36 Twitter Tips for Book Publishers
For better or worse, Twitter has become part of our culture. While some people still may not see the value in engaging on the online social networking tool, many do. According to ComScore Media Metrix’s October figures, Twitter had more than 20 million unique visitors in the United States in September. Many businesses find Twitter useful for connecting with customers, and publishers are no exception. “If you are a good Twitterer, people will trust you—even if you are a brand—and will trust your recommendations. And word-of-mouth is the best marketing tool,” says Malle Vallik, director of digital content and social media at Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Vallik says that, for Harlequin, there is no doubt about Twitter’s value. “We track clicks through a tool like bit.ly [see tip No. 24], and when you see the numbers increase dramatically, it is more than worthwhile.”
Another benefit, she says, is that it’s “fast and friendly. [It’s] not a big investment of resources, although it’s addictive.”
Here are Book Business’ 36 tips for using Twitter effectively from those who have quite a few tweets under their belt.
Tips from … Jesse McDougall, Co-Owner, Catalyst Webworks (social media consultancy)
1. After signing up for Twitter, cruise through WeFollow.com, Twit-Dir.com and the new Twitter Lists to find and follow folks in your niche.
2. Create several Twitter accounts based on the niches in which you publish.
3. Avoid the temptation to automate. It is important that you are on Twitter to respond to the community.
4. Sell books by adding substantive information from your books and authors to the conversation. No hard sales pitches, please.
5. Have fun. Invent new … ways to engage your Twitter community—contests, polls, jokes, raffles, giveaways, etc.
6. Be strategically self-promoting. … Enter conversations tied to your book’s topic, and be engaged enough so that when you do bring up your own work and post a link to your site, it seems relevant to the conversation and not just like a sales pitch.
… Really engage the space: … Post frequently and understand that the shelf life of a tweet is about 1 minute. … RT (retweet), and use @ (replies and mentions) and # (hashtags) in your tweets as often as possible. If you don’t know what those [Twitter] symbols are, or have never been on Twitter, it takes just a few minutes to figure it all out. Sign up and join the conversation. (Editor’s note: Check out the sidebar for more Twitter tips and basics [such as hashtags], and visit Help.Twitter.com for a quick Twitter education.)
Overall, you want to bring some humor and wit to your tweets, be seen as a resource (by tweeting links and comments about interesting stuff), and show people that you are paying attention to their tweets by posting regular RTs.”
Tips from … Brett Cohen, Vice President, Quirk Books
7. Tweet in a manner that is aligned with your brand identity. At Quirk, we aim to entertain and inform. Our Twitter (and entire social media) philosophy is rooted in that ideal. Your fans expect it.
8. Make the tweet compelling enough that others will want to pass it along. Provide a snippet of useful or interesting content from the book. Announce a contest or giveaway. Promote a media event or article. Offer an exclusive discount on products.
9. Use Twitter as a piece of the story, but reinforce the message in other platforms. Recently, we had a month-long initiative on our blog (Irreference.com) celebrating Quirktober. We had blog posts about making candy corn, carving a pumpkin, choosing a Halloween costume—all pulled from our various books. Not only did we post the blog teasers to Twitter, but we also blasted it out via Facebook and our other social media platforms.
10. Use Twitter to create and continue conversations. When “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” launched to huge success, a fan created a hashtag called #ppzripoffs to allow others to post their own mash-up ideas. We caught wind of it, pushed this out to our fans and contributed our own ideas to the conversation. We picked up a lot of new followers from this.
11. Make timely and appropriate tweets. Our Web site is full of great content. When the “Lost” season finale aired in May, we tweeted with links to our content about surviving a plane crash or surviving a nuclear fall-out. And, of course, we used the #lost hashtag.
12. Think of tweets in the same way you would think about publicity hits. It’s an endorsement of your book. Whether it’s a consumer or a member of the media, share that endorsement with your followers by retweeting their post. It’s a nice way of saying thank you … and it opens the originator’s message up to your followers who may now follow that person and/or retweet the message.
Tips from … Amy Wilkins, Assistant Manager, Digital Content & Social Media, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
13. Know who your big retweeters are. … If you have a relationship with them, send tweets you know they will be interested in with @username at the end to make sure they see it and hopefully retweet.
14. Have a personality/human associated with the brand, even if [it’s] just a line in the bio about who’s working on it. We’ve all accidentally posted to Harlequin Books instead of our own accounts at this point, and we get personal responses back, so they know we’re human.
15. Avoid automated tweets. “Anything that gets cut off with ‘…’ is just confusing and doesn’t tell me anything.”
16. Ask questions. Even if you want to send [your followers] somewhere else, phrasing a tweet as a question, followed with a link to the answer or continuation can be intriguing.
17. Use lists and contests. Like blogging, anything with a list or “Top Five” (or 10, etc.) is popular (as is anything free or contests).
18. Give followers a sneak peek of upcoming sales, but do more than just tease “sale coming.” For example, [Harlequin] posted a link to the Freebie Friday page on a Wednesday so people could see what book was coming up, and that got quite a few clicks.
19. Make a sale sound unique. Our ‘Sadie Hawkins’ sale I tweeted today got some interest.
Tips from … Clint Greenleaf, CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
“We use Twitter mainly to interact with the publishing community and potential authors—we don’t do a whole lot of promotion of specific titles," says Greenleaf. "However, we encourage our authors to work Twitter to their advantage [for] book promotion. [Here are] a couple of tips we give them.”
20. Keep up with your account. A dead Twitter account is worse than no Twitter account. It makes the author and his or her book seem like it has run out of steam. If you don’t have the energy to Twitter at least a few times a week, it’s probably not worth it.
21. Give readers the opportunity to talk to you. Readers always want to talk about books they like, and Twitter is the perfect place to host a real-time conversation. If you can get enough people together (via announcements on a blog or on Twitter itself, a publisher-hosted Twitter event, or moving a pre-existing book club to Twitter), set a time, create a hashtag, and start interacting with your readers.
22. Don’t let your Twitter account become an ad for your book. Twitter users who feel you’re trying to sell them something will generally not like you very much. Be respectful of the community, and make sure you’re bringing something of value to the table before you start encouraging people to buy your book. Noting that you’re the author of such-and-such book in your profile, providing a link in your profile to your Web site or blog, and then interacting in meaningful ways with your potential readers does a lot more than “Check out my book!” tweets.
23. Be authentic. We see some other authors following indiscriminately and setting up insincere-sounding auto-messages to new followers. SPAM has already started to take hold on Twitter, and authors who come across as real human beings interested in connecting with other real human beings have a leg up in getting through to potential readers.
Tips from … Susan Danziger, CEO, DailyLit
24. Track your tweets. … Use http://bit.ly to shorten URLs used on Twitter. Bit.ly [tracks] click-throughs on links. It’s a pretty cool feature (and it’s free).
Tips from … Chris Kenneally, Director of Author Relations, Copyright Clearance Center
25. Post photos to Twitter with Twitpic.com. [This works] great with an iPhone at a conference.