Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that writing is meant to be a solitary experience. Writers do their best work when no one is around and when distractions are minimal. Unfortunately, many aspiring authors are unaware that this rule of solitude should never apply to their social media platform. Too often I’ve seen authors who have either neglected their Twitter accounts or are completely oblivious to the rules of social media. I’m sure many authors would like followers on Twitter in the thousands because it’ll probably lead to more sales of their books, more reader engagement, and more visibility in a crowded industry. And yet, I see indie authors with their follower counts in the teens and tweets with no engagement.
Did I just describe your Twitter account? It’s frustrating isn’t it? You’ve written an amazing novel or non-fiction work and no one knows it exists! I understand how you feel because I was in the same boat.
When I first signed up on Twitter, I was excited for the possibilities of building a platform and an audience for my writing. I was confident that after a few tweets about my book and short stories, people would flock to my Wattpad page and start reading and commenting away. Reality set in pretty quick. For weeks, my Twitter page languished with a meager 20 followers (most of them friends and family) and a dozen pathetic tweets from yours truly about writing.
I didn’t realize at the time that there were two gaps to my Twitter approach.
Gap #1 – Not searching for my audience
For some strange reason, writers throw out all logic when it comes to their own writing. I thought my stories would be good enough to garner some attention and I’d gain an organic following. Well, unless you’re a celebrity, don’t expect people to find you and Twitter and start following you. You, the author, need to find your audience, not the other way around.
How do you go about doing this?
It’s really simple. Find people on Twitter who like the same books, movies, TV shows as you do and start following them. Search for fellow fans of Harry Potter, Dr. Who, or whatever franchise you’re into and connect with them. Retweet their posts, read and comment on their blogs, and engage in conversation. Remember these are people who are into the same things as you so connecting will be really easy and even fun! Twitter is about socializing, not just marketing. If you take the time to connect with potential readers, you will naturally grow your audience and interest in your work. Not understanding this concept was the cause of most of my frustration when it came to gaining more followers and once I remedied the problem things started to turn around. But there’s one more gap that kept me from gaining more traction on Twitter…
Gap #2 – Not following the “rules” of Twitter
When I say rules, I don’t mean the terms and conditions when you sign up for Twitter or any other social media platform. I’m talking about the norms people follow when they tweet, retweet, and follow others. You’ll quickly realize that once you start following potential readers and like-minded folks on Twitter, you’ll get them to follow back. I’ve learned that it’s good Twitter etiquette to follow someone back who’s followed you first. Initially, I didn’t want to follow people who I didn’t know because most of my experience with social media came from Facebook, where I avoid friend requests from strangers and do my best to keep privacy settings pretty strict. This approach is counter-intuitive on Twitter if you want to gain a following and reach an audience. Will your Twitter feed be flooded by all the tweets from strangers? You better believe it! But within the flood there are informative posts and tips you can respond to, which brings me to the next “rule”.
Retweet like crazy!
Well, don’t go completely nuts with it, but try to help your followers and those you follow by sharing their content. As an indie author, you’re also bound to gain fellow authors as followers–retweet their content too! Don’t see the other authors as competition. They’re trying to build their brand, platform, and following just like you. Help them out with their marketing and you may help yourself out as well, either by gaining some followers from their audience or landing a guest post on their blog. Twitter can be very reciprocal that way. Be generous and treat others as you’d like to be treated. You’ll be surprised how far you can get!
As of this post, I’ve reached 1,500 followers from my initial 20 something back in March. It’s not a mind-blowing number by any stretch, but like I said, I’m still learning all there is to know about building a Twitter platform. I can definitively say my previous approach to gaining an audience was a dead-end, so what about you? What tips have you learned to boost your Twitter following and expand your audience? I’d love to read your thoughts below!
Some helpful articles on Twitter marketing and platform building: