As of January 2021 192 million people use Twitter. That’s an opportunity to connect and engage with a lot of people. Opportunity is probably the best way to describe the platform which is basically a word popularity contest with the focus on connecting through those words to create meaningful relationships with others.
From my own experience, if you are on Twitter to simply sell something, you might struggle to get any type of decent results. But how do you get better results at Twitter? There is no short answer but this guide will explore and try to answer that question…
Statistic reference via: Oberlo.co.uk
Time and Consistency with Perspective
It has taken me since 2013 and at least one absence from Twitter to finally get any level of high engagement on the platform, but let’s be real here with some grounded perspective. Any number of likes, retweets, comments or follows is good engagement no matter who you are. One or two likes for a tweet is a success in my eyes and anything more is very good. Twitter has a specific psychology that requires some time to figure out.
There is no specific way to measure how long it takes to figure out, some grasp it quicker than others but getting better results will mostly be governed by time and consistency – showing up regularly over a length of time.
For absolute beginners perhaps tweeting ten times a day is too much to start with. Take it steady and let people get used to you being there. Tweet a few things every day, comment on other tweets from folks you follow – show genuine interest but don’t be too enthusiastic or pushy, stay cool and patient.
What should you be tweeting about? We’ll get to that soon but first we need to understand how the tweet machine works and it is very much a machine in my eyes.
I’m not really qualified to say how the underbelly of Twitter works and Google knows the specifics. There are those who regularly mention a thing called algorithms which as far as I understand is a computer based pattern learning thing. Theory is, if you are consistent on twitter it will eventually work in your favour and push those tweets of yours to more followers. My learning comes from experience and all you have to do is go on over to my profile and see how many wonderful followers engage with my tweets regularly.
It took time and consistency to reach that level. There is another algorithm that isn’t computer or tech based and it is also known as trust. Over many years my followers have come to trust me through the content I post and when someone trusts me they are invested in me. If someone invests in you personally they will eventually buy your product or service out of loyalty. I have zero expectation or even an agenda to sell to people in this way, it just happens naturally and mainly through presence (being present, not personality, I don’t have any of that…)
For example take a household cleaning product you buy on a regular basis. You keep buying more because you trust it does the job you expect it to. That’s brand loyalty and that can be achieved on Twitter also.
But what should you shout into that void to earn that algorithm of trust?
It may seem like you are simply dropping those words into a void and it will feel that way for some time but eventually that void will answer if you keep going. Too many folks give up on twitter too quickly. Going from zero to millions of followers isn’t going to happen quickly but you don’t need a huge following to get results. I’ve seen hundreds of authors come and go from Twitter because they feel like they are getting nothing from the platform. Translation: They are not selling any books for the effort they put in. But to me that’s not the idea of being on Twitter for the most part.
I don’t know who said having a Twitter account alone will sell books or sell anything but that seems to be the consensus for some. Of course not everyone thinks this is the case but if you’re an author who gets a lot of Twitter engagement I can near enough guarantee it’s because you tweet less about your work and more about other things which provide value to others. Remember, Twitter users want to invest in you as a person way before they consider buying something from you.
So what are these other things?
Personally and from experience there is a huge range of content ideas for twitter but as long as it informs, inspires or has value then you are going to get something back – that is broad but also a fantastic opportunity to be creative. I tend to stay away from anything heavily political or even something that divides opinions – there are just other fun things to tweet about and it should be fun.
Sharing links tends to get less engagement as Twitter wants you and others to stay on the platform. My top tip: Drop that link in the comments below your tweet or leave it in your bio instead.
Images and visual stuff is great. From memes to a selfie. Did I mention a real picture of a real person goes a long way?
Sharing positive things is always going to get a good level of engagement. I can’t really remember many authors in the past sharing their sales statistics but I do and because I have a large audience of authors, it gives them hope that they can achieve the same. Give someone hope and you’ll earn their trust – we’re back to that algorithm again but sharing successful moments is inspiring to many others.
Helping someone in any way will always result in positive engagement. For the last three years I have read and reviewed over a hundred Indie Published Books. I support the industry and try to help a fellow wordsmith, there’s nothing more genuine than helping those around you just because I know their struggle. I shout about helping people because eventually it will probably make the literary industry better – a big ambition but achievable over time.
Commenting on other users tweets will push up your algorithm (the actual computer one, if it exists) and spread your presence wider to more people.
Hashtags should never be overlooked. I tend to include one or two in every tweet.
Play the long game. There aren’t many quick fixes. Doing the work will work eventually.
Above all being a person and not a link or book link sharing machine on Twitter will get you better results eventually.
You have to build you own…
Over time with consistency and patience you’ll eventually build your own algorithm of trust. Much of what I say may sound easier said than done but I have done it and achieved it. I’m selling a lot more books now through Twitter even though my focus has been more on getting a bigger following and just enjoying the ride while learning from others.
The campfire Analogy…
This has been a kind of Ted Talk but I want to finish with an analogy that I hope anyone on Twitter or thinking of joining the platform can understand…
So you’ve set up a small campfire on the edge of some woods (you’ve created a Twitter profile).
This nice spot is adjacent to a path, that path is then connected to a much wider path where people walk, jog, cycle and appear along frequently. (Basically the wider twitter community, no specific demographics)
You begin to talk to yourself while the small fire crackles away. There is a little warmth but other than the low hum of your quiet voice it’s pretty desolate.
You then talk a little louder (your tweets are specific to your interests, if you’re an author you use the writing community hashtag).
It might feel like you are talking to yourself but that busy path is ever so near. (it feels like you are talking to yourself. This is normal for a while)
A little time passes and someone along that wider path hears you talking (the hashtags amplified that voice of yours).
This person then moves onto the path adjacent to that campfire of yours. (you’ve attract the attention of a specific demographic you’ve got something in common with)
You talk to this person as they have just replied to you. (they commented on your tweet). It was a brief but a pleasant exchange. This passer by then decides to come off that path and sit at your campfire. (congratulations, you’ve just earned a follower)
Because this follower responded to something you said, you now tweet more about the subject you exchanged engagement with. You also talk directly to them (you follow them back).
Other passers-by begin to hear this follower talking to you and some at the very least stroll past the campfire. This one follower has sat at a few campfires before and those who he sat with can see the engagement you are having. (mutual followers of that first follower see your tweets in their feed)
You keep talking and exchange engagements. Some of these mutual followers have now walked by and sit at your camp fire. You talk to them also (follow each other). These folks even bring their own logs and the fire grows in brightness and warmth (more engagements happen, subjects range).
More folks who have been to other campfires see your campfire is a two way conversation and come to sit by it. (Your following steadily increases because you are talking and including them and you are present consistently over time).
The subjects you talk about are interesting and engaging. More passers-by join the congregating people already by your now roaring fire. You’re going to need more seating soon but you keep talking because these passers-by have become important connections. They have invested in you and trust you because your word is good and honest which started literally with you talking to a campfire. How do you know what to talk about everyday – you get better at this the more you do it. It even feels warm inside…
Some of these passers by now want more from you and so they see you have a product or service available that they know will be trust worthy or will at least provide something which will make them feel good. (You’ve grown your own algorithm of trust over time, as an author or content creator these followers buy from you)
You share with these fellow camp fire members how you got to this point. They eventually take on some of what you have learned and in their spare time they go and start their own campfires and the cycle continues. (you see others being successful at twitter also, they didn’t give up and kept talking also)
Although this is a specific analogy in a perfect scenario, it highlights the importance of being social no matter where you start.