Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are You a Twitter Pied Piper?

Recently, I taught an “Introduction to Twitter” class and was amazed at how quickly students, who initially thought of Twitter as a marketing burden, were urging me to show them how to build a huge group of followers. They were caught up in a frenzy of building numbers before they even understood what to do with them.

As an avid Twitter user, my philosophy is quality over quantity. There are plenty of programs and gurus offering schemes to build your following into the tens of thousands overnight. Some of them even work. But does having a huge following mean success for your book sales? Not necessarily.

This frantic numbers game overlooks the purpose of using Twitter in the first place -- building your readership. You don’t just want a following. You want a following of readers who are interested in your genre or style of writing. What you really want is people who love your work enough to plunk down some cash.

For that, you can't just buy a list, you will need to earn those reader's respect and trust.

So let’s go over some ways you can populate your Twitter followers with qualified readers who could potentially become book buyers.

Create Your Plan

If you've read my previous posts, you know that I’m always harping on creating a plan. Interestingly, a recent study showed that 60% of companies don’t know if their social media campaign is working. Any guesses on the percentage of companies who began their social media campaigns without a plan? Yep, the same 60% Coincidence? I think not.

The truth is that most people don’t have a plan when they tweet. They post random thoughts about their day or interesting posts they find online. That is a drain on productivity. In my humble opinion, the best way to build a quality following is to have a plan for your tweeting. That plan should consist of three components:

  1. Your message
  2. Tweeting to reinforce or enhance your message
  3. Building relationships around your message.

I know what you are thinking -- yawn.

This may sound like dry marketing drivel, but bear with me for a moment. The reason it won’t be boring is because your message will come from the themes in your writing. When you build your message, you choose topics from your books and stories that you are passionate about. Revolve your entire twitter campaign around those topics and you will build a Twitter following who loves them too. It is just like writing a novel. Great novels have a strong position and voice. So too do great Twitter campaigns.

Of course, some of your tweets will be general conversation. That’s fine. However, if you stick to your plan, the majority of the tweets you send out will offer interesting information drawn from the themes in your novels or other writing. You will educate, entertain and thrill your audience with your wicked wit or emotional appeal. It is that passion that will attract people who are interested in you and your message.

As you build a base of followers who are interested in the same topics, you use your common interests to build relationships. You may have a follower that lives on the opposite sides of the world but you both love forensic science or space exploration or haiku. Whatever the topic, you chat about the things you love and have in common. Then that follower tells their friends how inspirational you are on this topic. You get more followers that are dedicated to that message.

You are the Pied Piper, creating a beautiful music that attracts the right kind of follower. That’s what will make your Twitter time more productive and more attractive. It may build slower but it will be a more dedicated and adoring group. One that will be waiting anxiously for your upcoming book.

Still need more? For those of you still itching for the "how to's" of getting followers, next week we’ll go into greater specifics on where to find your followers and how to woo them.

From the Desk of Tamela Buhrke


Margaret Yang said...

Great article! I feel like I have a better understanding of twitter and the possibilities it can hold for writers.

E.J. Wesley said...

Awesome stuff! Can't wait for the next installment!


Tamela Buhrke said...

Thanks! Also, feel free to post questions that you have about Twitter. I'll make sure to answer them in a future post.

Rabid Fox said...

Interesting post. And some stuff to chew on. I'm on Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, a couple others I can't even remember, and most recently Tumblr. Don't ask me what the big picture is, though. :)

Tamela Buhrke said...

Rabid Fox, I was guilty of running haphazardly into my blogging and tweeting too. It was only after formulating my own plan that I saw greater results and was able to focus my time on things that worked, instead of just experiencing a time sink.

I hope this helps you with your social media campaigns.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm a big fan of Twitter so I'm enjoying your posts a lot. I'll have to admit I didn't have a plan when I started, though. I would have done a better job of building my following if I had.