Twitter is a terrible selling channel…
IF your goal is to spam your book links up there and hope for the best. Most writers write their book and then realize, oh hey, there are millions of potential readers just waiting to buy my book. I’m gonna tell them all about my book by repeatedly sharing my link with them! They’re all gonna buy my book and I’ll be rich!
Yea, no. Doesn’t work that way, writer friends. And if you’ve spent any time on Twitter spamming book links to random people who don’t know you, you’ve likely figured this out already.
Even for people who are really great at using Twitter, the organic (non-paid) conversion rate is…0.22%. Yep, that’s right. Less than 1%. So…why bother? Twitter is a wonderful way to connect with readers, book bloggers, and book reviewers if you are connecting with them strategically. Many writers are completely flummoxed how to do that.
Ask yourself these questions:
- How can you add value to your readers?
- How can you be visible without constantly spamming your book link?
- How can you connect with readers and influencers who will embrace your work?
I love Twitter because it’s the best way I know to connect with readers quickly and without having to write novels (hello, Facebook) to connect. My goal here is to help you change your paradigm from selling to connecting.
Today I’m going to run down the top Do’s and Don’ts of Twitter for writers. You certainly do not need to follow my advice — do whatever you feel is best for you. I can only share that, as a long-time Twitter user, instructor, consultant, author and book marketer, these are standard, accepted, industry practices that work (in no particular order):
Twitter Guide Do’s
- DO add your website and book link to your bio. You have 160 characters (that includes spaces). Add the link to your book there. See my bio example >>>>>>
- DO utilize the new option to lengthen your display name (and you can even add hashtags or emojis). You now have up to 50 spaces.
- DO pin a tweet to your book or website to make it easy for people to connect with you. Prime real estate.
- DO have a hi-resolution header (aka, banner) at the top of your profile. Same with your avatar. Faces work best. People like to see eyes.
- If you’re writing under a pen name, buy a photo that represents you. Use a face.
- DO add your book cover in the header, not as your avatar. (See mine by visiting @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia).
- DO provide consistent tweets around the topics you discuss. This is your personal branding. Articles, quotes, RTs. I don’t mean only your own stuff.
- Do share occasionally info on your own books; 80/20, 30/40/30, whichever formula works for you.
- DO participate in memes (e.g., #MondayBlogs, #WednesdayWisdom), hashtags, trending topics, Twitter chats, etc. Just don’t make it all about you. Listen, learn, participate.
- DO share generously and without expectation. Retweet (RT) often.
- DO interact often with people, comment on tweets and articles. Be smart, funny (if that fits your personality), positive, well-read (you are a writer).
- DO read people’s bios and timelines before commenting. Be informed.
- [clickToTweet tweet=”DO ask questions. Twitter is a great LISTENING channel. People love giving their opinion.” quote=”DO ask questions. Twitter is a great LISTENING channel. People love giving their opinion.” theme=”style3″]
- DO create visuals (Canva, Pablo by Buffer) and share quotes (yours and others). Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (Source: Buffer, via Hubspot)
- DO use Twitter Lists to manage followers. Public and private options.
- DO activate and USE Twitter Analytics.
- DO use the assigned hashtag when participating in Twitter chats so all participants see your tweets and replies (I recommend using free TweetChat.com or Twubs.com. Some people prefer Tweetdeck. Whatever works for you.)
- DO schedule and space out your tweets — I use Hootsuite, Buffer, and PromoRepublic. All have free options.
- DO create Moments featuring interesting conversations between you and others.
- Do create Threads (a new option as of December 2017). This is available by clicking the + option in the compose box. Threads on your profile timeline will appear as separate Tweets, in reverse chronological order. Each Tweet that is a part of your thread will have an option to Show this thread to view the thread in its entirety. As always, be strategic with your use of threads, and avoid being overly self-promotional.
- DO follow people strategically, using an affordable tool like ManageFlitter, where you can put a keyword term in Search (or use Twitter’s Advanced Search tool instead, which takes longer yet is still effective).
- Focus on readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, and other influencers (e.g., publishers, agents, etc.). Connect with writers but not ONLY writers.
- DO use Twitter’s Help Section if you’re not sure about how something works. It’s quite robust.
- DO research Twitter ads (aka, sponsored tweets) and the new Promote Mode (it’s $99/month – read more here.)
- DO brand yourself, not your book. Talk about something besides your book, your book, your book. Aren’t you a person? Then act like one.
- DO use hashtags correctly. Check to see how it’s being used before participating. Many hashtags already have a history and you could be stepping on someone’s toes by using it incorrectly, e.g., people use chat hashtags to promote their books. Don’t do that.
- DO be gracious if someone corrects you if you make a mistake. When you are defensive or combative, you look immature. It’s okay to be wrong and to learn how to do things right. Be thankful someone took the time to show you the ropes.
- DO remember that tweets are public, Google indexes tweets, and so does the Library of Congress. Even if you delete a tweet, it’s still there in perpetuity.
- DO take advantage of the new 280 option IF you can be strategic (create a list, use two links that are thematically linked, share a longer quote with attribution). Otherwise, shorter is still better. Don’t ramble just because you can.
Twitter Guide Don’ts:
- DON’T reply to tweets with your blog URL (it’s already in your bio, pinned tweet, and header). It’s self-serving and a total newbie move.
- DON’T thank people for following by spamming them with an AutoDM asking them to buy your book. STOP THAT RIGHT NOW.
- DON’T DM (direct message) people with your book link. Everyone is not your customer (thank you, Seth Godin) and besides, it’s rude. In addition, it violates Twitter’s TOS (Terms of Service): We all agree not to “Spam or bother users, or otherwise send them unsolicited messages.” I personally don’t want to risk having my account suspended or worse, banned — which Twitter is FINALLY FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY, doing. New updates are in place regarding spamming rules.
- DON’T thank people for the follow by telling them where else on social media they can find you. We’re on Twitter, not Facebook, Instagram, or Snap. Put those handles in your header if it’s that important to you.
- DON’T come to Twitter chats and talk about yourself and your books and how awesome you are. That’s your ego talking and everyone sees that.
- DON’T come into a chat and ask ‘What’s the topic?’ Read the host’s timeline first. Every host posts it throughout the day. Besides, hosts are busy hosting.
- DON’T ask a writer what they write. It’s ALMOST ALWAYS in their bio or header. Take three seconds and look at their bio. Read bios!
- DON’T tag people with your latest blog post unless you’ve quoted them in the post. This is spammy and they will mute or block you.
- DON’T tag people with your book promotion (unless they are explicitly part of it) because ugh. Just stop.
- DON’T ask random people to read your book and review it. Why do you do that? Are they even your demographic? Be smarter.
- DON’T put a link in every tweet. This is against Twitter’s TOS (terms of service) “if your updates consist mainly of links and not personal updates” you are violating the ‘Twitter Rules’ regarding spam. More here.
- DON’T be rude and then write LOL at the end. It’s passive/aggressive and people will block you.
- DON’T quote someone without giving attribution. Again, against the TOS and also, just a really sh*tty thing to do. The original author (or author’s estate) can also sue you.
- DON’T ask someone why they followed you. Be grateful (unless ya know, it’s someone weird and then mute or block them).
- DON’T have one of those automated ‘4 people followed me, 6 people unfollowed me’ tweet thingies go out. Nobody cares but you, to be completely honest. And the ones that say ‘@RachelintheOC unfollowed me’ which tags the person who unfollowed you? Passive/aggressive. People are under no obligation to follow or unfollow. Step off.
- DON’T ever bully a book blogger or reviewer or ask your writer friends to ‘jump in’ to bully them (especially for a bad review). Once your book is out there, you’re no longer invited to the party. Grow up.
- DON’T feel obligated to interact with anyone, ever. If you’re uncomfortable, mute, unfollow, or block. Report if necessary. That is your right.
- DON’T automate every tweet. Interact live with people. Some automation is convenient (e.g., schedule in tweets for #MondayBlogs). Then go in and RT people, respond to their posts, ask questions.
- DON’T complain that Twitter is all spam. That’s on you — if you only follow other writers who are spamming their books link and haven’t read this post because you haven’t shared it with them yet :), stop following only other writers.
- DON’T jump on a hashtag because it seems popular, simply to self-promote. Again, newbie move and completely self-serving. True, nobody owns a hashtag, however, people do register hashtags (yes, it’s a real thing), to create Twitter movements, for branding purposes, and for chats specifically dedicated to a topic (typically the same hour each week, e.g., my #BookMarketingChat is every Wednesday, 6pm pst/9pm est). Research, respect, and understand what you’re jumping into.
Twitter is Just One Spoke of the Wheel
Remember, Twitter is one tiny spoke of the big author platform bicycle. It’s a great one, but it’s not the only one. If you are spending all your time and effort there, you are missing out on readers who are not there. Go where your readers are, not where you are most comfortable.
Here’s a terrific article from Entrepreneur: 5 Things This Self-Published Author Did to Sell Over 20,000 Books with Almost No Money. Nowhere in there does this author mention spamming links on Twitter as an effective selling tool.
Click on the links I’ve provided here to read more about what I’ve suggested above. Most of what I mentioned is free, except for the time it will take you to scan the articles and figure out a few new slick moves. Attend my weekly #BookMarketingChat (Wednesdays, 6pm pst/9pm est on @BadRedheadMedia or see previous chats on our public Facebook page in Notes) to learn more about how to market your book. I have many amazing guests and I also share what I’ve learned along the way.
None of this matters one iota if your books suck. Write great books. Learn how to market them. Do the work.
For a more detailed plan on developing your book marketing, purchase Rachel’s new book,
Readers’ Favorite Silver Award Winner!