Welcome back to Part Four, the final part of the Twitter How-To series for authors and writers trying to build a platform. In this last installment, we’ll be talking about posting.
Twitter “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Posting
You’ve made your profile look nice. You’ve followed relevant people. You’ve learned to interact with others. Now, it’s time to post your own content!
Do: Retweet Relevant Content
Like I said in my last post, I’ve heard before that you should share three times as much content from others as you share about yourself. I don’t think there’s necessarily a formula, but I do know that it’s important not to just have tweet after tweet of your own thoughts.
Retweeting shows that you’re invested in the Twitter community. But it isn’t helpful to just retweet the first few posts you come across. When retweeting, ask yourself: Does it fit with your brand? (E.g. Are you a YA author retweeting something about YA?) Is it something your followers would find interesting? Is it appropriate and tasteful? If the answer is yes to all three, go for it!
So, in summary, don’t retweet random things, but retweet roughly as often as you tweet.
Don’t: Dump Links or Copy+Paste from Other Platforms
Possibly the worst thing you can post is a naked link. Why should anyone click on a link hanging out all by itself looking like a virus? Even if it naturally pops up with a picture, make sure you give it a little caption of some sort to show that you’re actually investing in Twitter, not just link dumping.
So if it’s a blog post, even a simple, “I had fun interviewing author So-and-So about This-and-that” would be immensely helpful, or if it’s a link to your book, explain why it’s special, e.g. “My book [Title], a [Zombie Amish Space Romance], is discounted for the next five days.”
A lot of platforms also give you the option to automatically share your post to other platforms as well. I’d advise against that. Instagram posts don’t work well on Twitter, Twitter doesn’t translate great to Facebook, etc. Instead, take a few extra minutes to tailor your post to each platform. Plus, this gives people who follow you on multiple platforms more interesting things to look at. I also wouldn’t necessarily have your blog posts automatically pop up on Twitter when they go live. That leads to naked links, and we like our links decent.
Do: Post about Your Interests
You don’t have to be all writing, all the time. Are you a tea connoisseur? Talk about tea! Did you read a good book recently? Share that! Are you an avid Marvel fan? Tweet about it. Watching a really great show? Start a conversation! People like people who have personality beyond promoting books.
Don’t: Get Political
I cannot stress this enough. Do. Not. Get. Political. Ever.
When I first wrote this “Don’t” for my authors, two major literary agencies had gone under within the past five days, each over a single tweet. Please take a moment to let that sink in. Entire staffs quitting. Huge controversy.
Entire careers are ruined over a single tweet. Authors “canceled,” trash-talked, and boycotted. You may think your political tweet is relatively safe. That’s what people say every time before their careers implode. No political tweet is safe. Since tweets can be endlessly shared and retweeted, millions upon millions can see your controversial tweet in a matter of minutes. There is no privacy like you might find on Facebook (though even that is relative) by limiting posts to friends. Twitter is the absolute worst place to say anything even remotely controversial.
Don’t do it. It isn’t worth it.
Do: Be Personable
Twitter is a great place to be friendly and informal. Be lighthearted and use a conversational tone. Emojis are completely acceptable. Give people a peek into who you are.
Some people take being personable and posting about their interests too far. No one wants to see your breakfast. (Really. We really don’t.) We don’t need to know that you went to the dentist. When being personable and real, still stick to topics that will interest your followers.
Do: Be Funny
Twitter thrives on humor. People love pithy tweets that make them laugh. They follow accounts that will cheer them up. If you aren’t a “funny person,” you don’t have to try to force it, but if you have something funny to share, do it. And never underestimate the power of poking fun at your own self.
Some of my most-retweeted and most-liked posts are honestly kind of stupid. For example this one:
Me: I’m an adult, you can’t tell me what to do.
Also me: Someone please tell me what to do.
I gained around ten followers from that one dumb tweet. Relatable humor is the bread and butter of Twitter.
Don’t: Mock Anyone
With the directive to be funny comes the caveat: don’t make fun of people, books, etc. You don’t want to make enemies or burn bridges. You never know who you will one day interact with in publishing.
Don’t retweet people to disagree and mock their post. They will know, and they will be hurt. People on Twitter are real people. You don’t need to establish a reputation for yourself as a jerk. People want to follow nice people.
And there you have it! Alyssa’s short guide to Twitter Etiquette and Strategy! I’m not a Twitter expert, but these are the tips I share with my authors and clients. I hope this has been helpful, and now go forth and conquer the Twitterverse!