Twitter – It’s not easy to get everything right.

Twitter – So what is the right way to do it? I still don’t know, but here’s the story so far and a couple of tips that I hope you find useful.

I tried Twitter for the first time on 10th November 2012. My short story ‘The Briefcase’ was due to be released and I thought that as everyone was recommending Twitter, I’d give it a try.

I had of course heard the stories about Stephen Fry and his addiction to Twitter, but it couldn’t be that good – could it? Well, yes – to promote your book, pick up tips from other authors, find good blogs, make friends, etc., it’s excellent. 

Today, as I write this, two months and six days later 16/01/03 or 01/1603, (am I counting?) my followers have just hit 1013.

Twitter is very easy to use, but there are rules which you have to pick up along the way. Thankfully, some of the tweeters out there have similar blogs to this one, but of course, some of them contradict each other and I in turn may contradict them. The secret is to check out other blogs and come up with a system that works for you.

My current schedule (I say current as I might change it if I see someone else doing it better) is to turn on the computer every morning, check out my new followers in my email, copy and paste their user names into notebook and send them a little thank you.
Usually I send ‘Check out my great new followers. @lawrence-wray @somebody-else @best-friend’. You get the idea. I do this through TweetDeck and schedule them to be posted around the 7-9pm mark, but more about that later.
The reason that I do this is that firstly I saw other tweeters doing it and secondly, when someone you follow does it; at some point you will click on one of their followers only to find out that they would be ideal for you to follow as well. So if you were following a crime fiction tweeter, it follows that their followers would be interested in you, if you’re a crime fiction writer.

The same advice goes for someone who re-tweets you. I copy out all the user names and tweet ‘Thanks for the RTs (short for re-tweets) guys. Very much appreciated.’ followed by the names. Again, others will re-tweet this and somebody else may click on the user names to find other followers. Everyone’s a winner.

Direct Messages
Use with care. Too many direct messages can be classified as spam, and some tweeters actually state in their heading that they don’t check their direct messages or simply tell you not to send any.
I think that no one can object to just one thanking them for following, but my opinion is that it shouldn’t be used to promote your book, blog or service. If they want more, they can simply click on your links.

Tweet Content
At the start, you may not have a blog. Actually, let’s face it, you may never have a blog. So what do you tweet? Well, obviously your friends, but if you have a marketing purpose and want to get followers to get exposure, you either have to start writing something interesting that they can link to (your blog?) or have very interesting tweets.
I’m usually on-line every evening and when I see something about books or marketing or tweeting, I click on the link and read it.
The usual way of letting others know about it is to simply re-tweet it, so I do – once. But that doesn’t seem to be an ideal way to attract new followers, so also I copy the link to the relevant article and make my own tweet up.
The first time I send it out, I also include the user name of the original tweeter as a way of saying thanks, but after that, I simply send out the text and link.

Tweet Frequency
How many tweets a day/hour. 100, 200, 1000? From the blogs I’ve read by some very clever people, it seems that 6 tweets per hour is the very maximum tolerated before you start getting un-followers. Of course if you’re Justin Beiber or Lady GaGa, this doesn’t apply. (you’re not, are you?)

Don’t tweet too often is also good advice and for this reason I was hesitant to re-tweet at the start, but don’t forget, your photograph isn’t used in the re-tweet. All you get is a little line at the bottom saying that it was actually a re-tweet.
When you get your own tweets re-tweeted, it also gives you a little buzz, so share the happiness and re-tweet your followers and their friends if relevant.

Blogging (Yes, I know this is about Twitter, but it’s short)
At some point, you’ll read a blog and think to your self ‘I could do better’, (This one? Hope not.) so it’s probably going to be at this point that you consider uploading your own blog. As long as it’s interesting reading, your viewers should RT you.

I generally follow right back, but with some exceptions. (and yes, sometimes I feel guilty)
If everything is in a foreign language – what’s the point?
If it’s for investment portfolios, insurance, massage services, (yes, you will get those) starting your own internet business, etc., and you’re obviously not interested, then why follow?

You will also get followers who just want you to follow them back and then immediately un-follow you, so unless they’re interesting, just un-follow them back.

This should probably be under ‘schedule’ as I use it every morning when I’m thanking everybody for following and RTs, but I think it deserves it’s own mention as it’s an app in its own right.
TweetDeck by Twitter lets you see your Timeline, Interactions, Messages, Scheduled Tweets and Activity.
The only one I’m really interested in is the ‘Scheduled Tweets’ feature, but I know that others use it exclusively for everything Twitter.
Basically I store all my tweets in notepad then copy and paste them into TweetDeck and schedule a time for them to be uploaded. Usually 7-11pm and 6 tweets an hour.
This means that you don’t have to be sitting in front of your computer all day and life carries on.

Keeps you up to date with your new followers and recommends new ones, but all I use it for is to check who un-followed me.
If it’s someone whose tweets I value, then I suck it up, as it means that I wasn’t interesting enough for them, but it also points out who followed you and then immediately un-followed just to increase their figures.
Another interesting and useful feature is that it also allows you to direct message all your new followers with a message. Mine is ‘Thanks for taking the time to follow me. Hope you’re having a good one. Take care.’
As I said above, no sales pitch included.

Hard to get everything right? Yes, but it’s not life threatening.

I suspect that in the coming weeks/months, I’ll probably add a few more apps and maybe change my mind on some of the things written above, but in any event, the secret to learning Twitter is to just use it.

Happy Tweeting…

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