social media guide
9 Years on Twitter – What I’ve Learned
Time can be a rewarding thing. Give an author time and they’ll eventually give you the world or at least when they have stopped procrastinating. Give a Tweeter time and eventually they’ll figure out the platform because that’s exactly what I’ve done and that’s exactly what you need to succeed on Twitter. Succeeding on the platform takes many different forms from finding your crowd or community to eventually finding sales to some other awesome things. More importantly and to me its all about being content with your efforts and even though I am partially addicted to Twitter, what I’ve got from it makes me happy mostly.
The start of each year serves as not just my anniversary on Twitter but also the anniversary of when I announced myself as an author to the world. 22 year-old Lee Hall didn’t know much about being a writer back then, but he knew that he wanted to be one and he also knew even less about Twitter. Nine years later, that writing desire stands strong and for it I have seven books published, to me and probably just as importantly, I have thousands of Twitter followers. That following pushed me to be better and go further with my writing.
This is a post that will highlight some of my major learning curves on the platform with a hope it can help others.
Incentive is a word I use to describe what was missing in my Tweets during the many years of Twitter purgatory I found myself in. Specifically I’m talking about the odd link share and a random thought share routine I’d found myself in for the best part of five years. From 2013 to late 2018 I’ll happily admit my Twitter was nothing like it is today and rightly so because I hadn’t figured it out. From logging in every now and then to simply scrolling with a frown, like many newbies, I thought Twitter was a weird place, it might still be that but now I understand the platform, my view is little different. Twitter is something that requires no formal qualifications to figure out, spending time on the platform will eventually help.
Back to that word incentive because by the end of this purgatory era I finally realised the true power Twitter has if you can offer something to someone. From a simple question to advice, from a relatable experience to even a random conversational quip – If you give on Twitter, eventually you will find others that will embrace what you have to offer and more importantly engage with you for it. Late 2018 just happened to be when I began one of my most important endeavours as a social media personality and blogger and author, I started reviewing indie books. One fateful December evening I put out a tweet asking for indie book rec’s. The deluge that followed convinced me that reviews were in demand and my voice, even if it was a lot smaller back then had reach that could be amplified simply by offering to fulfil a need or have some level of incentive.
This tweet asking for indie book rec’s still serves as one of my most engaged, even now after reaching 20,000+ followers. It also paved the way for me to review 40 books in 2019 and connect with some wonderful creatives I still share my Tweeting experience with today. From then I have reviewed over a hundred indie books and that number continues to grow.
The next few years I spent on Twitter very aware of the potential it had and I simply got to work making a name for myself as an author and supporter of fellow creatives. Still a kind of post-purgatory loomed over me until April 2020 arrived and the gift of time was given to me. In an attempt to gain a readership for my still largely unknown Order of the Following Series I began to ramp up my presence online in both blogging and Twitter. Because the pandemic world had granted me more time at home, I could treat this career aspiration as an actual career and what started as a simple increase of presence, set me on the path to another realisation.
Presence is everything, being there regularly is everything and finding quality subjects to tweet about was achieved by tweeting in quantity. Finding quality through quantity became my main aim even after this 4th book in my unknown series was released because the needle was moving. April 2020 saw around 3,500 followers and December 2020 would bring 5,000. During this important time I was marking in my mind what worked and what didn’t – I’d drop the stuff that didn’t and would do more of what worked, growth was constant and as long as my tweets inspired, informed, entertained or provided some level of value and incentive, I would succeed.
For my efforts, books began selling. In 2019 I would probably sell one book from Twitter every two weeks or so. By 2021 I would be selling a book or two every seven days. By 2022 I sell a book or two nearly every other day – this hopefully tells you that selling on social media is possible eventually and you can do the same.
From 2018 to now I’d spent a huge amount of time reading and reviewing indie books and it was earning trust from a constantly growing following. Plus and just as importantly, I was reading and enjoying these works. My Tweets focused predominantly supporting others on this author path and trying my best to find things we have in common – from sharing sales figures that would bring us closer to providing tips or promotional methods. All of this incentive focused content was earning the trust of so many others like me.
Earn a person’s trust and they will invest in you eventually. On Twitter the momentum will start swinging your way when you have something to offer and if you offer it regularly. That ‘something’ needs to be unlimited and never run out. It won’t be easy figuring out but it is possible. For me, authors will always need reviews, readers will always want new books to read and those like me in the industry will always appreciate experience based support. These three things are incentive based and pretty much limitless. Supporting others on Twitter is also free – there seems to be a consensus that supporting others involves a cost, even a simple retweet or a like is considered support from me and that costs nothing.
More importantly and probably above all I set out to make my Twitter a pleasant place to be online because you might do all of the above and still get pretty much zero interest because tone is everything or it might even be something else – nobody really knows how the algorithms really work. But get that tone just right and people will eventually want to engage with you – be open, be honest and be decent. Speak with others as if they were opposite you in the same room. Big opinions or anything that may stir passionate responses can very easily turn sour on Twitter so my advice is to keep it light. Just recently I saw someone express quite a strong opinion which proceeded to trend – that particular account lost half its following in a single day. While I strongly support free speech, I am also an advocate for using it responsibly. You’ll sometimes need a thick skin because people will approach you in all types of ways from the friendly to the less so.
Social media gets a negative light sometimes for being a troll heavy, mental health draining waste of time but to me I have converted all of those negatives into positives by doing my best to make my Twitter a nice place to be. People are drawn to pleasant experiences and genuine people who are real. I want the book industry and self publishing to be a place where story-tellers can succeed no matter who they are, my efforts have rewarded me with thousands of Twitter followers, regular book sales and a boat load of supporters I call friends.
It took a while, but the journey and time was worth it. Social media does have a long way to go in order to be better at stopping abuse and trolls but for the most part, social media is one of the greatest feats of social engineering we’ve ever created. When its good it is incredible and generally most people want it to be good. That desire can stamp out the bad eventually and through being pleasant.
All of the things mentioned worked for me and Twitter is sometimes an individual journey of figuring out what works for you. Its okay to experiment and try new things on the platform, in that sense variety is sometimes key.
I do hope these words will guide you towards your own Twitter success and thanks for reading!
For some further listening, you can hear me laying out my author Twitter journey through a series of audio coaching sessions via Patreon. The first 2 sessions are free and for those who then sign up will access the rest of the series and receive regular shout-outs for them and their work on my Twitter.
For those who do follow me and support me on here and of course anywhere else including Twitter. Thank you. For those on that Twitter/social media journey like me, good luck and if you ever have a question about anything to do with it, I’m here.
Tips For Better Twitter Engagement
The Tweet machine. A conversation driven social media platform full of opportunity for pretty much anyone. Engagement is the way to succeed but how do you get more? This is a post dedicated to helping a fellow tweeter with that, but first, what exactly do I mean when it comes to engagement?
To me, and from experience, Twitter engagement simply means conversation. In really simple terms, engagement is basically any activity resulting from a tweet, so better engagement equals more activity and conversation. This also includes likes and retweets. From there, many more possibilities will emerge from making new friends to even sales. Now we’ve defined what engagement is, here are some tips and methods to get more?
Spend More Time
Everything I have achieved in authoring, blogging and social media-ing revolves around having the time to be present for it. This is more of a long-term thing but it is also the most important tip I can give you because presence is what makes the tweet machine turn. If you do spend more time on the platform eventually you shall be rewarded for it and over that time you’ll probably figure out what subjects best suit your audience. Twitter has a very specific psychology that takes time to master and as long as you set out to inform, inspire, entertain or provide some level of value you’ll be okay.
An average day for me on Twitter is around 7 composed tweets, sometimes that can be pushed to 10 but this took time and I gradually ramped up to that number. This leads us to…
Tweeting sporadically and even randomly probably won’t get as much attention as someone who tweets regularly every day so a consistent tweeter will naturally draw more engagement. If you tweet 3 or four times daily for a week at spaced out intervals then I’m pretty certain by the end of that week those tweets will see better results. I’m no expert but I’m certain the algorithms at play will push regular tweeters to more people.
Figure Out What Works
Using the above, eventually you’ll be able to figure out what your audience responds best to. Tweets that do get better engagement – do more of, Tweets that don’t – do less (easier said than done right…).
What kind of subjects get more engagement? There are too many inputs to list but keeping it either visual or conversational will probably get a better reception. Twitter wants users to stay on the platform so posting links seems to have a negative effect on engagement most of the time – I know this because I have spent hours figuring it out. For those of the author persuasion you might find this post useful. Variety is key when it comes to subject matter.
Feeling Invisible? My top tip would be to take a look at some previous and recent tweets, do they all contain links? Links tend to bury your visibility. Try posting that link in the replies or simply talk about the link instead. I’ve said link a lot..
Reply Where Possible
A revelation for me and an actual physical tip to instantly get more engagement is to reply to a comment that someone has written on your tweet. Doing this will boost the visibility for both parties engaged in conversation and all you need to worry about here is thinking of something that has conversational value. A simple thank you is enough sometimes. Get replying tweeters, it is good for conversing and it boosts everyone involved.
This also applies to you commenting on other users tweets because when I am not tweeting I tend to find something to comment on and this will boost your presence further.
Use Hashtags but Sparingly
Opinion alert but there is nothing worse than seeing a tweet that is full of hashtags. It screams sales, sales, sales and won’t encourage conversation. Sometimes there is such thing as too many hashtags because to me they appear a little too try hard plus they make a tweet difficult to read so I’ll just scroll past if I can’t understand something. From experience you only really need a maximum of two or three per tweet and I tend just use one and put it at the end of a tweet. Remember that specific experiences will differ for each user – this stuff is just from my own experience and not a solid set of rules.
If you really want to test your engagement levels, try tweeting without a hashtag and see how well that tweet performs.
Offer an Incentive to your Followers
No matter how big or small your following is there will always be a fellow tweeter looking for a signal boost. Offering a retweet in exchange for a retweet is great way to cross promote one another. Every few weeks I tend to change my pinned tweet and then ask my followers to retweet it. In return I’ll offer to do the same – this is great for maximum visibility and that pinned tweet of yours could strike up some conversation.
As you can see from this tweet I offered an incentive and also prompted others to drop a fun gif or picture which boosted it even more. Considering this tweet didn’t have a hashtag the numbers were great.
Offering a shout-out is often incentive enough for another tweeter to engage with you. While my recent book release was on pre-order I positively mentioned anyone who did reserve it and I even added some of their books to my tbr list – I shared that also.
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If you are enjoying this post you might find my recently released self-help guide book useful also. Its packed with tips and guides for an author or blogger just like you!
Ask Constructive Questions
Asking questions seems to be an overused method to get more engagement on twitter to the point where it is pretty much a trope. Saying that, tropes do work and asking constrictive questions or questions that provide some thinking to answer, work very well. Personally I tend to ask questions for stuff I don’t know the answer to because I genuinely need an answer. My advice would be to stay away from the inane type of questions and only ask questions on occasion. This also leads to…
Keep it Conversational
‘Talk first and let the talking do the selling’ is becoming my philosophy on Twitter. These days I hardly share any links to my works and while some of my tweets do mention my books there are so many other things to share and talk about. As long as your product is easily findable you’ll be surprised how many sales are generated just from conversation.
Go Against the Grain
While everyone in the author twitter world might appear to be dropping links, asking inane questions and putting out that same tweet every morning some of them aren’t and sometimes it will do you good to try different things. Standing out will get engagement and you really need to do is confide in your following. How much you share is your choice but sharing enough to prove you are human will connect with at least one person.
Manage Expectations and Perspective
Try not to be too hard on yourself. It takes a long time and a lot of tweeting to get good engagement but the journey getting there should be fun and one of trial and error. Every tweeter is different and their engagement levels face different circumstances.
If someone has 20 followers and gets 20 likes for a tweet then their engagement rate is excellent whereas I have over 10k followers and 20 likes for my tweet is sweet victory for me personally. All of the above seems to work for me but even in a few months time that could change. Twitter can be a wonderful platform for connectivity and as long as you set out to be conversational eventually you’ll find rewards.
Thank you for taking the time read this post, if you have any tips for better Twitter engagement then do let me know by leaving a comment below. You can find more guides and stuff over on the resources section. Peace out, rock and roll man!
If you enjoyed this post then you’ll probably enjoy my self help authoring and blogging book that is full of experience based advice on social media. Head on over to Amazon and search for Consistent Creative Content.
The Tweet Machine Basics for Authors and Bloggers
The world of social media is the glue that holds all of my authoring and blogging efforts together. In particular, Twitter is a weird and wonderful vessel that sails the seas of social media and can be used as a valuable tool in both marketing and finding your own crowd. Everything I’ve learned from the Tweet machine can both be applied to all writers and bloggers who make up the wider writing community.
To begin with, my advice for any prospective writer or blogger is to get yourself a Twitter account. The potential reach you can achieve doesn’t compare to anywhere else, so if you aren’t on Twitter you will most probably struggle to reach potential readers.
You’re going to need a handle (username). This can be creative or simple. Both work fine and yet again another important attribute outside of the trio looms.
To give yourself the best possible chance at Twitter success you need to be honest, friendly and decent. Why, you say? Because that’s how I got several thousand followers in just a few years, so you need:
A real profile picture of yourself;
A friendly bio that describes who you are, what you do. The more inviting, fun and friendly the better;
A pinned Tweet – a tweet you can put at the top of your profile that relays what you currently have available/currently writing, what’s coming soon or even a link to your book or blog;
To engage with others by commenting, offering help and advice, being friendly, supportive and decent;
To be honest. Trust me most twitter types are drawn it.
This also includes a following strategy that consists of:
Following those who follow you;
Unfollowing those who no longer follow you;
Following those who interest you.
Now you might be asking what exactly do I tweet about? My mantra is to tweet about anything as long as it informs, inspires, entertains or provides some level of value – this will normally lead to some engagement but if not it’s probably due to lack of visibility because of a low follower count. I will typically add at least one hashtag to that tweet also.
Popular hashtags for authors and bloggers include: #author #writer #blogger #writingcommunity #amwriting #amreading.
Twitter is a wonderful arena full of folks just like you, and together the voice of authors and bloggers is louder trust me.
For absolute beginners it might feel like nobody is listening or seeing your posts. This is only reflective of your current following. At the very beginning tweet less and spend more time commenting on the tweets of others. Explore hashtags and search for folks who you have a common interest with.
Twitter takes some time and effort to work out and has a very specific psychology to master. As long as you are approachable and lightly social, you’ll be okay but remember, it takes time and above all, good conversation between you and others. Before you experience any type of external success (book sales/blog views) your audience will need to feel like they can trust you. This can only be achieved long term and through genuine interactions. I call this the ‘Algorithm of Trust’.
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