The Twitter How-To Series: Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Interacting Online

Welcome back to Part Three of the Twitter How-To Series, the series of blog posts that I originally put together for my authors as a publicist, and that I’m now sharing with you!

Today’s topic is interacting on Twitter.

Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Interacting

Interacting! The heart of Twitter. But there are definitely some guidelines to follow.

Do: Contribute to Interesting Question Threads

People often post fun questions, especially in the writing community. Or they might be asking for advice. Both are great times to interact with others.

Some of the questions people ask are just so they can artificially promote themselves in the algorithms through having a lot of interaction. They might ask dumb questions, like “what’s your favorite color?” or “what did you eat for breakfast?” No one cares about either of those things, and you’re only going to annoy your followers. Or they’ll say things like, “Use three emojis to describe your WIP.” Don’t do that. That tells people nothing and just clogs the thread with annoying emojis.

Some of the questions are actually fun, though. Things like, “Have your characters ever surprised you?” or “Which fictional book has most inspired you?” or “What was the best book you read this month?” These are interesting questions with unique answers that tell something about you as well as offer interesting information for others. It just takes a bit of discernment to decide whether a question is artificial or actually promotes engagement. Usually, if you wouldn’t care, others won’t. If you don’t care what a Twitter stranger had for breakfast, no one cares what you had either.

Some people ask for advice. They may ask for book recommendations; definitely jump in when you can and show yourself knowledgeable in the realm of books and invested in the bookish community! (The answer is NOT always “my book!” Don’t be that person.)

Others might ask grammar questions, industry questions, even opinions on storylines. Feel free to get involved–just make sure you stay respectful. And know what you’re talking about. You don’t need to make yourself look like a fool claiming CMS doesn’t use the Oxford comma. Tweeple can be vicious and will call you out.

These sort of tweets are great ways to directly interact and have conversations.

Don’t: Comment on, Retweet, or Like Political Posts

If your book is not political, your social media presence should not be political. Don’t alienate half your readers by supporting divisive people. One of the quickest ways to Twitter death and virtual stoning is to get political. So don’t do it. I’ve seen way too many careers ruined by one stupid tweet, like, or retweet. 

I understand you have opinions. I also understand that you might feel like you can’t hide your political beliefs any more than you can hide your faith. However, think of this like going to work. You don’t bring up politics in the boardroom. You can do that in your own private space. 

Besides, no one ever wins an online argument anyway.

Do: Retweet Relevant Content

I read advice before that you should share three times as much content as you post original content. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I do think a solid balance between sharing and posting is essential to establishing rapport and showing that you’re invested in the community, not just in yourself.

Did you see a relatable tweet? Retweet it. Good writing advice? Interesting industry news? A really neat book that is coming out? Retweet the things you think your followers would enjoy.

Don’t: Leave Pointless Comments

On Facebook, you can comment on others’ posts without bothering anyone. “Great pic!” is totally acceptable, or “Nice!” or “Funny!”

On Twitter, your comments clog everyone’s feeds. Leave too many inane comments, and your followers are going to get fed up.

Does this mean you can’t comment at all? Of course not. But add something to the discussion. Liking a post is plenty to tell someone you like it. Retweeting shows you like it even more. Then, if you have something to say beyond “I really like this,” say it. Remember when you do it that your followers are going to see it too.

Do: Vote in Polls

Polls are fun ways for people to get input. It’s really easy to just tap your favorite option.

By voting in a poll, the poll also appears to your followers in their feeds. People love polls, so you have now shared interesting content. Of course, a political poll or something like that isn’t something you should get involved in, but things like “Star Trek or Star Wars” are great for sparking (mostly) friendly controversy.

Don’t: Pick Fights

There are going to be some people who post really awful or really wrong things on Twitter. Take a deep breath, calm yourself, and move on.

Embroiling yourself in controversy is almost always a bad idea. If you agree with a tweet, like it, interact with it. If you don’t, ignore it. Debating is just going to take you into a nasty spiral.

Trust me, I get tempted. There’s an account on Twitter that is constantly tweeting advice about the writing industry that is not only wrong, but could be extremely harmful for authors’ careers. (Things like “you don’t need an editor” that make me want to bang my head against a wall.) I don’t follow this person, but the person gets retweeted and liked by a lot of aspiring authors I follow. Now, I know that this person is rude and vindictive to anyone who disagrees. I know it won’t end well for me to disagree and will just prove the “point” that industry professionals are out to entrap writers. But sometimes I feel like I’m going to explode.

Thus, I employ the “group chat of anger” method. Some of my friends and I share offending posts like this in our group chat. We all angrily “yell” about it, say how stupid it is, come up with clever comebacks, and blow off steam. 

Then we do nothing. But we feel better, we’ve gotten it out of our systems, and now we can move on without posting something stupid that will only cause problems. 

Do: Make Friends

Twitter is ultimately a place to make online pals. At the end of the day, interact with others as you would with friends. Invest in people. Laugh with people. Have fun with it!

Come back in a few weeks for Part Four, Twitter Do’s and Don’ts for Posting!

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