Site icon Crissi Langwell

How to engage on Twitter as an author

I joined Twitter on May 1, 2009. I then proceeded to Tweet a little here and there, talking to an invisible audience who never really seemed to respond back. I eventually lost interest, and just stopped Tweeting altogether.

Fast forward to now, with a published book under my belt. In efforts to get my book out there to the public, I had to make use of the social media avenues I was familiar with. My Twitter was resurrected, and I became a Tweeting machine.

Except I didn’t really understand Twitter and was using it totally wrong.

You can tell who the newbies are on Twitter. They are the ones who overtweet the same link over and over again. They private message strangers to check out such and such link. They’re all about me, me, me.

“They” perfectly describe ME.

I made a ton of mistakes on Twitter in my first months of promoting my book. I am probably still making a ton of mistakes. But I’m also soaking up what I should be doing on Twitter, based on those I love following or who draw me in. By their example, I am shifting my “newbie” way of Tweeting, and trying to be a responsible Twitterer.

These are the kinds of Twitterers I follow and am trying to mimic in my Twittering experience:

Those who pay attention to others on Twitter. When I am retweeted, favorited, or receive comments from others on Twitter, I am more apt to pay more attention to what they are doing, and reciprocate their kindness. I’ll also tend to keep seeking these Twitterers out to see what they’re up to, because I actually care. As well, I am interested in other Twitterers who are holding conversations with others on Twitter. It draws me in to either follow the conversation, and sometimes even join in. Those who engage on Twitter are interesting.

Those who tweet words of inspiration. Amidst the jumble of links and promotions, inspirational words stand out like a waving flag. They’re a breath of fresh air amidst all the “spam”. Kudos if there isn’t even a link or hashtag involved. It’s like they’re just Tweeting for the joy of sharing their insight – and that’s all. No sell, no promo, just inspiration. And I will likely RT them and share with my followers.

Those who are funny. I am, admittedly, not the wittiest on Twitter. But there are plenty who are, and who are talented enough to make me laugh in 140 characters or less. If I find one of these, RT!

Those who share words or link to posts on advice. When I’m perusing Twitter, it’s my tendency to seek out things that will help ME. That’s what most readers will do – look for something that will help them get further, be better, find inspiration, etc. Authors have a tendency to just tweet and retweet links to their own stuff. BORING. But those that write about how to solve the mysteries of writing or publishing or using social media, those are the links I’m going to click on.

I’ve also learned what NOT to do, correcting my own mistakes when I see certain Twitter behaviors directed at me. For example:

Don’t #1 – The private message link. I don’t know this person. I don’t know what their book is about. I’ve only just started following them. And yet, they are sending me a link to check out such and such. Why? As soon as I started receiving a barrage of these from new followers, I became keenly aware of how much I detested these and chose to NOT click on those links.

Don’t #2 – Repeating the same Tweets over and over again. It’s like they’re yelling at their followers. Didn’t I see that Tweet earlier today? Go to their profile, and, oh yes, there it is repeated five times. If someone is cool on Twitter, I’m going to go to their page and see what else they have to say. If they’re just posting the same thing over and over, I’m going to get bored and move on.

Don’t #3 – Those who just seem in it for themselves. These people are likely not on Twitter at all, but tweeting from a source like Hootsuite or linked to their Facebook and are feeding out Tweets. There’s nothing wrong with using these different avenues to get the words out. But by staying away from the Twitter feed, they’re also denying themselves the opportunity to develop relationships. You can have thousands of followers and still not have your Tweets read, because no one cares what you have to say. People have to care about YOU to care about what you have to share. Make friends on Twitter.

Don’t #4 – Those who autofollow me, then send me an automated message. Hate these! And I’ve been guilty of this! It’s tacky, and it makes me feel like I’ve just followed a robot.

And as one of my favorite Twitterers recently tweeted:

Bottom line: Be HUMAN on Twitter. Don’t treat your followers like dummies. Understand that your followers are (mostly) humans themselves, and appreciate interaction. Share your stuff, but share other stuff too. This is what I’m learning, and I hope you do, too.


Crissi Langwell is the debut author of A Symphony of Cicadas. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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