I was on a group page the other day bouncing off marketing ideas with other members when one aspiring author commented that “Twitter is useless”. I was taken aback by that because as someone who is actively engaging other authors on Twitter, I know for a fact that Twitter is NOT useless.

Just like with any other online marketing tool, Twitter can be a great source of your website’s traffic and can be a treasure chest full of opportunities for authors to market and sell books. You just have to know how to use it.

You may be wondering what are the specific benefits of being on Twitter. Let me enumerate a few for you.

  1. Online presence – As any other online marketer knows, online presence is very important. You have to let people know that you exist. You have to get your brand and your name out in public to encourage awareness about your product.
  2. Community building – Twitter presents a vast, fertile land filled with people who are looking for likeminded groups they can share information and a few good laughs with everyday. Communities or otherwise known as “online tribes” are being discovered and built on a frequent basis on Twitter.
  3. Website traffic – Twitter can be another medium to drive traffic to your website.
  4. Tangible friendships – This one is my favorite. I have personally found a few people on Twitter who I share common denominator with and over time, through active engagement with them, we have formed a bond of friendship outside of Twitter. These people are wonderful sources of comfort, sound advice and verbal jabs that lighten up my days.

The question now is how to achieve all of this. Just like the aspiring author who was cynical about Twitter, you may simply be facing a blank wall at the moment and not really seeing the endless ways you could utilize Twitter to gain and build a solid following. First, it is important to do your research. Familiarize yourself with Twitter terminologies and their uses. What is a RT and how does it make you get noticed? How do you get in contact with someone on Twitter without making it public? How do you engage the people you are following so that they, too, would start following you? And so on. Here’s a few of my takes on these:

  1. A RT or ReTweet is a Twitter function that allows you to tweet someone else’s tweet, thereby it is called a “retweet”. When looking through other people’s tweets, you may occasionally find one that makes you tell yourself, “Oh, I could say the same thing!”. It could be a sentiment, a link to a great resource or website, or a piece of news that you know many people would be very interested in. Share it to the Twitter world by clicking on the retweet button, doing so notifies your source that his tweet has been retweeted and by whom. Some people are generous with their time and thank their RT’ers by mentioning them on their own timelines. When someone you’ve RT’d did that, return the favor by responding. I would encourage you to take advantage of that window to engage the person. Respond not just with a curt “you’re welcome” and a smiley, go ahead and share your thoughts about what you retweeted and ask him what he thinks about it. Truth be told, it is really just like seeing a gorgeous lady in a coffee shop and taking that first step towards sparking a conversation with her so that you would know her name and maybe her digits.
  2. Still on RT, please, oh please, don’t retweet everyone every hour. That’s just spammy and ridiculous. People can see that all you’re doing is retweeting and they won’t consider that as “sharing”. It will put them off and eventually jump ship by hitting the unfollow button.
  3. Share valuable content. We all surf cyberspace in search for interesting articles, videos, photos and resources. We are consistently on a search for something valuable on the internet and we never get disappointed. When you find anything that you think your Twitter followers would find useful, go ahead and tweet it. Make sure that you share your thoughts about what you’re tweeting so that they would know what to expect. It is rude to simply tweet a link without at least a short blurb about it. Many are wary of clicking on links that contain viruses so a nice and short introduction about what you’re sharing assures them that a) it is not a virus and b) that they might benefit from the information.
  4. Stop whining and start spreading positive vibes. We all have rough days and while no one will crucify you for venting and ranting your frustrations on Twitter, it is still unethical to use the social media tool as your freedom wall. Put yourself in other people’s shoes, how would you feel if you logged in to your Twitter account only to find your timeline littered with negative junk from others? Pretty bad, isn’t it?
  5. Be generous in giving accolades to people who deserve it. Other Twitter users sometimes share their personal victories and milestones on their Twitter walls, congratulate them. Use the @ prefix before their Twitter username to let them know that you are talking to them. It’s another way of getting that individual’s attention.
  6. Yes, I know, your intention in being on Twitter is to sell books. So market and sell, but be creative and make sure that before you do that you have already gained a solid following of Twitter users who recognize your value. Avoid tweeting marketing blurbs round the clock, instead alternate your marketing related tweets with other non-marketing related tweets because if all you ever do on Twitter is market your products, that tells your followers that all you ever think about is making a sale and not really building a relationship with them. Furthermore, no one wants to associate themselves with obnoxious salesmen.
  7. Still on the subject of selling, quit tweeting one liners that say “Buy my book for $1.99 now!” blah blah blah. Be creative, like I said, and compose tweets that are catchy and intriguing. You have probably written a one liner on your book that is compelling or profound, go ahead and share that along with the link to your book. Find a twist in your novel that could spark discussions and throw a question on Twitter to start a conversation with your followers and then give them some information about your book. Again, be creative.

I could go on and on about Twitter here. Really. But I hope these seven tips outlined on this article would help you jumpstart your foray onto the world of Twitter. Again, Twitter is not useless. You just have to find ways to use it to your advantage.

If you wish to engage with us on Twitter and receive the benefits of gaining access to great publishing and marketing resources, as well as occasional comic relief, you may follow us at @firebrandpub.

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