Are you tweeting into the void?

In 2014, I wrote about how I became a reluctant bride of Twitter. These days, I spend the bulk of my social media time on Twitter. Social media mavens like Karma Bennett (coming to the CWC-SF/Peninsula Branch in November for a workshop) may scold me for focusing on a single platform, but so be it.

In the year-plus that I have been active on Twitter, I’ve gone from 100 followers to a little more than 700. It hasn’t exactly been a hockey-stick growth curve. I’ve been wracking my brains to figure out the secret behind the Twitter users whose accounts boast numbers with a K after them. I often feel I’m shouting into a vast canyon supposedly filled with eager hordes. “Hallooooo!!! Is anybody out there?”

At this rate, I'll get to 10K followers sometime in the next 25 years.

At this rate, I’ll get to 10K followers sometime in the next 25 years.

After some research and reflection, I have concluded that there is no magic formula. In fact, it seems to come down to:

  • Tweet often
  • Tweet well

Like much good advice, this suffers a surfeit of detail. So, to figure out more about what’s working and what’s not for me on Twitter, I’ve written an open letter to my followers. After the letter, I offer some resources from those more expert than I.

Dear Twitter Followers,

I know you love me just as much as I love you. I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love based on a description that crams one’s entire life into a tiny block no bigger than a decorative postage stamp?

But please, if you love me, really love me. Don’t follow me one day just so you can wave your brand in front of my face and then unfollow me the next day because you don’t really care. You give me vertigo. My follower number surge and then decline. Who leaves me? @Get1000followersNow and @SpendMoneyFoolishlyWithUs and @WeDoNotCareAboutYouOnlyAboutOurselves.Should I do the same, just to put my mug in front of more people? I shall not. I shall follow only those whose profiles genuinely engage my interest.

Speaking of genuine engagement, please say something about yourself in the meager space provided. If you are Cher, Prince, or Madonna, your one name, alone, might be enough to entice me to follow you, as long as I know you are the GENUINE Cher, Prince, or Madonna (I can tell because you’re verified). But Mary? or LWM69503? Sorry.

Please don’t mention me by my Twitter handle just to get me to look and then do a “ha ha, fooled ya” with a message about how to buy Twitter followers or where to find the latest in swanky leather goods.

DO use it as @malie129 did, to invite me to the #cowrite, which is something that interests me. How can you tell if I’ll be interested in something? You might get a clue from actually reading some of my tweets (literature, science, psychology, writing, editing, technology, philosophy).

Be loyal and I shall be loyal in return. I have to send out a big, heartfelt thank-you to my Twitter tribe. Right now, it’s a handful of people. But we interact regularly. I retweet them, they retweet me. (Shout out to @CarrieRubin, @KM_Huber, @readinterrupt, @dorcas_ct, @AugstMcLaughlin, and @jbw0123. Send them some love.)

Oh, and cut me some slack if I don’t tweet as much as your average bear. I sometimes get caught up in… what is it? oh, yeah, life…

Sincerely,
A Willing Bride of Twitter

Perhaps the stamp is not actually this size, but close enough. [Source: Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons]

Perhaps the stamp is not actually this size, but close enough. [Source: Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons]

How to go all in

All of this, of course, begs the question: Does Twitter matter? Does social media help your “author brand,” which in turn (we assume) helps you sell books?

I think the answer is a variation of the quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” usually attributed to marketing pioneer John Wanamaker. Half of everything we do involving social media is a waste; the trouble is that we don’t know which half.

If you want to get into the nuts and bolts, there’s lots of good advice about using Twitter to your advantage, especially as an author. Here are a few I found useful.

General

How-to (brand-related)

How do you use Twitter? How have you gotten followers? Does having more followers = more happiness, more love, and more sales?

16 thoughts on “Are you tweeting into the void?

  1. Well, thank you for the mention, Audrey, you’ve made me blush! At first I was just going to use twitter as an extension of my blog and only tweet about books but then I wrote about my garden and then my dog and well, it did become a place to chat with fellow twitter folks beyond the blog. I don’t think there’s a magic formula. My goal is just to have fun with it and try not to annoy anyone, haha!

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  2. I have a love-hate relationship with social media in general, but I’ll log on to Twitter probably more than anything else because you don’t have to spend a lot of time there. It can be quick and entertaining as long as you have lists of friends to check in on.

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    • “Quick” and “entertaining” are both certainly a plus! I always feel much more sucked in by Facebook. Maybe it’s the length or just that I have more real-world friends there. I find myself looking up to realize an hour has gone by. Not sure what that says about the nature of friendship…

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  3. I’ve been on twitter for four years I still don’t get it. I think I can count the meaningful twitter interactions I’ve had on one hand. It seems like the biggest spam-fest going, But I still hear is that radio is the next big thing!

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  4. Like you, my social media is on Twitter (and my blog). I’m neglectful of Facebook, and Google+ and LinkedIn? Er…hiding my face in shame. But with Twitter, I have to make lists. Otherwise I could never keep the noise organized.

    I love your Twitter letter, and I completely agree. The people who follow only to unfollow shortly after in order to increase their followers to follows ratio are frustrating. I’ve gotten good about spotting who’s likely to do this, and I don’t take the initial bait. It’s often those who have only a handful of favorited tweets or have only a few replies to others. It shows they’re not much for interacting, and since I use Twitter for interaction, I figure we won’t be a good match. But it still happens, so I’m happy for sites like Crowdfire so we can keep up with the unfollows.

    Thanks for the mention! I always look forward to your tweets. 🙂

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    • We sound very compatible in our social media strategies–all Twitter and blogging and not much else. It makes me feel not so alone!

      And thanks for the tip about Crowdfire. I checked it out. How much easier it makes things than going down the incredibly long and ever-refreshing list of people I follow to see who is following me!

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