The Fine Art of Twitter

At the 2014 Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres’ “selfie with stars” Oscar tweet was retweeted so many times (in less than an hour, DeGeneres’ photo was already up to 871,000 retweets, with 210,000 favorites) that it temporarily shut down Twitter. That’s the power of social media (and our seemingly endless fascination with celebrity culture).

But what about those of us who aren’t quite that famous? Is Twitter worth the investment in time?

I suppose the answer lies in what you expect to get out of Twitter. In my case, I set up a Twitter account about a year ago as part of an overall social media platform that I’m gradually trying to build (at the Bloody Words XII Writers’ Conference, Toronto, 2012, the message came out loud and clear: today’s author needs to be ready, willing and able to promote themselves). Twitter is one way of doing that.

What I’ve discovered, however, is that there’s a fine art in how to use Twitter effectively. Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not claiming to be an expert, far from it, and I’m still trying to build my own following (link conveniently located to the right of this column, in case you’re thinking “Hey, I should follow her!”). But over the past few months, I’ve followed and unfollowed a number of people, publishers and booksellers. And there are two surefire ways to get me to tune out: 1) overtweeting and 2) blatant, repetitive self-promotion.

I’m not alone. While doing research for my Marketing 101 column in the March issue of First Draft (the bimonthly newsletter of Sisters in Crime – Guppies), I had the opportunity to get feedback from several successful published mystery writers, including New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis, who offered this advice, culled from her excellent blog post Twitter 101:

  • Don’t tweet constantly.
  • Don’t tweet that you’re standing in line for the restroom somewhere.
  • Absolutely DO NOT tweet an ad for your book. There’s a distinction between “Yay! My book is finally here!” and “Buy my book about murder and mayhem in Minneapolis today for $4.99 at LINK.”
  • Don’t keep repeating said ad!
  • Do tweet about things related to your book, or where it takes place.
  • Do tweet good news about your author friends. Brag about their good news, and they’ll return the favor.
  • Do tweet or retweet fun things that you like.
  • Do retweet

Will doing and not doing all those things get you Academy Award winning numbers? Not a chance. But it will allow you to put your own best Twitter foot forward. That’s a start, and to my mind, a good one.

To read the entire First Draft column, Marketing 101: Twitter, click here.



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