As you may know, my name is Rebecca and I love to write. One of my goals in life is to eventually find a home with a traditional publishing house. I love to write and I view my writing as an important aspect of my ministry. I’ll be honest, social media doesn’t come naturally for me. When I found out that traditional publishing houses want to see writers with “significant social media reach,” I almost despaired.
For years I actively worked to keep my social media presence quiet. My mission in life for over eight years was to become an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. I wanted to remain quiet on social media because I was terrified that I would say something, like something, or share something that someone somewhere might dislike. I was afraid of making problems for myself.
I also had my job as a pastor to carefully consider. Every year I need to sign a “social media covenant.” This means that I will always conduct myself, both in real life and online, in a way that is professional, respectful, and will not bring shame to my church.
If a Church Nerd Like Me Can Find Twitter Success, So Can You!
Now that I’m ordained, it seems strange to be acting in direct opposition to my previously quiet social media attitude; however, social media is incredibly important for writers. Publishers like to see that writers who are able to connect with an audience. Furthermore, traditional publishers are more likely to partner with an author that has a built in platform.
In October, I decided that I was going to start taking social media seriously. Out of all the social media options, I have found that Twitter is my favorite. I have found that Twitter is a platform that lends itself particularly well to writers. I started taking social media seriously.
In mid-October, I had 16 followers on Twitter. Now, at the time of writing this article, it is December 30, 2018 and I have 4,300 followers!
Here are some tips that I have learned along the way that you will hopefully find helpful as well.
1.Craft a Twitter biography with appropriate keywords.
Your biography is important. You only have a few words to let people know who you are and why they should be interested in your twitter feed. Every word in my bio has meaning. It states who I am (UMC Clergy) and my passions (writing and disability awareness). It also includes a link to my Amazon author page.
2.Learn your hashtags!
Twitter is a great platform for writers but it’s not always intuitive. Certain words can be marked as keywords by placing a hashtag in front of the word. That way, when people search for that particular word, your tweets will appear in their searches.
Hashtags are always changing but as of right now, some of my favorite hashtags are:
#WritersCommunity -a place for writers
#Writertip – a place to share tips for writing
#BookBlogger- a key term that lets me find other people who read and share book reviews
#AmWriting- When I’m sharing a tweet about writing, I label it with this hashtag
#AmReading- I use this hashtag when I’m talking about books that I have read recently are am currently reading
3. Follow people who you think are interesting and be sure to “Follow back!”
A great way to show support for others writers is by following them on Twitter or Instagram, but please don’t feel obligated to follow back every single person who follows you. For example, if I see that someone is clearly racist or uses a lot of offensive language, I will not follow them back; however, you should be aware that if you do not return a follow, then you are likely to eventually lose that person as a follower.
There is a very good reason for this that you may not realize (I was not aware of this until relatively recently); Twitter places a limit on how many people a person can follow. If a person has less than 5,000 followers, that person cannot follow more than 5,000 people.
If you’re new to Twitter, this may not seem like a problem; however, I still consider myself relatively new, and I am quickly approaching the limit. This means that soon I will need to “unfollow,” some people that I am currently following. In order to maintain my social media growth, I will need to unfollow the accounts who do not follow me back.
This makes for a strange situation. For example, some of my favorite accounts are related to my church and church activities. I want to follow those account in order to show support, but soon I may need to unfollow them.
The lesson writers can take from this: We are meant to view every connection as a potential reader (just like clergy are encouraged to view every person as someone with whom we can share the love of God). If you’re interested in maintaining connections, be sure to follow back!
4. Create and use lists!
Remember I said that in the near future I may have to unfollow some accounts? One way I can continue to stay up to date with what those accounts are doing is by adding them to a list! I’ve made many lists on Twitter. For example, I have one for Book Bloggers, one for the church related things, and one for members of the Writers Community. Even if accounts don’t return my follow (or if I need to unfollow them because of Twitter’s limitations) I can still see their content by viewing my lists.
This is also very helpful as my Twitter account continues to grow. It’s hard to keep up with over four thousand people. It is much easier to stay up to date with people by perusing smaller and more manageable lists.
5. Participate in memes!
A meme can be defined as an idea that is shared between people in a certain culture. Memes change quickly, but right now, some of the best memes for interacting with other writers on Twitter are “shoutouts” and “Follow Friday.”
It’s challenging to find people to connect with on Twitter who share common interests. On “Follow Friday,” which can be designated by using #FF, I try to “shout out,” or “draw attention,” to other writers. A typical Follow Friday tweet might look something like:
It’s #FF! I want to give a #SO to the greet tweeps in the #WritersCommunity! Why not show @person1 , @person2, and @person3 some love?
Another great meme is a “Follow Train.” Every once in a while, someone will start a “Follow Train,” for writers or bloggers. Follow trains are simple: Retweet the original tweet and then follow everyone else who has retweeted before you. Then, when the next writer retweets and follows everyone, they will follow you. Make sure to follow back!
6. Tag people… and make sure others know how to tag you!
There are some great writers with whom I have genuinely enjoyed connecting. Sometimes, I want to give a shout out (see above) but if I don’t know a person’s Twitter handle, I don’t know how to tag them. This can be an issue of personal branding.
I make certain to close every blog post with links to my Twitter and Instagram profiles. I also have a page on the main menu of my website entitled, “Follow Me,” that includes all my social media links.
7. Consider your “personal branding.” See if you can make your Twitter, Instagram, Amazon Author Page, etc. to all be under the same name.
Let me be frank: I’m rather uncomfortable with the idea of “personal branding.” I’m not a brand, I’m a person! Even more than that, I’m a writer and a preacher. However, there have been times when I wanted to tag a book blogger and I haven’t been able to do so because I didn’t know that person’s Twitter name. This means that person lost some free publicity.
As writers, publicity is very challenging to get. That is why I now have more of an understanding of why it is important to be clear with your branding. For me, I have selected the handle “BeckieWrites.” It’s short, concise, and it lets you know exactly who I am and what I do. My name is Beckie… and I write!
My goal is to make as easy as possible for readers, other writers, and even potential church people to find me online.
8. Twitter is a social media platform… so be social!
Have public conversations on Twitter with other writers about things which interest you. I always enjoy it when someone tags me in a group conversation because it means I can get view points on topics that vary from authors’ favorite ice cream flavor to tips for overcoming writers’ block. Tags are a great way to make new friends and connect with other writers.
Another great way to engage in conversation is to participate in “Question of the Day.” Use the hashtag QOTD to ask a simple question to the #WritersCommunity. Recently, I asked the #WritersCommunity to share pictures of their pets with me. I got to see so many cute animals that made me smile and I met lots of great new writing buddies!
9. Don’t just be a commercial for your book/ website.
Yes, I’m interested in your book- but I’m more interested in who you are as a person. Do you have pets? What’s your favorite book of all time? Would you like to chat with me about poetry or theology?
I’ll be honest, I’ve bumped an author straight to the top of my “to be read (TBR)” pile because that author and I connected over social media. Sometimes, your personality is a better advertisement for your book than any Goodreads review or link to Amazon.
10. Click that retweet button!
On Twitter, sharing is caring. Retweeting another writer’s tweets is a great way to show support. If you’re feeling particularly clever or have something to contribute to the conversation, add a comment to your retweet. This will continue the conversation, allow you to display your personality, and show support for other writers.
I’ve also bumped people to the top of my TBR because they just had so many funny and interesting things to say on Twitter. I’ve thought to myself on more than one occasion, “Wow! This person is so funny on Twitter, I have to read their book!”
If you have some social media experience or are familiar with Twitter, you might find some of these tips redundant; nevertheless, these wee all tips that I wish I had known when I was starting out on my Twitter journey. Whatever your writing goals may be, I hope that you find success in the New Year!
What are some of your favorite tips for finding followers on Twitter? Let me know in the comments below!