Monday, April 11, 2011

Twelve Tips For Twitterphobes

It is no great secret that it took me a while to warm up to Twitter. And I am fully aware that I have probably not maximized it’s effectiveness in terms of marketing and promotion potential.

We talked last week about how it can be really important for introverts to learn to master skills they aren’t comfortable with before deciding certain activities aren’t for them; how competence can make you far more comfortable with an activity, which in turn might surprise you by actually being something you like.

So today’s post is for those of you out there who haven’t yet tried Twitter or who have given up on it or who are just plain flummoxed by it. Yes, I think one can have a perfectly fine marketing/promotional strategy without it, but as with most things, it’s best to fully understand and be comfortable with a tool before deciding not to use it.

Twelve Tips for Twitterphobes

1.  If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a broadcast medium, don’t use it that way. Use it as a way to connect with other readers and writers on subjects that are of interest to you.

2.  Do NOT pay attention to follower numbers. Remember, you're not using it as a tool just yet. You're simply exploring it as an option and getting comfortable with it.

3.  Pick some role models of big, successful Tweeters you admire and study their strategy. Some of mine are Mitali Perkins, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Meg Cabot (I love that as successful and ‘big’ as she is, she follows everyone back.) It’s just such an inclusive strategy.

4.  Try to talk a buddy or critique partner or two into doing it with you. That way you will have someone to have a conversation with.

5.  Practice in private. Before going official, practice making small random observations and wry, ironic quips about life and jotting them down. And they don’t really even have to be ironic. Entertaining or relatable also work. I know it’s a big joke how everyone doesn’t need to know about what you had for breakfast, but honestly, sometimes those posts—wittily expressed or touching on the human condition in general—generate the biggest amount of conversation.

6.  Find friendly people to follow. They don’t necessarily have to be people who follow you back, but people who at least respond to @theirname replies are good. It's easy to get one's feelings hurt to keep trying to connect with someone and have them ignore you, so just realize they're on Twitter for different reasons than you and move on to friendlier people with similar goals.  

7.  Just play with it for five minutes each day (it doesn’t have to be more than that initially) to scan the tweets of the people you follow. See if you can find just one thing that’s interesting enough to retweet.


8.  To get started, you can ease into it by simply giving a shout out to a book you’ve recently read and enjoyed. If the author is on Twitter, you can say Just finished The Second Duchess by @elizabethloupas and loved it. (Which is mostly true, btw, only I haven't quite finished it yet. DO love it, though!)

9.  If you read blogs or news sites or anything on the web, try linking to just one article you think others might find of interest. (To save characters, you can link using bitly or owly.)

10. One of the things that kept hanging me up was if we all follow each other, and we all retweet the same tweet that we find interesting, there’s a lot of overlap, but that’s just the way it works, so I had to let go of that repeating ourselves thing.

11.  Not sure who to follow? Pick a peer or acquaintance and check out their follower list. Or pick an author you admire and see who they follow. There are also tons of lists out there that you can peruse. there are also Twitter directories where you can list yourself and your interests, as well as see who else shares your interest. Organizations such as SCBWI or Publisher's Weekly or Zen Moments are also fun and informative to follow.

12.  Also? If you have a couple of separate interests, say in addition to being a writer, your day job is as a teacher, and look for people from both groups to follow and connect with, for that is the strength of Twitter: it’s ability to connect and tap into previous un-connected groups of people.


And that’s it. I can’t promise you fame, fortune, and unlimited book sales, but I can safely say if you give yourself two months, you will find that you are much more comfortable with it—and then you can make an informed decision if it is really for you.

Anyone else out there have some good tips for Twitterphobes?

16 comments:

Yat-Yee said...

Thanks for this. I've been looking at Twitter and keeping it at arm's length for a long time. I still remember the time you tried it and then gave up! These tips sound doable. Maybe I'll take the plunge at some point. Soon. Yeah, I know I sound extremely tentative...

R.L. LaFevers said...

Hey, tentative is good. At least you're considering something you hadn't been before! Baby steps...

Gregory K. said...

I'd also add that remembering that you have no responsibility to read or respond to all the tweets out there is, at least for me, very liberating. Just because you follow someone doesn't mean you have to read everything they say, nor should they have that expectation. Once I got over worrying about that, Twitter became a lot more fun for me.

Kimberly Lynn said...

Robin, I’ll join you on Twitter when my first book sells. I do see how effective the marketing can be. I don’t get it at all, though. LOL!

R.L. LaFevers said...

Greg, that's an excellent point about not having to keep up with or respond to all the stuff out there. I confess, that's still something that I struggle with, so I will take a page from your book and try to let that go.

And Kimberly, I will look forward to seeing you over there when you're ready!

liz michalski said...

Robin, thanks for this. I'm saving it so that when/if I do take those first steps, I'll have it as a reference. (I've just put up an author page on Facebook and am overwhelmed enough by that!) And I LOVED The Second Dutchess too!

deborahfreedman said...

Dear Twitterphobes, these are great tips! Twitter takes a little while to get comfortable with. So give it time and just relax – there is no right or wrong way to enage.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I don't think it's possible to keep up with all tweets even if you try--unless you're only following one or two people. So yes, definitely just drop in and read whatever's on the screen at the time, then drop back out.

My favorite tool in Twitter is lists. I have public lists (book bloggers, library folks, etc.), and private lists of close friends and colleagues. Once you're following a lot of people, the lists are a BIG help in organizing whom you follow and in making sure you can check in on whatever news you want at that moment.

The @ section on your Twitter page also helps you make sure you catch all messages directed at you.

If I feel like chatting a bit, I throw out fun questions, like, "What's the last book that made you laugh?" or "Am I the only person who remembers my SAT scores?" But you could make the questions more serious, like, "Which charity should my 14-year-old protagonist volunteer for?"

m gudlewski said...

So many good ideas! I especially like the one about trying Twitter with a friend. I've been on Twitter for three months. It took patience to learn and feel comfortable. But it's a great place to find writing inspiration.

Gerri L said...

* I appreciate your informative and encouraging post, Robin. But, since I'm still trying to get into the groove with Facebook, I don't think I'm ready to try out Twitter yet. Your words make it tempting though and I hope to take the leap someday, although it may be a long while.

Elizabeth Loupas said...

I struggle with Twitter--it always feels as if I'm walking into a room where everyone else is talking, and rudely interrupting the conversation. I will try to take some of these excellent tips to heart.

Thanks for the shoutout re Second Duchess!

kathrynjankowski said...

One writer in my SCBWI group keeps urging me to try Twitter. Maybe I will, now that I have a few guidelines. Thanks!

aquafortis said...

Great tips. Jenn's ideas are good ones--I often have to just tune in for a bit, read what's on the screen at that time, and then not worry too much about what I might have missed. And here's a further tip for the "lists" function--I have a private (locked) list of favorite Twitter feeds that I don't want to miss reading--good friends, fave writers, whatever--and if I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, I only check that list. :)

Kimberly Lynn said...

Children’s author Tara Lazar posted a list of literary agents on Twitter for those of you who might be interested. Here's the link:

http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/literary-agents-on-twitter/

Alina said...

I'd highly recommend checking out Twitter, even if you're on Facebook! I'm with Greg, I have guilt associated with missing things on Facebook, but that's not there with Twitter. I love that I can find people to follow who are enthusiastic about every one of my various interests (writers, beekeepers, foragers, hobby farmers).

I was very skeptical of Twitter and only joined in January. Since then I've made new friends and learned a lot. I don't think of Twitter as a marketing-tool, personally. To me it's more of a water-cooler. And anyone reading this should come by to sample the drink. :D

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great tips, Robin. I used to stress out thinking I had to be on there all the time or I'd miss something important or offend someone by not responding right away. But I've found that small doses of Twitter every few days is enough for me and as far as I know, nobody has suffered any ill effects from me being sometimes slow to respond :)