Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To Tweet?Or Not toTweet?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, it's happened again. Yesterday, Reds chose team Hank or Team Hallie on tax preparation--it didn't start out that way, but that's how it evolved.
Today, somehow, hilariously, we've got another H or H decision for you.
Ten years ago we had NO idea what this was!

I tweet. @hank_phillippi
Our fabulous secret weapon @JungleReds tweets. (You DO follow us, right? It's never a dull moment, trust me.)
@rhysbowen tweets.
And @deborahcrombie, and @LucyBurdette, and  @JspencerFleming.

Hallie--doesn't. (But she does other stuff, of course. And what ever it is, seems to be working quite successfully, thank you so much.)

So it happens again. Are you a Hank or a Hallie? 

According to branding expert extraordinaire Dorie Clark--and more about her below--anyone who thinks Twitter is too silly or too shallow or too difficult or too easy, should take one more look at this new-ish shiny thing on the internet. And Dorie, because she's always ahead of the curve, is now shairng--just for Jungle Red!--her

Three Twitter Tips for Mystery Writers (and Readers)
                     By Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark--actually tweeting!

I was originally a Twitter skeptic – when it first hit the scene seven years ago, it seemed like the worst combination of useless and narcissistic. But my opinion has changed, and I now think it’s one of the best ways to build a following, establish your brand, and keep connected with your community.

In my new book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, I profile a number of “professional reinventers” – including Jungle Red co-conspirator Hank Phillippi Ryan, who used her successful career in television news as a launchpad for her mystery writing career. Whether you’re seeking to grow your profile as a mystery writer or stay on top of news and cool opportunities as a reader, here are three quick tips I recommend.

• Leverage the power of lists. Twitter allows you to create lists, a terrific feature that enables you to make sense of the ceaseless stream of content. Set up lists for your favorite authors, other readers whose opinion you respect, industry insiders, potential agents you’re querying – you name it. That will make it easier for you to track what they’re posting and, if appropriate, respond in a timely fashion.

• Schedule your retweets in advance. How do you avoid the last-minute stress of not knowing what to post? And how can you strengthen your connections with other mystery writers and readers? Kill two birds with one stone by scheduling your retweets in advance. Using a service like Hootsuite or TweetDeck, you can glance at your lists once a week, pick out the best tweets others have sent, and schedule them as retweets throughout the week. Others will appreciate that you’re sharing their content, and your own pipeline will be full.

• Brainstorm in bulk. Another way to ensure you have plenty of Twitter content is by brainstorming in bulk. Block out an afternoon on your calendar to create a list of tweets (i.e., 1-2 sentence nuggets). I can often bang out 100-200 in a couple of hours. These should be tips, insights or recommendations that establish your expertise or give readers a sense of your perspective. (In my case, writing a book about business and careers, I might write, “How to create buzz? Think about marketing as you design a product, not after” or “Have you had coffee with your local reporter? If not, invite them today.”) For a mystery author, you could share links to the menus of restaurants your characters visit (“Want to try [protagonist’s] favorite apple pie? Visit [name of restaurant] in the South End”), information about the milieu of your novel (“Fun fact: 95% of the population in Thailand is Buddhist”), or simply recommend great authors or books you admire.

Twitter is a fabulous “real time” communication tool, and part of the fun is responding to messages quickly or commenting on breaking news. But to stay sane (and ensure you have enough time for writing and reading), most of us should only log in for a few minutes a day. The majority of your Twitter presence can be handled once a week, in bulk – and hopefully these tips will make that easier.

HANK: So how about you Reds? Are you on the twitter bandwagon? What have you learned and what are your secrets? We'll give Dorie's new book on branding to one lucky commenter! And hey, what's your twitter address..we should all follow each other!

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of the newly-released Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013), a book about how to change careers, embrace new professional challenges, and take control of your professional reputation. You can follow her on Twitter.


  1. Although I have no particular issue with the whole tweeting thing . . . and the ability to get information out quickly certainly seems to work quite well with this platform . . . I tend to be rather ambivalent about it and, therefore, like Hallie, I’m not on the twitter bandwagon . . . .

  2. I'm @edithmaxwell and I get on there every couple of days. I don't have lists (yet!) but I have category columns in HootSuite that I check: #gups, #sincne, #locavore @kensingtonbooks - that kind of thing - that makes it easy for me to retweet from people posting using those hashtags. Haven't learned how to schedule tweets yet, though! I also set up a #localfoodsmysteries hashtag that I try to tack on whenever I can.

  3. I read twitter a lot; don't always post much. I'm more of a facebook poster.

    Days like yesterday, though, I was glued to twitter while at a meeting. (I know, I hate when people do that when I'm running the meeting.)

    I hope you're getting some time to decompress, Hank. We're all thinking of you and everyone in Boston. I spent over 20 years there and I remember how special Patriots Day in the city is. This hits home for all of us in New England.

  4. Yesterday was so awful...hearts are sad for all those folks affected by the bombs...

    On a twitter note, I was listening to the radio last night and heard a doctor in Boston talk about how he went to Twitter to find out what was happening at the Marathon.

    I do tweet--every morning spread the word about JRW--but I'm not keeping up the way Dorie is suggesting. I think I'm spending too much time on Facebook right now as it is!

    Dorie, I've heard people talk about Twitter as a conversation--all the pre-tweeting sounds excellent, but it's not a conversation. What percentage of tweets should be related to book promotion?

  5. Ah, thank you..yes, it's awful. I'm living in a new city now--it's astonishing. Armed guards, assault weapons, men in camouflage, swat teams, empty streets. It's awful.

    And we all watched Twitter for news and information.

    Dorie, how do we ORGANIZE? HOw do I know what to watch for? I know about lists, but how do Imake one?

  6. SOOO excited for Dorie, whom I met when she was so effectively running the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition ... and has moved on to be one of our top local media consultants. I'm getting a copy of this book. Right now.

    As far as Tweeting, I am, ahem, Hallie. But as I've said before, I aspire to be Hank.

  7. VERY useful post. I'm always trying to figure out how to be more efficient and effective wading through the social media morass. Find me @lauradisilverio.

  8. When I started my blog, I thought that would be it. I could read and review the books I love and that would be that. But alas, I see that I will need to move into the Twitter-verse and the Facebook Arena in order to reach people.

    Six months in, I am already amazed that people have found my blog, more and more every day. But I want more. LOL. Actually, I'm happy if just one person picks up a book that I might have recommended and enjoyed it.

    But, I can see the importance of these things in getting ones name out there and these tips from Dorie help me to understand how I can best utilize these tools.

    Thanks for another great topic Hank. And so happy to hear that you and Hallie are well and my thoughts and prayers are with the fine folks of Boston during this difficult time.

  9. Yes! I'm @TerriPonce and love Twitter! I particularly loved your bullet about brainstorming in bulk. I've saved this idea and plan to start using it this weekend when I do my marketing. Thanks for a terrific post!

  10. Hank, thought of you yesterday when we got off a plane from Miami and heard the news. Thoughts with everyone there.

    I understand why it's convenient, but I am a little leery of scheduling retweets and yesterday is why -- in a stream of important, emotionally wrenching news, RTs that have nothing to do with the current event seem very jarring and tone-deaf. I've seen this happen before and it just seems jarring to me. I suppose you can turn them off, but if you don't know a situation is unfolding. . .

    Also, I would be careful of RTing every nice thing someone says about your book. My editor actually says you should never do this now, let other people do it. And I agree with him. I've stopped doing it.

    And still a very common mistake: starting a tweet with another Twitter account (like say @jeffabbott) because only people who follow both you and that account will see it. I'm surprised how many people who have been on Twitter a while still do this.

    I like Twitter, but I agree with Dorie's take that a few minutes a day is best. Too much social media I frankly find a distraction from creative work--it crowds the brain.

  11. I tweet and I even had my social media newbie protagonist join Twitter in my recent book.

    I was skeptical of it at first also, but Twitter got me much more deeply connected to the racing world, which astonished me. Because of Twitter, I've managed to become part of the community. I've got new friends to talk to and hang out with online and at the track. I met a book champion who buys bunches of my books and gives them away to her contacts in racing. And I got connected to an influential blogger who in turn has put me in touch with female racecar drivers (my protagonist's occupation) who I couldn't have reached otherwise.

    Twitter's been huge for me. I'm a big fan! (If you can stand racing talk, I'm at @tkaehler and my protagonist is @katereilly28.)

  12. Tammy, I haven't read your books yet (on my list) but as a woman involved in sports car racing I'm eager to get started. I will definitely follow you.

    BTW,I'm on the official side of racing but my sister races an older Spitfire in Florida.

  13. Interrupting to say Jan is fine, which we're glad to hear.

    and Hank's on her way to cover a story and will check back in later.

  14. I tweet irregularly which is bad, I suppose. Days without a word and then a go nuts live tweeting something like the Grammys.

    Twitter for news: really the fastest way to know what's going on. I'm away from any internet access for most of this week, so I got the first news about Boston the old fashioned away- by phone. But I recall being glued to Twitter when the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster was going on. News was popping up faster than it was appearing on TV or radio.

  15. Dorie’s advice is spot-on – mostly. And I’ve since added her to my “social media” twitter list so that I can hear more of what she has to say. Want to put me on yours? I’m @glennjmiller.

    But while I admire her reliance on bulk tools and lists to filter the firehose of chatter, I have to caution on scheduling tweets in advance until one has a strong handle on the nuance of the milieu. It’s too easy to imagine some grossly inappropriate timing.

    I would add that twitter is a conversational tool of a lighter weight than, say, one’s newsletter, blog, or even facebook page. Notwithstanding the occasional political gaffe, the generally fleeting lifespan of a tweet suggests that its use for most people need not be relegated to stiff pronouncements and formal communications. Lighten up! Show some personality. Have a distinctive (snarky? convivial? helpful? local?) voice, and give it rope.

    Use LinkedIn to get people to respect you; use twitter to get people to like you. And sharing the love, promoting others’ content and successes, is a good way to start.

  16. Great post! I learned some valuable things here; thanks, Dorie (will definitely be picking up this book). I think I'm in-between--I tweet, but sporadically. Perhaps b/c I don't really feel I have a brand to, well, brand yet. I love the speed of sharing and accuracy/honesty (yesterday's events in Boston a case in point), as well as community of Twitter (in general). I've made some lovely connections there that have translated into FB and some blogging opportunities, too.

  17. I tweet, but not well. I much prefer Facebook, which I think I do considerably better. I'm wondering if some of this preference has to do with the fact that I'm very visual. (And yes, I know you can tweet photos, but it's not the same...)

    So I'm thinking about all these great tips (thanks not only to Dorie but to Jeff Abbott and Glenn Miller in particular) and wondering what I could do to improve. I think first of all I need a really basic Twitter primer. Any suggestions?

    I'm also thinking it might be fun to tweet as my characters, and so far "fun" is definitely NOT something I associate with Twitter.

  18. NEWS FLASH: The winner of Lisa Black's BLUNT IMPACT, is Kristi. You can email Lisa at lisa-black@live.com
    with your mailing address.

    And a very embarrassing confession on my part: I accidentally deleted Lisa's guest blog. (Hiding head in shame...) Once you delete something from Blogger, you cannot get it back. So while I could reconstruct the original interview, I can't retrieve the comments.

    Mea Culpa.

  19. Hank, Hallie, Jan & everybody else in the Boston area---it seems dumb to say "our thoughts are with you," but it's true. Inadequate, maybe, but true. Hug your dear ones. I'm flying my flag today.

    Dorie, I'm off to buy your book in a minute. Sounds terrific! I'm lousy at Twitter, but part of that failure is my sense that Twitter is all about people selling themselves...and nobody else is listening. If I become more competent and tweet more, will I find people that I can...........er, sell to? (Yes, it seems like a vicious--and ironic--circle.) On FB, I feel a part of a community (as Tammy refers to) but Twitter> It's a surging ocean and I forgot my water wings.

  20. So glad to know all the Reds are safe and sound. (Twitter allowed me to know Hank was safe yesterday early on.)

    I never thought I'd be on Twitter, but when I first met my team at St. Martin's, they said, "Get on Twitter." So I did. It's become my favorite social media outlet. I'm @rodriguez_linda.

    As far as the problem with prescheduling tweets, I do that only for letting folks know about new blog posts because I have followers from time zones all over the world. Yesterday, as soon as I heard about Boston, I went to the column on Tweetdeck with my scheduled tweets and deleted all the upcoming ones. This is easily done.

    I think the important thing to remember about social media is the word "social." Think of Twitter as a giant party. No one likes the guy who runs around the party telling everyone to buy his book. Same thing with Twitter.

    I have never tweeted a request to have folks buy my books. I retweet things of interest from other folks, have conversations with groups of friends (we set up a charity anthology that way), send notices of my blog posts, tweet something about my day or that I otherwise think will be of interest to my friends. I will tweet a link to a review.

    I have made wonderful friends on Twitter. It's also one of the best ways I know to keep up with what's going on in publishing. And it's the place for any kind of breaking news. I hit it a couple of times a day for a few minutes and I have a list of #FF (Friday Follows) in Word that I copy and paste into tweets every Friday. That's it.

  21. NancyM: here's Twitter 101, written by our good friends @kristadavis and @juliehennrikus about a year ago


    Linda, you have such a smart approach! You and Tammy sound like you are really having FUN with Twitter and that's key, right?

    Glenn, thanks for stopping by and giving us your perspective--we appreciate that!

  22. Lucy, thanks for your question about how to balance automated tweets vs. "conversation," plus how much one should promote one's book. My thoughts:
    - Schedule tweets so you have at least one thing, or a few things, going out each day
    - Once a day (or every other day), check Twitter and respond to messages (via @replies or answering direct messages), so that you're keeping up your correspondence. And if you have a spare 3 minutes in line at the grocery store, you can use it that way. You don't have to respond instantly as long as you respond pretty soon.
    - In terms of book promotion, I'd keep direct promotion ("buy my book now!") to a minimum - very rare. But indirect promotion? Tweets related to your subject area, or choice quotes from the book, or RTs of interviews you've done, or material you've written about your themes ("best Key West travel tips" or "America's best golf courses")? Why yes - all the time.

  23. Hank, here's a link on how to create lists: https://support.twitter.com/articles/76460-using-twitter-lists. It's a fabulous feature, and once you've set up a list, it's very easy to add people to it - just a click.

  24. Jeff, great points. It is a risk when you schedule auto-tweets that some news might break that renders them off-message or inappropriate somehow. (Fortunately, fingers crossed, it's not every day that happens, so for the time being, I'm sticking with the plan. And you can go in and turn them off when you become aware of the situation.)

    Like you, I also advise people not to RT direct praise of their book, eg RTing a message where someone says "Your book is the greatest thing ever!" Instead, you can get around this by creating your own message thanking the person or institution - eg "Thanks to [magazine] - I was honored by their review of my book [LINK]." That lets them do the talking, but the good news has been spread.

  25. Thanks to everyone for sharing your social media stories and your kind words! (Not to mention, thanks to everyone who mentioned they're picking up a copy of my book! :) )

    To NancyM and Linda's point - the goal is to sell books not *through* Twitter, but *because of* Twitter. What I mean by that is that it's a tool to demonstrate your expertise and get people interested in your viewpoint and perspective (Glenn's right - you want to share your personality). It definitely doesn't work to beat people over the head with sales messages because, unlike a TV commercial in the pre-TiVo days, it's easy to tune it out or "unfollow." The harder and more interesting task of Twitter is getting people so fascinated by you, in a proactive fashion, that they feel they *must* go buy your book!

  26. Yes, if and when I do finally grow up I want to be like Hank. Because, even though I post the occasional Tweet, I absolutely don't have a clue what I'm doing.

    Also, even though we lived in Boston for only a brief time, I still feel a connection to everyone and everything there, especially my friends and former neighbors. And, as I said yesterday, I truly wish I could put on an old uniform and hit the streets to help out in any way I could.

  27. I'm more of a Hallie trying to be a Hank. I think I feel a bit more like Roberta.

    I can't find the conversation in Twitter. I think I would have to eliminate most of my interests in order to find a conversation that I could follow.

    I am afraid of becoming narrow and becoming a simplified version of myself. I would lose the depth of life that gives me reason to write.

  28. If I could be more like Linda, though, I would embrace it wholeheartedly!

  29. NancyM... thank you. From my old neighborhoods: from Dorchester where I lived with my grandparents and Auntie-Mom; to Marblehead where I lived with my parents; to Copley Square and the Back Bay where I lived, worked, went to church and the library, and graduated from high school; where I stood as a grad student and cheered the runners on with the other rowdies in Kenmore Square; where I encouraged and strategized with medical students who wanted to participate as runners or first aid volunteers, where my father once ran… it all conspires to bring me back.

  30. I'm back..and thank you all for being so interesting while I was working today.

    ANd thank you, too, for all your kind thoughts. I interviewed teh governor today, and he was almost crying. That's how we all feel. So it's wonderful to have such dear friends..

  31. We do all feel that way, Hank! And Reine, thanks for your inspiring and sad words. Maybe we should all sign off and go get lost in a good book:) xo to all

  32. Late to the party.

    I resisted Twitter for a long time. But I love it now. I've connected with some fabulous people and I'm sure I wouldn't have do so any other way. The biggest rush of my life was meeting Hank at Bouchercon 2012 and having her say, "I recognize you from Twitter!"

    I tried lists, but I find them annoying. I have done scheduled tweets (I also manage the account for @PghSinC). I try to balance between RTs, scheduled, and conversation. I think I do okay. People keep following me (@mary_sutton73). =)