How to Optimize Twitter for Readers, Connections, and Opportunities

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Twitter isn’t the optimal platform for selling books. Even with the recent implementation of #AmazonCart, authors shouldn’t go into the social media platform assuming they’re going to make a killing right away. If that’s the case, then why should you still consider Twitter as part of your author platform? It’s simple. Marketing is about more than selling.

The term “marketing” gets a bad rap because many people picture an Internet marketing guru with a never-ending sales page peddling products for $97 a piece. Despite this salesy image, one of the biggest parts of marketing has nothing to do with selling at all. It has to do with making connections.

Twitter is a great platform for connecting with readers and other authors. It’s also one way to open yourself up to opportunities such as contests, collaborations, and speaking engagements. If you’re interested in reaching beyond your circle, here are five ways to optimize Twitter for making connections:

1. Prep Your Page

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Twitter isn’t about making sales, so you shouldn’t devote your profile page to selling. When you fill your bio with 20 different hashtags and six different links to your books, it makes you look desperate and unapproachable. Your bio, your profile picture, and your page background serve as opportunities to connect with potential followers on a personal level.

Use your bio to show your personality. Many Twitter users place a short description in the bio of who they are and what they do. Feel free to think outside the box here. Take a famous quote and repurpose it. Describe yourself as a combination of several different people you admire. You can close things out with a link to a blog here, but don’t make it the focus. In the bio, you should concentrate on telling visitors what you’re all about.

Like any networking profile, pick a picture that represents the image you want to convey. A dark fantasy author might post something brooding, while a children’s author would depict a happier persona.

Using a free tool like Canva, you can design a background image for your Twitter page. Many authors fail to take advantage of this space to convey additional information. Since there’s not a lot of room in the bio, you can use the background image to cover additional things about you and provide other links of importance. This is a perfect opportunity to use pictures of your book covers and a picture of yourself that wouldn’t work in a tiny thumbnail.

Think of your profile page like you would an open house. If there’s trash littered throughout the yard and a gaping hole in the front window, then you won’t get many people to stick around. Make your page personal, clean, and informative to increase your chances of connection

2. Set Notifications

Image from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/twitter-notifications_b55659

If someone sends you a personal tweet in the middle of the social networking woods, does it make a sound? If you don’t have your notifications set up correctly, then the answer is no.

When you first sign up for Twitter, the site will send you a barrage of constant emails, which could encourage you to turn off notifications altogether. But when you cut off all the emails, you’ll miss out on some valuable opportunities to make connections.

Check your settings to make sure you receive notifications when someone Retweets, Favorites or Replies to one of your tweets. You should also set the system to email you when you get a new follower or direct message. These settings will make sure you don’t miss a reader or author’s efforts to make a direct connection.

Not all of the connections will be important and some will be spam, but you need to be prepared to reply to potential fans and fellow authors. Even a simple Favorite or a Reply with a “Thanks!” can be the difference between making a connection and missing one.

3. Create Lists

sadasdaLists make Twitter work. Without the use of this key feature, Twitter feels like a torrential downpour of messages. Lists allow you to partition the people you follow in an easily-digestible fashion.

Creating a list lets you add certain followers to a feed of tweets that’s absent of spam and advertisements. Lists are less for connecting with fans than they are for keeping an eye out for new opportunities. Make your own list with fellow authors or other movers and shakers in your field. If someone on your list asks a question or offers a collaborative opportunity, then your list will allow you to see the tweet and respond quickly. When you follow the right people, the list may also provide you with links to information that will help you grow in your career.

Creating and curating the proper list can take some time to do right. If you’re having trouble, follow someone else’s list in your genre or field. This list can help inform your own list, or you can treat it the same way you might if you’d been the one to create it.

4. Research and Use Hashtags

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All hashtags were not created equal. It’s tempting to search for the worldwide trending hashtags and try to tweet a flurry of posts in rapid succession. This strategy isn’t likely to get you far, because unless your post is related, Twitter users will quickly skip over your message.

Creating your own hashtags is also tempting, but unless you have a built-in audience, it’s rare that your efforts will result in much traction.

The best strategy is to find niche hashtags about being an author or ones that are related to your genre. Hashtags should be used as a way to connect with other writers or people who have similar interests.

When you’re writing or editing, #AmWriting and #AmEditing can bridge the gap between you and other writers dealing with the same hard work. If you’re a dark fantasy author, your posts about books or your genre as a whole can connect with potential new fans with the use of #DarkFantasy.

This isn’t the kind of tactic that will gain you new readers every time. It’s a general thing you should keep in mind whenever you tweet. Slowly but surely, your use of these niche hashtags can help authors and readers to find your optimized profile page.

5. Keep Promo Limited

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Spam runs rampant on Twitter and other social media platforms. If all of your posts are about your books, then you’re part of the problem. Besides, when 20 percent or more of your posts are an effort to sell your books, it’s likely that after a while no buyers will be listening.

Post about your books no more than once out of every five tweets. When you do put a promotional post out there, make sure it isn’t in the form of “buy my book.” It can be a link to a new review or a video blog you just posted to describe your upcoming pre-order. The less you try to sell, the more true connections you’ll make.

Another thing to keep in mind about promotion is that you should never tweet a sales message at another Twitter user. Most people will see this as spam and some may respond with frustration. You should only share something with another user if it has direct relevance to them, such as a mention of that person by name on your blog.

More Connections Lead to More Sales

Twitter isn’t about direct selling. Unless you have a huge audience, it’s unlikely that “buy my book” posts will even get that much traction. Early on in your writing career, one of the best ways to get sales down the line is to make more connections.

Connections with readers can lead to reviews and mailing list signups. Coming together with other authors can result in multi-author box sets or successful Facebook promotions. You never know where a Twitter connection will lead, but the only way to miss out on these career-changing bonds is to never make the connection in the first place.

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