Welcome to the eleventh installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brandwill help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.
This Week’s Fail Whale–The Twitter Hermit
The Twitter Hermit signs up for an account, yet doesn’t interact a lot. He keeps to himself and only follows a handful of people. Twitter Hermit might be shy or not know what to say. Twitter Hermit might not see how it can be useful to follow a bunch of people he doesn’t know, has never met, and likely never will meet.
Regardless of his reasons, Twitter Hermit will not be very effective on Twitter because he never can reach a critical mass of people in his network. Thus, his Twitter experience will be extremely limited.
When we join Twitter, the more people we follow (and who follow us) the better. Why? We gain a pool of resources beyond anything we can imagine. If we are hanging out by ourselves or just with a handful of tweeps, we have severely limited how we can use the Six Degrees of Separation to our advantage.
Twitter will be a waste of time.
Twitter is one of the best ways to activate the Six Degrees of Separation–someone always knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. The more people in our network, the better odds we will connect to the right person at the right time.
This Week’s Twitter Tip–Use Twitter as a Force Multiplier
Twitter is one of the best force multipliers ever, and probably THE best way to get great information FAST. For example, when I was toying with the idea of writing a novel about a female bounty hunter, I had a choice. Go to the library and search through all the data hoping I found what I was looking for. I could also spend hours on the Internet searching key words and hoping I would hit pay dirt.
I didn’t do either. My time is limited, so I need to spend it wisely (I am sure a few of you can relate).
I tweeted, “Hey, my tweeps! Anyone know some good resources to learn about bounty hunting?” My screen, within ten seconds, lit up with tweeps eager to help. Some even sent me links to bounty hunters they KNEW. I had links to sites and resources that it would have taken me weeks to do on my own. But, if I only had a network of 20 people, the responses would have been far more limited. With a large network of 1500 (at the time) I actually got some amazing information. With 1500 tweeps, my odds were better that someone knew someone who could help me out.
People, in general, like to help and want to serve. Let them. Twitter is an amazing community and a tremendous resource if we understand how it works.
Tweet ya later!
#1 by Piper Bayard on March 29, 2011 - 3:00 pm
Great advice, Kristen. When I first started interacting online with people I met on a computer game that my kids sucked me into, I almost wouldn’t speak. It was kind of traumatic for me, to be quite honest. Talking without the visual input cut my conversational information down to about 25% of what I rely on when I speak to someone in person. Over time, I developed my sense of blind communication, and now I’ll pretty much talk to anyone. I think if I hadn’t had that gaming experience, I would, believe it or not, be one of those Twitter hermits you’re talking about. So glad I got over it because you’re so right. There are amazing people on Twitter, and you can find someone who knows about anything you’d care to ask. Speaking of which, talk to me later about that female bounty hunter thing if you’re still interested. 8)
#2 by Cooper West on March 29, 2011 - 3:07 pm
Ahhh, great advice, and inspiration. I’ve been holding off starting up on twitter for fear of the time investment, but you’ve convinced me with your Twitter Tuesday posts that “returns” will be worth it.
I do have a question, which no one seems to have an opinion on: what about mirroring FB and twitter? It seems an efficient way to manage both platforms, which can each be a time suck, yet I’ve had people tell me they hate it because they use both and so it clutters their walls. Is mirroring the accounts going to alienate people, or catch those who are not on both? *confused*
#3 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 3:15 pm
I would recommend you avoid that, or at least minimize it. It can become like using auto-tweets, since it isn’t perceived that there is a person behind the post.
We need to be on both FB and Twitter. If you are on a home computer, then just keep them minimized. Doesn’t take that much time to interact. I use social media as a reward. I make my word count and I get to go chat for 15 minutes on FB and Twitter. Another thing you can do is interact on one on your PC and one on your phone.
IF every time people on FB see you post, it has a Twitter symbol in front, they won’t feel like you are vested in FB and you probably will get less interaction.
People act like social media is this HUUUUGE time suck. But the thing is, even if you post four times a day, that is more than enough to be top of mind. And that takes how long? It is less about quanitity and more about quality.
#4 by Cooper West on March 29, 2011 - 3:22 pm
Yes, it does! Thanks for the insights, sounds reasonable to me.
#5 by Ells on March 30, 2011 - 1:36 pm
I think people see Twitter and Facebook as time sucks because it’s really easy to loose focus when you’re using them (especially Facebook with all those apps… Petville once took up a lot of my time – luckily I realised fairly swiftly and got rid of it!).
However, the time it takes just to do a quick update/keep up with what’s going on is minimal – I’m learning to try and save the distractions until I’ve got time to enjoy them, although as a serial procrastinator, that’s quite hard to do!
I’d agree with your point above too – I hate it when you’re following someone on Facebook and Twitter, and their updates are always the same on both. It just makes it look like they’re making generic posts regardless of the platform.
#6 by Jaime Wright Sundsmo on March 29, 2011 - 3:12 pm
great advice!! Lovin’ it -keep it comin! 🙂
#7 by Kim Terry on March 29, 2011 - 3:13 pm
Kristen, I could really relate. Partial to Facebook, I have yet to use Twitter to its full advantage. We do tend to become limited to our own little microcosms.
By the way, with your encouragement at the DFW Writers Conference, I now have a blog on WordPress. Check it out! 🙂
#8 by Stina Lindenblatt on March 29, 2011 - 3:16 pm
I’m guilty of not following everyone who follows me. But if their tweets haven’t been helpful (mostly uninteresting conversations) or I suspect they’re only following me to boost the followers numbers, I’m not going to follow them. Or worst yet, if I suspect they’re going to send me a DM after I follow them, telling me to buy their book, I won’t follow them. And if they do send me a DM telling me to buy their book after I follow them, I instantly unfollow them.
I’m reading your book this week, and after I get back from vacation, I’ll get my Twitter act in gear. 🙂
#9 by Gina Mosley Lamm on March 29, 2011 - 3:25 pm
Thanks for your Twitter Tuesdays! I’m getting lots of good info about how to use this great tool more effectively, and I really appreciate the effort you put into them.
#10 by K.B. Owen on March 29, 2011 - 3:29 pm
I have been amazed by how helpful and friendly my fellow Twitterers are. Even more fun? Being able to help someone else out on occasion. You are so right!
A quick question: I can’t remember where I read this, but I have the idea stuck in my head that it’s bad for the number of people you’re following to be larger than the number who follow you – that you look like you might be a spammer or something (or at least you look needy, LOL). Is this true?
#11 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 3:31 pm
Only if it is significantly larger. Like 10 people are following you, but you are following 500. See how that kind of has a creepy factor? Twitter actually relies on percentages. When you hit a certain threshold, Twitter will not let us follow mor people until more people follow us. That’s how they contain spammers. This is why I also recommend that you have a picture on your account. If I see a Twitter filler icon (the egg), I assume it is a spammer.
#12 by lauradroege on March 29, 2011 - 4:02 pm
This may be a little off topic, but here it goes:
I’ve run into a problem on Facebook (and somewhat on Twitter). People that I “friend” or “follow” who have several hundred or thousand friends/followers never pay attention to my posts or tweets. I try to pay attention to their updates and respond to them, hoping to build useful relationships/friendships, but they don’t reciprocate. So when I ask a question (say like you did about bounty hunters), there’s really only 20 or so people who ever respond. (And it’s the same people each time.) It makes me leery of friending or following people who have over a certain number of friends/followers.
Am I doing something wrong?
#13 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 4:15 pm
No, that’s just how it goes. Kind of like comments on blogs. People sometimes get upset that they only get 3 comments on a blog, but when I ask how many hits they had for the day, it’s only 35 or so. Proportionally speaking that is a good day to have 3 comments out of 35 hits. I made Worpress’s Freshly Pressed one time and I had 16,000 hits in a day…but only about 160 comments. 1-3% is about right. That’s why it is even more important to have a large following. 1-3% of 2500 is a heck of a lot better return than 1-3% of 30 or 100.
You aren’t doing anything wrong, but there is no telling. People might not be very active, or some of those accoundt might be idle. Some might rely on automatic messages. Others might be people who check Twitter on their phone, so they don’t like replying. They prefer to lurk. Most people are not using Twitter to its maximum potential, ergo why I write these posts.
#14 by Les Howard on March 29, 2011 - 6:50 pm
Freshly Pressed was how I discovered your blog. And I was a lurker for quite awhile before I started joining in the conversation.
#15 by lauradroege on March 29, 2011 - 9:25 pm
That does help. Thanks!
#16 by M.E. Anders on March 29, 2011 - 4:57 pm
Time for me to interact more with my tweeps for information-searching. Thanks, Kristen, for the tips!
#17 by Alannah Murphy on March 29, 2011 - 5:24 pm
Great advice as always Kristen. I am loving the interaction on Twitter. It’s fun and in real life, I am shy, so it’s nice to be able to interact. I’ve had some fun twitter conversations etc.
Only thing that annoys are those people who try to sell you something, whether it’s their latest novel, or get you to read their latest post. Nothing wrong with marketing yourself but don’t do that the second I start to follow you…
#18 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 5:25 pm
Which is why they make the Fail Whale. I teach against those types of tactics at every available opportunity.
#19 by K.B. Owen on March 29, 2011 - 5:30 pm
I tweet info about my new blog postings. Hope that doesn’t come across as annoying. 😦
#20 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 5:33 pm
Not at all. Now if you are tweeting 20 times a day about your blog and never RTing anyone else or talking to anyone, I would send you a digital slap in the back of the head. Twitter is a powerful tool to drive traffic to our blogs.
#21 by Courtney Cantrell on March 29, 2011 - 6:55 pm
Excellent advice, Kristen — thank you! I was a Twitter Hermit from May 2010 to January 2011. That whole time, I didn’t really understand what Twitter was for. My account settings were such that people had to send requests to follow me, and I was paranoid about being retweeted by people I didn’t know personally.
All that changed in January, when I launched my new blog. I realized fairly quickly that if I wanted readers, I would have to put myself out there. I changed my Twitter settings, started paying closer attention to my feed and to others’ feeds, started following more people —
— and started being followed. And not in a paranoid way, either! 😉 Since January, I’ve forged connections with incredible, talented people all over the world. A blogging coach in England interviewed me, and the interview will go live to coincide with the release of my first novel in just a couple of weeks. Julia Cameron, one of my favorite authors, is following me. I’m getting blogging and writing advice from experts.
It’s abolutely amazing. I’m so glad I’m not a hermit anymore. 🙂
#22 by Ashley Graham on March 29, 2011 - 7:10 pm
Great advice, as always, Kristen. A few months back, I was kind of a Twitter Hermit and had a LOT of trouble generating traffic to my blog, connecting with people who wrote within my same genre, and so on. Also, I was often terrified to @ reply to people I *did* follow just because…well…I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing or whatever.
After I finished my book, though, I realized I needed to break out of my Hermit shell, be more sociable, follow more people, seek out those writers with whom I could relate most. I also needed to tweet about my blog posts to get people to come listen, participate, and share. It took a while, but once I started being more sociable, people listened, followed and connected in ways that will leave me forever grateful.
I’m still a work in progress, but I’m learning more and more every day how to use social media to my advantage. And, really, not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of other writers, too.
Thanks for your Twitter posts. I always learn something new.
#23 by Les Howard on March 29, 2011 - 7:23 pm
If I weren’t a Twitter hermit, I’d never get any work done. I only follow 53 people right now and I could never keep up with all their tweets. Some people follow thousands. How do they do it?
#24 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 29, 2011 - 7:51 pm
Tweet Deck. Refer to Part One. And you just scan and pluck out what is interesting. RT for people you know or like their stuff. You get faster with practice :D.
#25 by Sonia M. on March 30, 2011 - 3:00 pm
TweetDeck is a definite lifesaver! Can’t imagine following more than a few folks on Twitter without it. Love how I can have multiple columns to follow various streams.
#26 by SandySays1 on March 29, 2011 - 7:30 pm
I guess its time to get my human to leave his “hermitage.” He’s signed up, but was concerned the time wouldn’t be justified by results. I’ll gig him and get him to pick up a copy of your book.
#27 by Kate Ferguson Writes on March 29, 2011 - 8:23 pm
You’ve inspired a twitter hermit to emerge! Now if only I could remember my password… 😉
#28 by Betty Booher on March 29, 2011 - 8:24 pm
So I start reading today’s post and I’m thinking, I only signed up for this blog a couple of weeks ago, how could Kristen be calling me out already? I opened a Twitter account in November but haven’t done anything but visit it a couple of times.
Oh wait, I did put a shortcut on my computer screen last weekend. That counts, right??
Thanks, Kristen, for your informative Twitter Tuesdays. I’ll be adding ‘tweets’ to my April goals!
Btw, I’m making my way through We Are Not Alone, and it’s super helpful.
#29 by Naty Matos on March 29, 2011 - 11:27 pm
Thanks for this post and your advise. Not only is a way to save time, but as you interact with people you learn a lot of neat things and get to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world that otherwise you would have not met.
#30 by Michelle Massaro on March 30, 2011 - 5:44 am
I’m still figuring out twitter. These posts are a great help but I’m still waiting for it all to “click”. I *think* I’m making progress but I’m not sure, lol Hashtags are my focus right now. And I haven’t figured out how to use the tweetdeck in a way that suits me. I hate having those things pop up in the coner of my screen while I’d doing something else. It’s worse than the “mom mom mom mom mom mom” that I hear all the time, lol.
I do find it to be a time drain, personally. In theory I should be able to spend a few minutes a day on social media but in practice it’s a big black hole that sucks away all my free time. It’s like a drug that I sometimes try to quit but it always calls me back. I won’t go so far as to say I get the shakes when I go through withdrawal, but I have a hard time getting back out once I step into tweetland or facebookworld. I love your posts about using it to streamline. Now if I could just gain the willpower…
#31 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 30, 2011 - 12:26 pm
It might help to turn off the notification (that tweeting in the corner of your screen). Go to “Settings” and then “Notifications” and then set accourdingly. I had to do the same. It was far too distracting. The “shiny” wears off with some use ;).
#32 by Marilag Lubag on March 30, 2011 - 6:22 am
Somehow, I got over my fear of hashtags. Using them often now. “People like to help and want to serve.” It’s our perception of the people, too. If we keep that in mind, others will respond to our perception.
#33 by Gene Lempp on March 30, 2011 - 7:47 am
Fun post, force multiplier for the six degrees, lots of math, but the good kind. Thanks Kristen 🙂
#34 by Sonia M. on March 30, 2011 - 2:55 pm
Great advice, as usual! I didn’t think about tweeting research questions. I can definitely see how useful that would be. *bows and says “I’m not worthy”*