Get the most out of Twitter in the least amount of time: A 10-tip guide

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

So far I’ve given you two comprehensive guides for using Twitter to boost your writing platform—the first was a ten-point beginners’ guide, the second covered ten ways to find people to follow.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on both of these articles along with the following concern:

“Gee, all of these tips are super great and everything… but won’t this take a lot of time? I don’t want to spend so much time promoting my writing that I don’t have any actual time to write! How can I get the most out of Twitter by putting in the least possible amount of time?”

I’m glad you asked. I’ve thought and thought on this topic and have come up with the following advice. True to form, I’m squeezing them into a ten-point guide.

1.Do some groundwork—I know this probably isn’t what you wanted to see as the first point in the list, but you need to invest a little bit more time at the starting to make your future endeavors worthwhile. If you don’t have an attractive profile with a snappy and relevant bio, then you’re just not going to get as many followers. You need a healthy following to make the most of Twitter, so to that end, I’m recycling a point from my beginner’s guide:

Make yourself look presentable—You wouldn’t walk into a party naked or wearing the same dress as seven other girls, would you? If you don’t customize your Twitter profile, that’s kind of what you’re doing.  People judge you on how you look, and that holds true in the Twitter realm.  If you haven’t already, do the following to perk up your profile:  (1) write a snappy, intriguing, relevant bio, (2) upload a pic of you or an avatar that appropriately represents you, (3) customize your page’s background and colors.  You can do all of these things through the settings tool bar, located in the dropdown at the far upper-right of your screen.

2. Update at least five times per day—It’s all about measurable goals. This may seem like a lot of work, but, believe me, it’s not. Each tweet is only 140-characters; that’s not so bad! Tweeting regularly shows people that you engage with others and are not (1) a spambot, (2) nothing more than an RSS feed, (3) a snob or lazy person, who isn’t worth their follow. Check into Twitter periodically throughout the day and send out a tweet about what you’re doing.

Remember that Twitter’s not Facebook, so don’t say “I ate a ham and cheese sandwich” unless you can make this announcement in a fun and exciting way that may attract new followers.  You can either space your tweets out over the course of the day or tweet ‘em all rapid fire. Remember, talking with other tweeters counts toward your total.

Bonus Tip: If tweeting five times per day seems like too much, you can use the Twitter app SocialOomph to preschedule your tweets. This way you can sign-in just one time per day and hit your five tweet goal, just like that.

3. Always, always include a hashtag with your tweetsHashtags are probably the single most confusing thing to new tweeters, and that’s okay. Why should you include hashtags with your tweets? Because they’re key search terms that other tweeters use to connect with new tweeters. They’re the single best way to get your tweets seen by those who don’t follow you already.

If hashtags make your head spin just include #amwriting with everything. It’s a great catch-all tag for writers, and even though I have more tags stored away in my knowledge base, this is still the one I use 90% of the time—it just works so well! Thanks to @johannaharness for inventing it!

Note:  One of these days, I’m going to do a blog post solely devoted to hashtags, so look out for that!

4. Engage your followers without having to actually tweet them—What?! I know this sounds crazy, but it’s very easy to do. Perhaps, you’ve been cited in someone else’s daily Twitter paper. You felt proud, right? You thanked them for including you and then retweeted the link, didn’t you? Here I am to shatter the illusion. Your friend didn’t choose to include you in her paper, the auto-bot did.

Each day (or twice per day as specified), the paper.li app creates a cool, professional paper for you by pulling stories from the people you follow and arranging them handsomely.  It then sends out a tweet via your account announcing that your paper is out and tagging certain tweeters as having provided the top stories. Users can subscribe to your paper also to receive email reminders whenever there is a new edition.

To set-up a paper all you have to do is visit the paper.li website, enter your username and establish the paper—that’s it! You never have to touch it again, and it will continue to do all of the hard work into eternity.

For an example of a daily paper, see: http://paper.li/novelpublicity

5. Find the best people to follow without actually having to search them out—I’ve already given you ten tips for finding people to follow on Twitter in a separate blog post (here). There’s one tip that I didn’t include in this guide, something new that I’ve only just discovered. And having discovered this glorious new tip, it’s essentially all I need to find new people to follow. Really!

First do an advanced search on Twitter. Think of all the various terms and/or hashtags that are relevant to you and specify these terms in the advanced search form. You can even seek out tweets by person, place, or attitude. Conduct that search, then copy the marked-up code from the search bar (at the top of the results page). I did a search for #amwriting or #emlyn including links tweeted with a positive attitude and my code looked like this:  “#amwriting OR #emlyn :) filter:links”

Take your copied code over to paper.li (yes, this is the same app we discussed in the last point). Choose to set up a new paper and then click in the lower right corner to create a custom paper. Paste your code into the box that asks for your paper’s topic. Enter a name for your paper and then click publish.

While the paper described in point #4 will only pull updates from the people you follow, this new paper will pull the best updates and stories from the entire twitterverse (that’s right, everybody!). When your paper comes out, you can scroll over the names of the tweeters whose articles were cited in your daily and click to follow them directly from the paper app. How easy is that?

For an example of an advanced daily paper that I set up, see: http://paper.li/novelpublicity/1296864766

6. Participate in Forward Friday with a single click—Writer Wednesday (#WW) and Forward Friday (#FF) are fabulous.  They use the genius of hashtags to help people find new Twitter friends. On these days, writers recommend people that they think their followers should be following and include the relevant hashtag (i.e. “@emlynchand, @WELine, @rachel_emily #WW).  Some people will turn-out hundreds of recommendations. Others recommend only a few people, stating their reasons why the featured user should be followed.

When I first started participating in these days, I was a bit overwhelmed. I didn’t know how to choose which friends to recommend and felt bad about leaving people out. Now I make full use of the app, Friday Follow Helper. Log-in to the site using your Twitter ID and then click on “FF Helper” in the top menu bar.

When it loads the page, a pop-up window will come up saying who your best friends of the week are. Mine says “My best friends of the week @stupidgirl45 @SteveUmstead @raevanswrites @21stCscribe Check yours http://followfriday.com/ffhelper.” If you want, you can just edit this tweet to say “Follow these great writers! #FF (or #WW),” and then you’re done!

You can also use this page to access more specific data like who has recommended you and how many times, who you have recommended, who @references you the most and vice-versa.

7. Auto-vet your followers—Twitter will send you an email every time you get a new follower, and if your following is growing quickly, this will prove to be extremely annoying. Turn off these alerts under your account settings. Now you can do one of the following things to help you vet your new followers: (1) auto-vet them via SocialOomph or (2) approve them manually via Tweetdeck.

SocialOomph is the same app that I suggested you use to preschedule tweets. You can also auto-vet your new followers by specifying various parameters. You can establish settings based on your new followers following-to-follower ratio, account age, update frequency, update recency, and even using key words.

Since I like a little bit more control over choosing who to follow back, I now use Tweetdeck to help me manage this. Tweetdeck is a fabulous Twitter app that you open on your desktop computer. You can set-up all kinds of custom columns and use more than one Twitter account at a time. It’s much easier than switching back and forth between windows on the Twitter main site.

One of the custom columns (which is automatically included when you set-up the app) is the new follower list. This will show you the new follower’s name, Twitter ID, bio, number of followers, and pic. Under each new follower, there is a link that you can press to follow back. It’s that simple! I go through my new follower list a few times per day and refollow those whose bios appeal to me (which is pretty much everyone even remotely related to writing or social media).

8. Set-up an RSS feed—Twitter is an especially powerful marketing tool when combined with your blog.  Get the word out by setting up an RSS feed. I use Twitterfeed to manage my RSS. You can set your feed to post as many as 5 RSS links and as frequently as every 30 minutes or as seldom as just 1 link per day. You can add a post prefix—mine is “Worth the RT?” and a post suffix—I highly recommend including hashtags here (I use #amwriting and #writing).

I run my RSS about one post per hour.  You’ll have to decide what’s right for you.  Remember, you want to get the word out about your blog’s content, but you don’t want to link-spam people—that’s annoying.

9. Sign-up for a promotional twitterview—As part of the grand launch of my new author services business, Novel Publicity, I will be twitterviewing one author or blogger per day every day of March. You can sign-up for this free promotional opportunity via http://www.novelpublicity.com/twitterviews/

In case you were wondering, a twitterview is an interview conducted live via Twitter. It invites audience members to follow along and provides them with the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session. I’m the twitterview pioneer in the writing community and have enjoyed every moment of every twitterview.

You can read our twitterview testimonials to see that participating in this process will greatly increase your twitter following and get you more traffic on your blog. You’ll also be provided with a stylish graphic transcript of the twitterview.

10. Close Twitter during your writing time—It’s extremely easy to get distracted spend hours at a time living up the Twitter experience. I am undeniably guilty of letting Twitter cut into my writing time. My only advice here is to be strict with yourself. If it’s your time to write, close the Twitter site, close your Twitter management apps, turn-off or silence the Twitter alerts on your Droid or iPhone and JUST WRITE! You can have your precious Twitter back once you’ve completed your daily writing goal.


I know you’re a very busy writer and that you need to get to writing. I hope my “how to save time” post hasn’t cost you too much of that precious commodity. How ironic!

 


Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityAbout this post’s author:

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.


13 Comments

  1. These are great tips that I’ll have to learn to use! Just a note: #FF is Follow Friday, not Forward Friday, is it not?

  2. Hi Yahong. I’ve actually heard it referred to as both Follow Friday and Forward Friday, so I tend to throw them around interchangeably. More than anything it’s just #FF to me :-)

  3. This is excellent. I’m still trying to get a handle on all of this. I may have to set reminders throughout the day for number 2.

  4. Good luck, A3Writer, you can do it. Once you get into the Twitter groove, you’ll find that tweeting can be as natural as setting pen-to-page and creating a story.

    I was really overwhelmed by Twitter at first too, then I read “Twitter for Dummies,” and I’ve been flying high ever since!

  5. Thanks for the information – it’s been really helpful. I felt I was getting a bit lost on twitter, but the advice here has made everything so much clearer.
    Thanks!

  6. That’s great to hear! Tweet on, my friend, tweet on :-)

  7. Thanks for the mention, Emlyn! Much appreciated.

  8. Thanks for these points! I didn’t know about the hashtags or the Friday Helper. I tend to retweet but never actually do any personal comments because it’s for my business and not personal. Should I still do personal updates anyway?

    Thanks again!

  9. Hi Elisa.

    You should absolutely use Twitter in a personal way even for your business. You can add a face to your corporation, connect with your clients on a much deeper level and maybe even find new ways to meet your target customer’s needs. In fact, I use the @novelpublicity account primarily in this way. The ratio of engaging with writers to blatantly promoting our business is something like 30:1 perhaps. I find that the best way to promote your business via social media is to engage them in this way. ;-)

    Good luck!

    Emlyn

  10. Thank you. These are useful tips.

  11. great advice. very thorough and incredibly useful. glad i’m following you so i could find this post

  12. GREAT tips Emyln. I have implemented most of them and it’s not even noon on a Monday! Thanks so much.

    MO

  13. Caroline Clemmons

    Emlyn, thanks for the help. Thoughts of tweeting makes my head hurt, but I’ll do better. You helped. Coincidentally, Kristin Lamb mentions SocialOomph in her blog yesterday. Thanks.

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