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. Being a relative technophobe, Twitter was initially alien to me and quite a learning curve. 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.
In your Twitter Bio, state your genres or text type –some writers and readers are partial to following by genre. 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 that 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. Ask other writers a question to encourage people to interact with you. My first tweet said:
Hi #WritingCommunity. I’m Elise, I write YA fantasy and I created this account to connect with my fellow writers. Who are you, what do you write & how can we help each other along the way? (You’ll find it here.)
Over a hundred writers introduced themselves and or welcomed me. I can’t promise you the same response, but it’s a great way to ‘meet’ people.
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, 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?
Before you retweet you might consider am I going to retweet everything of interest to me, or just things topically/ thematically/ genre related to my writing? Will I retweet things that are helpful, useful, encouraging or entertaining to my followers? Will I retweet to help the writer whose tweet I’m retweeting?
How Do I Get My Tweets Seen and 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 than that, for newbies and old hands alike. If you use specific, relevant hashtags, they can act as subheadings and can incline people to read and interact with your tweets. Savy Twitter users may also find and interact with your tweets by searching hashtags. Hashtags you can use to be seen and hashtags you can search to find people, tips, help and to participate in Twitter pitch parties are listed and explained below. A few other things can increase your tweet impressions and interactions. Over the past year and a half, my tweets have had as few as 400 and many as 40k impressions. My Best Tips for Getting Tweet Impressions and Interactions Are;
1. Be concise My 2 line tweets usually get the most impressions and 3-4 lines usually get the least.
2. Tweet some questions Few of us have the gift for writing statement tweets that 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 irrelevant tweets (which is annoying when its something like #AkEditor and should a be useful tag feed).
4. Interact 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 below for 3 lists of these.) Reply to familiar faces on your feed and log in at a regular(ish) time of day 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 50 others’. If so, select ‘and 50 others’ then untick/ untag ‘others’ from the menu to reply to one person, or re-tick/ re-tag the 3/50 people you’re speaking to. 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 arrow 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) and scroll down 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 8k+ writers I follow on my main feed.)
To connect within and navigate the #WritingCommunity, see my #WritingCommunity Hashtag Guide.
I hope this helps you get started. If you’d like a more detailed twitter introduction, see Emma Lombard’s comprehensive twitter guide.