twitter for authors

One of our guiding principles is to offer authors a solid ground to stand on. Social media can be confusing, overwhelming and, well, not a lot of fun. But we know from experience that finding the right network and knowing the ground rules can give authors a powerful tool.

So with that in mind, welcome to the first in a series on the fundamentals of establishing your online identity. Starting with everyone’s second or third or fourth (maybe fifth) favorite bird, Twitter.

The basics of social media: Twitter for authors

Use your bio to introduce yourself. Engage, amuse and throw in one or two hashtags to show what you’re all about.

Snag a Twitter username that resembles your brand/story. This will make it more memorable.

Post a large-rez image for the twitter profile page. Your profile pic should stand out, too. Here are the image dimensions:
* Profile pic: 400 x 400 px
* Cover photo: 1500 x 500 px

Twitter will continue to drive people to use their profile pages so make your profile compelling. Your gut should do ZERO wrenching after you read it through.

Tweet. Muchly. Like, yeah, as much as you can. I was on Twitter for 7 years before I realized that tweeting more meant more exposure. It’s just the way Twitter works. So tweet quality stuff as often as you can.

Pin your best/most pertinent tweet to the top of the profile page. Here’s how:
* Go to your profile page.
* Find the Tweet you’d like to pin and click the ellipsis icon (•••).
* Select Pin to your profile page.
* Click Pin.

When someone gives you a retweet, go to their profile page and retweet their pinned tweet. This is the primary reason to use pinned tweets. When people want to help you out they’ll go to your profile to find something to share. Make it easy for them and pin that thing!

Use hashtags for your events and deals. This will help you track interest.

Use Twitter Lists. Twitter Lists allow you to segment people in categories that make sense to you. I have Lists like “Readers who love The Camelot Kids” and “Supportive Authors”. You can make these Lists public or private. Public lists are good for showing that you have good taste (i.e. a List titled “Fantastic Photography” with pics you love). Private Lists are good for keeping track of people who mean something to you and/or your business.

Use Hootsuite! It’s a great app that lets you schedule tweets ahead of time. It also lets you follow “conversations” in their own tab. So you can follow the hashtag #infographics to see what people are saying about that subject in real time.

Use Hashtagify.me to find hashtags that relate to your genre. Entering any term in the search box will yield a load of related keywords/hashtags that you can use in your tweets.

Use a link shortener. These are the shortened URLs that “hide” the long, URLly url. Hootsuite uses its own shortener AND it gives you access to the metrics behind that short link.

Retweet often. You’ll find buddies this way. If you want to make someone happy retweet their pinned tweet. That’s the one that’s most important to them at the moment.

Engage! See a tweet that you appreciate? Thank the guy who posted it. If you just promote yourself then you’ll come across as that guy at the party who, well, talks about himself all the time.

Be nice. You can challenge people, but be respectful too. Same rules that apply to a party, apply here.

Give proper credit by mentioning “via @[Twitter Name]”

If the person who follows you shares your interests then follow back. Be selective. it will make Twitter much more enjoyable in the long run.

Check out the competition. Frankly, the indy author scene is THE most supportive industry I’ve ever been a part of. And I’ve been in a lot of industries. Still, see what other authors in your genre are up to. Spot what works. Copy in your own special way. 😉

Twitter is getting more visual so feel free to share images. A lot.

Create a folder with images that you can go back to often. Book covers. Interior illustrations. Event photos. You’ll be using these a lot. Give them a home on your computer so you don’t need to track them down all the time.

Also create a text file of your quotable book passages. You know the ones. The sentences that you wrote and then sat back, smiling and nodding. The sentences that everyone tags on their Kindle.

If you sign into your Twitters Ads account you get access to Twitter Cards and Twitter Video. Both of these products allow you to make your tweets much more visual. Both Cards and Video are free, with the option to promote them for a fee.

Use dashboard.twitter.com to gain the ability to schedule tweets and get basic reporting on the performance of your tweets.

We’ll update this list as best practices evolve. Twitter for authors can be a fun place to dip your toe. Go sell some books and have fun!

Ben Zackheim

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