Does Twitter make you groan in frustration? Or do your eyes light up with joy when you think about tweeting to your followers? Whether you love it or hate it, Twitter is an exciting way to build a brand, make new friends, and sell more books.
My first brush with Twitter was back in 2009. I was a college student, following the trends and setting up profiles on every social media platform as soon as I heard about them. Twitter was no different. In fact, here’s my world-stopping first tweet that started my journey to over 8,000 followers and high engagement.
Since I didn’t know what I was doing on Twitter, most of my tweets were random facts. You may think because I’ve been on the platform for seven years, that has a lot to do with my growth on it. However, after 2009, I took a long break from Twitter, only tweeting sporadic posts when I felt like it. The key turning point that started the growth and engagement on Twitter was being true to myself.
Since I was unaware of the rules of Twitter growth and engagement, I used trial and error to find what worked. While my #1 Rule is: “You can never tweet too much,” here are the three things I did initially that started my platform growth.
1. Live Tweet Events
One of my first positive experience was live-tweeting events like The Oscars or The Golden Globes on Twitter. Thousands of people are online during those shows, all sharing their thoughts and reactions. Joining those conversations using the trending hashtag ended up being a fun way to boost my profile. While this did not lead to more followers, it certainly increased the reactions to my Tweets.
2. Share Content You Love
The second way I started gaining followers was reading and sharing articles. When I was bored at my day job, I’d read Huffington Post articles, tweet them, find the writer on Twitter, and send them a comment. Most of the time they would reply, follow me, or add me to a Twitter List. (Aren’t sure what Twitter Lists are? We’ll get to them in a moment.)
I also started curating blogs and subscribing to them. Each time there was a new post, I’d tweet it out. In the early days, those blogs were by Natalie Sisson of Suitcase Entrepreneur and Maryanne Pope of The Pink Gazelle. Once those individuals noticed I was a frequent part of their community and shared their content, they started doing the same thing.
3. Write a Blog
The third way I saw an increase in followers and shares was from my blog posts. When I started out, my blog was a journal, random ramblings from yours truly on WordPress.com. Surprisingly, I had followers who shared my content. I knew this because any blog posts shared from my site on Twitter had my handle @aford21 attached. I could see those notifications pop up on Twitter, which allowed me to thank those people and see what they were up to. Writing a blog gave me my own voice on Twitter and a link for people to follow back to my website.
Once I saw the engagement on Twitter, I started tweeting all the time about everything. This included my college graduation, what I ate for breakfast, how long I ran, clothes I purchased, and new shoes. I even tweeted about what wine I was drinking, books I was reading, my new iPhone case, and where I was traveling to next. If it happened in my life, it went on Twitter.
Of course, that kind of Twitter vomit isn’t necessary, but it helped my followers see I’m a real person, with varying passions, thoughts, and ideas. I’m not a one-topic robot! Once I reached my first 1,000 followers, I started getting more strategic in what I was talking about on Twitter. While I still have those random, off-the-curb tweets, here’s what I’m doing now that you can do to grow your Twitter account.
Download the App and Be Present
Twitter is one of the only social media apps on my iPhone that has notifications turned on (the other one is Instagram). I want to know when someone follows me so I can follow them back (if I want to), and like and retweet a few of their tweets. When someone mentions me in a tweet, I can respond back fairly quickly. Why? The lifetime of a Tweet is about 8 seconds, so if you’re going to be there, be present.
One of my favorite case studies on Twitter is Scott Stratten. He spent time organically posting and engaging on Twitter and blocking all tweets sent using a third-party scheduler. 50,000 tweets later, all he had to show for it was 50,000 highly engaged followers. Why? It might just be because he actually started a conversation with those people and was present. But who knows. You can check out his work on Twitter @unmarketing.
Use Trending Hashtags
If you’re on a laptop, you’ll see Trending Hashtags and topics on the left-hand side of your screen. If you’re on the Twitter app, click on the Search icon to see what’s currently trending. Go ahead and add your voice to the conversation. Here are a few that are typically trending depending on what day it is.
- #SundayBlogShare – use this hashtag when sharing a blog post
- #MondayBlogs – share your blog post using this hashtag
- #MondayMotivation – share a quote that inspires you
- #MusicMonday – listening to music while you write? Use this hashtag when sharing it or promote your favorite indie artist
- #TravelTuesday – if you’re traveling or reminiscing on your favorite trip or place to write, share it!
- #TuesdayMotivation – same as #MondayMotivation
- #WednesdayWisdom – share your wisdom or a favorite quote
- #ThursdayThoughts – thinking deep? Share with the Twitter community
- #FridayReads – whether it’s a book or article, share what you’re reading and what you recommend
- #FollowFriday aka #FF – shout out your followers, people use this hashtag to welcome new followers or shout out their most engaged followers
- #SaturdayNight – this one is a bit obvious—share what you’re doing on Saturday night.
Follow Other Accounts
It goes without saying, you should probably follow people on Twitter. Right now I’m following over 8,500 accounts. How do I keep up with them? Uh…I don’t. But how did I find them? There’s an app for that.
Whenever you follow someone, Twitter will give you a list of additional accounts to follow. But if there’s a particular influencer whose following you want to replicate, I recommend using Crowdfire App. Crowdfire is free to use, however, there are only two uses I suggest:
- Follow other accounts. Go to Copy Followers and type in the Twitter handle of the account you’d like to follow. Crowdfire allows you to follow 50–100 of those people for free.
- Unfollow accounts. While I don’t recommend playing the “follow/unfollow” game, what Crowdfire does allow you to view are inactive accounts. If someone hasn’t posted in the past 30 days, I unfollow them so I only have a list of active followers.
Word to the wise, some accounts have been banned from overusing Crowdfire to follow and unfollow accounts. Personally, I only use it once or twice a month.
Another app others have raved about is Commun.it. I’ve found it to be incredibly spammy, but the statistics are fun to see.
Speaking of statistics, if you want to know how you’re doing on Twitter, check out Twitter Analytics.
Create Twitter Lists and Engage with Them Daily
Since I follow thousands of people, there’s no way I can keep up with them all. That’s where Twitter Lists come in. What is it? A Twitter List is a collection of accounts you place into a group or category, much like folders for your email inbox. You can choose to have as many lists as you’d like. Some people put their lists into different categories, like Authors, Book Bloggers, Promoters, Friends, etc.
Lists can be public or private. For example, I have a private list of less than 100 people I keep up with on Twitter. These are the people I make sure I share and retweet their content or engage with their blogs. Once you have your list created, head over to Twitter, ignore the news stream, and go straight to your list.
Participate in Tweet Chats
Want to gain 50–100 followers in one day because of a conversation? Yep, it’s totally possible with Tweet Chats. What is it? A moderated conversation about a specific topic. Tweet Chats are 1 hour long and use a hashtag for the chat. All conversations about the chat must use the hashtag. The moderator will ask questions using Q1, Q2, Q3, and participants will answer using A1 plus their answer to answer Q1 and so forth. I try to participate in 1–2 Tweet Chats weekly. Here are some of my favorites:
- #blogchat on Sundays at 8pm CT — this is a chat about blogging and is pretty open. Sometimes the moderator isn’t as organized as I’d like—however, there are some big names that join this chat.
- #MillennialTalk on Tuesdays at 7pm CT — a conversation around millennials and issues they face entering the workforce and living a life worth living. It is moderated by Chelsea Krost.
- #BufferChat on Wednesdays at 11am CT — Buffer leads this chat and keeps the conversation centered on social media and growth tactics.
- #JustHaves on Wednesdays at 7pm CT — this is a fun lifestyle chat, typically with a special guest who is an expert on their topic. This is one of my favorites and I’ve joined it so much, I was a special guest back in May!
Notice that although these aren’t specifically focused on authors and writing, they are great chats to join. Why? Well, we are all multi-passionate, and it’s great to simply have a conversation with other people without an agenda. Additionally, it’s key to connect with people who use Twitter on a daily basis in order to grow your need to connect with people who are fans of using the platform.
If you’re new to Tweet Chats, you can participate directly on Twitter, but it’s much easier to go to TweetChat.com and type in the hashtag. They buffer the stream for you so the chat doesn’t get too overwhelming. That being said, #BufferChat is one of the faster Tweet Chats I’ve participated in, everyone there is quite hyped up, and the average life of a tweet for that chat is half a second!
If you’re searching for a Tweet Chat to join, start here: Tweet Reports
Mention People in Your Tweets
Twitter is about the conversation. Let people know you’re talking about them and their work by mentioning them. You can also introduce yourself, ask a question, or recommend a blog post. I had a conversation with a writer on Twitter shortly after my novel The Five Warriors was published. She was excited about reading it and bought my book instantly, simply from having that brief conversation!
Let People Know What You’re Working On
When you’re working on your novel, use Twitter to stay motivated to meet your word count. Use the hashtag #amwriting to let others know where you are and what your goals are. During NaNoWriMo, I used #NaNoWriMo2015 to connect with other writers. NaNoWriMo typically has monthly challenges you can use to keep yourself accountable.
#MyWana is another popular hashtag for writers, meaning, we are not alone. This is a fun way to tap into the writer community.
Use Buffer to Schedule Your Posts
Although I’m not a fan of scheduling out my posts, it’s become a requirement to save time. I use Buffer to schedule out my Twitter posts for the week, and often 2 weeks ahead. While I post 15–20 times on Twitter, daily, 5 of those posts are always scheduled, the rest are retweeting and engaging with others.
Join a Tribe of people who will share and promote your work
If you’ve ever been a guest blogger on my site, you’ll notice a ton of people sharing your post and tagging you in it. Why? Well, that’s where my tribe comes in. I’m part of a Facebook Group for freelancers, and Tweet Tuesday comes once a week. We all post our “click to tweet” links and share each other’s content. This helps my posts go even further. Are you part of a tribe that does this? Maybe you should consider it.
Reshare Your Content
Earlier, I mentioned the lifetime of a tweet is 8 seconds. Which is why I repost my tweets all the time. Don’t be afraid to share your content over and over again. Every successful tweeter does this, because, let’s face it, not everyone sees your tweet the first, second, or even third time!
Add GIFs to Your Tweets
One of the newer features on Twitter and one I’m obsessed with is the ability to post or respond with a GIF. Right next to the camera button, you should see a GIF button. Use it to search for a GIF and add some life to your tweets!
Use a Brand Hashtag to Spread Your Message
Finally, does your brand have a hashtag? If you’re searching for a way to build your brand, expand your tribe, and keep tabs on it, create a hashtag for your brand. The one for my book is #TheFiveWarriors, which is an easy way to find readers talking about the book series, especially on Instagram. Plus if you build a tribe and get them to share your message, you’ll be on your way to building your brand, making friends, and, of course, selling more books.
What tactic will you use to increase your growth and engagement on Twitter?