As writers, one of the most important things we can do to ensure our success is to build a platform. And since these things take time, I recommend starting as soon as you're able, rather than the month before your publication date.
There are many ways to go about getting followers, but I have found the easiest way, hands down, is Twitter. Not only is it easy to get followers, but each of your tweets (if you've used your name/pen name) will add another hit for YOU when someone searches for your name on Google. Personally, I think that's HUGE, because if someone's trying to find me or my books, I want to give them the most avenues to me and my sites.
I cannot recommend Twitter enough, and when I do recommend it, I usually get the same response—"But I have nothing to tweet about, and I don't want to keep talking about what I had for lunch." Trust me when I tell you, we don't want to hear about it either. BUT that's not really what Twitter is about, and it's certainly not the way to use Twitter for effectively building a platform. Instead, why not tweet about a great blog post you just read, or tweet a snippet about what you're currently working on? Still too difficult? Then you can just retweet (RT) someone else's tweet. Best of all, it takes up very little time to build a following—15 minutes every few days is plenty—and at just 140 characters per tweet, it's quick.
Easy, right? Here's some information to make it even easier and to help you find your way around.
- Though Twitter is fantastic, I find it far easier to use a program designed to maximize ease of use. Here's a quick rundown of all the available Twitter clients, so you can find something that will work best for you. I personally like TweetDeck not only for ease of use, but because it allows you to add as many columns (for searches) as you'd like. Recent rumors also have Twitter in talks to purchase TweetDeck.
- In order to address someone in Twitter, just put an @ in front of their twitter name.
- The way to maximize the amount of people your posts will reach is to include hashtags (#) with your tweets. Hashtags are similar to category tags, so if someone does a search that includes the hashtag you've included, they'll see your post. There are several hashtags for writers. Here's a list from Daily Writing Tips. Hashtags are also used to conduct live chats, and Debbie Ohi has a current schedule at her blog (not to mention all sorts of other great Twitter related posts). The hashtags I use most often are #writetip, #pubtip and #amwriting. You will also see a lot of #WW and #FF. These are short for Writer Wednesday and Follow Friday, which are shout-outs to let others know the people in the list are worth following.
- I briefly mentioned RT's. Retweeting is a great way to pass on information you've found useful, and if you found it useful, then it's good to spread the love. It's ok to trim the tweet, as long as you don't alter the meaning of it. Just remember to keep the original poster's name in the tweet so they get credit. Also, if someone RT's something you tweeted, it's polite to thank them.
- Unlike Facebook, where someone friends/follows you only if they know you, that's not the case with Twitter. People will follow you if they like your tweet, your bio, or because of a #WW or #FF. They'll also follow you to try and promote themselves. Do you need to follow back? Not always. Also, you may suddenly lose a follower or two. Don't let it bother you. It's nothing personal.
- Make sure you complete your bio, and you add a link to your site or blog (if you have one). A picture or avatar is also a good idea, and remember, the picture that turns up is TINY, so make sure the picture you use can be easily identified and is a clear image. Also, I highly advise using your name or pen name, rather than something completely unrelated to your writing identity.
- A great way to get followers is to follow other people who you find interesting. For the most part, if you follow someone, they'll likely follow you back. Also, participating in the live chats and using hashtags to join in discussions are great ways to get followers and find like people to follow. And by all means, comment on other people's tweets.
I hope this makes Twitter less intimidating. And an unexpected surprise to come about after tweeting a while? It makes you damn good at tightening up your writing. Who knew?
Have you recently ventured onto Twitter? Or are you a longtime fan? Has it helped you build your platform?