Thursday, May 26, 2011
ROBERTA: As promised, our two good pals Krista Davis and Julie Hennrikus are here today to help us master Twitter. Let's start with basics, ladies. What should we be saying in our tweets?
Krista: Tweeting is a terrific way to brand yourself. For me, it's often about food, which suits my domestic diva brand. I share recipes and tips that I see. Here's the great thing, especially for those of us who are lazy -- you can tweet other people's information, and, even better, they'll love you for it. If Roberta posts a recipe on a blog, I can tweet to share the blog site and her recipe. I'm helping my own domestic diva brand, and Roberta is getting more traffic on the blog. It's a win-win situation.
Julie: I agree that Twitter is a great way to brand yourself with a broad brush. Though I started to tweet to build a "following" in the hopes of publishing a book (or series) some day, I now tweet about much more than mysteries, or writing. Twitter is a great way to build your community around your brand, and around your interests.
You should tweet about all of your interests, and follow people with like interests. Are you a sports fan? Tweet about it. Did you see a play you liked? Send out a tweet and call out the company. Are you passionate about a subject? Use twitter as a platform.
A couple of rules of thumb I use--be positive in your tweets about other people. Don't say anything that you wouldn't say over a loud speaker. Also, pay it forward. Use 80% of your tweets to talk about other people, or their work. Don't just be a one note marketing tweeter--that is a sure way to get unfollowed very quickly.
Krista: Julie, your examples demonstrate so well that Twitter is for everyone. No matter what you write, or what your passions are, you'll find it on Twitter. I often recommend that beginners tweet about their favorite sports teams or their alma maters. It's a great way to get the hang of Twitter.
I agree about being positive, too. Unless you tweet a private direct message to someone, everything you tweet is 100% public. Be careful what you say!
It's okay to spread the word about your blog, or a new book, or a wonderful review, but tweeting about yourself all the time is a guaranteed way to bore people. Forget the hard sale because it's an instant turnoff. Give people something in your tweets like a link to a great blog or article.
ROBERTA: How about your best tips for getting people to follow?
Krista: I guess it's obvious that tweeting useful information is one way. There's good news, though, the more you tweet, the more you'll be followed. There's software that tracks this kind of thing and is used to recommend followers to other people.
Julie: RT (or retweet) often. Try to add a comment when you can. Send "congrats" tweets. Make sure to use people or company's handles in your tweet, because that increases the chances of your tweet getting read and the other person following you. Follow hashtags that interest you (one example from my day job is #2amT, which is a twitter hashtag for people discussing the ideas about theater that wake them up at 2am. Wonderful conversations.) Chime into conversations and use hashtags. Participate. You will get followers, and they do grow incrementally.
Krista: Don't be afraid to follow people. If you follow a few people each day, you'll be surprised how fast they add up.
ROBERTA: how do we keep track of all this?
Krista: Oh, I was so glad when I discovered TweetDeck. Up until then, I just didn't understand how anyone could read all the messages flashing by faster than a speeding bullet. With TweetDeck (and no, they don't pay me), I can choose what I want to see. I can follow discussions and people I like. It's also a dynamite way to find out if a certain word works well as a hashtag (#). If you type in a word and boring posts come up, you know it's a dud.
Julie: Krista is a TweetDeck fan. I love Hootsuite. It is the same thing in many ways, but I find that it works on all of my computers and my smartphone, which makes things very easy.
Once you decide to use either one of these programs you can set up a stream to follow lists (that you have set up in Twitter), #hashtags, key words or specific people. Also make sure you set up a search for yourself. That way you can respond when someone mentions you or retweets.
This is a really helpful way to make sure you have a continuous presence without spending hours on Twitter. Because I (as @JulieHennrikus) am fairly active people assume I spend hours a day. Instead I spend fifteen minutes twice a day.
Another great thing about these programs is that you can schedule tweets.
ROBERTA: What about these lists?
Krista: Lists are a terrific way to meet a lot of other people who are interested in the things that interest you. For instance, I have a list of writers. If you want to be friends with writers, have a look at the people on my list. I bet you know some of them already! (It's super easy to follow people from a list. All you have to do is click on FOLLOW.) You can also get more followers by having a great list. I've had people ask to be included on my food list. And, believe it or not, there are even people who track lists and rate them.
Julie: First of all, anyone new to Twitter should go to Krista's lists and subscribe to them. They are great for writers. I also have lists for my different areas of interest, though I will admit I am behind in keeping up with them. Lists are another great way to clear out some of the Twitter noise and focus. That said, just read your stream once in a while. You will always find something new.
ROBERTA: Any final thoughts on Twitter?
Julie: First, Twitter is an incredibly useful, FREE tool. Use it.
Second, Twitter is more than marketing, it is community building. Some of the conversations I have followed, or blogs I have been linked to, have been inspiring, informational or moving. So don't just use it to sell your book. Use it to engage with people.
Third, chose your Twitter handle carefully. After much thought a recent job change had me change my handle from @cozytwitt to @JulieHennrikus. I thought that the ED of a service organization should have a more serious name in case of retweeting.
Fourth, tweets last, so be careful about how you use those 140 (or 120 so that you can be retweeted) characters.
Fifth: Twitter can be fun. Follow a few pithy people (@SteveMartinToGo and @BadBanana both make me laugh) and see how it is done. Or use TweetChat during an event (#projectrunway was always a good time) and meet like minded folks.
Krista: 1. Twitter is probably the easiest, least time-consuming marketing tool available. All the more reason to use it.
2. Twitter will prevent you from adding more followers if your follower/followee ratio is skewed. (Don't worry, it doesn't start happening until you follow about 1,000 people.) It's good Twitter etiquette to follow people who follow you. If you don't follow other people, they will dump you. It's not an insult. It's how it works. Use Twitter Karma to get rid of people who don't follow you, so you can even out your ratio. http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/
3. If you use Twitter for marketing, or even to interact with agents, your Twitter name should be short (you don't want to waste characters!) and recognizable. You're tweeting to be seen.
4. The shorter your tweets are, the more likely they will be retweeted.
5. Some people consider it poor form to link your tweets to your Facebook page because you're likely to bombard some people by sending the message to them at both locations. Besides, you can say so much more at Facebook. Keep them separate.
ROBERTA: Thanks a million Julie and Krista! Now these mavens of tweetology are standing by for your questions...
J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource, an arts service organization for theater artists and organizations in the Boston area. Her short story "Tag, You're Dead" was published in Level Best Books anthology THIN ICE last fall. She tweets under @JulieHennrikus
Krista Davis is the National Bestselling Author of The Domestic Diva Mysteries published by Berkley Prime Crime. Her first mystery, THE DIVA RUNS OUT OF THYME, was nominated for an Agatha award. The fifth book in the series, THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE, will be in stores on September 6th and is now available for pre-order. Krista is proud to have a short story, DEAD EYE GRAVY, in the Guppy Anthology FISH TALES. Visit Krista at her website and her blog where mystery writers cook up crime . . . and recipes! If you follow Krista (@KristaDavis), she promises to follow you back.
and please follow your Jungle Reds on twitter too: @lucyburdette, @hank_phillippi, @jspencerfleming, @rhysbowen, @deborahcrombie, @janbrogan, @rosemaryharris1, and someday, maybe, Hallie....