You can probably guess my answer: DON’T. The hard sell never works (and I know: I was a pharma rep and sales trainer for fifteen years).
Twitter is an excellent marketing tool, however, and the best way to use it to ‘sell’ is by establishing relationships with readers, being an expert in whatever it is that you know by providing blog posts, information, resources, etc., and interacting with people who could be potential buyers of your book (or whatever it is you are selling).
Tweet length. 140 is a fallacy. A tweet should be no more than 117 characters if it contains a link. Why? Simple. It’s far easier for us to RT (retweet) you if we don’t have to edit or shorten. Think of Twitter as someone snapping their fingers. If RTing you takes longer than a snap, forget it.
Promo tweets vs. Content tweets. I suggest a balance between links (promo) and no links (content). Regardless of whether your link goes to promote another author, a blog post, a New York Times article — doesn’t matter. Anything with a link is considered promotional. If it requires someone to click (i.e., a pic, a video, an article), it’s promotional. Lots of authors start to get defensive when I discuss this, but the bottom line is this: does it require a call to action? Are you asking someone to click? Then it’s promotional.
Many people have many rules for balancing promo to content: 80/20 for example. 80% content (no links), 20% promo (links), when in actuality, it’s usually the other way around. I’m not here to preach to you THE RULES. Do whatever works best for you. However, be conscious of asking people to do too much for you, particularly if you don’t give back (RT them).
Subjects. When people first start on Twitter (or really any social media), they think: My god, what on earth will I talk about? That’s a natural adult-learning reaction. Adults learn by doing, and Twitter seems intimidating with all the hashtags (#), rules, and whatnot. But it’s really not. Here’s what I suggest:
Use keywords or key phrases that interest you. This is your basic branding. So…what do I mean? On my author account, I tweet about social media, books, authors, love and relationships, and sexual abuse. These are the topics I write about or that interest me (okay, and Nutella — yes I gave it up but that doesn’t mean I still can’t write about it :). It’s important to establish quickly who you are and what you do, and you can establish that easily via keywords.
Attribution. If you’re going to quote someone or pull a line from an article, Twitter (and common sense) requires you to give attribution. Sadly, sometimes people see a funny line or quote a lyric or movie line, and use it as their own. Guess what? That’s plagiarism. Not good and can get you banned from Twitter. Always give attribution.
BIO, AVATAR, HEADER, and BACKGROUND
Biography (aka Bio). I see lots of unbranded bios and it kills me because people are missing out on wonderful branding opportunities. We are branding, all of us, whether we intend to or not. If you tweet funny things, people will expect your book to be funny (which may or may not be the case). If you tweet about Nutella, people will expect a mention in your books (and yes, I discuss chocolate in my second book, The Mancode: Exposed). Branding is about managing expectations and we all do it, whether it’s a conscious effort or not.
So, to brand your bio, be sure to use at least two to three keywords we discussed above. Let’s take a look at my current author stream bio:
#MondayBlogs on Mondays! · bitly.com/BROKENPIECES
There’s a lot going on here, but let’s break it down.
Avatar (aka Avi). Use a real picture of you or, if you’re tweeting about a company, use the company logo. This is not a hard and fast rule, simply a guideline. Many people choose to remain anonymous on Twitter so they use a stock photo. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s a high-resolution photo, so it doesn’t appear pixelated if someone clicks on it.
Header. Last year, Twitter introduced headers. If you have a Facebook or Google+ profile, you already know what this is. If not, take a look at Twitter’s Help Section here. Here’s an example from NBC’s 30 Rock, which is instantly recognizable and fun, while still being branded.
Background. There are millions of backgrounds for Twitter. There’s NO reason whatsoever to have just that basic light ‘Twitter blue’ background except laziness. In your account options, click DESIGN. Pick a premade theme (sigh, if you must), click on Themeleon (just below the premades) or upload your own background (ie, something you’ve had designed).
Take a look at my @RachelintheOC header, photo, and background here.
Next post I’ll look more closely at targeting readers and ways to go about that. I welcome your questions and comments below!
Need personalized help? Check out my BadRedheadMedia.com services page.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.