Updated: Oct 8, 2021
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I'm new to this. New to writing, new to publishing, and certainly new to Twitter. Last week, I took the plunge I'd been dreading for months and set up a Twitter account and started tweeting (that's what it's called, right?).
I'm glad to say my experience was far better than I had expected, and I've had only positive interactions with people. Over the course of 7 days, I've grown to 151 followers. Sure, this isn't much to shout about. But considering my expectations were somewhere around 0 to negative 100 followers, I'd say this is a win in my book.
I wanted to detail a few things I've learned, so if there's any new writers out there wanting to take the same plunge I did, they can too. So let's begin.
1. Don't be afraid to fail - Just jump in.
Looking back, I should have started generating my online presence years ago when I first started writing. However, I didn't. Why? Well I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it, that no one would follow me, or even communicate with me. So I held back and told myself I would set out at the perfect moment, when everything was ready. Said moment never came, and what really worked was setting up an account and just jumping in.
As we say in the UX design business, successful products fail multiple times first. By this I mean design is an iterative process. This can be applied to anything, including building a Twitter following. Something not working? Then change your approach, something starts working? Maybe put more time into that. Don't be afraid to fail, because every failure teaches you something and steers your ship just that bit more towards land, or open seas, or whatever the best apology here would be.
2. Interaction - Talk with people.
Sounds obvious right? But the number of people I know that want to build a following that are struggling tend to not really use the platform they are on. They might post an image on Instagram occasionally, or the occasional tweet that's just a line or two, but this unfortunately doesn't seem to build huge followings. At least for a very long time.
More specifically, with Twitter, there's a lot of powerful tools at your disposal. Here are a few that I've used which have helped a lot.
Retweets. More importantly, Quote Retweets. If people are like me, which I think they are, they follow other's because they like their opinions. One of the best vehicles to do this is a quote retweet. Find a tweet you like, and want to retweet it? Hold that thought! Instead, quote retweet, add some of your own spice, and don't forget to tag the original poster too for bonus points.
Hashtags. Again, pretty obvious, right? But so many people don't use these, and I didn't either, too. The trick is too not over or under use them. Not every tweet needs them, but make sure some of your tweets have 1-3 hashtags that fit the context of the tweet.
Get involved. Find posts you like and leave comments. This was hard for me as I would often think "This thread has 200 comments in it, no one is ever going to see mine". While this is true more often than not, sometimes people do see and if they like what you've written that goes a long way to gaining another follower.
3. Timing is important, but don't worry too much about it.
I'm British, living in Spain, with most of my audience spread across the USA. Time zones confused me, and although I've noticed much more interaction from people during the morning and after work hours trying to time all my tweets perfectly only added an extra layer of anxiety to the whole process.
I will say, don't tweet or post too much or too little (real specific, nice). Everyone has their own balance, for me I try to limit my posts to about 3-5 times a day (with the exception that commenting on other post doesn't really count). To add to this, spread your tweets out throughout the day too if you can.
4. Everything in balance - Don't spam.
I guess there are two paths to this point. A more general, don't spam the same type of comment and tweet over and over again. More specifically, to all the new writers out there, I would try to follow the 20/80 rule (or even more like 10/90 rule). By this I mean, 80-90% of your content should not be any form of promotion. Leaving 10-20% for you to promote your book, blogs, any product you have.
Now granted, It's good to note I personally don't have much experience with point 4. Mostly because I don't have any product yet. But I've tried to stick to the rule nonetheless.
5. Images are powerful, don't over use them though.
I have less data for this point, but from my experience in my first week I've noticed a lot more interaction, followers, and retweets if I include an image in my tweet. That's not to say you should choose any old image, of course not, it should be relevant. Got a book cover you want to show off? Tweet it out, even if you're still working on it.
6. Lastly, enjoy the platform.
As I said at the start, I was dreading putting myself out there. Not only did it feel odd, but also felt like a lot of work and effort. The most surprising thing I've learned is that social media can be fun. Treat it as if you are sculpting your own small community, don't follow someone just because they followed you, check out their content. If you like it, then chuck them a follow, stay clear of big brands you don't like, and have fun interacting with other book readers and writers.
There's a lot of people to learn from out there, better get started...