First off, on Twitter, personality matters.
Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States:
J.K. Rowling, the most successful author in the world (probably):
Why social media? Why Twitter?
Social media is many things. It’s about having a conversation, connecting with people, and in some respects, building your brand. But fundamentally, it’s about great content, and Twitter, with its emphasis on current affairs, is one of the best examples of this. People join Twitter, mostly because they have something to say and they want the world to hear it. Businesses join Twitter, because they want their brand to be a part of that conversation, and ultimately, sell their products to the people having those conversations.
Writers are no different from other people or businesses. If you are a writer and you want to tap into the zeitgeist and in the process, sell your books, then Twitter is the platform for you. But to use it effectively, you need to know how to use it. So, here, in no particular order is our guide to mastering Twitter like #trump and #JKRowling.
Appreciate the Twitter difference
Not all social media networks are the same. Instagram and Pinterest are image-driven lifestyle networks, while Twitter is more news-led. Sure, you can post an image about your avocado-on-toast breakfast (#blessed), on Twitter, but it probably wouldn’t get the same traction that it would get on Instagram. Far better for your image to be accompanied with an inane comment about how avocado consumption in the West is threatening the income of avocado farmers in developing economies. That would earn you some serious Twitter kudos (remember: Twitter is more inclined towards current affairs issues than other social networks).
J.K. Rowling is one author who definitely understands the use of Twitter as a space for engaging in political discourse. But, she does it in a way that seeks to engage and inform. Her erudite posts and take downs have made her a firm Twitter favourite. In fact, you could say she’s made the platform her own.
No, you don’t have to be politically-minded to join Twitter. And you don’t have to join the ‘political discourse’ either if you don’t want to. But if you know the interests of the people who use the network, and the type of content that does well on the platform, then you have a much better chance of being a Twitter ninja. Dig?
Whatever your thoughts about Trump, he’s mastered Twitter. The network is his preferred channel of communication, because he claims the ‘LIBERAL’ media are ‘DISHONEST’ and also peddle ‘FAKE NEWS’ (capitalisation intentional), so Twitter is his only way of getting the real truth out to people.
Twitter is a place that welcomes opinions, however divisive. So, don’t be afraid to have one, because that is what will make you stand out in a sea of bland commentary.
Find your voice. Use your voice
Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is legendary for appending his updates with ‘SAD’, ‘FAKE NEWS’ and exclamation marks. That is his Twitter voice, which, essentially, is an extension of his bombastic self.
Which brings us to the musician, James Blunt and his somewhat infamous Twitter feed. Your feelings about his music aside, his Twitter updates make for compelling reading. Let’s just say that he’s mastered his Twitter voice.
Check out these updates culled from his Twitter feed. From these, we can deduce several things:
He’s not afraid to take on his haters:
He’s not embarrassed about plugging his products (which he does with unabashed self-awareness):
Popular convention says that it takes about 2,000 tweets for you to find your Twitter voice. Yours may not be as erudite as J.K. Rowling’s, as bombastic as Trump’s, or as self-deprecating as Blunt’s, but it will be your voice, so take the time to figure out what that voice reads and sound like, even if in the beginning, you feel like your tweets are shooting blanks. You could start by creating your own hashtag and attaching it to your tweets. That way, if people want to find out more about you, all they need to do is search Twitter using that hashtag.
For example, our brand hashtags are #abidemitv and #yourauthorbrand. Type in those hashtags in social media networks where we’re active (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), and you’ll see all our updates and get a sense of our brand personality (our voice).
How often should you post?
Trump and J.K. Rowling average about four tweets a day between them. Some people post once a day. The key question is this: what can you manage? Start with that.
It’s okay to self-promote (kind of)
Of course you can (and should) promote your books (or other merchandise) on Twitter. Just be smart about it. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% conversation, 20% promotion.
J.K.Rowling manages this balance really well. Between setting the world to rights and engaging in verbal combat with naysayers, she manages to slot in the odd plug for her products (note use of branded hashtag #cursedchild), and it works well:
Talking about self-promotion, here’s a Twitter update we wheel out on Fridays:
What should I post?
Yes, Twitter may be more politically-minded than other social media networks, but that doesn’t mean that you should post about current affairs only.
You can post about your Work in Progress (WIP). I created an hashtag for mine #lookingforbono, because I know that kind of content does well on social media – people love to know what writers are working on.
You can put your own spin on current affairs issues. Here’s what we put up on the abidemi.tv Twitter profile in the wake of the #MuslimBan. Our target customers are writers, so this was in essence, a rallying cry for writers to fight back, using their pen as the proverbial sword.
For all the talk about joining the conversation and Twitter being a somewhat politically minded network, ultimately, abidemi.tv is a business. So it’s only fair to expect some ROI from using the platform.
For example, if we’re running a campaign, our tweets would increase to four – one in the morning, one at lunchtime, one mid-afternoon, and the last one in the evening. And two of those posts (the lunchtime and evening posts) would link back to our product or services.
Here’s an example of such an update:
In sum, we post about things of interest to our target audience (writers), while also promoting our products/services. And we do this by following the 80/20 rule: 80% of our time is spent engaging with people on Twitter and 20% is spent promoting our wares.
I haven’t got time to tweet
Then, don’t. Having said that, there are social media management tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that you can set up for free and help you schedule your posts in advance.
Over to you: how do you tweet like a butterfly and sting like a bee?
Like what you’ve read? Please share using the icons below!
Also published on Medium.