Tech Talk Special Edition: Take on Twitter

I was hrzavhahagh *cough cough* years old when this came out. I know how young I am, don’t need reminding. But it is one of the first music videos I can ever remember and sticks with me more than 25 years later. That’s a powerful thing! So enjoy Aha! Take on Me before we talk about TAKING ON TWITTER!!!

THE JANUARY 2012 TWITTER CHALLENGE!

First, I am @EAWwrites on Twitter. Send a Tweet with “@EAWwrites I’m doing the Twitter Challenge” so I can add you to my lists and help you.

The goals:

  • Note your Twitter following at the start. For me, that’s roughly 1800 followers. Multiply by 1.5. That’s the goal of follower increase. So for me, that’s reach 2,700 followers by January 31st.
  • Learn how to maximize automating and participating on Twitter (it takes both).
  • Track your book sale links to see how your Twitter campaigns are doing!

Step One:

Sign up for Twitter. If you are new, make a goal of 200 followers. Go through their tutorial to learn all about how to tweet. The gist of it is sharing information in 140 characters or less. Managed correctly, tweeting is a great creative exercise for your writing in crafting short, simple messages.

Step Two: Sign up for Bit.ly. Add the links for your books (you can customize the shortened link if you’d like, I use bit.ly/CNXNook1 for example for my link to CANCELLED on Nook). These are the links you are going to tweet and track. You can also shorten links to blog posts you want to track. Tracking is good!

Write 10 Tweets in a Word Document and Save it as Auto-tweets

There is a little controversy about auto-tweeting. Some purists maintain that auto-tweeting is against the spirit of “social” media. I say pish-posh. How is a bulletin board with flyers and business cards not social in your local coffee shop? Exactly. Are the people standing right there the entire time their flyer is up? No. Instead, the manager just takes down things that are a little stale. Twitter is that manager.

When you send out a tweet, it might have a life span of a few seconds in your followers’ feeds, depending on many factors. If it’s retweeted (RT) then it gets a little chance at a second life. But for the most part, the tweet you posted 5 minutes ago already impacted the people it was going to impact and it’s in the annals of the web now.

Back to the Word document:

Write your tweets and aim for 100 characters or less, including your shortened link. You can check this by highlighting your tweet and checking the Word Count. There is usually a character count, with spaces. That’s the number you are looking for.

Effective Tweets

A recent study from MIT looked at factors to induce RTing. You can read if you’d like, but here’s what I’ve pulled from it.

  1. Less than 100 characters so the RT doesn’t get cut off when someone clicks RT. ex: She returned his shirt and ruined his life. CANCELLED on KINDLE bit.ly/CNXaakindle  [82 characters]
  2. Capitalize the first word, try to keep it short to stand out in the feed. ex: ROMANCE from a MALE pov. He’s becoming daddy, his fiancee isn’t pregnant. bit.ly/CNXnook1  [90 characters]
  3. Ask for the RT. ex: FREE #ebooks on The-Cheap.net Jan 1st. Over 500 to giveaway! PLS RT [67 characters]
  4. Be a human. ex: Told daughter not to write on self, she pointed at my tattoos. #Mommyfail [73 characters]
  5. Share links of places you’re featured. This is called external validation, or RT tweets that mention you (you will find this is your @twittername tab in Twitter). TECH TALK Learn all about links! On Mark Williams international: bit.ly/mwidp02 [79 characters]
  6.  Be practical, get known as someone who tweets links of information your followers can use. ex. WRITERS read this, easy guide to make business plan for ebook! bit.ly/ebookbizplan [83 characters]
  7. Offer a sale or good deal (not necessarily your book, any good deal for your followers) 2 examples: UK Kindle Romance from a bloke’s POV! Only 99p for a LIMITED TIME bit.ly/CNXukaa [81 characters notice I added a “hurry” to make people click?] OMG Tell me, are these not stunning NOOK covers? I so want one! bit.ly/obercover [80 characters]
  8. Topical. You can take advantage of a trending hashtag or latest news item, showing you are “with it.” Big example of this was all of the Steve Jobs tribute tweets when he passed away in October. People RT to emphathize, and show they feel your sentiment, even if it’s only 140 characters long. Most popular one then? ex. #iSad [4 characters, spoke 4,000 worth]
  9. Time Sensitive. Add a time qualifier, like I did in number 7, or be specific so people want to RT because it can’t wait. ex. Jan 1st The-cheap.net has over 500 books to gift through NOOK. Get a New Book for the New Year! [95 characters]

Okay, so use the tips above to make a list of 10-20 tweets in a word document. Save it. Now open Hootsuite.com.

Automating Through Hootsuite

For this exercise, using the FREE automation on Hootsuite.com is more than acceptable. It will prompt you how to add a twitter account “Add a Social Network.”

Click the paper airplane in the left hand corner, then SCHEDULE. If you have more than one social media account connected (I do) you need to click the one you want to post to in the top right.

Now click Compose a Message. Copy and paste one of those tweets in your Word Document, and then select the date and time, and click SCHEDULE.

Your scheduled tweet should now appear in your dock, and if you messed up, you can click the pencil to edit it.

Schedule 10-20 tweets all throughout the day, concentrating on the three peak times: Morning (6 AM-8 AM your timezone) Lunch (11AM- 1PM) and Evening (6PM-10PM) for 7 Days in a row. You can’t schedule a Tweet that’s already scheduled, but you can make a very minor adjustment (one character, add a period, take it out, add an exclamation) and it’s not considered identical. This will let you tweet the same tweet a few days in a row at different times. Also, don’t worry about the Add a Link block. We’re pre-shortening our links, this is just a way Hootsuite will shorten a long link for you (handy if it’s a link you don’t want to bother tracking) as tracking link clicks with Hootsuite is difficult/costs.

Maintenance/Participation

You can’t just automate. Every day you automate tweets, you need to go back and check  how they’re doing. It’s like baiting fishing lines, check and see if a fish bit! If someone RT’d you, thank them, then click on their profile and find a good tweet of theirs to RT in kind. People who followed you? Follow them back. People you follow who followed people? (in the Activity Feed on Twitter) Follow those people too, they will follow back.

When I first started tweeting, I only followed what I thought were “quality follows.” Yeah, I sat at about 200-300 followers for MONTHS. I even Unfollowed people I couldn’t remember why I’d followed them!

You can now use LISTS to keep your true twitter friends close, just click their profile and the little person silhouette, then Add to List. You can make public and private lists. I have a Private list of “Readers in UK” “readers in Germany” that I use to classify my followers when I remember to do this. It’s private, because I don’t want it to seem like I’m just cold and calculating.

It’s silly to worry about following strangers for a Twitter account you primarily want to use to get your book out there. You never know when a tweet of yours will spark someone’s interest, someone you had no interaction with before. For example, I wrote a blog post about taxes last year, and by tweeting it, I was followed by a few financial professionals. Guess what? A few times, they’ve retweeted my book link tweet because it was interesting. People of ALL professions read, not just authors. 🙂 So don’t just follow back or only follow authors!

I RT based on a tweet’s merit, not just because it’s from someone I know. And besides, how much do you really know someone on Twitter? You don’t. So might as well make your community bulletin board access as large as you possibly can. But do keep the number of people you are following within 100-150 or so of the number of people following you. Twitter has a mechanism to prevent spam following, but it’s best to just do this on your own and not rely on that. Besides, you don’t want to be that person who follows 600 people but is only followed back by 27.

Spend 10-15 minutes a day checking your @twittername feed and responding. Your automated tweets that are just you being human (#4 Above) will make you appear as if you are there. And since Twitter is all about instant and busy people with busy lives, it’s perfectly acceptable to get back to a Reply or RT in a few hours or even a day or two. After all, you’re busy! 🙂

The Plan, Once More With Feeling

Automate your tweets. 10-20 per day.

Interact daily with the people who RT you.

Participate in #WriterWednesday and #FollowFriday. Type in #FollowFriday, find one that is a bunch of names, click RT. Follow those people. At least one or two will RT with a TY, and half or more will follow you back. Easy way to get 3-4 new followers for only 1 minute of effort.

30 days, grow those followers to 150% of what you have now. And watch how often your links are clicked at bit.ly.

Additional Resources

I talk about using spreadsheets to automate on Hootsuite which is a bit more involved, and requires the $5.99/month membership on my blog. Read it for extra credit and to learn more tips and tricks to automate tweets. 🙂


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  1. I’m still scared. *nervous giggling grin*

    :} Cathryn

    • You can do it! It can’t be nearly as scary as being sucked into a comic book!

      Take on twitter (it’s inanimate, my bets are on you).

    • Here, tell me a little bit about your book and I’ll make a few tweets for you 🙂

  2. Take on me, take me on… Pretty boy nordic types have never quite measured up

  3. Is there a “twitter-lite” option like the email servers offer for people with slow connections like moi?

    Apart from early mornings I get timed out of twitter log-ins pretty much every time.

    • I’m not really sure, Mark. Maybe try Tweetdeck? It’s free and it might help, maybe. If not, and this is really awful, have it set up to send tweets to a folder in your email, then you can look at that and go to hootsuite and automate a tweet back. Not ideal, but the best thing I could think of…

  4. It’s still a pretty awesome music video for 1985!

  5. This is a great overview of Twitter. You’ve packed in a whole lot of excellent information, Elizabeth.

    I have my own system that seems to work for me. I don’t automate anything and drop in about three times a day to tweet this week’s blogpost and any other blog I’m on that week. But I think my most effective tweeting comes from when I’m browsing news and blogs. I tweet everything interesting to writers.

    That bit.ly icon is great because I can tweet even stuff with no share buttons.

    I would warn people about going crazy with hootsuite. What you can post on Twitter may look really silly on buttoned-down LinkedIn, so choose carefully where you send it.

    That video was hilarious. Electronic music from the 80s all sounds like a porno soundtrack.

    • Automation is definitely a touchy subject, and not something taken lightly. I like automation because I schedule my “must tweet” a few days out. I have a 2 year old underfoot, so it’s easier for me to have a few auto tweets go out and then respond when I can throughout the day 😉

      I still write the tweets 🙂 And I make sure to tweet based on timezone to reach international readers, which HAS helped me slowly build followers from other countries. 🙂

      But it’s not for everyone, and I think until people try out the automation (And I only auto to Twitter, not my other social media accounts where statuses are longer) they won’t know if it’s for them or not. 🙂

    • patricefitz
    • January 3rd, 2012

    Elizabeth: This is an AWESOME and thorough list of Twitter tips (Twips?) and I am so grateful you put it together. I’ve been on Twitter for a year perhaps, but never really got the hang of it until just before Christmas, when my first novel started to sell. And then suddenly I was VERY motivated to keep the books selling and the revenue stream flowing! So I’ve made it a priority to absorb a lot rather quickly, and my followers now number about 520. (And my Klout score is 50… are you a fan of Klout?)

    I’m going down your list and slowly making sure I’ve done or do the things you suggest. Now my novel has a shorter URL, customized, which I think makes it a little classier. I was able to do customized URL’s for 2 of my books via bit.ly, and the 2 others (that I publish) on tiny.url.

    My daughter, in town from Los Angeles, just set me up with a website too. I’ve had a wordpress blog for my publishing venture, but needed a personal one, as the successful author I intend to be. J

    Thanks for sharing. I tweeted this post yesterday and today, and since it’s both useful and perennial, I think it will attract attention.

    Here’s my new URL; let’s see if it works:

    http://amzn.to/RUNNINGnovel

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