A year and a half ago, I was a technophobe who didn’t see the point of social media, until I discovered Twitter’s #WritingCommunity. On twitter, I made friends and met many writers who have helped me on my editing journey and with preparation to query my first novel. Whether twitter is merely a next step for you, or a leap out of your comfort zone, I hope these tips will help you get started if you’re new, or continue to settle in if you’re new-ish.
Some writers are partial to following writers of the same genre. The easiest way to let us know what type of writer you are is to state your genre/ text type and audience age in your bio. If you have a website, you may like to put a link in your bio to make it accessible through your @ (and by extension through your tweets) instead of just on your profile page. Beyond that, try to inject some personality into your bio as well us telling us about your interests, so your bio gives us a sense of who we’re potentially following.
Introduce yourself to the #WritingCommunity. Tell us who you are, what you write, that you’re new and anything else you like. I suggest asking other writers a question to encourage people to interact with you. My first tweet said:
I can’t promise you the same response as my tweet got, but it’s a great way to ‘meet’ people. (I don’t recommend #MyFirstTweet -you get some weird/ random responses).
Before You Tweet
You might like to ask; why am I on Twitter? I assume many of us hope to sell our books, but do you want writer friends/ colleagues to share the journey with and seek help and advice from along the way? If so -will you tweet as a companion in the writing/ revising/ querying trenches?
Will you tweet writing motivation and encouragement, or humour or tips and advice? If you want to connect with readers, will you tweet discussion questions related to themes in your writing or share links to topically relevant articles?
And what and how much would you like to say about yourself, your life and your opinions on your writer/ writing focused twitter account?
Before You Retweet
You might consider, am I going to retweet everything of interest to me, or just things topically/ thematically/ genre or generally related to my writing? Will I retweet things which are helpful, useful, encouraging or entertaining to my followers? Will I retweet to help the writer whose tweet I’m retweeting?
Its also worth considering how often you retweet. Retweeting anything which interests you many times a day may make your account look like a bot, and put people off following you.
How Do I Get My Tweets Seen & Interacted With?
Short answer -use hashtags. By algorithms no-one I’ve spoken to can fully explain, hashtags help your tweets get onto people’s feeds, but they can do more. Specific, relevant hashtags can act as subheadings and incline people to read and interact with your tweets. Savy Twitter users may also find and interact with your tweets by searching hashtags. For a list of hashtags to be seen on and to connect with writers and find tips, help and prompts on, see this post.
Tips for Getting Tweet Impressions and Interactions
1. Be Concise
My two line tweets often get the most impressions, whereas 3-4 lines often get the least.
2. Tweet Some Questions
Few of us have the gift of being able to write statement tweets which go viral, so ask some questions that most writers/ readers can answer (unless you’re seeking specific information). This encourages people to interact and is a good way to get to know your followers.
3. Use 1-3 RELEVANT hashtags (see my next post)
Lots of hashtags hurts eyes and puts people off reading tweets. No hashtags means we don’t know what the tweet is about, so should we spend time reading it? Using vaguely relevant hashtags clutters that hashtag’s feed with tweets writers searching the tag for information or tweets to interact with may find irrelevant and or annoying.
Don’t just heart others tweets -some of us only look in ‘Mentions’ and only notice replies -so reply. Help when you can. Answer questions. Play tag games or respond to prompts (see my Hashtag Guide for a list of these.) Reply to familiar faces on your feed and log in at a regular(ish) time of day. Doing this increases your chances of seeing and being able to interact with the same writers, and increases their chances of seeing and being able to reply to your tweets, making it easier to get to know people.
Staying Connected on Twitter
Managing Notifications: Untagging, Muting & Seeing Replies
Once you’ve met people, don’t be that person who notifies 50 people when talking to one person who tagged them. When you hit ‘reply’, check if above it says ‘replying to @___ and 48 others’. (Like it does on the right).
Select the ‘and’ before ’48 others’ then untick/ untag ‘others in this conversation’ from the menu to reply to one person.
Or re-tick/ re-tag the 3/50 people below you’re speaking to (below ‘others in this conversation). If the blue box is ticked -like below- you’re about to notify (in this case) 48 people of your reply. Its much easier to stay connected if our notifications aren’t bursting with replies of people not speaking to us.
If others don’t do this for you, hit the top right 3 dots on any tweet in the thread clogging your notifications, then select ‘mute conversation‘.
This means you won’t get notified when someone replies to your tweet in that thread. To see those replies, go to your profile, select ‘Tweets and Replies’ (below your bio).
Then scroll down the tweet and reply feed to your tweet in the tag thread. Selecting it will display replies to it.
Staying in Touch: Twitter Lists
The easiest way to remember who you’ve met and something about them (genre, where they live in the world, etc) is to add them to a twitter list by a category of your choosing (using the left menu in your profile page). This will store people’s twitter handles for you and create a list feed which only displays list members tweets (which is how I find my friends tweets among tweets by the 10k writers I follow on my main feed.)
Staying in Touch: Twitter DM Groups
If you want to talk regularly, or easily ask questions in a private group, or find out what friends are saying without sifting through public Twitter feeds, you can make or be added to a group DM. That’s when someone starts a new Direct Message (DM), but instead of just pasting one person’s twitter handle into ‘search people’ you paste another, select their handle from the drop down list and continue adding as many people as you like/up to 75 friends. (Then select ‘Next’ -top right- then type your message).
NB: twitter etiquette is ask before DM-ing people. If you’re creating a group, I’d tweet publicly asking who’d like to be added.
Shortcut: scan your feed for writers offering to add you to their DM groups (which is what many of my friends did with mine 😉).
I hope this helps you get started. To navigate the #WritingCommunity and find out which hashtags to use in your tweets, see my Hashtag Guide. If you’d like a more detailed Twitter introduction (including Twitter etiquette), see Emma Lombard’s comprehensive Twitter Tips for Newbies.