Like most things on the internet, Twitter has its fans and its critics.
I used to be one of the latter, but was won over after seeing what a useful tool it can be.
Whether you’re a burgeoning author, a seasoned journalist or a freelance writer scrounging for gigs, you should have a Twitter account…and you should tweet often and wisely.
Sometimes Twitter can feel like shouting into the void but, used correctly, it can be a great way to connect.
Linking up with other writers is crucial – for inspiration, for motivation, for education.
If there’s a particular commentator whose work you enjoy, follow them and read them. It’ll help inform your own work.
Twitter is also a gateway to reach potential readers. The more effectively you tweet, the more of an audience you build.
Letting readers see your personality, and giving them the chance to get to know the person behind the pen is a great way to build a long-lasting connection.
The third group you need to connect with on Twitter is potential employers.
If you know where to look, there’s a wealth of opportunities on social media. And, if you’re particularly proactive about building your brand, clients can come to you.
To build skills
In an overcrowded online market, a writer has to stand out.
This means adding as many skills as possible to your portfolio. Employers and clients want more than the ability to competently craft a sentence.
Often they’re looking for social media skills, familiarity with digital marketing, experience in online platforms.
They know that the biggest audience is online and if you haven’t tapped that market, you’re probably not hungry enough.
Find a balance
The biggest problem most professionals have with Twitter is finding the delicate balance between showing your personality, and keeping it business-like.
Be extremely thoughtful in how you use your Twitter – from your photo and profile page to your tweets, everything is a reflection of your brand.
Before joining it’s a good idea to have a brainstorming session about what kind of image you want to create:
- What niche do you specialise in?
- What do you want potential employers to think when they view your profile?
- How do you want readers to respond to you?
- What incentive are you giving them to follow you?
- Is your page and profile still going to be fresh and relevant in a year’s time? In five year’s time?
My own Twitter feed is around 30% personal tweets and 70% professional, but every writer has to decide their own ratio based on what they want to accomplish.
Engage your readers
A personal touch makes your profile more rounded so sharing your voice is an important part of engaging with your readers.
The bottom line is that Twitter is a business, and you have to offer something readers want.
Twitter users are interested in material that’s
Hit one or more of those boxes and you’re going to get their attention.
And don’t be afraid to reach out directly. Ask questions, tweet to people, be conversational.
Twitter users want honesty so beware false engagement – if you’re just doing it to get likes, the community will sense it in a heartbeat.
Communication has to come naturally.
Grow your followers
Once you’ve nailed the tone of your content, and your brand, it’s time to explore ways of growing your audience.
1.Hashtags are your friend. This is where you can narrow down your core audience – the people whose interests align with yours – and add to existing conversations.
Once you’ve identified the hashtags that are most appropriate for your brand (#writing #writerslife #freelance etc), don’t be afraid to use them…with caution.
If your tweet is drowning in hashtags, most readers will skim right over it. Narrow down your focus and employ them sparingly.
2.Use photos. Social media is a very visual place and photos snag readers attention quickly and effectively.
3.Engage with other tweets – by retweeting and liking.
Successful Twitter accounts know how to give and take. Promoting others should be an important part of your overall strategy.
Show you’re a generous member of the community by retweeting and liking when you come across something worth sharing.
Tracking your tweets
If you’re doing all the above and want to monitor your progress, Twitter Analytics can be extremely helpful.
This gives you a whole heap of information from your profile visits and mentions to your top tweets and top followers.
There’s also monthly summaries of link clicks and retweets.
Most people focus on engagement rate – Twitter’s formula for determining how your followers interact with your content.
But these are often very low, so don’t be dismayed. News organisations typically average 4% engagement rate. Mine has reached 4.5% but averages out at around 1.6%.
Don’t get bogged down in the data. Although Twitter Analytics is extremely useful for seeing what works and what doesn’t, it shouldn’t become an obsession.
Instead, concentrate on being yourself, staying true to your brand and posting content that people want to read.