If you’re an author (or anyone else!) learning the social media ropes, your goal is probably to build alliances, draw readership to your blog and/or grow interest in your book. The pros tell us creating a twitter following is one of the best ways to drive blog traffic, and, hopefully, gain respect. So here you are. You have a twitter handle, bio and photo, and understand how to tweet and check @mentions and retweets. What next? Time to build a serious twitter following.
(Be sure to read my latest Twitter Tips post as well!)
When I fired up my twitter account, defining a purpose was easy. Figuring out how to grow a following was mind-boggling. Since then, I’ve found that having a simple, manageable process in place designed to increase my twitter presence has positively affected my success. Yes, it takes time, but if you make a plan and stick to it, the rewards will be evident soon enough!
Different philosophies exist, and I often see tweeps discussing their desire to limit follows to people they’re familiar with. I don’t believe this approach will result in the level of promotion a new author or blogger requires. The truth is, by the time you have a few hundred followers you can’t easily pick tweets out of the melee, anyhow.
It’s easier to rely on other methods to keep track of fellow tweeters. Twitter is all about building a mutual, interactive network, and you need to be an active supporter to be a valuable part of your team. It’s much easier to use LISTS (more later) to keep close tabs on your favorites. Don’t let the fear you might lose track of people hold you back. Build your twitter platform NOW!
How I created a quality Twitter following – FAST!
Here’s my story: In early March, 2011, I had a brand-new blog and my debut novel was nearly ready to send off to an editor. My intention was to create a platform to promote my book, Mark of the Loon, by growing online readership and cementing twitter relationships with other authors and pros who would hopefully help me learn the mysteries of book publishing and promotion.
To get up to speed, I learned twitter basics by reading reference material (like Publishing Talk’s Twitter Cheat Sheet) and sending a few dozen tweets, but mainly observed. When I felt confident, I got serious and began to follow active tweeters in earnest, setting a goal to follow 25 people daily. I looked for readers and fellow writers, authors, novelists, bloggers and book reviewers. I assumed these would be the most likely to support authors like myself. (Resources like Tweetadder will automate this process for you, but I prefer to do it “by hand.”)
I kept track by turning on notifications to be emailed every time someone follows, and every morning I checked messages without fail, reviewed new tweep’s feeds, and followed back those who are actively interacting, except those listed below, and minus businesses, porn stars and search bots. (Illustrated by my followers vs. following numbers.)
How to find Twitter friends to follow
To find potential tweeps to follow, I viewed other author’s followers, checked out hashtags, reviewed public author’s lists, and followed twitter’s suggestions of “people similar to me.” I read every potential follower’s tweet feed to be sure they were interacting positively with others, and I followed them when I liked what I saw.
My intention is NOT to point the finger, offend, or disrespect anyone. Tweeps have different reasons for being on twitter, mine is to talk with real people who have the same goals I do! I made a decision not to follow:
• Tweeps who do not interact with others at all (no @mentions in their feed), and who only tweet quotes, statements, or links to business promotions
• Tweeps who are inactive, have not tweeted recently and/or don’t tweet regularly
• Tweeps with a massive list of followers, as I’m not sure they can really interact (exception! Paul Dorset at 55,000 followers – check out his blog: How to build a brand on Twitter)
• Tweeps who tweet about being “unfollowed” or dissed by someone
• Tweeps who don’t tweet in English
• Tweeps with a list of followers much, much higher than they number they’re following. They probably won’t follow back, or they’ll follow for a day, then unfollow, a plan people sometimes adhere to when the agenda is to drive up numbers.
Take your time building your Twitter platform!
You may appear unpopular if you’re following 1500 people and only have 100 followers. You can avoid this by being patient and following slowly (hence my figure of 25 a day). Also, Twitter doesn’t like it when you try to follow too many all at once. (Review Twitter’s Follow Limits)
I soon discovered that those interested in following back would do so within a week to 10 days, with few exceptions. So I signed up for justunfollow.com and began to unfollow people who opted not to follow me back, 25 at a time, a couple of times a week. (Currently, free users can unfollow up to 50 users per day) Of course, I allowed a lead time of about 10 days for folks to follow if they had a mind to. (I no longer need this service every week, and you’ll get to that point, as well.)
Unfollowing people who aren’t interested in your message (without judgment!) keeps your figures close re: the percentage of people you are following vs. the number of tweeps following you. Once you get to 2,000, twitter limits the amount of people it allows you to follow – IF you’re following way more than are following you. So best to keep your numbers close right from the beginning. Reminder: There are so many reasons why people don’t follow back, and none of them are personal, so do NOT focus on this, it’s irrelevant!
Important point: GIVE before you expect a big payback
To grow a quality following, you must interact with a percentage of your followers, comment on their blogs, and help with retweets. A sincere, reliable way to gain true support is to retweet blog posts, book reviews and book links. I like Steven Covey’s advice, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Just as in life, on twitter we benefit when we give our support without expecting paybacks. Give to gain. Don’t expect others to support you if you haven’t paid your dues. AND SAY THANK YOU!
IMPORTANT! These behaviors demonstrate bad manners! DO NOT:
• tweet snarky comments about others
• tweet anything about people not following you, and don’t tweet an @mention about those who unfollowed you (If you’ve been around for a while, you know twitter unfollows people FOR YOU, unbidden and without your knowledge, and you cannot tell the difference between a twitter mistake and a purposeful action by a follower. @mentioning unfollows is classless. Take your hits and move on.)
• DO NOT DM or tweet someone directly with an uninvited self-promotion or a link to your book or blog! Here’s an example of what NOT to do: @mollygreene, Check out my blog at www.ImaGreatWriter.blogspot.com - Thanks! or @mollygreene good afternoon, may I interest you in my book? Its a fabulous read on www. mememememe.com
So now more about lists. To keep close tabs on a group of people, create a twitter list and add your faves. When you click on your list, you’ll see their feeds. I’ve created a couple of private lists (you can make your lists public) for my besties so I can easily keep tabs on them and RT without missing anything, and I review it daily. You don’t have to be following people to keep them in a list, so you can do this with agents or anyone you care to keep close.
I’m happy to report that my twitter experience is fabulous. I have SO much fun on twitter I actually spend too much time on the site! I have the best followers in the world, and my hope is that they feel the same about yours truly. Happy tweeting!
How to set up a list:
• Go to “lists” on your profile page
• Choose “create a new list”
• Choose “private” or “public,” and name it, etc.*
• Go to the tweeps’ profile pages and click on the black “head and shoulders” icon to the right of the DM envelope, and add them to the list
• Back on your own profile page, click on “lists,” and choose from the drop-down
Must read! Novel Publicity’s Cease and Desist: 10 Bad Twitter practices to be stopped immediately! http://bit.ly/ncir5v
Twitter Rocks! http://bit.ly/kCzgdB
Terri Long’s @tglong 5 EASY Ways to Use Twitter to Increase Blog TRAFFIC! http://fb.me/XmynI4n2
John Cox/Paul Dorset @jcx27 How to Get 16,000 Twitter Followers in 90 Days without steroids http://bit.ly/hx9K0U (A great read. We used a similar method, but Paul kicked it up a notch!)
Cathy Larkin, How to use Twitter Lists, My POV
*If you set your lists to public you can use a service like http://paper.li to publish daily feeds from your lists which also promotes your followers and keeps them happy.
Don’t miss my update to this post, How to Suceed on Twitter.
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