers who Tweet, check out Felicia Day’s blog, which has a growing list of authors on Twitter. Jennifer Tribe also has a terrific list of publishers and other book people who Tweet.
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According to a recent article in the New York Times, 48 percent of Internet users--about 87 million people--use widgets. Widgets were first introduced to the World Wide Web in 2001, but they have recently joined the ranks of the hot new Web 2.0 tools that can help push your message to the masses.
The technical definition of a widget is a chunk of code that can be embedded within a page of HTML. For those of us who aren't technologically savvy, a widget is basically a small application that you can add to your blog, social networking page, or your book's web page to help increase its interactivity.
Now, you may be thinking that widgets don't really fall into the realm of social media, but I would like to think that they do. Increasing your interactive presence online will enhance a visitor's personal experience on your Web site, and widgets can enhance the social media programs you are already utilizing to increase your visibility online.
Here are a few widgets you can add to your web page to dress it up a bit:
- Google's Book Bar Wizard is a simple and customizable shelf that is extremely easy to set up. Enter the information about your book and Web site, and Google will generate the code for you. The Book Bar will allow your visitors to click on your book and preview it using Google Book Search.
- Twitter Widget keeps your fellow Twitterers and your other web followers constantly updated on your travel schedule. Add this widget to your MySpace profile page and combine two of your social media efforts.
- The Flickr Slideshow is highly customizable and allows you to post a slide show of all the wonderful pictures you took on your book tour onto your Web site.
- You can browse for more widgets at WidgetBox.com.
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Q: What’s the newest and fastest growing microblogging phenomenon to hit the Internet in the past year?
Simple in concept and design, Twitter allows you to send twitters, or messages, to all of the twitterers following your account. It’s an online global community that asks its users to answer one question—“What are you doing?”—in 140 characters or less. But it can also be a great asset when launching your book media tour.
Twitter combines blogging, text messaging, and instant messaging on a platform that allows you to send real-time messages to thousands of people worldwide.
Why not send messages about your upcoming TV or radio interviews? You can twitter about the release of your book, your website, or what you had for lunch. Twitters are not necessarily sent to elicit response, but to let the world know what you are doing at the exact moment you are doing it.
After winning the top award at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March, Twitter saw an increase of 50,000 users in one day. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter is steadily growing at a rate of 20 percent a week.
2008 presidential candidate John Edwards twitters about his campaign travels, and according to the New York Times, may have been the first major candidate to make a policy clarification on a social medium. Presidential campaign managers have realized the impact and reach of social media; take their lead and make it work for you and your book.
Give Twitter a test drive and check out TwitterVision. TwitterVision shows your up-to-the-minute twitters from around the world and pinpoints their origins. Be one of the first authors to twitter about your book tour by signing up for a free account at Twitter.com.
In the next social media guide: It’s time to hop on the bandwagon and join the millions of people who have taken advantage of two little social phenomena know as MySpace and Facebook. You may have heard of them.