Twitter is awesome. I love engaging with my favorite authors, learning about new books and scanning headlines for relevant info. Sadly, I see a lot of really bad tweets (and based on your responses to my random twitter poll, so do you).
Buy links and hashtags galore can spoil a great tweet, but we all still want to use twitter to reach our readers. Right? Today I'll take 9 examples of twitter at it's worst and offer up some suggestions on better ways to use social media without turning off the people you are most trying to woo.
1. Follower Plea
Example: Only 5 more followers until 1,000! I'll do a giveaway when I get there. :) #authors #readers
Instead: My followers are awesome! How about a random giveaway to say I Love You!
Having more followers on Twitter or Facebook is not going to sell you more books. And that's because, say it with me, Social Media is not a sales platform. Social media is there to be social and engage. Your followers aren't going to feel very engaged if it seems like all you care about is numbers. Instead, provide interesting content that your readers want to enjoy and engage in random acts of appreciation.
2. Hashtag Overload
Example: Wohoo! My book releases today! www.shortlink.com #yabooks #ebook #books #reading #readers #fantasy #nerdgirl
Instead: Wohoo! My book releases today! www.shortlink.com #yabooks
There will be some that say this tweet is inappropriate, but I disagree. You get one day to be a little book happy and that is release day. That's it. But it won't take much to push your occasional book tweet into spamville. Overloading your tweet with hashtags is a sure fire way to do it. Plus, some experts suggest that the more blue in your tweet (from @names, links and hashtags), the less likely someone will stop skimming to read it.
3. Firing Into the Wind
Example: Want an ARC of my newest book, MY BOOK? Sign up here! www.shortlink.com
Alternate tweets in this category "Want to be a part of my blog tour? Sign up here!
www.shortlink.com" and "Want to be on my street team? Sign up here! www.shortlink.com"
Instead: Wohoo! Check out this shiny box of ARCs. Time to hit the post office! #Bloggers
Tweets like this are just all kinds of bad. First, it looks desperate, as if you couldn't find enough people to review your book or be on your street team, so as a last resort you'll take anyone from twitter. Second, you're going to end up with anyone from twitter. Not that you should be stingy with your review copies, but which do you think is better? Giving a copy to a carefully selected blogger in your genre or Handing one out to any Tom, Dick or Sally on the internet who wants a free book? Build up relationships with the good folks on twitter. Then provide a place on your book page for blogger to request a review copy if they are interested.
4. Random quote is random
Example: "She held him tight, but knew it wouldn't last" www.shortlink.com
Instead: Let a picture do the talking
A quote can be great, but most of them are meaningless out of context. Plus there isn't enough there to draw in a casual reader. Instead, take an appropriate quote, photoshop it onto an image that gives more meaning to the words, make it a link to your book page and post it.
Example: Yeah, my book! www.amazon.com www.barnesandnoble.com www.website.com www.bookstore.com
Instead: Finally! My precious has arrived www.shortlink.com
No one said that you can never tweet about your book. But on the rare occasion that you do, don't scare off readers with a dozen different links. Instead direct readers to the book page of your website where they will easily find all the various online retailers' buy links (because you'll have them there, front and center, right?).
6. You'll be sorry you followed me
Example: @newfollower, thanks for the follow. Be sure to check out my newest book www.shortlink.com
Instead: @newfollower, thanks for the follow. What your favorite book of 2014?
People don't follow you on twitter to hear about your next book unless you're JK Rowling or George RR Martin. They followed you because they saw something they liked and would like some more of that, please. Don't hit them over the head with a buy link. Start a conversation and start connecting. Your website is in your bio (it is, right?) so they can find your book when they're ready.
7. Tweetchat interloper
Example: Great questions tonight! Be sure to check out my new adult suspense, GUNPOINT. www.shortlink.com #MGLitChat
Instead: Great questions tonight! Being a MG author is the best! #MGLitChat
One of the great things about twitter is that you can join in all these amazing conversations and learn so much. And people there are usually happy to have a new face join the conversation. But that warm welcome will be met with an immediate spam report if you jump into a group and start promoting your book. Make connections, be a part of the conversation and learn from others. These tweetchats are not the place to sell your book.
8. The "helpful" author
Example: Check out NEW BOOK by @MyFriend www.shortlink.com
Followed immediately by twenty identical tweets each with a new friend and book link.
Instead: I never saw the plot twist coming. My review of adult fantasy NEW BOOK by @MyFriend www.shortlink.com
Writers are such a helpful bunch. We are so great about giving each other a pat on the back or a helpful hand. But your friends do not want you to spam on their behalf, regardless of your best intentions. Instead of throwing these tweets at the world. Write a meaningful review on a major site and then share those judiciously with your followers.
9. The never ending story
Example: OMG! I am so totes excited to tell you guys my really big news. I've been saving this up for the past few weeks and it's killing me...1/15
Instead: Major announcement! I just signed with XYZ publisher for my debut novel!!! www.shortlink.com
Keep your tweets to 140 characters (preferably under 100 so others can RT easily). If it needs to be longer then use another medium such as FB or your blog. You are fine to do a tweet that links to one of those platforms, but the whole story should not be a long series of tweets. Twitter is a great practice tool for writing concisely.
Thanks to everyone for your great examples during my random poll. However, I'm sure we missed a few. Feel free to add any bad twitter behavior you've witnessed (keeping it all anonymous, of course) in the comments. Together we can all make twitter a more magical place to waste time online. :)