As an indie author, you are engaging in marketing every time you send a tweet, whether through direct marketing (i.e. pushing product) or indirect marketing (i.e. building your brand as an author). On Twitter, direct marketing should be minimal. The bulk of your marketing efforts should be indirect and focused on getting your name out there and providing valuable content for your followers. As part of that, you’ll want tangible followers who, because you’ve built relationships with them, will help you market your books and enhance your brand.
With that in mind, it’s not the size of your Twitter following but the quality. You’ve undoubtedly seen many Twitter users (whether indie authors or otherwise) with massive followings. You’re probably even a bit jealous of some of them. In my experience, most of those impressive follower numbers are hollow and don’t actually add much value. Twenty thousand followers won’t help you much if you don’t interact with them and you’ve added people simply to pad your numbers.
Here are a few suggested marketing dos and don’ts for Twitter that will help any indie author maximize their use of Twitter and improve the quality of their Twitter experience. These tips apply equally to authors selling hard copy books or ebooks.
1. DO follow quality people. Find established and successful authors in your particular genre(s) and review their followers on Twitter. Follow those people that seem the most interested in reading and your genre. They are your market and the people most likely to purchase your books. Follow a dozen or so twice a week and see how it goes.
2. DO NOT over-follow indie or self-published authors, particularly those who don’t have a broad following. You’ll see many indie authors make the mistake of heavily following fellow authors. There are certainly benefits to following fellow authors, but for the most part, it’s a lot of noise, self-promotion and ‘attaboys. Broaden your network and make authors a small portion of the people you follow.
3. DO interact with your followers and those you’re following. Comment on their tweets. Have conversations. Get to know them. Re-tweet interesting tweets. This is networking 101 and is a must to enhance your brand as an author via Twitter.
4. DO NOT directly market your book more than a couple times a week. We’ve all seen the indie authors whose tweets are nothing but direct, in-your-face marketing. This gets old quickly. At the very least, make the marketing tweets interesting to your followers, such as using quotes from your novel or posting questions about themes in your book. Also consider sharing timely articles that discuss or touch upon themes in your book. If you have followers interested in these issues, then it’s a natural way to generate additional interest in your book.
5. DO provide quality tweets and information that your followers will value. This can be links to news articles, interesting quotes or random facts. Focus on things that will make your followers laugh, think, question a belief or best of all, interact with you.
6. DO NOT use auto-responders when somebody follows you. Your interactions on Twitter should be personal, not manufactured. This is especially true if the auto-responder is of a promotional nature. Resist the hard sale or risk making a bad first impression on your new follower (and possibly damaging your brand).
7. DO unfollow people who do not follow you back within a reasonable time (two weeks or so). There are certain Twitter users who are well known enough to only follow a few people. Most do not fall into this category. By all means, if there’s a particular person who you feel provides beneficial content and they don’t follow you back, keep following them. In general though, it’s perfectly reasonable to unfollow anyone who’s not following you back. This will help make your Twitter feed more manageable.
There’s also a practical reason for doing this. Twitter has implemented a strict ratio of followers to those who are following you. If your ratio becomes too unbalanced, Twitter may restrict your ability to follow other people. ManageFilter is a great tool to determine who you are following that is not following you ( http://manageflitter.com/ ).
8) DO NOT over follow people who send excessive tweets. When somebody has sent 20K+ tweets, it will clog up your main feed with noise. Similarly, think twice about following people who follow an excessive number of people. In both cases, these people are likely more interested in quantity rather than quality. They are unlikely to be good allies in your marketing endeavours. The same applies to you – resist the urge to pad your followers or inundate your followers.
9) DO use a quality Twitter application like TweetDeck or HootSuite. Apps like these allow you to schedule tweets, manage your lists, and build feeds for particular key terms, people you’re following and hashtags (such as “#amwriting,” “political thriller,” etc.). These apps will save you time and increase efficiencies in your marketing efforts and brand development.
10) DO NOT follow people who do not retweet or interact with their followers. Twitter should be a symbiotic relationship. It’s about people helping other people, either directly or indirectly. Some people view Twitter solely as a direct, in-your-face promotional tool. Maybe that works for them, but by and large, it won’t for you. People who only promote themselves are unlikely to be of value to you as an indie author.
With Twitter, quality trumps quantity. Let me know if you can think of any others that I overlooked. Thanks, and good luck!