Twitter: Another Tool in an Author’s Arsenal

In today’s post I try not to sound like a grandad teaching his grandchildren to use a computer as I provide an introduction to one of the most popular social media platforms today, micro-blogging site, Twitter.

Just for clarification, I’m nowhere near being a grandad yet, but I am still a relative notice when it comes to social media and in particular for Twitter, having only been using the platform since July this year, so less than two months. I have around 1,730 followers and my top tweet earned 3,000 impressions and 60 people engaged with it. In this short period I’ve learnt so much and I thought I’d explain for those who would like to start using the platform and want a head start, or those thinking about using Twitter as part of their strategy for building an author platform.

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As always if I get anything wrong or you have a different viewpoint, please share your knowledge in the comments.

First lets get the terminology out of the way

  • Tweets
    • Tweets are the messages you post to your account. Limited to 280 characters per post, they promote brevity.
  • Hashtag
    • These are much like tags in WordPress and keywords in other forms of online publishing in that they are used to categorise the nature of the post. Users can click or search for the hashtag (each Hashtag is prefixed with #) to search all messages using that tag. It’s a great way to link to other content across the platform, including your own. If you choose popular tags your tweet may be seen in amongst the rest of the messages with the same tag.
  • Followers
    • If another user follows you, every time you tweet your message will appear in their timeline at the top, until the next person they follow tweets. When you sign up to the platform you start with no followers. You have to got out and entice them to your stall!
  • Following
    • These are the users you follow. Their tweets will appear in your timeline.
  • Retweets
    • Each post contains a button which enables you to post any user’s tweet to your follower’s timelines. This is called retweeting. The retweeted tweet will show where the original message came from and it’s a great way of exposing other people’s posts to a wider audience. Your followers and any users of Twitter can retweet your messages. This is something you want to promote.
  • Likes
    • Much like Facebook, WordPress and other such sites, you can click the heart icon on any message to show it some love. The message’s owner will be notified.balloon-991680_1920
  • Replies
    • You can also reply, like leaving a comment, to a message. The user will be notified and hopefully you can have a conversation.
  • Lists
    • These are basically groups you can create to categorise the people you follow to help break down the huge stream of content you constantly receive on your timeline. These are not something I have yet used, but because you can make your list either public or private, I know I have been added to many lists!
  • Moments
    • Still much exploring to do here. I’ve update this post when I figure out it this is relevant.
  • Messages or Direct Messages
    • Also called DMs. These are messages between two users. They are private and do not appear on your timeline. You can only direct message someone you are following and if you they do not follow you and you send them a message, they can choose to ignore the message, block or delete it and you will never know (other than they just don’t reply).
  • Notifications
    • You will receive many notifications. You can alter which actions raise notification in the settings, but as a default you will be notified when someone follows you, when one of your posts is ‘liked’, when one of your posts is retweeted or if someone replies to one of your posts. All these notifications are a good sign your content is being read. You get a separate kind of notification for a direct message.
  • Tweetdeck
    • This is an alternative interface to the main Twitter pages. Tweetdeck is accessed by using the URL https://tweetdeck.twitter.com. It’s customisable to your own liking and provides the user with multiple live feeds which can be filtered to your requirements. For example you can see live Likes, Retweets, Follows or even Hashtags as they appear on the platform. If you haven’t seen it yet just click on the link and you should get the idea.
  • Bots
    • Bots are a big problem on Twitter. These are non-human users set up to inflate the perceived following of users and for other subversive means. Twitter does a lot to combat these and if you suddenly find your follower number drop dramatically then it’s likely Twitter have just had a major purge on bots.

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  • TrueTwit
    • This is a third party service designed to validate users before you allow them to follow you. I don’t use it myself. When you try and follow a user who subscribes to the TrueTwit service you will receive a DM explaining that they use the service. If you wish to continue with the process of following them you will need to click the link in the message, enter a code which appears on in the window and you will then be validated. The service works much like the Google reCAPTCHA system most people will be familiar with.
  • The Blue Tick
    • A blue tick by the user’s Twitter name means the user has been verified as authentic. Usually only reserved for people / accounts of public interest, such as the famous, there was a short period whereby anyone could obtain a blue tick through a verification process but this was halted when the platform felt the user’s perception was that a tick meant a recommendation or endorsement by Twitter.
  • Analytics
    • Impressions
      • This is the number of people a tweet has been delivered to. It does not mean it has been read by those people, instead it means it is available for them to read. The higher your follower count and the more popular the Hashtag means the higher the impression count will be.
    • Engagement
      • This is counted when a Twitter user engages with a tweet. This includes retweets, replies, follows, likes etc.
    • Engagement Rate
      • This is the number of engagements divided by the number of impressions. Any rate above 1% is considered to be good. 0.5% to 1% is considered average and is a good measure of how effectively you are getting your message to your audience. Twitter provides a dedicated platform to analyse your engagement and other metrics, including giving you the option to export your data to perform your own analysis.

My Experience

Now we have the basics down, here is my experience.

I’m doing well, apparently. Downloading my own data for the last 31 days, I tweeted around 70 times and have an average engagement rate of 3.3%. This may be something to do with my relatively low follower numbers (heading quickly to 2,000). Those influencers with millions of followers would kill for this engagement rate and they’re being paid for advertising.

However from a more human and results based perspective these are what Twitter has delivered to me:

  • Authors for interview – Putting calls out across Twitter for Authors for me to interview has netted significantly more response than from my calls on WordPress and Facebook together.
  • Connecting with Famous Authors – I’ve connected with famous and successful authors on the platform, none of which I have yet interviewed, but still I have received retweets and replies, which has helped drive followers and traffic, although limited, to my site.
  • Building a Wide Audience – Each time I add a new follower I’m building a potential advertiser for the adverts I plan to put out for In The End. Each of these followers has a potential to retweet my adverts to their followers and as most are authors, hopefully the adverts will be seen by their readers, even if my followers are not the kind of people to buy my book.
  • Massive explosion in website pages views – I wish. No. It hasn’t delivered any major increase in my WordPress stats, follower count or page impressions. There has been an increase but it is small compared to the effort put on the platform. In order to substantially build the clicl-throughs to my site, or to an Amazon page when my book is on sales, I will need to drastically increase my follower count and draw people to engage with more with my tweets.

Building Engagement

Here are a few tips I have found to have the most success in building engagement so far.

  • Tag others in your tweets – When you tag another user in a tweet the tweet will appear in their timeline, but be careful and make sure you’re not spamming people. They won’t thank you for it. The best way to do this is to start a conversation.
  • Use images – Images will draw more eyes to your tweet. Make them eye catching to prompt interest.
  • Use Gifs – Better still, use animated Gifs to further draw eyes to your work.
  • Choose Hashtags carefully – This is something I haven’t yet got a good handle on. The more appropriate the Hashtag the more engagement you will get, the less appropriate, the lower your engagement rate will be.
  • Make your tweet mean something – Don’t spam. Be funny. Keep it short, or at least draw them in with the first few words. Some of the more popular tweets at any one time are just a few works long.

Okay, that’s me done for now. I’d love to hear about your experiences or if you think I’ve got this all backward. Let me know your thoughts in the comment, or just tweet me!!

GJ Stevens

I am a Writer. I am many other things too, but I love to write. I write in my spare time, I write when my time is not really spare. I write to relax and I write because I enjoy hearing about how people react to my words. Later this year I release my debut novel, In The End, a compelling apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless, immersing you in their fight for survival.

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