Every writer, whether published or not, should be on Twitter; simply being present is not enough. To get ahead follow my ten twitter tips for writers.
1. Make Your Page Presentable
People, rightly or wrongly can judge you on how you look, and that holds true in the Twitter realm. If you haven’t already, do the following to perk up your profile: Write a snappy, intriguing, relevant bio and upload a pic of you or an image that appropriately represents you, and customize your page’s background and colors. You can do all of these things through the settings tool bar, located in the dropdown at the far upper-right of your screen.
2. Learn How to Talk — Twitter is Not Facebook
…and those who condone it probably haven’t realized that yet. Think of Twitter more as a massive internet chat room combined with the functionality of Google search—that’s what Twitter’s about. Facebook connects you to your real-life, day-to-day (and days of past) network. Your Facebook friends might care about what you had for lunch, what your cat did, etc. Your Twitter friends are less likely to be impressed.
3. Get Connected
The basic Twitter site is all well and good, but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you use apps. There’s a world of apps out there — yours for the taking. Those like TweetDeck, HootSuite and TweetCaster help you organize your Twitter experience on your desktop, from multiple computers, and on your Droid or iPhone. Those like TwitterFeed and SocialOomph will help you to schedule your tweets in advance (or will plug into your RSS feed). There are so many wonderful apps out there that finding the right ones for you can be a little daunting.
4. Set-up Your RSS Feed
Twitter is an especially powerful marketing tool when combined with your blog. Get the word out by setting up an RSS feed, like Twitterfeed. You can set your feed to post as many as five RSS links and as frequently as every 30 minutes or as seldom as just one link per day. You can add a post prefix and a post suffix I highly recommend including hashtags. Remember, you want to get the word out about your blog’s content, but you don’t want to link-spam people — that’s annoying.
5. Find People to Follow
When you first start out on Twitter, there’s a strong temptation to begin following whoever looks interesting, doing so in rapid succession. Don’t do that — it’s going to make you look like a spam-bot.
6. Decide Who to Follow Back
Once you’ve been on Twitter for a while, people will begin to follow you preemptively. You don’t have to follow someone back just because they made the first move. What if that user is a spam-bot or someone whose interests have nothing to do with your own? When deciding whether or not to follow-back, I look at the user’s profile. If they don’t have a photo uploaded, I probably won’t follow them back. If they haven’t written a bio, same deal. If they only tweet once every couple of days or haven’t tweeted anything for weeks, I’m not going to follow back. If I notice their account is just a spammy RSS feed, I’m not going to follow. If their interests have nothing to do with mine, I still might follow if I see that they regularly interact with others and have nice things to say. It’s amazing what you can glean from a 15-second look at somebody’s profile.
7. Use Hashtags, and Use Them a Lot
Hashtags are probably the best thing that ever happened to Twitter. Hashtags are the best way to get non-followers to see your tweets, which could earn you new connections. Experiment with hashtags, specify your interests no matter how obscure, invent your own hashtags.
8. Make Full use of #WW and #FF
Writer Wednesday and Forward Friday are fabulous. They use the genius of hashtags to help people find new Twitter friends. On these days, writers recommend people that they think their followers should be following and include the hashtag. Some people will turn out hundreds of recommendations. Others recommend only a few people, stating their reasons why the featured user should be followed. Take advantage of these days, follow the people your friends recommend and then retweet the recommendation to let the recommended know that you are now following him or her (that was a mouthful) — your new friend will probably return the favor. Apps like FridayFollowRanking can help you to see who has recommended you, who you have recommended, who you interact with most on Twitter, and even what your overall referral rating is.
9. Take an Interest
If you want to get a friend, be a friend. Ask your Twitter posse what they’re up to and how things are going with their writing and in their lives, listen to their answers and have a conversation.
10. Be Friendly
Altruism is alive and well within the twittersphere. Did you know that you can help yourself by helping others? Find innovative ways to reach out to people (like I have through my live twitterviews). Offer helpful suggestions, ask questions, refer them to resources they may like, promote them and their tweets within your own Twitter cluster.