Welcome back to my Twitter for Writers series! In case you missed last week’s post, it was about socializing versus selling. You can check it out here.
Let me start off this post by saying that you shouldn’t let me tell you who to follow. I can give you guidelines, sure, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide who you’d like to make a part of your community. If I were you, I’d be wary of anyone who tries to tell you that you MUST follow someone else. Like every part of the writing process, take their advice with a grain of salt. Focus on doing whatever works for you.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can give you some tips and guidelines for choosing who to follow. Let’s start with the basics:
- On Twitter, you can’t choose who follows you, but you can choose who to follow. If a user is harassing you, you can block them from seeing your account and interacting with you, but that’s about it.
- The easiest way to find people to follow is to look at your sidebar, in the Who to Follow section. Of course, these suggestions are not always great, so I recommend clicking the handles and checking out the user’s profile before you decide to click Follow. Lately, I’ve noticed that Twitter recommends people based on nearby location than anything else, so watch out for that.
- Other great ways to find people to follow: see who your friends are interacting with, look for bloggers or other writers whose work you admire, search for hashtags and keywords, and go through other people’s lists. There are also a handful of websites dedicated to helping you find cool people to connect with. If you want more information about any of these methods, please let me know!
- Once you’re following someone, you can (and should) add them to a list. Lists make it easier to keep track of everyone, since your timeline can easily get cluttered. Depending on your needs, you can either set your lists to Public or Private. Ideas for lists: book bloggers, writing buddies, bloggers you respect, and things like that. Sort according to whatever makes the most sense for your needs.
Now that you understand what you’re working with, here are some strategic points to consider when deciding who to include in your community:
- Don’t follow everyone back. This is just my personal opinion, but you will exhaust yourself if you try to follow everyone back. Also, this technique limits your potential for engagement. Many people are more focused on follower counts than establishing meaningful relationships. Watch out for that.
- Follow based on engagement. Again, this is just my recommendation, but if you’re going to follow people back, do it after they’ve interacted with you a couple of times. These people are the ones who also want to build community, and if they’ve already engaged with you a few times, they’re likely to continue doing it.
- Unfollow people who upset you, bring negativity to your life, or otherwise bring your mood down. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- Feel free to unfollow people who utilize the auto-DM. Yes, I understand that some people mean well, but those who utilize this messaging technique are almost always focused on what they can get from a community, rather than what they can give. I shouldn’t have to tell you not to auto-DM, either. Golden rule, people.
I’m sure there are some things I’m forgetting in this post, but I’ve covered the basics. Remember, when you’re following people, that what works for some people might not work for everyone. Feel free to try these techniques and see if they work for you, but you don’t have to live and die by them. In the words of Captain Hector Barbossa, “They’re more like guidelines than actual rules.”
What are your tips for following people on Twitter? What else would you like to see me cover in this series?
In the second part of her #TwitterForWriters series, @brianawrites discusses the ins and outs of following. (Click to tweet)
In my most recent vlog, I announced I’d be starting a Twitter for Writers blog series… and then, promptly ignored it. I’ve had a lot going on in my life recently—mostly Blood and Water, which releases soon—and I haven’t had time to start the series until now. Still, I want to make it count, starting with this first post. If you have any specific Twitter topics you’d like me to cover, let me know in the comments!
One of my biggest Twitter pet peeves is the auto-DM. My good friend Adam Dreece wrote a post about this epidemic that you should definitely check out. Go ahead. I’ll wait. (He also wrote a great one about genuine engagement. Just go ahead and follow him already, okay?) Bottom line: don’t do that. If it does work—and the chances are slim—you’ll make a sale but no connection. If it doesn’t work, you’re bound to make somebody mad.
Twitter doesn’t exist to help you sell books.
I’ll say that again: Twitter doesn’t exist to help you sell books.
Yes, it can certainly help you with that, but its primary function isn’t a marketing machine. At its core, it’s a social network, which means you should use it to build relationships, make friends, and talk to other people.
I see too many people using Twitter to sell, rather than to socialize. I know you want to sell books (who doesn’t?), but that shouldn’t be the only thing you’re tweeting about. It’s a major turn-off. Whenever someone tweets a link to their book or DMs me about it without me asking, I unfollow them. Is it harsh? Maybe. But you know what? Sometimes it helps get the message across.
I’m not saying that you can’t ever tweet about your book. Heck, what do you think I’ve been doing the past couple of months? You can promote all you want—as long as it’s not the only thing you do. Talk to other people, retweet, engage, participate in community, and help spread good vibes. If you’re building relationships, you’ll find that people will express interest in your work—without being prompted.
What are some of your Twitter pet peeves? What other topics would you like to see me cover in this series?
Beware the auto-DM, and other tips from @brianawrites’ Twitter for Writers series. (Click to tweet)
Twitter is one of the greatest under-utilized resources for writers at the moment. It’s a great way to promote your work, communicate with other writers, find some writing advice, and have a fantastic time. I only recently started spending some serious time on Twitter, and I could kick myself for not using it sooner.
So why should you set up a Twitter account?
Well, this social media platform is a spectacular way to get your name out there and build up a following. You can promote your work, support other writers who want to promote their work, and link to content that you think other people might find interesting. I promote my blog posts and freelance work through Twitter and it’s gotten me a lot more exposure than I would’ve gotten otherwise.
Twitter is also a great place to get in touch with other writers. I’ve met so many wonderful people on Twitter, most of them writers. They support my work and I support theirs. We talk about all things writing and non-writing. If you’re not currently involved with groups of other writers, Twitter is the best way to meet like-minded individuals. Whenever I interact with other writers on the site, I feel as though there is a sense of community.
Another good reason to use Twitter? Writing advice. Seriously. There are so many amazing tips that get passed around for free. All you have to do is type “writing tips” or “writing advice” into the search bar and millions of helpful Tweets will pop up. The internet is truly a glorious place.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, you need to sign up. If you already have one, you should be using it more. And you should definitely be following other writers (*ahem* ME). Tell me you followed me over from this blog and I will most likely follow you back.
What do you think of Twitter? How does it help you as a writer?