In this post I urge Indie Authors to reclaim Twitter as a social media tool, as a platform to INTERACT with readers and other authors rather than use it as a one way sewer pipe full of “BUY MY BOOK” excrement.
I’m seeing more and more blog posts with headings along the lines of “The Indie Author’s Guide to Twitter”. Although I think it’s great that people are sharing knowledge and information, the title should really be “How to Abuse Social Media” because that’s what most of these posts amount to.
The idea behind Twitter is to express yourself in 140 characters. Yes, there are twitter accounts that are set up for no other reason than to spam out links. They are bad. But when an indie author does it it suddenly makes it okay? No it doesn’t. It just makes that indie author a spammer too.
Social Media: the clue is in the name. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to be social requires discourse. I’m not seeing that with many indie authors. The vast majority of their tweets are dedicated to promoting their wares. If legitimate people follow you then they’ll do so because they are interested in you and your work to begin with. You don’t have to spend every waking (and non-waking automated) minute blitzing their feed with how great you and your work is.
If someone wants to see adverts then they can turn off their adblocker or turn on their TV, radio, or read a newspaper or magazine. What most of these “guides” encourage indie authors to do is to spam their followers with information that they already know. Oh, you have a book available on Amazon? I guess I missed that fact the first 500 times you posted it….
Until recently my Twitter feed was swamped by the same six or seven accounts. They had nothing to say, but they were tweeting it out loud and clear. So much so that I was missing tweets from people who actually had something to say. My feed was full of Retweets, Retweets of Retweets, crowing about 5* reviews and quotes…. oh the endless quotes! I’ve begun to remove those accounts and I now see a whole range of diverse tweets from many interesting people.
Here are the main culprits for the decline in Twitter interaction:
Follow as many people as possible
I’ve seen the advice that you should follow as many people as possible because that’s the ONLY way to gain followers! Ahhhh no. That’s the quickest way to end up in the circle-jerk of #TeamFollowback. Like attracts like, it’s the nature of the universe. You will gain followers if you have something interesting to say, are helpful and genuine. Sure, it can be a slow process, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either. It makes more sense to me to grow from a small number of followers who are interested in what I have to say than thousands who will never read my tweets. Crazy eh?
Unfollow those pesky non-followers…
I see the tip ‘unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back’ often, because apparently a 1:1 ratio of following to followers is a good thing. No, it’s not. That shows that you really don’t care about the content of the people you follow as long as they follow you back. When I see an account that follows 30k+ accounts that says to me that that account has no interest in my tweets. They just want my follow. Really, are they going to be reading ANY of the thousands of tweets that hit their feeds every second. No, no they’re not.
Automate Those Tweets
Why waste your time on tweeting out when you can simply automate it? You’re out shopping. Oh no, how will people know that you have a book out, or a promotion on?! Don’t worry your pretty little head! ACME generic tweet app will save the day. What about when you sleep? No problem! Auto-tweet the hell out of that too because people in different timezones might have missed your
spamming very important self promotion marketing tweets. Champion! That way there can be no escape from swamping your followers’ feeds.
Another popular ‘top tip’ is to retweet the love. See #RT #authorRT or any number of a dozen hashtags and you must mindlessly hit that Retweet button, regardless of whether you know, like, or have even read the contents. It’s the law! Sounds great doesn’t it? Well no. Not really. You’re supposed to be building a brand. Your brand should be built on trust and integrity. Your readers should be able to trust that what you write is good, and what you promote is as good as, or better than your own work. They should have faith that you have the integrity to be actually supporting what you’re sharing rather than clicking (or automating) the Retweet button without a second thought. If you genuinely think some information is useful, or your followers might enjoy it then Retweet away.
Have a Professional Presence
It’s right that Indie Authors should project a professional image, but by abusing the twitter platform with endless self promotion they’re doing themselves no favours. Being indie – Independent – is about being in control of your own destiny, and to me, having the integrity that ‘Big Business’ doesn’t. On twitter I follow those have something to say, not just continuous veiled “Buy my book” tweets. And those that follow me, I’d like to think that they are interested in what I have to say. You know, being social and all that.
Don’t try and emulate the ‘Big 6’ accounts. Your readership is at a grass roots level, they want to interact with you, so don’t let them down by industrialising your social media platforms.
I now check out every account that follows me, and if they (a) are a real person (b) post real tweets and (c) don’t have feed full of RTs and automated crap then I’ll follow back. Nine times out of ten, if I don’t follow back then after a couple of days they unfollow and I feel vindicated in my decision not to follow that account. After a little while, some of those accounts will pop up as followers again. Annoying.
That’s enough from me. So don’t forget: BUY MY BOOK!
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